Carnival of Personal Finance # 349

Welcome to the 349th Edition of the Carnival of Personal Finance!  87 submissions this week which means I have my work cut out for me not only in selecting 5-10 Editor Choice articles but also reading and providing commentary for each submission.

Part of hosting this Carnival is to not make it a grocery list of cut and paste HTML code. I try my best to adhere to this guideline. The host is also supposed to make things interesting so I do like to play with the format a bit …

As is my style, if you didn’t leave a comment about your article I won’t either – got to give a little to get a little!  Plus, how is the host to know what the article is about solely by the article title? Additionally, if the article was written for sponsorship or on behalf of your business chances are good I did not include it unless it was superb.  Site policy.

So what I have decided to do this week is pick my top 3 Editor Choice articles which I will discuss shortly. For the rest of the Carnival each category will also have an Editor Choice selection! So here we go with the top 3 Editor Choice articles!

Top 3 Editor Picks:

#1 Teacherman from Canadian Finance Blog presents The Generation Gap, and says, “A sign of the generation gap, if I could opt out of every single pension plan right now, including OAS, CPP, and our teacher’s pension I definitely would.”  Leave it to Teacherman to give me a whole lot to think about when I am trying to read all of these articles and get to bed at an early hour (12:14am now).  TM makes a powerful statement. Canadians have had a pretty sweet pension system for a long time – from both employers and our government.  How long will either remain in existence?  Watching the National last week strong arguments were made that the “strain” on the system has had forecasts of this impending doom for decades.  Who exactly would be to blame if Canada, that boring stable country, started experiencing elderly impoverishment and poverty?  Guess who votes?

#2 Dan Meyers from Your Life, Their Life presents How much do you spend on food?, and says, “How do you compare with everyone else on your monthly food budget? Check out these interesting stats.”  Extremely interesting set of numbers about food expenditure percentages in comparison with income.  A lot to chew on when you consider how health and education of our children is often linked the basic need to eat.  We have made some concious decisions to spend more money on food.  Quality food.  Local food. Organic food.  We support the reasoning behind buying good food from our neighbours.  This article does highlight that we can choose to buy better food because we can afford to do so.  Shouldn’t good food be enjoyed by all?

#3 Eric from Narrow Bridge Finance presents How to Build a Social Lending Snowball, and says, “I have written about using the debt snowball to cut your debt and I have written about using social lending to make money like a bank. Today we are going to combine the snowball idea with social lending to show you how I have been making money and reinvesting to make money.”  I keep meaning to enter the social lending foray.  Eric has an interesting perspective on how to increase the value of his investment somewhat like a DRIP.  The more I think about Eric’s idea I like it more and more.  A 5% return these days is considered “nice”.  Social lending is appealing.  I have meant to research it for over 2 years.  Time to actually do it.

And now on to each category.

Finance

Editor Pick!  Mike and Molly from Mike and Molly’s House presents We Are So F**Ked!, and says, “The title says it all. We were both laid off last year. Mike was able to pick up a new job at the beginning of the year. Six weeks later he was laid off due to lack of work. Then the big news: Our unemployment money will be prematurely cut off in 3 weeks. It’s not all black clouds though. Watch the video to see how we plan to turn this dire circumstance into an opportunity.”  I love the attitude Mike and Molly have even when the news is bleak.  They look within to improve their situation and who knows, Mike might even pronounce the project name correctly before long!  I don’t normally care for vlogs but these two entertain.

Miranda Marquit from Planting Money Seeds presents Free Personal Finance Courses, and says, “Free courses cover topics at beginning and advanced levels. If you’re not sure what to do with your money, these courses can help you figure it out.” An outline of free tools the majority of folks should be exposed to and use.

Craig Ford from Money Help For Christians presents Learning Personal Finance: A Guide to Successful Financial Health: Part II, and says, “Important personal finance action items that make can really affect your financial health.” Part II of 10 staple financial tips/rules to live by to ensure financial health.

Budgeting

Editor Pick!  Paula @ Afford Anything from Afford Anything presents Why You Should Live Like No One Else, and says, “Most successful people aren’t lucky. They’ve lived like no one else, so that later they can live like no one else.”  I’m not sure being a computer geek (according to my sister) growing up will propel me to the uber-successful but the IT industry has provided a comfortable financial existence for our family.  I doubt I go back to school to learn programming (already had a Bachelor of Arts degree) if I had been more “normal”.

