My blog, my rules.
I still need to keep some semblance of quality going, even if I am hosting the Carnival of Personal Finance.
WADING THROUGH A SEA OF MEDIOCRITY
To reach the bare minimum level of personal finance blogging these days, I chopped out
20 30 posts from ~100 that were submitted because they were clearly commercial shills (read: crap), and/or too close to being spammy or commercial-like for my liking.
Actually if I had my way, I’d have chopped a hell of a lot more based on whether or not the post was original and interesting because I think 95% of PF blogs are crap, but since I am supposed to be a kind Carnival of Personal Finance Host, I will play nice today.
(As nice as I can be.)
I really like those How-To Dummies books that teach you how to do things and pick up skills in a short amount of time (read into that double entendre what you will), so this Carnival will have a Dummies theme, with shameless plugging of my own posts in blue sprinkled through (hey there has to be SOME benefit to being a host, right?).
Editor’s picks are in bold and red, because .. well they’re Editor’s Picks.
Okay, let’s try and make this worth reading, because.. you know, I don’t want to be a mediocre bore and just list everyone’s submissions as: Blogger @ Blog Name Says [Insert Cut and Paste Here].
SO YOU WANNA GROW YOUR NET WORTH, EH?
Whether or not you have money to spend or not, if you have any hope in trying to grow your net worth, you should be considering stocks; not necessarily individual ones, but the stock market in general.
You might want to start off with knowing what your net worth should be.
Then we can move onto being interested in learning the basics such as what is compounding interest, and why stocks grow your money, because you will need tips & strategies as a newbie, such as the old adage of buying low and selling high and learning why diversification of your portfolio matters.
This even includes considering real estate investing or trying to wade the murky waters of reverse mortgages which apparently have changed for the better.
(Many many more condos are currently being built on this Toronto landscape, which scares me.)
Actually, I wrote a whole series where I hoped to make investing seem more interesting and less boring. Seems to have kind of worked, but not as spectacularly as I had hoped. Guess you can’t put lipstick on a pig.
If you are anything like me, you might be interested in dabbling in dividend investing because you can make $50,000 a year and pay less than $200 in taxes, but even dividend investors should ponder holding onto non-dividend paying stocks and consider holding a diversified portfolio, and compare mutual fund holdings.
Stock markets are also volatile, so you need to learn how to brace yourself for a stock market beating and have a plan when the market crashes. Also, you might want to think twice before dabbling in copycat investing, seeing as lazy folks never prosper when they don’t do their own research before blindly jumping into the stock market.
SO YOU WANNA STAY HEALTHY IN THE U.S. AND NOT CROAK BEFORE SPENDING ALL YOUR DOUGH, EH?
Being a Canadian, this thankfully does not apply to me. Having lived in the U.S. and having come back totally, utterly disgusted with the way the country runs from a civilized and administrative point of view, I feel pity for all you Americans.
This is why if you live in the U.S., health insurance is a big effin’ deal, even if you are reading about the 4 essentials of OBAMAcare and have to learn what the hell COBRA even means for you when you leave a company. From my experience COBRA is cheaper than freelancing health insurance but still gives you a good wallop in the wallet while you struggle to find another job that has some semblance of a healthcare plan that isn’t so pathetic you just hope to never get sick.
SO YOU WANNA SAVE MONEY WHILE SPENDING AS MUCH OF IT AS POSSIBLE, EH?
I want to bash the notion that you have to live like a frickin’ pauper even though you have money to spend, because that just annoys the hell out of me, but never forgetting that the ones who flash the most money around are usually the poorest.
It can be kind of hard, when you need certain luxuries that you simply won’t give up to save money. If only our great-grandparents could see us now.
Well for one thing, you should be able to save even more on everyday purchases such as saving money on groceries, but definitely not by buying fruit already pre-sliced, or shopping at everyone’s beloved big box bulk warehouse retailer Costco with this rule of $10.
Just don’t forget to take all opportunity costs of your decisions into account.
You might want to stay away from Ebay though, I hear even basics like razors are counterfeit, especially since going out of your way to be cheap is may land you as a victim of fraud.
That’ll learn ya.
Come to think of it, it sounds a lot like when people complain about becoming victims to the wedding industry when they have to pay for a plan and pay for weddings on a budget, not to mention saving for your child’s future (anything with the word “baby” or “children” is also another scammy industry).
I’d also avoid addictions like to a certain TV series to because apparently you need lessons on how to cancel your cable, and maybe lay off getting another pet until you read these tips for keeping pet costs at bay, or a car you can actually afford without selling a spleen on the black market, in which case you might want to consider lowering ways to lower your car insurance fees.
If you’re lucky enough to not have spent all your money trying to buy health insurance to stay alive, you could even pick up tips on how to score cheap plane tickets when you go on vacation, such as to the The City of Lost Wages perhaps?
Rest assured, if you travel in the U.S. and are American, at least you won’t come across the stereotype that all American tourists are rude, especially those poor misunderstood New Yorkers.
Maybe you can just move to “Lost Wages”, or to one of these top 5 cities to live on $40,000 a year, but don’t forget to track your
gambling spending while you’re there, because Halloween is just around the corner, and no one wants to be mistaken for a sucker because you paid too much for a costume, seeing as Christmas sneaks up on you in no time, and you might want to consider alternative gift-giving for that oh-so-debt-riddled time of the year.
Speaking of which, did you know Santa Claus can be blamed for all of your spending?
SO YOU WANNA GET OUT OF DEBT, EH?
