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Carnival of Personal Finance 134: Building on the Basics

There are two basic rules of to get ahead financially:

Spend less.

Earn more.

The rest is details. And the details are very important. We have to figure out how, in our unique financial and life situations, we’re going to spend less and/or earn more. Personal finance blogging is part of that quest to figure it out.

So as you read the entries today, consider how each offers you tools (some more valuable, some less depending on your situation) to spend less and earn more.

We’ll begin with my top 10 picks–entries which I think will be useful to a majority of readers.


Editor’s Picks (in no particular order)

Paula at Queercents has come up with The Most Important Question You Could Ever Ask About Money. An audacious claim, but I think she’s right. It’s an important question to consider-it’s about the point behind all our blogging and budgeting and frugaling. You’ll see a number of posts below which treat this in some fashion.

Mike from Clever Dude’s Finance and Life teaches us how to Rehabilitate Your Finances. I really like Mike’s metaphor for nursing our finances back to health. He lays out a series of steps based on his own back rehab.

Lily at The Honest Dollar has written a piece In Defense of Personal Finance Bloggers. Sometimes we get criticized for being obsessive, and I think she answers it nicely. A must-read, especially for those who sometimes feel discouraged in their blogging.

Patrick from Cash Money Life has a new take on your assets. He believes that Your Greatest Asset is the Ability to Create Income. In his words: “Your career is quite possibly the most important asset you have because the earnings from your career pay for all of your other “assets” and fund you investment portfolio.” I would go even further and say that your ability to make money isn’t just part of your career and alternative income streams, but is also your knowledge of investments, saving, etc. Two people who develop their careers to bring in the same amount of money may end up with vastly different retirements, depending on how they use that income to create income.

Dan from Money Myths has [An] Unconventional Piggy Bank. It doesn’t just hold change, it’s a reminder of why he saves and what his goals are. Do you have something similarly symbolic?

A scary post from Silicon Valley Blogger at The Digerati Life: When Even The Power Of Compounding Can’t Save You. Compounding is, IMO, the best thing ever. However, it’s not enough if you don’t make conscious choices about lifestyle inflation.

Grace from GRACEful Retirement reminds us that There’s More to Life Than Money. She reviews How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else (affiliate) and discusses his life choices. Real food for thought.

Free Stock Market Tips asks “Is Trading for You?” Basically…no.

David from My Two Dollars gives us some Tips On How To Avoid Internet And Financial Scams. If you need to brush up on your scams, this is a great spot. Or consider forwarding it to the less net-savvy in your life to keep them educated. Just don’t make it a chain letter!

Fathersez explains How attending a funeral can change perspectives. What are your plans for worst-case scenarios? We hope to live for a long time yet, but the reality is that any of us could pass on tomorrow.

And the amazing blogger Mrs. Micah managed to come up with a whole Carnival’s worth of posts she wrote all by herself. Oh. Wait. No, cancel that. She’s just a little spacey from too much computer carnival time.


Budgeting and Frugality

Spend less. It sounds simple, but there’s a lot of ways to do it. Some might work better for me than for you. This category has a number of ideas about spending less whether through frugality or budgeting.

Trying to figure out which type of entertainment is most worthwhile at the price? Mr. Cheap from Quest For Four Pillars came up with a formula for Entertainment Return on Investment. I’d say that going out for coffee twice a month has a very high ROI for me. DVDs and movies in a theatre provide the same level of enjoyment…which makes DVDs come out ahead.

Marcus Hochstadt tells us how to Pay Business Expenses Wisely And Travel For Free. And he’s not just talking about company reimbursement.

Joanna from Keeping Feet discusses Priorities and Finances. She believes that budgeting stems from our values and priorities.

The Mighty Bargain Hunter suggests that when we start budgeting, we follow this pattern: Budget, track expenses, then budget.

Total Wellbeing has drawn up some nifty charts about Pedalling Money – Saving Money by Cycling. If you’re in an area where cycling is a possibility…this shows some good reasons ($$$) to consider it.

Paul, a.k.a. Saving Freak shows us a great way to budget even if you’re living paycheck to paycheck: Paycheck to Paycheck Budgeting.

Jen from Picture of Wealth asks Will I Ever Be this Wealthy? I Doubt it. She then goes on to discuss true wealth, time, and other things to consider when planning our frugal habits.

Buford Twain from The Tortured Mind of Buford Twain has a Cell Phone Lifehack for us. It’s an alternative for replacing a broken cell phone when you don’t want to sign another contract.

