Welcome to the 244th edition of the Carnival of Personal Finance!
What an honor to be hosting!Â Thank you, Flexo, for giving me “the keys to the car” for the week!
The main theme of my blog is all about taking responsibility for your own personal finances.Â With that in mind, I thought I would theme this edition of the Carnival around several fiscally irresponsible characters from some iconic American television shows of the past 40 years.
You never saw any bill collectors or repo-men on these shows, but they had to be breathing down these characters’ necks because there is absolutely no way these guys could have afforded to live the way they did based solely upon the pay provided by their professions.
In addition to the main theme, I also tried to provide some extracurricular and, at times, off-beat commentary to a majority of the posts.Â Â This is a carnival after all, and carnivals are supposed to be fun!Â Right?
Thanks to all of you who turned in an article.Â Â There were a handful of articles that didn’t make the cut for various reasons.Â If yours didn’t make it, please don’t take it personally and try again next week!
Running from 1969 to 1974, The Brady Bunch was one of the classic shows of its era.Â Mike Brady had a stay-at-home wife, six kids, a maid, a dog, and lived in a very nice two-story house in the suburbs of Los Angeles.Â Mr. Brady also loved to drive new cars.Â In 1969 he drove a 1969 Plymouth Fury III convertible.Â He also had a 1969 Plymouth Satellite station wagon for his wife, Carol.Â Two years later, he had a 1971 Plymouth Barracuda convertible and a brown 1971 Plymouth Satellite Regent station wagon.Â In 1972 he decided to get a 1972 Chevy Impala convertible.Â Then, in 1973, he changed cars yet again, deciding on a 1973 Chevrolet Caprice Classic convertible.Â Mr. Brady managed to to do all of this on an L.A. architect’s salary that, according to Salary.com, is around $75,000 in current-year dollars.Â How on earth did he do it?
Kris from Cheap Healthy Good presents Food Money Matters: Why Healthy Eating Doesn’t Have to be Expensive.
Kris notes that eating healthy “can actually save money, improve your health, and feed your picky kids. Even better, you can open yourself to all kind of new and exciting flavors and foods.”Â Â Well, I guess some people might consider healthy foods like spinach, lima beans, and haggis to taste “exciting,” but I’d prefer to call it something else.
Pop from Pop Economics presents What I’ll tell my kids about the Great Recession
This is a very interesting post from Pop.Â Although I know where he is coming from, I do respectfully disagree with the assertion that “we all contributed to the crisis.”Â I know I didn’t, and I know there are a lot of other financially responsible folks out there who stayed grounded and dutifully managed to live within their means while everyone else around them used their homes like a piggy bank and spent money like drunken sailors.Â Â Instead, I place the blame squarely at the foot of the Fed for their easy-money policies and lenders that relaxed theor standards such that anyone with a pulse could get a loan.
Miss Bankrupt from Miss Bankrupt.com presents Making Up with Chase Bank.
I have to give it to you, Miss Bankrupt:Â Talk about taking responsibility for your own financial situation.Â Despite your financial difficulties, Chase doesn’t deserve a customer like you.Â Â You could have easily defaulted on your debt and left Chase holding the bag.Â Yes, you would have damaged your credit rating in the process, but it was the easy way out.Â I find your tenacity and determination to do the right thing and pay off your debt to be very inspirational.
Mike from Personal Finance Ninja presents Roth 401(k) and Roth IRA’s – Why the Roth Is Better for Young People, and says, “Hey Len, how’s it going? This post kick’s ass!”
I’m doing well, Ninja, thanks for asking!Â And you’re right – I think your post does kick ass!
Mr Credit Card from Ask Mr Credit Card presents What The Japanese Taught Me About Defeating Credit Card Debt.
I found this to a really interesting look at Japanese culture and how we can use it to improve our personal financial situation.
Jim from Bargaineering presents What is the Marriage Penalty?
For those of you who aren’t sure, maybe this old saying will help clear things up:Â A man is incomplete until he is married – after that, he is finished.Â Â (Actually, Jim was talking about the marriage penalty tax - but I’m sure you knew that.)
