Carnival of Personal Finance #86

Welcome to the 86th Carnival of Personal Finance! For those unaware, the Carnival of Personal Finance is a series of weekly posts hosted by various blogs in which we highlight great posts on various personal finance topics.

Usually, when I go to read a carnival or festival, I scan the article titles quickly and only click on ones that are really interesting and give short shrift to a lot of blog articles that don’t have titles that grab me right off the bat. This time is a little different: I picked out one sentence from each entrant in the carnival and included it in this post, so you can get a flavor of everyone’s writing style before you click! (I did do a bit of editing on a few sentences so that pronoun references made sense and so forth).

I’ve also grouped the articles into distinct areas of personal finance discussion to help you find articles that interest you. I also start off the whole thing by selecting eight “editor’s choice” articles, which are the ones I happened to enjoy the most out of all of the submissions.

Editor’s Choice

If consumers are motivated to purchase a rebated product, they overestimate their probability of redeeming the rebate in order to make the purchase more attractive.
Mail-In Rebates, Psychology, And An Interesting Analogy (@ money, matter, and more musings)

People say that you will be amazed when you see how much you spend on the morning coffee by writing it down in a notebook, yet there are other methods to become more aware of my spending that have worked better for me.
Answers To Common Budgeting Questions (@ my financial awareness)

We have to know what makes us angry and incites a passion to change. In order to make a committed change we have find those buttons, press ‘em down and not let go until the change has been fully made.
How To Find Your Hot Buttons @ wallerblog

In other words, the new rich — which by the way could be considered the suddenly wealthy as well — may still take time to digest their new status and to work out their tithing strategies.
Do Rich People Really Give Less? (@ the digerati life)

Where would I come up with the extra $1,000 we would need to move? These are the financial sacrifices and money savers that I can remember that we did in order to make it happen.
Making The Financial Sacrifice To Get What You Want (@ my two dollars)

Without the desire to follow through, you’re never going to get anywhere, or your results will be overly skewed and present a rosier picture than you think.
One Month Challenge Review: The Tracking Part (@ we’re in debt)

Corporate executives and Wall Street use financial ratios to distill the numbers down to help compare apples to apples, and we can use similar ratios in our personal finances.
Stop Comparing Your Finances With Others: Five Financial Ratios To Keep You On Track (@ money smart life)

All of this got me to thinking about simple things that people can do to cut their utility expenditures without impacting their comfort level.
12 Simple Ways To Save Money On Utilities (And The Planet) (@ five cent nickel)

Budgeting / Money Management

So the next question should be: how much money is six months of living expenses? I propose two approaches to this: one working forwards, and another working backwards.

Most teachers don’t make six-figure incomes, so it’s important to have a diversified stream of income.
What Teaching Taught Me About Money: A Financial Lesson Plan (@ the frugal duchess)

I don’t know whether this financial sacrifice will be worth it in 30 years, but I am hoping to be so.
Is Life Passing Me By? Part Deux (@ living almost large)

We tell him that he cannot buy something unless he has saved enough. This we think is one of the most important lessons we want him to learn.
Teaching My Kids About Money (@ ask mr. credit card)

It answers the question, “Will I be able to make all of my payments this year?”
Financial Ratios For Personal Evaluation: Working Capital Ratio (@ consumerism commentary)

In the first 5 months of my job, I took my 401K from $0 to $10K!
Towards A Better Financial Future (Even If You Don’t Have A Penny To Save) (@ personal finance for students and fresh grads)

One of the key strategies that I use to save money, or at least to keep myself from spending more of it than I need to, is to convince myself of the notion that I have far less money than I actually do at any given time.
The Tao Of Perceived Poverty (@ make your nut)


You might be wondering what goes into this magical and mystical “credit score” and what you can do to improve that score so that you can get favorable loan terms the next time you need an auto loan or mortgage.

Ultimately, shifting your debt from credit to home equity is a risky endeavor that has a significant payoff if you can remain responsible (a characteristic that, arguably, you may not have exhibited when you racked up the debt).
Pay Off Credit Cards With Home Equity? (@ blueprint for financial prosperity)

And now that I finally got this limit, I hate to say it but I think I’m going to have to decline it.
I Just Got Approved For A Credit Card Limit Of $25K (@ money walks)


The personal satisfaction that comes with the security of having some savings, or at least a line of credit, has been more satisfying than having all of the consumer goods that advertisers say we must have.

