Yes, it's that time of year again -- Free Money Finance March Madness is upon us!
For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, it's our annual "tournament" of the best personal finance articles of the past year. They face each other in an NCAA-style bracket system, FMF readers vote for the winner, and at the end of it all, the best post is left standing. And like last year, it's all for several good causes. Here are some details from last year:
This year I'm getting a head start on it. In the past, we've had so many posts in the early rounds that it's been hard for readers to keep up. So this year I'll be starting the tournament early (still ending near the end of March) and letting everyone have plenty of time to read all the posts.
64 posts in total will be allowed in the 2009 competition. Each one will be assigned randomly in a bracket set of "games" similar to the one used for the Men's NCAA basketball tournament. (If you want to see what one looks like, go to the end of this post and download last year's bracket.) Here are more details:
If you're a blogger and have money-related posts you want to include you can email the following to me: 1. The name of the post you're submitting, 2. the URL of the post you're submitting, 3. two to five sentences on what makes this post so great (I'll be using this wording in the competition, though I reserve the right to edit it, so really "sell" your posts), and the charity you're playing for (see below for details on what this means.) I need to receive all this by Friday, January 30. Note: if you do not submit your posts in this format, they could be rejected. Also, the posts submitted need to be from the calendar year 2008.
You can submit up to two posts, but if you do, be sure to list them in order of your preference. I'll start by allowing only one post per site, but if all the slots don't fill up, I'll start adding extra posts by sites already in the tournament. If I don't receive 64 submissions, I'll fill in the brackets with my own posts.
Participation will be on a first come-first served basis. So if you're the 65th blogger to submit a post, you're not going to get a spot.
The posts will "play" each other with the winner advancing and the loser being bumped. They'll "play" in this manner: 1) I'll post the competing posts, listing who's playing who, 2) readers can leave comments on which they like better, 3) the post with the most votes wins -- I'll break any ties, and 4) the winner will advance in the bracket to "play" again. Ultimately, there will be only one post left -- the "champion" for this season.
Criteria for great articles is as follows: 1) practicality of the post 2) how interesting/provocative/unique it is, 3) the "personal-ness" of it and 4) its impact on net worth.
Like last year, I'll make contributions to the charities of the top four winners' choices as follows:
- First Place donation -- $500
- Second Place donation -- $300
- Third Place donation -- $100
- Fourth Place donation -- $100
The charity has to be a registered charity to receive a tax deduction under U.S. law. In other words, I won't be giving $500 to a "charity" you and your brother came up with on the spur of the moment. In addition I reserve the right to ask you to select an alternative charity in case I don't feel it's appropriate for me to give to the cause you've listed. This wasn't a problem last year and I don't suspect it will be this year, but I'm putting this stipulation in up front just in case I need a bit of flexibility.
As readers, you get the chance to read some great pieces and help decide who wins this year's championship. It should be great fun and full of the best personal finance posts of the past year. Good stuff all the way around!