LeanLifeCoach from Eliminate The Muda! presents How To File Taxes – Let Me Count The Ways. , and says, “Your W2 has either arrived or it’s very close. It’s TAX SEASON! I’m perplexed so many people dread this annual American ritual, their shoulders slump they groan and sigh. Yet in today’s world there are several easy and fast methods to file taxes.”
In this post, Coach admits the unthinkable.Â “I love tax season!” he says.Â I believe him.Â You know, I once saw somebody on the Discovery Channel who enjoyed eating Madagascar hissing cock roaches too.Â So anything is possible.
Mike from Gather Little By Little presents What will you do with your tax refund?, and says, “I know, the temptation to use free money for retirement or to add to oneâ€™s savings account is strong. I know of a lot of people who use their tax refund for stuff like flat screen televisions or an extra vacation or a down payment on a car or an Xbox or a Wii â€“ yikes!”
I’m one of those people who use my income tax refund as a forced savings account.Â It provides a nice “windfall” every year that we use to cover big expenses – usually home renovations.Â Am I losing out on a $70 or so of interest each year?Â Yeah.Â But I can live with that.Â That money would probably “leak” away if I didn’t allow the government to have an interest free loan each year anyway.
Wealth Pilgrim from Wealth Pilgrim presents Innocent Spouse Married A Tax Cheat. Now What?, and says, “Even if you are an innocent spouse, it may not protect you from the IRS if your spouse files a joint tax return with false information. Here’s what you should do to protect yourself.”
As Neal notes in this true story, “Roberta was living the life of Don Corleone. How can she claim to have the income of Homer Simpson?” Bravo, Neal! Â I’ll argue though that, unless her signature was forged by her husband, Roberta was NOT an innocent spouse.Â She was just as responsible for ensuring that their tax returns were legitimate as her husband.Â Her signature attested to the IRS that they were legitimate.
FFB from Free From Broke presents Monster TurboTax Online Tax Software 2009 Review, and says, “Huge overview of the different products offered by TurboTax to help taxpayers with their returns.”
Amanda from My Dollar Plan presents How to Take a Property Tax Deduction Without Itemizing.
Lynette is one of the housewives living on a very spacious home on Wisteria Lane on the current hit show, Desperate Housewives.Â In addition to the house, for awhile she had to support a hubby and four kids on the modest salary of an advertising executive.Â Later, she was working as the manager of her hubby’s pizzeria – before bills and legal troubles forced them to sell it.Â The money problems haven’t stopped her from owning six cars in five years â€”a 2004 Chevrolet Venture, a 2003 Buick Rendezvous, a 2006 Nissan Maxima, a 2006 Nissan Xterra, a 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan , a 2008 Nissan Altima and a 2009 Ford Flex.
How did the car companies ever go broke with customers like her and Mr. Brady around?
thriftygal from Chasing Prosperity presents 5 Obstacles to Financial Success, and says, “As someone interested in entering the stock market and generating a second source of income, I knew there were some obstacles ahead of me. In order to overcome those hurdles, I tried to put them down on paper and realized they weren’t unique to me. Thus was born this list.”
In this article, Thrifty Gal confesses that, “I simply loath risk and try to avoid it as much as possible. This is why I am not yet ‘prosperous’ even though I have no debt.” Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees, Thrifty Gal.Â The fact that you have no debt, strongly suggests you are more prosperous than you think.
Ryan Ayres from The Financial Student presents Why the Visa Buxx Card is a Bad Deal, and says, “A post on why the Visa Buxx card is an expensive way to spend your own money.”
According to Ryan, the Visa Buxx card works like a credit card, but without the line of credit.Â What it does come with is a host of absolutely ridiculous fees.Â And you thought mortgage lenders had a monopoly on junk fees?Â Wow.Â A fee of between $2 and $10 for paper statements.Â They also charge up to $2.50 to replenish the account – what’s up with that?Â There are more, so check out Ryan’s article to see the other rip-off fees.