The King of Debt from We’re In Debt teaches us some Financial Lessons Learned From the Rose Parade. A fascinating example in thinking outside the box.


Credit, Credit Cards, and Debt

Credit. That touchy subject that some say earns them more (rewards, arbitrage, etc) and others say is completely incompatible with either spending less or earning more. This week in particular has brought out some great posts both for and against credit cards. We also have some posts on debt repayment and the credit system in general.

Before we get into the arguments, why not take a moment to chuckle? We’ve probably all seen’s advertisements. Well, Steward from My Family’s Money has come up with a way for (the truly free site) to improve its image. Because unfortunately, Credit Reports Are Not Sexy. Yet.

And now into the more serious posts…

vh from Funny about Money asks: Are Credit Cards Good for You?

Well, Madison at My Dollar Plan certainly likes them. In fact, she’s come up with 25 Reasons to Love Credit Cards.

Ana at Debt Free Revolution counters by listing the Ways Credit Card Companies Separate You from Your Money.

And Lynnae of laments that Credit Card Companies Want to Eat You Alive! Seriously. You pay early and get penalized. Ouch.

Eden from Finance and Fat agrees with Lynnae. He’s Remembering Why I Never Want Another Credit Card.

Amanda at Me vs Debt disagrees, because in her book Using Credit Cards Responsibly Pays Off. You just have to have the right cards and use them responsibly. (I think Lynnae would counter that she did, but look where it landed her.)

And if you’re back on track to paying off those cards, Jason from The Amatureist Financial Journey brings up the ever-important To consolidate or not to consolidate…that is the question.. I’d say it depends on your numbers…


Career and Education

One of the best ways to earn more, of course, is to have a job. Unless you’re just really good at asking people to give you money. Education can enhance your earning potential, as can branching out into alternative income streams.

Laura from Green Panda Treehouse has written some strategies for Getting The Most Financial Aid. Her goal “is to try and get students and potential students the information they need to find money for college. While many students finance their education with mainly student loans, there are grants and scholarships out there. You have to start early.” So true!

Whether you’re looking for scholarships or evaluating career possibilities, Millionaire Mommy asks Is Your But Too Big? I’m going to avoid awkward jokes and move on. Visit the post to see all the great pics!

Brip Blap has some ideas for educating others about personal finance in How to Talk to Your Teenager About Personal Finance.

For developing alternative income streams, especially if you’re a stay-at-home-parent, Ask the Frugal Momma: How Do I Work From Home?

Super Saver from My Wealth Builder reflects on Doing What One Loves – The Difference Between Theory And Practice.

When you’ve gotten into a situation where you need to become employed, Me My Kid and Life suggests Finding Your Special Talent.


Money Management and Finance

Once we start saving or earning money, we’re going to have to figure out what to do with it. Do we hire a financial planner? What bank do we choose? Do we consider it worth our time to pursue rebates?

People from the US and possibly Canada…were you aware that if you made any foreign credit card transactions between 1996 and 2006, you’re likely due for a refund of at least $25 from your credit card company? Find out how to Claim Your Refund for Foreign Credit Card Transactions at No Budget Travel.

Calgirlfinance – to financial freedom reminds us that Knowing is Not Enough. Very true. There’s a lot of stuff you can know, but unless you start doing, you won’t get anywhere. Which is sad because it’s easier just to “know.” (I wrote a whole senior project about this)

Kent from The Financial Philosopher wants to know whether you manage your own finances. Would you recommend yourself as an adviser? Check out his post: Financial Planning: Independence or Independents? and figure out when and whether you might need help.

PaidTwice of I’ve Paid For This Twice Already finds net worth tricky. It’s Hard To Get Back To Zero. Of course, zero for her (as for many of us) is a positive place to be!

Millionaire Neumes explains How Doing Simple Millionaire Math Will Get You Started Toward Financial Freedom. Compound interest is pretty exciting–how do you use it to plan your future?

Ben from Money Smart Life has examined the issue of Paying Taxes on eBay Income – Do eBay Sellers Need to Report their Earnings? You may need to save money to pay taxes on eBay transactions this spring. Or not.

Randall from Credit Withdrawl compares the Slow Millionaire vs. Fast Millionaire. I think I’d want to be a slow millionaire and have all the skills. But being one right now doesn’t sound bad either.

nickel from FiveCentNickel presents Social Security Taxes in 2008. It’s good to know if you’ll need to pay more or if perhaps you overpaid.