Sure, if you have a mortgage or you’re buying a car, making regular payments on those loans will improve your score but don’t spend money on a credit card so you can make minimum payments on a debt that is charging you 20% interest each year.
Don’t Take Debt To Improve Your Credit Score (@ declare war on credit cards)

Usually, it’s not a good idea to pay off your home mortgage unless you have a lot of extra cash.
Priority: Paying Off Debt Or Investing? (@ the sun’s financial diary)

If you have a cash flow problem, you need to make changes; however, those changes might not be as drastic.
Taking Control Over The Debt Police (@ taking control over money)

It’s a long road, and the journey is never smooth, but you have to take the less-trodden path if you wish to STAY OUT OF debt.
33 Surefire Tips To Financial Prosperity (@ debt consolidation lowdown)

What this means is that, if the unfortunate should ever happen, you are not responsible for paying your loans back.
Never Pay Off Student Loans Early! (@ stingy students)

This propensity to delve into the world of debt is, in some measure, driven by the American mentality (also shared by the citizens of many other nations) of immediate gratification.
What Is Debt Doing To Americans, Anyway? (@ debt free)

Credit card companies have a special word for the customers who pay in full every month. They’re called deadbeats.
Credit Card Debt & Investing in Debt (@ moneymonk)

After continuing to work my tail off and receiving a few additional raises, I began to question why I always felt like I was struggling to make ends meet even though I was making decent money.
Be Honest With Yourself (@ my new choice)


We live in the most prosperous nation in the world. Many of the poor in America would be at least middle class in a vast majority of the rest of the world. Yet 80 percent (80%! Not 10%, not 15% but 80%!) say they need more money.
Making The Most Of The Money You Have (@ free money finance)

Usually, you realize you’re running out of space when you go searching for someplace to put more clutter.
New Uses For Old Clutter (@ ai ya)

I know a lot of PF bloggers are selling their books through Amazon or eBay. Great. Good luck to them. I’d rather not wait in a post office line.
Getting Rid Of My Books! (@ mapgirl’s fiscal challenge)

But, having just shot this whole series in the foot, the two biggest factors in long term financial success are patience and discipline.. and they go very well with cost control and saving ideas.
Simple Living – 25 Ways To Save Money (@ investmentsloans)

We’ve made the decision to focus on spending less because it is something that we have control over right now – We could sit down at any time and make a list of ways to cut spending, which would make our “spending less” goal immediate (once put into action.)
Should You Focus On Spending Less Or Earning More? (@ not made of money)

My favorite K Chronicles strips often covered the topic of frugal living – how to get by as a starving artist, tips on raiding art gallery buffets, adventures in public transportation, where to donate your sperm for cash – I gained inspiration from these comic, only-partially-joking takes on cheap living and quick cash-making schemes.
Keith Knight Of The K Chronicles: Keepin’ Kool On The Cheap (@ wise bread)

So what compels people to spend money on storing their idle belongings?
Self Storage: Spending Money To Store Our Stuff (@ queercents)


A householder (as opposed to a monk) who does not struggle to get wealth is immoral.
Is Generating Wealth An Obligation? (@ extreme perspective)

Perhaps the formula to determine the percentage of bonds should not be 120-your age, but rather, what is the expected volatility of your non-correlated investments.
The Role Of Bonds In An Investment Portfolio: A Simplification Of Modern Portfolio Theory (@ making our way)

I absolutely believed the advisor at Merrill Lynch was acting in my best interest – under that advice, my retirement savings tanked, but I really didn’t realize it because I was not tracking it at all.
My Roth IRA: A Retrospective (@ seeking wealth)

However, in my opinion, building a core portfolio around any of these stocks could be a good strategy.
My Watch List – Dividend Focused (@ the dividend guy blog)

Just keep in mind as you read, listen, or watch different investment ideas being showcased that not every one of those “great ideas” is great for you.
Be Comfortable With Your Activities And Investments (@ everyday money)

It does for 401k plans what the Roth IRA did for Traditional IRA plans – it created a vehicle for folks to save after-tax dollars and allow it to grow tax free.
Roth 401(k) Versus Regular 401(k) (@ my retirement blog)

My stock market success fueled my inner greed, and I began buying more dollar stocks without doing the proper research.
How To Fail At Stock Market Investing (@ investor trip)

Why do lenders on want to lend to borrowers at a rate below what banks and credit card companies are willing to lend?