Lakita from Personal Finance Journey presents Credit Cards: Pros & Cons – Love Them or Hate Them, and says, “A look at some of the most popular arguments for and against credit card use.”
Uh oh.Â Here we go again.Â Nothing says “polarization” like the topic of the pros and cons of credit cards.Â Here’s my two cents:Â As I have written previously on this topic, those of you who choose to pay off your cards in full each month have absolutely nothing to fear – and a lot to gain.
Ben from Money Smart Life presents 10 Money Tips For Couples Before Marriage.
Men:Â As I’ve said it many times before… When it comes to money matters, the key to a successful marriage it to always remember what’s hers is hers and what’s yours is hers.
Consumer Boomer from Consumer Boomer presents Do You Need to Buy Mortgage Protection Life Insurance?, and says, “A mortgage life insurance policy has similar features as a term insurance, but also has some significant differences.”
Jeff Rose from Good Financial Cents presents Do You Need a Disability Income Insurance Policy?, and says, “I used to believe that a long term disability insurance policy wasn’t worth it. Here’s why you should really consider getting one.”
Tom from Canadian Finance Blog presents Multipurpose Money, and says, “Could we, instead of separating different accounts for different purposes, combine accounts to take care of multiple potential tasks?”
Arjun Rudra from Investing Thesis presents Increase Your Estateâ€™s Value with Tax-Free Dividends, and says, “The Basic document in any estate plan is the will. Once that is in place, a thorough review should be made of your assets and liabilities in order to maximize estate value, particularly with regard to taxation.â€
Henry Stern, LUTCF, CBC from InsureBlog presents How Much Do You (Really) Need?, and says, “It’s easy to get talked into buying more life insurance, but InsureBlog wonders how much you really need?”
WellHeeled from Well-Heeled Blog presents No More Free Checking?, and says, “I, like most of my peers, have come to take free checking accounts for granted. But as new banking regulations take place, banks may have to increase fees and eliminate free checking accounts. Would people accept fee-based checking?”
Aaron from prepaidcards123.com presents Is Money Deposited on a Prepaid Credit Card Safe?, and says, “One question we get a lot is how safe is money deposited onto a prepaid credit card.”
From 1994 – 2004, Friends was one of the top shows on American television. Talk about needing a reality check. Despite having a waitresses’ paycheck, Rachel Greene managed to rent a lavish New York City apartment that would make Donald Trump proud. The writers eventually caught on and ginned up some cock-and-bull story about granny leaving it to Rachel in her will.
Frugality and Saving
PT from PT Money presents How to Cook Steak: Broiling is Better and Cheaper, and says, “Frugal doesn’t always have to taste bad. Here’s a less expensive way to prepare steak that you might like even better than grilling.”
It never amazes me how many personal finance bloggers out there are wanna-be gourmet chefs.Â I’m one of ‘em.Â You can now add PT to the list too.
Struggling Grad from Live Frugally or Die Broke presents Consolidate Your Errands, and says, “A great article on how to consolidate all of your daily errands into one quick trip. This will save you on time, gas, and stress.”
Struggling Grad mentioned that he only recently noticed that grocery store “quick lanes” take credit cards.Â If you ask me, they should ONLY take credit and debit cards.Â There is nothing worse than standing by somebody who decides to pay their $23.57 bill at the register with spare change from their pickle jars.Â You know what else I’ve noticed over the years?Â That the minimum number of items has steadily increased such that the lanes aren’t so quick any more.Â It used to be 7 items or less, then 10, then 15.Â In some places, there is now NO limit.Â Unbelievable. Maybe those stores put their “A-team” checkers at those stands.Â And is it just me, or are the slowest checkers always the guys from the produce department?Â Unless you give them something they know – like a bag of brussel sprouts or some bok choy – those guys never seem to know where the UPC codes are – it seems like I have to point out the scanner code on four out of every five items they scan.Â Sorry, I’m blathering on again.Â Let’s just move on…
Single Guy Money from Single Guy Money presents What Should You Do With Your Pay Raise?