RacerX from Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Money examines our ability to separate Needs, Wants, and Desires in Personal Finance by Michael Scott of The Office.

The Financial Blogger has come up with the The Seven Sins Of Personal Finance. Maybe they won’t send you to hell, but they can make you pretty uncomfortable up here.

Harrison from Journey To Financial Freedom reminds us that this is the time to start living right. We begin shaping the future now. Be Rich or Be Poor? It is Your Decision.

Ryan from Uncommon Cents recounts Some Online Banking Options: My Personal Experiences. His experience with online banks includes ING Direct, Capital One Direct, iGoBaking, and Virtual Bank. So if you’re interested in learning more about the process, step on over to his post.

Financial Hack finds Lessons from The Marathon Monks – How to Achieve the Impossible.

Term Life Options lets us in on Life Insurance and the Dirty Little Estate Secret–you may be subject to a number of life insurance taxes.

Kimberly Palmer, the Alpha Consumer, has come up with A Financial Makeover for Britney Spears. She believes that everyone can learn from Britney’s mistakes.

J.C. of J.C.’s Money Blog is mildly embarrassed to admit My Suze Orman habit. But there’s an interesting reason. Sometimes I think it’s useful to make ourselves feel better about our good spending decisions by comparing ourselves with others. But only if we don’t lose sight of our own fallibility and our shared humanity.

Linda from Moneymonk reflects of High Class Living. What would life be like if you could afford to buy a used car with your weekly paycheck? Would it be better?

But if you but that car, the expenses don’t end there. Dog Ate My Finances has to deal with that in: My Car is Guzzling My Vacation.


New Year

This is the first Carnival of Personal Finance of 2008 and some participants are sharing their ideas for getting this year off on the right foot.

Gibble (as he shall henceforth be called) at Gather Little By Little lists 6 Ways to Kick Off Your Personal Finance New Year the Right Way. Simple stuff, but simply stuff that will make a huge dent in your debt.

Jennifer from Finding Financial Peace has some advice on After Christmas Sales and Returns. She reminds us: “Make sure you take advantage of the after Christmas sales. Also, don’t be afraid to return unwanted gifts!”

Chica With Issues is Setting financial goals for 2008.

LJ of Mommy Gets PAID has come up with 5 Ways to Save More Money This Year.

FMF from Free Money Finance lists My New Year’s Money Resolutions for 2008.

junger of Online Savings Blog has another list of 10 Smart Money Moves We Made in 2007.

Penny Nickel from Money and Values presents 2007 Financial Wrap-Up. Excellent savings and net worth update.

K from Small Cents (now Almost Frugal may be Revising Goals because finance can be difficult to plan, lots of unexpected issues.

GP from Innside Montana-Your Home on the Range suggests starting the new year with a A Clean and Green Conscience.

FIRE Finance talks about $1000s in Savings and our 2007 Financial Performance!


Real Estate, Investing, and Retirement

Investing-whether in stocks or in real estate, whether for soon or retirement-is one of the best ways to earn more. These posts offer advice on everything from finding funds to making sure your 401(k) contributions and fees are optimized. I can’t vouch for any investment strategies below.

MoneyNing from Personal Finance Blog with Money Ning reminds us all to Increase Your 401k Contribution Rate During the Beginning of the Year. If you’re earning more, you it to earn even more for retirement.

Curtis from Real World Finance$ has put together a great overview and graphical display of The Rule of 72 and Compounding Interest. The rule of 72 applies to halving or doubling of money. Even if you’re not a numbers geek like me, you still might enjoy the visual demonstration of the rule.

Teaspoon from Financial wisdom, one teaspoon at a time… discusses less expensive retirement strategies such as Retiring Abroad – Or, Maybe Sailing Around The World for Free! Teaspoon suggests we consider that “investing in your retirement may not just be a matter of cash you put aside, but the education in how far those investments can go under radically different living situations.”

Jim of Blueprint for Financial Prosperity answers the question What Is A Reverse Mortgage? Before getting into any kind of mortgage, including a reverse one, it’s very important to understand the costs and risks…and what the heck it is anyway.

The Dough Roller asks and answers the question Do Low Cost Mutual Funds Outperform High Cost Mutual Funds? While some high cost mutual funds may outperform the market for a time, in the long run, low cost funds win the day. This article looks at the data that confirms the long-term value of low cost funds.

