Welcome to this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance #352! A bold link with an asterisk indicates editor’s picks*.
A group of money bloggers gathered at a cocktail party hosted by a gal named Kacie. They sipped wine, nibbled on hors d’oeuvres and talked about all things finance. Conversation varied from serious to silly as the evening progressed.
Lingering in the foyer shortly after arriving, a few bloggers discussed finance professionals.
“How much should we trust financial experts?” Money Beagle wanted to know.
“Why do you ask?” wondered Miranda Marquit. “Are you relying too much on a guru’s advice or something? You’ve gotta put together a plan that fits your specific situation. Their advice is usually general.”
“It seems like a lot of them are just ‘big hat, no cattle’ people,” Squirrelers chimed in. “You’d be better off to be a ‘small hat, big cattle’ person, as I like to call it.”
“Sometimes, it’s hard to tell whether someone is a financial advisor or salesperson,” Retire Happy observed. “Look to see how they make their money.”
Things got awkward fast near the snack table:
“One of the few things that are a certainty: You will die*,” Jake of I Am 1 Percent gravely told a crowd around him.
A few murmured in agreement. “But, there are some things you can do to recapture wasted time* so you won’t have regrets,” offered Saving Advice. “The thing is, many of us have more time than we think we have, if we’re really honest with ourselves about what constitutes wasted time and what’s important.”
“Sure, we’re all going to die eventually,” agreed Young and Thrifty. “But do you know why you need critical illness insurance? You never know what might happen to you — you might not die straight-up.”
“Good grief, gas sure is expensive!” See Debt Run interjected, desperately wanting to change the subject to something less morbid.
“I know!” agreed Wallet Blog. “Speaking of gas, BP made a mess of its credit card.”
“Ya know, despite the best 0% purchase credit card offers, and the 100,000 matching Capital One Venture Rewards Bonus, there’s no reward for paying your mortgage with a credit card,” said Two Pennies Earned. “I’m also sorting out whether it’s better to use frequent flyer miles for cash or flying.”
“When it comes to credit cards, balance transfers may not be the solution to your problems,” said Eric from DollerVersity. “I came across some tips to help you track everyday expenses. You’ve gotta get a handle on your spending, or balance transfers won’t do much for you.”
Several bloggers reclined on some deck chairs, catching a springtime breeze.
“We plan to pay our mortgage off early,” Passive Family Income told the group. “We’re paying more than $200 extra per month, and that will cut a lot of time off our loan.”
“Oh, that’s nice, but some think that renting is the path to wealth,” said Free Money Finance.
Philip Taylor threw his hands in the air, frustrated with regular bills, and considered the cost of living off the grid*. Before going that extreme, he figured he’d learn some gardening tips for beginners.
Browsing titles arranged on a second-hand bookshelf, Narrow Bridge Finance saw an opportunity.
“Kacie, did you know you could sell your junk easily with Amazon? They’ve made some changes to make it easier for sellers.”
“Junk?” she repeated. “Yeah, thanks. I’ve sold unwanted items online before, and earning extra money online with paid surveys helped me pay down debt and build up savings.”
“Speaking of savings, and uh…keeping things safe — a safe might not be the best place to hide valuables in your home,” Start Talking Cents told his hostess, looking around the room and observing nothing of value. “If you had valuables, you could hide them behind insulation in your garage, or maybe in an old paint can.”
It’s possible to retire wealthy on an average salary, but you’ve got to have the discipline to stop yourself from dipping in your savings and stick to your financial plan to make your thousands or millions.
“Having one million dollars doesn’t necessarily mean you’re rich if you don’t handle the money properly, and I learned some interesting principles from Millionaire Teacher,” said Echo.
“It’s important to understand your investments,” Novel Investor replied, “and beware: ETFs should come with a warning label, and do keep an eye to tracking error. I read an interesting case against passive investing, for people who like to be more hands-on.”
Perched on sofas and chairs in the living room, a few discussed high-level topics in investing.
“Is it even possible to have a dividend stock bubble?” Dividend Growth Stocks wanted to know.
“I’m not sure about a bubble, but I’d like to figure out when you can retire on dividends,” Dividend Growth Investor replied. “There’s definitely a crossover point you have to reach.”
“Would you consider investing in a Structured Settlement Annuity investing to be a good deal?” someone asked Nerd’s Eye View.
“Yes, but…here. Let me get you a refill while I explain this to you.”
“I don’t know about you, but I’m screening covered call options for my traditional IRA,” said My Journey to Millions.
Several bloggers headed toward the computer room to watch a silly YouTube video.
“I see you have a little home office setup here. Let me share 4 tips to get the most out of working from home,” suggested Jason from One Money Design.
“I have a lot of respect for online degrees,” My University Money announced, nodding toward Kacie’s computer monitor. “It’s the way of the future! Oh, I’m going to retweet this post reviewing Medishare from Money Help for Christians — health care can be so complicated.”
“Can I borrow your phone charger? I want to comment on The Urge to Merge: Money after Marriage, That Is from Tie the Money Knot, but my battery is about dead.”
“Hey Sandy,” Kacie asked, “how did your finances improve last month?”
“Good, thanks!” Sandy replied. “I’m making a lot of progress in the last few months, and paid off another credit card as of March 1. I’ve improved my debt totals by $14,421 since the beginning of December.”
*High-fives all around.*
Peter was jogging in place.
“It’s a long road to budgeting bliss, mused Eemusings. “Definitely not a sprint. You’ve gotta be in it for the long haul.”
“There are 9 ways I could have avoided debt,” said American Debt Project, “but what’s done is done. I came across a stress-free way to prioritize your debt, and it’s helping me to improve my credit score as well.”
“When you’re checking your credit score, are you checking the Fico or ‘Fako‘?” Dough Roller asked. “There’s a difference.”
“Holy C.O.L.A., Batman! I Got A Raise!,” exclaimed Debt Black Hole. “Well that’s great, but my name isn’t Batman,” said Tom from Stupid Cents. “What would you do with a wage increase?,” he inquired. “You’re not going to spend it all at the company store, are you?”
“I’ll probably be more like Paula at Afford Anything, and invest 100 percent of my income.”
“Wow, that’s pretty amazing! Let me tell you more about what I learned from my first job,” Hope to Prosper chimed in. “Apple is the world’s whipping boy for worker conditions, jobs, profits. Is that fair?”
“I don’t think so. And here’s something interesting — I’ll tell you why your decisions are already made before you make them*,” Shaun from Money Cactus predicted.
“Have You Heard of the Volcker Rule?” Budget Snob asked. “If not, on July 21, 2012 you will,” he ominously predicted.
“I’m vaguely familiar with it,” Suba replied, making a mental note to read up on it later. “What I want to know, is why haven’t women taken the stage yet? And aren’t you really irritated at the 9 biggest rip-offs ever?”
“Beats me,” shrugged One Cent At A Time. “We should apply the concept of Karma in personal finance to see what we can learn.”
[Photo used via Dave Dugdale Creative Commons]