If stocks are the best performing investment long-term hands down and you can wait out the ups and downs in the market, then why wouldn’t you be entirely invested in stocks to get the most bang for your buck long term?
Asset Allocation: If You Are Young Why Wouldn’t You Be 100% In Stocks? (@ my financial journey)

To my mind, there are two major points against dollar-cost averaging.
No Dollar Cost Averaging For Me, Thanks! (And Here’s Why) (@ an english major’s money)

You can summarize most of the suggestions as: “buy in the off season”.
Can You Time The Retail Market? (@ scott on money)


You might be surprised to know that fees at banks, credit card companies, and other financial institutions are often negotiable.
Want That Bank Fee Waived? Then Ask! (@ the coin jar)

For this reason, it becomes worse to make a conversion during years of relatively high income, assuming a variable income from year to year.
Convert Your IRA During Low Income Years! (@ a financial revolution)

Having the ability to pay bills online — besides the comfort of knowing your payment isn’t lost in the mail — can also save you money.
5 Ways Online Bill Pay Saves You Money (@ online savings blog)

The idea is that the financial services industry wants to scare you into saving too much money for retirement, so they can get their hands on your money and charge you lots of fees to manage it.
Are You Saving Too Much For Retirement? (@ my open wallet)

Don’t listen to the hard numbers that say you should save 10% or 15%, or half-your-age percent.
The Perfect Fool-Proof Retirement Saving Formula (@ beating the joneses)

However, the staged approach does seem to provide an effective way to use one’s home as savings for retirement.
Retirement Planning: A Staged Approach (@ my wealth builder)

Since the money inside a 529 plan grows tax-free, is there a break-even point, beyond which it’s more advantageous to invest in a 529 plan than in a regular taxable account even after paying penalty?
529 Plans: The 10% Penalty Solution, Part 2 (@ my first million at thirty three)

O my Roth IRA
Four thousand is not enough
Retire later

Ode To Roth IRA: A Haiku (@ well heeled)

I would like to suggest that every American take a lesson from the Chinese “Year of the Golden Pig” by starting their own personal golden piggy bank.
2007: Year Of The Golden Piggy Bank (@ time and money)


If you meet the criteria, you can claim up to a 50% credit for contributions to a qualifying retirement savings account.
Retirement Savings Contributions Credit (@ a penny saved)

In layman’s terms, it simply means that if you sell a stock at a loss, you can’t repurchase the shares back again within 30 days and claim the loss against your gains.
How Investing Taxes Work (Part One – Capital Gains) (@ million dollar journey)

Knowing that I can send my return in that same night, without having to get out of my pajamas is a HUGE incentive.
The Ultimate Guide To Filing Your Taxes Online For Free (@ wallet rehab)

FDIC Chairperson Sheila Bair recently urged low and middle-income taxpayers to use US Government and bank programs to save a larger proportion of their refund.
FDIC: You Can Keep More Of Your Refund, Even If You Aren’t Rich (@ tick marks)

Most of these deals are really promotions for customers of other services or programs but judging from the last year many will work even if you are not a customer.
TurboTax Discounts And Promotions (@ pro bargain hunter)

Other / Misc.

Using World Bank income data, it lets you put in your income and find out how you compare to the rest of the world
How Rich Are You? (@ getting to enough)

Funding a potential long term illness or disability without depleting your savings and investments can be done in many ways.
Why Long Term Care Insurance? (@ hill’s personal finance)

This has started another round of back-and-forth with Everbank that I have been assured is now being addressed

If Mexico had regulations for businesses, no one followed them – it seemed like everyone had their own little microbusiness running out of their home.
Personal Finance Tips From Tijuana (@ frugal law student)

When you make peace with money you are then in a position to really grow and become more.

While reading The Simple Dollar’s recent post on Paying Cash, it occurred to me that everyone ALREADY always pays cash for everything, whether they realize it or not. It’s just a matter of how much they pay, and when.
You Always Pay Cash (@ blunt money)

The fact of the matter behind that common societal expectation is that it is simply too boring, too simple, and can even be more risky than we initially thought.
Become A Rock Star Of Business (@ dirty mechanism)

Here’s a few things I’ve been itching to do, but am putting off until I have employment (and paychecks!).
Five Things I’ll Do Once To Get A Job (@ poorer than you)

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Now that I’ve got my personal finance house “in order”, I really don’t think about money all that much.
My So-Called Personal Financial Life (@ no credit needed blog)

Trent Hamm

Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.