Bucksome from Bucksome Boomer’s Journey to Retirement presents How I Save Money and Plan My Vacations with Credit Cards , and says, “Use credit cards as a tool for vacation savings as described by Mr. Credit Card in a guest post.”
Austin from Foreigner’s Finances presents Tips to Earn Extra Airline Miles, and says, “How to take advantage of your purchases by using your credit cards to gain extra airline miles. “
Meanwhile, here’s another guest post from Mr. Credit Card.Â Â We may need to start calling him, Mr. Guest Blogger; this guy works harder than James Brown ever did.
Craig Ford from Money Help For Christians presents An Essential Guide to the Minister’s Salary, and says, “This article analyzes the complex factors surrounding the pastor’s pay package.”
Deja vu, perhaps?Â No.
Did I make an editing mistake?Â Nah.
Yes, I know I already featured Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Greene – but that picture is so sizzlin’ hot that I just had to feature it in this carnival twice.
Simon Zhen from Realm of Prosperity presents Everyone Wants to Know How to Invest With Less Than $1000, and says, “It gets to be a little annoying when people keep coming to you for investment advice over a few hundred bucks. Can’t really blame them because we’ve probably been in the same position.”
So, Simon, I’ve got $23.76 to invest.Â What is your opinion on Microsoft right now – is it ripe for a rebound?Â Â Oh, sorry.
Ray from Financial Highway presents RRSP Deadline â€“ Limits & Options, and says, “Reminder of to contribute to your retirement plans and last minute tips and tricks.”
American readers, please don’t panic. RRSP stands for Registered Retirement Savings Plan and, judging from Ray’s post, appears to be the Canadian equivalent to the American 401(k) plan.
Mike Piper from The Oblivious Investor presents Review: Fund Spy by Morningstar’s Russel Kinnel, and says, “A look at the recent book by Morningstar’s Director of Mutual Fund Research.”
D4L from Dividends Value presents Five High-Yield Positive Return Investments, and says, “The primary focus of my income portfolio is to create ever-increasing income by investing in dividend growth securities. This means that often I will choose a lower yielding security with better dividend growth prospects over a higher yielding security. However, I will also invest in some high yield securities. Here are some of the better performers, along with my life-to-date return.”
Dan from ETFBase presents Why ETFs are Better Than Mutual Funds, and says, “ETFs have several distinct advantages over mutual funds, some of which more obvious than others. This review outlines benefits of each.”
Paul Williams from Provident Planning presents Investing Basics: What Is an Investment?, and says, “If you’re new to investing, the first thing you need to learn is what an investment is. Begin your investment education with this post.”
Kyle from Amateur Asset Allocator presents Why I Ditched My Vanguard Money Market Fund In Favor Of ING Direct, and says, “Why the security of an online savings account trumps the usually-higher yields of a money market fund.”
Bob from Christian Finances presents Blueprint for building your financial house, and says, “There are some good financial lessons to be learned from building a home. Thereâ€™s a lot that goes into building and each step needs to be done in a certain order otherwise nothing will get accomplished! The same can be said for our personal finances. We need to have a good plan and make sure things get done correctly, otherwise weâ€™ll be spinning our wheels.”
Jason just moved into a new home and, in very this clever post, he uses the construction methods of a new home as an allegory to our personal finances – or maybe it’s a metaphor.Â Nope, I’m pretty sure it’s an allegory.
2 Cents from Balance Junkie presents Love & Money: Rules of Engagement, and says, “This article offers some tips on managing money as a couple.”
This article starts off with the following quote from Eva Gabor: Love is a game that two can play and both win. I’ll wager Eva’s first four husbands would have something to say about that opinion.
Jason from Live Real, Now presents Balance Your Borked Budget.
As a public service to those of you asking WTF “borked” means, I give you the official definition courtesy of the the Urban Dictionary:Â Borked – To have totally (screwed) something up. Usually by doing something stupid. Kind of like my lame attempt at putting on this carnival.
