It is time once again to check up on the wonderful world of personal finance bloggers, conveniently packaged into this week’s edition of the Carnival of Personal Finance. Hosted by Taking Charge, a CreditCards.com blog, and edited by one person with an introduction by another, this week certainly gets points for production value.
Narrow Bridge Adventures offered up a primer on trading stocks on margin which was about 75% correct. At least the author makes it clear that he has never done this and doesn’t ever intend to. But I am growing tired of bloggers writing posts on topics they don’t know much about as if they did. Other novices are likely to be misled into doing something foolish.
On the other hand, a blogger who claims to be an amateur, Kyle at Amateur Asset Allocator, posted on How To Invest In A Low-Return Environment, i.e. the environment we are in now and expect to be in for a while. Besides the basics of watching out for fees and taxes, Kyle hits the nail on the head with what may be the most important investing advice of the year: "lower your expectations."
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This week the carnival is at Budgets Are Sexy.
Right there at the top in the editor’s picks was a submission from Free Money Finance, telling us that a pleasant attitude and personality will help you succeed. I’ll have to take his word for that.
Realm of Prosperity had a brilliant idea to help us all pay down our debt. "Create the illusion of a smaller amount through the use of many 9s." Don’t pay $20 each month on a debt, pay $19.99. You’ll feel better. Somehow.
I was encouraged by a post from Financial Methods on Stupid, Pointless and Worthless Frugality Tips. The author is obviously new at this. Neither toilet paper nor dryer lint is mentioned. Still, it’s always good to see another blogger willing to take a stand against dumpster diving.
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Time for another of my lazy Tuesday posts recapping the week’s Carnival of Personal Finance. (Last week I couldn’t find the carnival, but then again I was too lazy too look very hard.)
Amongst the several items that caught my eye was one from Fiscal Fizzle listing ten places you still need cash instead of plastic. It made me feel old. (Admittedly not that hard to do.) I always carry cash when I leave the house. Along with keys, identification, and a charged cell phone, cash is one of the four things I think no adult should go outside without.
But the theme of the post is that, of course, the days of cash are numbered. The author tells us "I have to admit – it’s rare for our family to carry cash on our person on a daily basis." And then his efforts at reassuring me that cash will always have role fall flat. At several of his places even I now pay without cash. (E.g. highway tolls and the appliance repair guy.) Before reading the post I wasn’t worried I would soon be the last guy in America using worn pieces of paper to buy stuff, but I am now. Of course, our currency has looked like play money to me since the mid-90′s, so maybe it’s just as well.
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This week the travelling circus of money pitched its tents at Good Financial Cents, where my post on when to take Social Security was an editor’s pick. Seeing my name at the top of a carnival always puts me into a good mood. Let’s see how long that lasts.
Squawkfox was also an editor’s pick with 6 Surefire Ways To Avoid a Mortgage Meltdown. It’s a solid post with tips that would have been considered painfully obvious ten or fifteen years ago, but are worth giving out now in the Great Aftermath. My one objection is to the idea that ordinary folks buying more house than they can afford is somehow different from "that whole subprime lending mortgage mess". Ordinary and well intentioned people spending more on a house than they could afford is exactly what got us into that mess.
Useful and important tips on spotting an investment bubble were contributed by Steadfast Finances. Not that I think this will help in the future. One of the remarkable things about investment bubbles is that in the late stages many, if not most, participants are perfectly aware it’s a bubble. They just think they can get out just before it bursts.
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This week the carnival appears at Poorer Than You with a US Presidents theme. That’s not a group particularly known for handling personal finances well. I think the only two that accumulated serious money outside of politics were Washington and Bush the Elder. But several of them are pictured on our money, so I guess it’s a natural connection anyway.
Darwin’s Finance contributed a post that warms the dark cockles of my cold heart, Median vs. Mean: Know the Difference or Risk Being Manipulated. Actually, there are quite a few concepts you should know or run the risk of being manipulated, but median and mean are a good start. I do have one issue with the post, though. Darwin says that "average does not always equate to mean." I suppose anything is possible, but the word "average" is defined as arithmetic mean. You can look it up.
My grim view of things was further reinforced by Modern Gal’s When Personal Finance Jumps the Shark. Too much of PF advice is repetitive drivel. (And yes, I am old enough to remember that episode of Happy Days.)
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