Carnival of Personal Finance #223

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 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 Keyboard a-Michael Maggs 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."

A post I would describe as almost brilliant and certainly worthwhile came from PT Money on the costs of television. The inspired insight that PT almost-but-not-quite makes is that the monthly fees you pay for cable or satellite aren’t really what makes TV expensive. It’s the time you waste watching the damn thing.

In what I am really hoping will be a growing anti-green trend (the purple movement?) two blogs posted on how popular green habits don’t really make sense, or at least don’t really save money. Budget Pulse pointedly asked how much can you really save with reusable shopping bags, and determined the answer to be essentially nothing. And then made the rarely heard but strong argument against rechargeable batteries.

More reasons for me to be proud to be an American were provided by Studenomics. Apparently, in that lawless land to our north, banks can still give credit cards to college students, using only tee-shirts and Frisbees as bait for their sinister trap. Once ensnared, the poor children are forced to spend money they don’t have on things they don’t need.

No fewer than four bloggers contributed posts to the carnival on the irresistible theme of lessons learned over the past year. (Gather Little by Little, Budgets are Sexy, My Wealth Builder, and Modern Gal.) One of the lessons cited by Modern Gal is "Don’t give investment or personal financial advice to close friends." As opposed to strangers who read your blog?

And finally, Don’t Mess with Taxes (still one of my favorite blog names) provided a detailed and practical rundown of what is in the healthcare bill proposed by Senator Baucus. It’s more practical and informative than most media accounts, possibly because author Kay Bell took the radical step of actually "thumbing through" the actual bill. It’s innovation like that that makes me keep reading personal finance blogs.

[Photo: Michael Maggs]


  • By Rob Bennett, September 22, 2009 @ 1:35 pm

    Kyle hits the nail on the head with what may be the most important investing advice of the year: “lower your expectations.”

    Ever the contrarian, I would think that lower prices would signal far higher returns on a going forward basis. It was during the insane bull market that we all should have been lowering our expectations. If we return to the price levels that applied in the early 1980s (which seems likely), we will be looking at years and years of returns of about 15 percent real.

    That’s bad news?


  • By Jim, September 22, 2009 @ 4:00 pm


    Why are you against the ‘green’ movement?

  • By Frank Curmudgeon, September 22, 2009 @ 5:05 pm

    Jim: I could be anti-green becuase I am a curmudgeon who prefers concrete to trees. Or maybe I see it as the ultimate triumph of feel-good-about-yourself form over substance. It’s hard to tell.

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