Tie the Money Knot from Tie the Money Knot presents When Joint Finances and Emotions Collide, and says, “When deciding on whether or not to make a big purchase, how should couples handle the situation if there is a disagreement? This topic covers a story of her kitchen remodel, her income, his frugality, all in the context of joint finances.” Tough situation but I can’t see how a couple can maintain financial health while justifying that spending their own income on their own interests is equitable. 

Nicole from Nicole and Maggie: Grumpy Rumblings presents How do oyou pay for presents?, and says, “Nicole and Maggie ponder how couples pay for each other’s presents. Does it count if it comes out of a joint account? And if it does, do you have to reciprocate?”  Part of our monthly budget includes discretionary spending that we are free to use however we see fit.

Career

Editor Pick! Darwin from Darwin’s Money presents Insane Success Stories That Drive Me Crazy…But Shouldn’t Insane Success Stories That Drive Me Crazy…But Shouldn’t, and says, “Each time you hear an incredible success story and think “that could be me!”…consider this.”  The mass success stories aren’t the norm.  Measuring yourself against these folks won’t get you far.

Squirrelers from Squirrelers presents Keep Learning in Order to Keep Making Money, and says, “With change occurring at a faster rate each passing year, it’s more important than ever to embrace continual learning. This post explores this concept as it relates to our finances.” I also think that employers are paying more attention to recent education given they have so many applicants for every job.

FMF from Free Money Finance presents Your Lifetime Balance Sheet, and says, “The book Risk Less and Prosper: Your Guide to Safer Investing features an interesting look into what it calls your “lifetime balance sheet.” It lists both assets and liabilities that every person has at the start of their working careers.”  There is a lot more to your financial reality than a simple balance sheet.

Trent Green from Money for Regular People presents Jeremy Lin, the Regular Knight, and the American Dream, and says, “The reason Jeremy Lin’s story resonates goes beyond basketball. It’s because he personifies the American Dream.”  Love the Lin story, didn’t like the one by ESPN.

Chris from Experiglot presents Getting Back in the Arena – A True Story of a Blogging Meltdown, and says, “The other side of blogging.” Unfortunately I was involved with part of this saga.

Tom Drake from Stupid Cents presents Solopreneur? Increase Your Productivity by Narrowing Your Focus, and says, “As a solopreneur, one of the best things you can do to increase your productivity is to narrow your focus and concentrate on only a few things at a time.”  My focus is awful, my to do list massive.  It is 9:30pm and I have 50 articles to comment on …

Martin from Studenomics presents What You Need to Get Your Online Biz Started With a Bang, and says, “The tools you need to launch an online business.”

Debt

Editor Pick! michelle mcdao from See Debt Run presents The Unbearable Weight of Nothing, and says, “A simple trip to the shoe store reminds us that our kids are growing up fast and that the time to get our finances in order and get out of debt is now!”  I don’t want to say a LOT about this one.  Go read it. It touched me as I read it.  I grew up with the unbearable weight of nothing.

Donna Freedman from Surviving and Thriving presents If Lady Gaga were a PF blogger., and says, “Although I listen only to the classical station, the Lady is ubiquitous enough that even I am familiar with “Bad Romance.” One day when the tune was stuck in my head, I turned it into a personal finance lesson.”  Can’t say I am familiar with Lady Gaga (the music) but I must have heard this tune on the radio, right?

Jackie from The Debt Myth presents Having Trouble Getting Your Spouse on Board? Start with Why, and says, “If you’re having trouble getting your spouse on board with debt reduction, remember to start with why.” Needs vs wants are often hard to overcome.

Lindy from Minting Nickels presents How Soon Could We Be Debt Free if We Went All Out?, and says, “I’ve always admired those who’ve made drastic life changes to pay off their debt. In this post I hypothetically determine how quickly we could be out of debt (and how much it might hurt) if we took the drastic route too.”  Great idea here.  I think I want to undertake a similar exercise.

Craig Ford from Christian Debt Coach presents Debt is a Symptom: How to Diagnose and Prescribe a Debt Solution (No Degree Required!), and says, “Discover the true causes of your debt crisis.”  Glad I don’t need to have (more) higher education to understand this one!