Everyone had it at some point and if NO ONE has ever had it in their lives, they should count themselves lucky and stop preaching to those who actually have it and are struggling with it, especially when we weren’t taught basic top personal finance tips for young adults before racking up all that student debt.
If you haven’t walked in our shoes, STFU.
(Yes, I myself was $60,000 in debt until I cleared it in 18 months, so I know of what I speak.)
Specifically, some mention fattening up the piggy bank before clearing your debt (and here are 9 pointers to fatten up piggy and other easy ways to start saving), and others suggest getting organized like taking an account inventory.
I personally think you don’t need an emergency fund as big as we all say you do. If worse comes to worst, you’ll just put it back on your credit card right?
So why bother paying all that hefty credit card interest in the meantime while you struggle to save 3 months of emergency funds? Ehh… credit card debt should really be on of the 7 Deadly Sins, and it kind of is.
Speaking of deadly sins, let’s just expand that to listing out the all the deadly sins of personal finance (EDITOR’S PICK).
You should at least know what your debt to credit limit ratio is, and dream about your future goals such creating your own American dream (EDITOR’S PICK) which can go along the lines of owning a house without a mortgage, which is incidentally something I am planning on doing. Let’s call that the Canadian dream.
I want to buy my home in cash.
That is how much I hate debt.
I also recommend paying some bills manually so that in case the billing company decides to make a mistake and add a “0” or two at the end of my balance, I won’t be screwed and paying a $200 bill and fighting for a credit when I really only owe $20.
This totally sucks when your rent and all your other bills also come out of the same account and end up being charged exorbitant insufficient funds fees (NSFs).
Still, I tend to bite my tongue when people make stupid financial decisions (EDITOR’S PICK) around me because let’s face it, we have a stigma to overcome seeing as financially, some people call us the “Lost Generation”. To combat this frustration with others, I always consider doing random acts of kindness to help warm my black PF heart.
If you really feel clueless and free with your money, you might want to throw some money at a financial planner to help you figure out your money mess.
If worse comes to worst, become a minimalist for financial benefits.
I myself am a minimalist although it is more philosophical and a way of life rather than a guise for being cheap, otherwise known as “frugal” because we all know that’s what you really mean seeing as I’ve been called out plenty of times in spending in “unacceptable” PF categories like on my vanity (read: clothes).
SO YOU WANNA RETIRE WITHOUT HAVING TO EAT CAT FOOD, EH?
You know, cat food is looking mighty appealing on commercials these days. “Real food”, “No added fillers”, “Fresh, Wholesome vegetables”, “Balanced diet”… you could swear they were marketing that like some ready-to-eat meal for humans instead of cats.
Still, if you live in the U.S., TREAD CAREFULLY. That country is rife with ways to fall down the black pit of cat food-dom, so don’t make this costly social security mistake, increase your social security checks, and learn about the best ways to save on retirement and taxes.
After you’ve waded through all the red tape of finagling the U.S. system, you might want to start with basics like if you are saving enough for retirement to begin with. You should calculate how much you need to save for retirement, perhaps using the rule of 30 for retirement savings.
Even if you go through all of those posts and learn everything you can about your retirement, maybe you should just work another year or 10 before retiring.
Better yet, find the one thing that makes you feel rich and focus on achieving that.
SO YOU WANNA WORK FOR YOURSELF, EH?
If you want to quit and become a freelancer (please dear god, not another PF blogger), you might want to read about how to treat yourself like a business.
Maybe you should just make more money by creating more income streams, and pick up tips on how to make thousands thanks to listening to your dear ol’ Mum, make money in eyecare, or quit your day job to become a blogger.
(Although… if you are thinking of becoming a PF blogger, I’d like to ask you to think twice before doing so because if this Carnival is of any indication, PF blogging is a lot more work than most people are willing to take on).
Don’t forget that Uncle Sam in the U.S. may want his share of your “Hobby” / Business, and if you are an entrepreneur, you should be thinking about a solo 401(k).
Whatever you decide to do (freelancing or staying at your job), remember that you indirectly depend on your co-workers for your salary.
SO YOU WANNA MAKE MORE MONEY AT YOUR DAY JOB, EH?
Speaking of salaried workers, check out this infographic on workplace productivity in America (I plead the 5th to comment on this).
I’d also like to plead the 5th on commenting on whether or not stay at home moms have the toughest jobs around, but I can’t help myself.
A partner at home brings indirect income and benefits to your family, but it doesn’t put food on the table and keep a roof over your heads — you need to actually work and have money for that, which means you need a partner who is willing to bring home the bacon while you stay at home. This is why marriage is a PARTNERSHIP, and no one job is more equal than the other. *cough*
Speaking of which, why are we even talking about stay at home MOMS as being the only option? Why not DADS?
Whatever you decide to do (stay home or not), don’t bloody call yourself a ridiculous title like “household engineer”. That’s just insulting to other stay at home parents.
You should just remember you do have a money timeline no matter how young you are, and you won’t be able to work forever to reach your goals (EDITOR’S PICK), so you better get crackin’ on finding a better job if your current one sucks, but don’t default into deciding to spend thousands and go to grad school unless your parents have getting you to pay for your education since you were a newborn.
That’s what I’m doing with my kids.
They won’t be getting a single, red, guaranteed cent from me for college, because at the very least, I will be teaching them all the money things I wish my parents had taught me, such as finding out which college degrees actually make you the most money.
And thus I leave you with this Carnival’s ramblings with shameless Save. Spend. Splurge. plugs, and this beloved Dilbert comic to end on a career-related note: