Welcome to the 15th edition of the Carnival of Personal Finance. For those of you who are new to the carnival, it's simply a sampling of some of the best articles from top personal finance bloggers over the past week. If you want to see more of the carnivals, last week's edition was hosted by Optimized Living and next week's will be hosted by the Canadian Capitalist. But for now, this week's version is here at Free Money Finance.
Brace yourself for a ton of ideas to help your finances! Here they are:
De-Bunking an Expert
We start with one of my favorite posts of the week. It's from Financial Fruition and is titled "Crappy TV -- Jim Cramer's Mad Money -- Let's Turn It OFF!" In the post, Financial Fruition advocates turning off the TV and delves into why Jim Cramer's Mad Money is a show not worth watching. If you read till the end, you will see Financial Fruition's very own simple investing tips. If you're a reader of Free Money Finance, you know that I'm no "expert" lover either. That's why I love this post! (That and the fact that FF was organized enough to get his submission in first.) ;-)
Don't Over-pay Your Taxes
Our next post is from Young Miser who writes "Over Paying Taxes". This article is about paying too much per paycheck in federal income tax payroll deductions and receiving a large check at the end of the year, rather than taking that money each month and investing it yourself. It's a basic financial principle but one that often goes ignored (if I remember correctly, the average return from the IRS is somewhere around $2,000). Everyone should read (and practice) the ideas presented here.
From taxes, we move to credit. And not just any credit, but credit in Malaysia. Messy Christian writes in "Malaysia's Credit Lovin' Generation" that "a) the debt situation in America is alarming and
b) Malaysia is getting there". (This seems to be a trend in several countries. I recently wrote about the same thing happening in Russia.) This isn't a personal finance blog, so don't expect a lot of money information, but it is a financial aspect of what's going on in a country as well as her personal fight with debt. Also check out the comments as they add a lot of value to this post.
Car Buying Mistakes
Nickel of FiveCentNickel (one of my favorite personal finance blogs, BTW) writes on "Car Buying Mistakes". This entry provides a list of ten common car buying mistakes, and comes complete with a bit of additional commentary on each one. Good comments here too (there's one from me!), so be sure to check them out.
Get Rich or Prevent Poorness
Jon at Smart Money Daily offers us a very interesting post. His "Getting Rich and Not Being Poor" is about having two financial plans. One to get rich and the other to prevent you from being poor. It is similar to a sports team that has to balance offense and defense. This is a concept discussed in The Millionaire Next Door (my favorite personal finance book) and is certainly worth your time to stop and check it out. If you want to be wealthy, you need to play both great offense and great defense.
Grow Your Money Over Time
This next post is from the latest addition to my Bloglines feeds, Financial Baby Steps. In a post titled "Why Compound Interest Loves Time", he writes that "when it comes to compound interest, time is your best friend." So true. Be sure to check out his story on the American Indians who sold Manhattan for a few beads. Turns out they were pretty sharp negotiators!
A Great Song -- Plus Insurance!
Here's a post from InsureBlog titled "Like a Bridge Over Troubled Waters..." that talks about Employee Assistance Programs. Don't know what an Employee Assistance Program is? Then check out this post and learn something!
And just in case you don't get enough insurance talk from the previous post, here's one from The Capitalist Blogger titled "Customize Your Insurance." This 4-part article briefly covers the do's and do not's of insurance. Home, health, life and auto insurance are all covered and should be read by anyone who has any type of insurance.
Get Some Money
Tax Lien Investing
Frugal Underground submits "New (to me) Investment", which is a thorough overview of tax lien certificate investing for the uninitiated. I have flirted with this kind of investing in the past, but never gone ahead with it. Maybe I will after reading this.
Save Money while Staying Fresh
Frugal for Life, who's always good for some great money saving tips, gives us "Air Freshener Matchsticks for the Bathroom". She advises us: "Don't waste money on the unnecessary when there are alternatives out there to save a few dollars." This wins the "most fun" post of the week award. A couple choice quotes: "When the odor in the bathroom gets to be too much it is best to use something to freshen the air, so as not to stink out the next user. Flushing in mid-plop gets to be costly over time" and "The downside is that having matches around children can lead to more than the match burning." Ya think?
Lemony or Midas?
The next piece is from Political Calculations who writes "Lemony Snicket vs King Midas". The author asks: "When it comes to investing, are you more prone to suffer Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events than you are to have the Midas Touch? Political Calculations offers a fun tool showing what your investing future might look like either way!" Let's hope that you're more Midas than Lemony after reading this post!