N.W. Journey from Net Worth Journey presents 5 Mistakes People Make When Paying Off Debt, and says, “Instead of telling you what to do, I’ll tell you what not to do when getting out of debt.” Solid PF 101 stuff here.

Economy

Editor Pick! Beating Broke from Beating Broke presents North Dakota to Vote on Abolishing Property Taxes, and says, “This June, as so many others will, I will be going to the polls to make my vote heard. One of the many things that I’ll get to vote on is a state-wide measure to get rid of property taxes. Pretty cool, no? How often do you get to vote on things that directly affect your budget?”  OK – this is the default EP but worth it folks.  Property tax costs us over $3000 a year.  Ouch.

Frugality

Editor Pick! Stu from Pennywise2Pennyworth presents Gas Prices Still Going Up, and says, “High gas prices got you down? Here are some tips on what you can do to contain costs.” A look at why gas prices continue to rise and some ways to cut your fuel consumption.

Miss T. from Prairie Eco Thrifter presents Frugal Anniversary Gifts that Will Win Her Over, and says, “Often, women find new and creative types of gifts better than receiving flowers, chocolates or candies. They would much rather receive a handwritten card from their man than a bunch of flowers. So if you’re looking for great gifts you can give the lucky woman, here are some options you should consider.”  I need to get better at the creative side.  I  do try to buy interesting / unique gifts for Mrs. SPF w/o breaking the bank.

Green Panda from Green Panda Treehouse presents Financial Habits You Need to Destroy Right Now, and says, “Habits that you need to crush now.”  The scrolling sharing bar ate up 1 inch of the left text so I couldn’t read this one.

SB from One Cent At A Time presents Cost Cutting Ideas We Can Learn From India, and says, “You may have come across frugality lessons already. Learn these extraordinary techniques followed by the people of a poorer country and rethink about how people live in this countries.” Great lessons, some more necessary than others, some easier to apply than others.

Alex Manson-Smith from TotallyMoney presents 12 easy ways to cut your household bills today, and says, “simple tips to cut your household bills”.  Enough said.

Investing

Editor Pick! Jim Yih from Retire Happy Blog presents Paying lower fees directly can be tough on investors, and says, “We go to great lengths to pay lower fees on almost everything we purchase but what about when it comes to purchasing investments?”  We do whatever we can to avoid debit, library and parking fees.  Some folks still think it OK to pay $20 for a trade.  Huh?

Dan from High Yield Edge presents Apple Expected to Announce Dividend in 2012 – Finally!, and says, “Investors may soon be getting a chance to take a bite out of a juicy dividend payment. See what’s driving the pressure on Apple to issue one and how big it may be.”   I’m still not sure Apple frees up all that cash it is sitting on.

Pierre from Intelligent Speculator presents How Much Is Facebook Worth? Much More Than $100B, and says, “What is Facebook worth and the importance.”  Another industry monopoly in the computing world.  Fantastic.

Dan from ETF Base presents Epic Rally Ensues as Europe Burns. Haven’t We Learned Yet?, and says, “People pay too much attention to the headlines. If Greece and the PIIGS scared you out of the market, you’re missing an epic rally. Lessons Learned?”  Making sense of the whole situation will ultimately hurt your brain.

Kacie from Sense to Save presents How much should you save with each paycheck reach retirement goals?, and says, “Sometimes saving 10-15% for retirement isn’t enough. Sometimes, the rule of thumb is way too much. This post will help you figure out how much YOU need to save with each paycheck to hit your nest egg goal.”  If you aren’t saving 10%, somehow, I just don’t get it.

Daniel from Sweating the Big Stuff presents Lending Club Returns at 15.87 Percent in February 2012, and says, “I started investing in Lending Club in 2011, and so far my returns have been stellar. Using some smart criteria, I’ve been able to crush the average.”  Thanks for the tips Daniel!  As I mentioned, I want to enter this type of investing as I think diversification is key.

D4L from Dividend Growth Stocks presents Love People, Use Dividend Stocks, and says, “As humans we are often driven by our emotions and relationships. Over time we tend grow fond of people we have a relationship with. Sometimes we grow to love them like a brother or sister; sometimes even more. In much the same way we can easily grow to love certain stocks, but this is not necessarily a good thing.” Maintain emotions with things that can return emotions.  Seems to make sense.