RJ Weiss from Gen Y Wealth presents 5 Aesop Fables | 5 Lessons In Personal Finance, and says, “There are no hidden meanings behind an Aesopâ€™s fable. The moral of each story is so easy to comprehend, that they are commonly used to teach children life lessons. Why not use them to teach adults about personal finance?”
Are you kidding, RJ?Â You mean to tell me there is an Aesop fable entitled “The Ass, The Cock, and the Lion?”Â The reason I ask is because, if I’m not mistaken, once upon a time I think I saw a movie with the same title at a college frat party.
Ron from The Wisdom Journal presents Now That You’ve Set Up Your Budget.
On a serious note, Ron tells us that your budget is going to reveal one of four realities.Â Which one are you in, and what are you going to do about it?Â (Sorry you had to follow that last one, Ron.)
FMF from Free Money Finance presents The Two Financial Measures that Determine the Health of Your Finances (AKA Two Financial Measures to Track Your Finances), and says, “If you want to be successful financially, you must track these two financial measures and work to make the most of them both.”
Wow, FMF.Â You actually used to track your personal net worth on a weekly basis?Â Really?Â I evaluate my net worth once per year and sometimes catch myself wondering if that is too often.
Peter from Bible Money Matters presents Financial Considerations Of Selling Your Home: Should You Sell Your House?, and says, “Should you sell your house? What are the financial considerations?”
I have no plans of selling my house, but I tell you what:Â If my home was the house that is shown in the picture that accompanies the article – I would be selling as quickly as possible, assuming I could find a sucker to buy it.Â The thing is literally a stone’s throw from the bank of a large river and maybe a foot higher in elevation above the river’s water line.Â I can’t believe there was actually an insurance company out there crazy enough to offer a flood insurance policy to that homeowner.Â But, Len, there is a ten-inch tall rock levee protecting the property. You’re right.Â Forget everything I just said.
Jason from One Money Design presents How to Prepare Your House for Sale, and says, “Have you made the decision to sell your house? If so, the next step is to prepare your house to stage it properly.”
DR from DoughRoller presents What Credit Score do You Need to Buy a Home?, and says, “When it comes to mortgages and credit scores, there are two really important questions to ask.”
From 1998 – 2004, Sex and the City was one of the most popular shows on American cable television.Â Throughout the show’s entire run, Carrie Bradshaw used her credit cards freely to buy Prada, eat at swanky restaurants, and generally live the high-life.Â She also lived in a spacious one-bedroom Manhattan apartment.Â This despite her job as a columnist for a New York City newspaper that, according to Salary.com only pays an average of $60,000 per year.Â Talk about a news story.Â How did you manage, Carrie?Â Inquiring minds want to know.
Chris Holdheide from Stumble Forward presents 5 Debt Relief Options You Should Consider, and says, “Learn about the 5 options you have when it comes to getting out of debt.”
When people get into suffocating debt trouble, they often immediately choose to go into bankruptcy.Â In this post Chris looks at bankruptcy as an option, but he looks at four other alternatives too.
Dollars Not Debt from Dollars Not Debt presents Where Are You, How Did You Get There, And What Will You Do To Get Out?
The answers, in order: 1) Here. 2) I Walked. 3) I’m not really sure – after sitting here for ten hours I think my buns have officially fused to this leather chair.
Joe Plemon from Personal Finance By The Book presents Will Your Uncle Sam Be Dictating Your Retirement Funds?, and says, “With spiraling national debt, our government is looking for money. Will they force owners of 401(k)s and IRAs to buy government bonds?”
Joe asks, “Would you loan money to someone who is deeply in debt, on a spending frenzy, and cannot get credit elsewhere?â€ Joe wouldn’t.Â And neither would I.Â This post is another excellent eye-opener that shows what lengths the US government may go to find buyers for its relentless debt addiction.
Ryan Healy from Debt Reduction Formula presents Currency News – Time to Take on Debt?, and says, “Here’s an article I wrote this week about the economy, debt, and the possibility of hyperinflation.”