Save Money Using Competitive Offers
Personal Finance Advice has a great (and unique!) money saving tip in "Use Competing Offers To Save Money". The summary of the tip is as follows: "One of the easiest ways to save money is to simply call the company and ask for a better price. This is especially easy when it comes to services that are offering deep discounts to try and lure you away from their competitors. One of the best ways to do this is to use your junk mail to relate competing offers." Now, read the rest to get how to put this into practice and see how the author saved quite a bit using it.
Searchlight Crusade brings us "Pre-payment Penalties and Alternate Payment Schemes". I'm certainly in favor of pre-paying mortgages, but you need to know all the in's and out's before you do. This post gives you those details.
Medical Billing Errors
Flexo at Consumerism Commentary offers up "Medical Billing Errors". In this piece Flexo shares a quick story on being overbilled by a hospital and offers suggestions for those who have had the same happen. A hospital overbill? Why do they need to do this anyway? Aren't their outrageously expensive "regular" fees enough to keep them well off? :-)
Grocery Shopping versus Eating Out
Wealthy Web posts on "Grocery Shopping Versus Dining Out" and says, "Dining in may not save much money over going out today, but it's saving tons in future health costs." I saw this post earlier and almost commented but I had to go to a meeting -- I'm not sure how eating in COULDN'T save a ton of money over eating out, unless you're using a McDonald's Happy Meal as the "eating out" cost. What do you all think? Stop by, read this post, and let Wealthy Web (and me) know your opinion.
Who's the Big Dog?
The Happy Capitalist gives a post titled "Top Dogs' Top Firms" which is a rundown, by brand awareness, of investment firms to America's wealthiest. Take a guess who #1 is, then go to the site to see if you were correct.
Overcoming Investment Fear
Financial Reference brings us "The Bull Case for Stocks". In this post, he advocates overcoming the fear of investing during recent market conditions, arguing that the current market risks are overblown. What do you think?
Chinatown Black Market
Blueprint for Financial Prosperity shares "Buying Counterfeit Merchandise". This post describes how the Chinatown black market works. Key question: "So would you buy a fake purse if it meant chopping 80-90% off the price?" Also be sure to check out the heated discussion that appears in the comments. Yikes!!
Credit Cards Galore
MightyBargainHunter offers us "Vexed by a couple of MSN credit card articles". The author says, "A couple of credit card articles -- one on how paying old debts affects your credit score, and the other on credit limit increases -- had statements that just didn't make sense." Go check out the post and see what he means.
The In's and Out's of PMI
Save $10 at Emigrant Direct
MyMoneyBlog gives us "Potential $10 Emigrant Direct Savings Opening Bonus" where he offers a way for people looking for a high-interest 4.0% APY savings account at Emigrant Direct to get a bonus for opening the account, since Emigrant Direct itself is not offering one. If you're interested in such an account, you may be able to save $10 by reading this.
2million brings us "An Improved Energy Hedging Strategy?". This is the third post in a series that details an energy hedging strategy that uses a modified dollar cost averaging investment technique to hedge against rising energy prices. It's a bit complicated for a simple country boy like me, but it may be just what you're looking for. Check it out.
Buy Low and Sell High
The Real Returns talks about "Balanced Funds" and says, "Balanced funds are very good for the instant diversification of assets in different asset classes. The most important thing I believe they help an investor to do is 'buy low and sell high'."
Taxes and Finance from Hurricane Rita
I was going to select a post from AllThingsFinancial myself as I assumed JLP would be a bit pre-occupied this week since he was out-running Hurricane Rita. Then I got an email from him a bit after the submission deadline and he said he'd forgotten about the carnival and wanted to submit a piece if it wasn't too late. Let's see, can I make an exception for a guy who just spent several painful days in a hurricane-induced nightmare? I think I can. ;-)
JLP gives us "Projected Tax Brackets for 2006" which, as you might imagine, details what tax rates are projected to be for next year. In addition, I think you'll appreciate his post "Whew!". If you want a first-hand account of what it's like to flee a hurricane, you'll love this.
Glad you're ok, JLP.
Tour of Free Money Finance
I don't have an entry per se this week -- I'm just basking in the glow of all these other great posts. However, if you'd like to know more about Free Money Finance, you can take a mini-tour or check out my "Best" series posts to see what this blog is about.
Thanks for dropping in to this week's carnival -- I really do appreciate you stopping by! And as a reminder, next week's Carnival of Personal Finance is at the Canadian Capitalist. So mark your calendars and be sure to stop by there next Monday. Have a GREAT week!
I'll be putting the late entries here -- not sure how many there will be.
Second is Clutter2Cash who gives us "My Missing Money." Here she posts about her recent (and ongoing) experience with finding and retrieving an old bank account balance using an online national abandoned property database.