John from Passive Family Income presents What Is a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)?, and says, “Investing your hard earned dollars in real estate can be a risky move if you don’t know what you are doing. One alternative to buying properties yourself is to invest in a REIT (real estate investment trust). These types of investments offer another option to profit from the real estate market for those of us who are not ready to become a landlord.”  Lower entry price point is attractive – 20% down to avoid mortgage insurance, for a rental property, is a lot more obrtrusive.

FIRE Finance from FIRE Finance presents What Should We Do If Our Mutual Fund Goes Belly Up?, and says, “What happens to our money if a mutual fund goes out of business i.e. the fund goes belly up?”  I didn’t know MFs could go belly up.  Learn something new every day.

Mike from The Financial Blogger presents Dragon’s Den & Venture Capital, and says, “How do you plan on borrowing money?”  I enjoyed the new DD on Friday night.

Div Guy from The Dividend Guy Blog presents Grow Your Stocks With $0, and says, “Getting a bit advanced with stocks.” Drip, drip, drip.

Alex Garcia from Value Investing HQ presents Understanding Intrinsic Value vs. Market Value, and says, “After our introduction of how to calculate intrinsic value, we learned that we calculate a firm’s intrinsic value by discounting the value of the cash that can be taken out of a business during its remaining life. To do so, we have to calculate the firm’s cash flow or what Warren Buffett calls Owner’s Earnings. Before walking through an example of this, we need to understand the difference between intrinsic value vs. market value (which is the same as intrinsic value vs. market price).”  Education is a good thing.

Ken Faulkenberry from AAAMP Blog presents Why and How to Invest in Brazil, and says, “Brazil is positioned to participate in global growth trends. Investors who want to partcipate in growth of the Brazilian economy can invest in Brazil stocks through a variety of Brazil ETFs.”  Growing economy, far away, little fan fare?  Sounds intriguing.

W. Wise from Wealth and Wise presents How to Grow Wealth, and says, “If growing wealth were easy, everyone would do it. Wealth generation takes years, it takes patience, it takes diligence, and it takes dedication.” Some PF 101.

Marissa from Thirty Six Months presents Learning to Invest- Choosing your first Stocks, and says, ” This article explains what terms you should become familiar with, in order to start investing on your own.”  I like that Marissa is helping investing noobs realize that investing doesn’t have to be a foreign language.

The Passive Income Earner from The Passive Income Earner presents How To Review Your Portflio, and says, “Reviewing your portfolio is an important step in maximizing your investments and avoiding losses.”  Guilty.  I don’t do this enough.  

Sarah Louis from People Who Trade Binary Options presents Binary Options Trading, and says, “Binary options trading are not only fruitful but very enjoyable as well. This new tool in the financial market has captured the world due to high rewards that this trading system offers. Since this trading tool is available online, people sit for hours and hours before their computers, be it night or day. Those, who trade only in the financial markets, are always busy on phone or the Internet to get information and trade accordingly. The thrill to achieve target is unavoidable for them and moreover, binaries offer quick results which makes them all the more attractive and addictive. At some points these traders lose as well but greed and will to achieve more do not let them stop. They start taking bigger risks only to lose more.”  No, this is not trading the underlying technology in computers.

Money Management

Editor Pick! Matt Bell from Matt About Money presents Pay Yourself Second, and says, “Part of the wise money management conventional wisdom is to pay yourself first. However, for all who want to experience meaningful success, a better approach is to pay yourself second.”  Depends on your definition of “meaningful success”.  That being said, I will check out other articles in the series Matt has written.

Glen from Parenting Family Money presents Should You Buy Life Insurance for Your Child?, and says, “Most people don’t like thinking about life insurance and they are even more hesitant when it comes to a child. Buying life insurance for your child is something to at least think about.”  Not our thing but perhaps this works for others.

Peter from Bible Money Matters presents Why You May Want to Get Life Insurance Even If You Don’t Have Kids, and says, “Life insurance for a grown adult with no dependents is often considered unnecessary. Yet, if you are childless, you may want to consider purchasing it if a few factors apply.”  We got enough insurance to pay off the house, additional debt and funeral costs if one of us were to perish.  We need to reduce this insurance at this point – even after having our first child.