I found this to be another interesting and provocative opinion piece on the potential impacts of the United States’ deficit spending addiction.
Mystery Grab Bag
But, Len, most of the posts in this category have NOTHING to do with personal finance! That’s debatable – I can make an argument why that is NOT true for every one of these posts.
Mr. Cheap from Four Pillars presents A Frugal Man and the Women Who Love Him , and says, “Where is the romance category? Mr. Cheap announces his big Harlequin Romance book deal for this bodice-ripper personal finance novel.”
Look out Stephanie Meyer.Â That’s Mr. Cheap breathing down your neck.
Marie from Moneymonk presents In success itâ€™s ok to slip but donâ€™t fall.
Well, if nothing else, at all of 128 words, this post is compact – which is more than I can say for this Carnival. Seriously, I’ve seen fortune cookies with more words than this post.Â So consider this your Carnival of Personal Finance fortune cookie of the week. Â The only thing missing is your lucky numbers.Â Here, I’ll give you some:Â 6, XI, 23, 345, 10-billion, and Pi.
Sagetips from 401k Planning presents The Coming Shift to Public Sector 401kâ€™s.
I found this to be a truly sage article on the burden that public sector pension plans are putting on all of us.Â Their lavish benefits – better than anything in the private sector -Â are guaranteed by law, and as a result the taxpayer is on the hook to keep those pensions whole.Â Â This is a big reason why your state and city governments are having trouble making ends meet.
Financial Samurai from Financial Samurai presents How to Get Your Super Motivated Boyfriend to Marry You.
Don’t shoot me, ladies, I’m only the messenger.
J. Money from Budgets Are Sexy presents Selling Your Virginity for Money and says, “Knowing what you do now about it all, would YOU give up yours for a large amount of money?”
J asks us men if we would be willing to sell our virginity – assuming we still have it.Â Are you kidding?Â The answer to that question is about as predictable as asking a bunch of grade-school kids if they want a triple-scoop ice-cream cone.
Darwin from Darwin’s Finance presents Is Paying Kids for Good Grades Wrong? , and says, “The age old question of whether paying kids for good grades is covered here. Pros, Cons and things you probably never even thought about.”
I don’t mean to boast – ah, who am I kidding?Â Yes I do! – but if my parents paid me for every “A” I got starting in kindergarten onward, they would have had to file for bankruptcy.Â I think I received only three B’s in all of my classes through the 12th grade.Â Of course, if they would have invested that money for me back then – I could already be retired today.Â For the record, I do pay my kids at the end of every trimester for good grades: $25 if they make the gold honor role, $10 for silver, and $5 for bronze.Â Â Does it make a difference?Â To tell you the God’s honest truth, I really don’t think so.
The Financial Blogger from The Financial Blogger presents A car insurance story, and says, “The most important thing about car insurance; filing a car insurance claim.”
Those of you who suck at driving and live in Canada will be especially interested in this post.
MD from Studenomics presents Creative Ways to Make Money.
This was a fun post where MD asked his readers to share the most creative ways they earned money.Â The dude that played FreeCell for money is my winner.
Erik from Money Crashers presents 25 Online Resources For Freelancers and Small Businesses, and says, “You should focus on seeking out clients first, and then set up business processes. When that time comes, here are 25 online resources to check out when setting up your business.”
Revanche from A Gai Shan Life presents Pets and preparedness: Have an emergency plan.
Sandy from The Always Frugal Blog presents Smart Ways to Earn Passive Income.
Kyle from Early Retirement Blog presents If You Know What Would Make You Happy, Why Wait? , and says, “Eliminate ‘but I just can’t right now’ from your vocabulary. Got out and chase your dreams, and do it now.”
I found the spirit of this post to be inspiring, but the responsibility bugaboo probably makes its thesis a but unrealistic for those of us over 30 who already have families to support.Â But since you asked, Kyle, what would make me really happy right now is a late lunch.
I’m famished, so I think I’m going to make me a little sandwich.
Er, assuming I can get my butt unglued from this chair.