PK from Don’t Quit Your Day Job… presents Would You Lie to Your Partner About Money?, and says, “I know that I personally wouldn’t lie to my wife about finances, but that doesn’t mean that every couple plays the game with the same rules! Would you lie to your partner or significant other about money issues? Can you imagine a scenario where it is justifiable?”  My guess is that more folks lie to their spouses than we might think.

Jon the Saver from Free Money Wisdom presents Take Care of Your (Future) Self, and says, “There’s a science and psychology behind advertising and selling, because underneath every rational, calm exterior is a predictably irrational human mind that, with the right conditions, will fall prey to an impulse buy every time.”  Take 24-72 hours before you buy something over $100.  Works for us.

Colin Williams from humble savers presents Financial Plan Checklist – What To Check In Your Financial Plan, and says, “Finding a good financial plan has often been described as difficult. However, defining what a good financial plan should look like can be difficult. Here is a ‘checklist’ to help you to review your financial plan.”  We have one thing left on our “plan” to initiate.  The rest is rolling.

Roshawn Watson from Watson Inc presents 4 Ways To Reshape Your Views Regarding Money, and says, “Perhaps one of the biggest ways to effect change financially speaking is to alter your belief system. Here are four ways to reshape your views regarding money. ”  I close this category with a lot of food for thought.  If you like to reflect and think about things this is the post for you.

Real Estate

Editor Pick! Echo from Boomer & Echo presents First Time Home Buyers: Use HBP or TFSA?, and says, “This post explains the benefits of a first time home buyer using the Home Buyers Plan (HBP) or TFSA for a down payment. ”  Echo has a great article for our Canadian readers who are trying to figure out the best way to fund the down payment of their first home.  There was no TFSA when I bought my first home, and we’re still buying that RRSP back over time.

Edward Antrobus from Edward Antrobus presents Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Home but Nobody Ever Tells you, and says, “Nobody ever seems to talk about all of the hidden costs of home buying. So I decided to write a post about everything you need to know about buying a home but nobody ever tells you. Part 1 of my Everything You Need to Know about Buying a Home but Nobody Ever Tells you. This part focuses on the first half of the process.”  Especially important for the aforementioned first time home buyer.

Crystal from Budgeting in the Fun Stuff presents Mortgage Payoff Update – Second of 2012, and says, “From here on out, the mortgage is being attacked without mercy with the money we have left at the end of the month after paying our bills and hitting our basic savings and investment goals. We will own our home by June 2012 or else. Here’s what we have accomplished so far.”  Crystal is kicking it.  I’m not sure I saw a mention of how Crystal paid off $13k in one lump sum last month.  She’s kicking it in her entrepreneurial activities which must help a ton in destroying their mortgage debt. Inspiring success story – can’t wait to see the book hit the shelves!

Jeffrey from Saving Advice presents House Ads: Paying Off Your Mortgage Through Advertising?, and says, “For anyone struggling to make their mortgage payment or whose house is currently upside down, the offer of someone paying your mortgage payments would seem like a dream come true. That is what an advertising company, Brainiacs From Mars, says it plans to do. They recently signed a deal with one homeowner to cover their home mortgage payment of $2000 for three months, and possibly up to a year. Before you get your hopes up that this is a solution to your current mortgage problems, it’s important to take a realistic view of what this offer is — nothing more than a publicity stunt. How do we know this? Because it doesn’t make financial sense.”  Still, 3 months of paid mortgage for that one home owner!  

Saving

Editor Pick! Flexo from Consumerism Commentary presents Bank Switch Kit and Checklist, and says, “Use this kit to help you move your money from one bank to another without forgetting the details.”  You see a reason to leave your bank for a competitor.  You need information and documentation.  Read on for a great reference.

J.P. from Novel Investor presents Set Up Automatic Saving For Success, and says, “An automatic saving plan will successfully end all the worry and procrastination we have with our finances and force habit change. Let’s work smarter and start automating our savings.” PF 101 part 2

Dustin from Financial Knowledge Online presents Rebuilding Our Emergency Fund, and says, “Even though we have accumulated a massive amount of debt we have decided to focus on something else; rebuilding our emergency fund!”  Good plan Dustin.  We did the same while we still had debt.

Taxes

Editor Pick! John from Wallet Blog presents Do You Have to Pay Taxes on Your Rewards?, and says, “2012 tax season has arrived, and with it, the big question that Citi brought forward when it issued 1099′s to its customers — Are rewards and incentives taxable or not?”  In Canada we don’t have to pay tax on rewards … yet.

Philip from PT Money Personal Finance presents Tax Preparation Checklist 2011, and says, “A post that helps readers ensure that they are prepared for the tax season.”  Timely.

Glen Craig from Free From Broke presents How to Deduct Your Moving Expenses, and says, “See how to deduct your moving expenses from your taxes. Keep in mind that the move has to involve your employment or, in some cases, the military.”

Amanda from My Dollar Plan presents What is the Difference Between Refundable and Nonrefundable Tax Credits?, and says, “Ever been confused by refundable and non-refundable tax credits? This article is a must-read!”  She said read it – you make the call.  I liked the article.

Credit

Editor Pick! Jen from Master the Art of Saving presents The Downside of Using Credit Cards Responsibly, and says, “In the personal finance blogosphere, you’ll find many mixed views regarding the usage of credit cards. Some will say they’re evil and you shouldn’t ever use them, others will say go ahead and use them as long as you’re responsible. On top of those, you’ll find those who suggest only using them for emergencies. Here’s my take on using Credit Cards Responsibly!”  I still love our rewards card.  The limit is not prohibitive , I pay it monthly, we reap the rewards.  But everyone has their own situation to handle.

Ashley from Money Talks Coaching presents Tales from the Call Center, and says, “I used to work for a major bank in their credit card customer service department. When you work in a call centre you really come across some interesting folks. I mean, I took over 100 calls per day, I was bound to run into some interesting characters.”  I hear ya Ashley.  I worked for a major Canadian Telecom in a call centre and then a power company.  The stories (and sometimes rage) are unforgettable. 

Liana from Card Hub presents Nasty Credit Card Fees, and says, “How do these guys sleep at night? See some of the most vicious application of fees around…Talk about biting the hand that feeds you…here’s hoping First Premier has its rabies shots.”

Craig Ford from Help Me Travel Cheap presents The Business Card Denial: Lessons Learned for Non Income Earning Spouses, and says, “A non-income earning spouse may have a harder time getting approved for a credit card.”  Goes to say, no history of credit means no credit rating means no credit card.

Miranda @ Financial Highway from Financial Highway presents How to Improve Credit Score, and says, “more and more, your credit score is being used to make judgments about your ability to handle your finances. If a low score seems to indicate that you are irresponsible, it will be difficult for you to take advantage of the best offers and loan terms in the world of finances. If your poor credit score is holding you back, here are some things you can do to boost your financial reputation.” Sage advice from Miranda, as always.

Other

Editor Pick! Money Beagle from Money Beagle presents Things Do Happen In Threes, Just Ask The Water Froggies, and says, “Bad things happen in threes, right? Right!”  I’ve been following the water froggies story for a while now.  I am sure I need to install some of these devices.  After the drum of our washing machine blew a golf size ball hole – with our 2nd floor laundry (since moved to the basement) I am mindful of water damage!

Miranda Marquit from Personal Dividends presents Want to Succeed with Your Business? Content is Currency, and says, “If you are an entrepreneur and want to succeed with your business, it is important to be aware of the shift in consumer expectations. Otherwise, you might find yourself struggling to get your business off the ground.”  Refusing to evolve your business will result in failure.  We need to move this site toward some of Miranda’s recommendations.

Jon Rhodes from Affiliate Tips presents 20 Quick Lessons To Help You Become More Successful, and says, “This article shows you 20 top tips to help you become more successful.”  Tips are good. Perhaps there is a new one for you here.

Shaun from Money Cactus presents What Motivates You?, and says, “Many people think that those who take an interest in their personal finances are only motivated by money. I’m not sure what motivates you, but for me it really isn’t about the money at all.”  Shaun wraps this carnival up so very well.  We talk about investing, frugality, taxes and the economy all the time as PF bloggers.  But other things are far more important.

 

I hope you enjoy all of these articles and this carnival.

 

 

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