Plonkee from plonkee money brings up an important question for Brits: Which is better: ISA or pension? She discusses the tax advantages and disadvantages of both options.

Retirehappy of My Retirement Blog has some suggestions for Protecting Against High 401(k) Fees. Fees may seem small now, but they eat into your future.

Art Dinkin from Moment on Money has a strategy to take Early Retirement Distributions without losing the normal 10% penalty normally associated with qualified retirement plans. Plenty of restrictions, of course.

JS from Smart Money Daily presents Retirement Strategy #435: Buy Million Dollar Junk at Garage Sales. Of course, your odds of finding a Picasso are a little low….still, you never know.

NCN from No Credit Needed advises us that after dividend distribution to check our accounts and make sure if went back into our investments and not into something we don’t want. Dividend Reinvestment – Take A Look At Your Account.

Dividends4Life asks if we’re Fishing in the Bathtub. Because he doesn’t think the big fish swim there.

MM from My Personal Finance Journey suggests that we Invest Like Harvard and Yale. An interesting idea.

My Personal Finance Odyssey says that with the fall of the dollar we might consider Foreign Currency Investing.

Personal Financier outlines Uncertainty and Risk differentiated – Is a Tactical Surprise Preferable to a Strategic Surprise?

The Dividend Guy presents the first in his series on using dividends to your advantage: Day 1: The Dividend Key – Reinvested Dividends.

Kris from The Financial Engineer gives Another big reason why you should have Stock in a 401(k). Stocks may get a better tax withdrawal…the only question is whether they’ll earn as much.

Michael at Best Advice on Debt has 3 Retirement Tips for Late Starters. Some interesting ideas, especially about working longer.

Hunter Nuttall of Hunter outlines How To Create A Seven Figure Residual Income.

For those getting started in Real Estate, Dan Melson from Searchlight Crusade discusses Bundling Agent Services: What Services Do You Want and Need?

Mr Credit Card at Ask Mr Credit Card examines the old dilemma of Paying off Credit Card Debt versus Funding Your Retirement Plan.

BEIT from Building Equity in Toronto considers two options for investing-stocks and gold in: The DJIA-to-Gold Ratio: Is Gold the King?



Besides investing, we can also put that extra money we’ve saved or earned in a savings account. The key is finding one which allows us access but also lets us grow our money even more!

Aspire To Wealth by following Millionaire Rule 4 Set Up Automatic Saving.

Justin from The Daily Compass – A Personal Finance Blog looks over How to Choose the Best Savings Account.

Craig from Craig’s Coin tells childhood stories of The Power of a Savings Account.



Some great ideas for saving money.

Jim from Daily Money Hack suggests that we Don’t Get Rental Car Insurance and explains why.

Money Challenge has some plans for staying on target with an $80/month gas budget this year, including 8 tips for Saving on Gas.

Jason from All About The Ben also has a few ideas for How To Save Money On Gas. These are both particularly relevant since oil is now topping $100/barrel.

The Mortgage Blog has 10 Simple Tips for Saving on Taxes.



Couldn’t quite find a place for these, but they’re excellent as well! More Children are Budding Philanthropists according to research. Flexo at Consumerism Commentary comments on this trend and how it compares to his day.

PT from Prime Time Money examines The Millionaire in the Making Series – Stats!. Ever wondered what the statistics are on budding millionaires?

Dave Westwood is a Man on a Mission for a DebtFree Earth. It’s a cool idea, I wish him well with that.

For more Personal Finance or to submit to the next carnival, go to

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Jason January 7, 2008 at 6:10 am

Thanks for hosting, and thanks for including my article!

Brip Blap January 7, 2008 at 6:15 am

Thanks for including my article! It can’t have been all that tough to put this carnival together – it’s not like there’s more than a dozen entries or so …. (!!) You did a great job.

Amanda @ Me vs Debt January 7, 2008 at 6:49 am

So… many… articles… Thanks for hosting!

Randall January 7, 2008 at 6:56 am

Great job with the carnival! And thanks for including my slow/fast millionaire story.

Dividends4Life January 7, 2008 at 7:04 am

Thank you for hosting this weeks Carnival and including my article.

Best Wishes,

Patrick January 7, 2008 at 7:10 am

Great job hosting the CoPF! I appreciate the selection as an Editor’s Choice! Now… off to read the rest of the entries! 🙂

Lynnae @ January 7, 2008 at 8:06 am

Thanks for hosting and including me! And down with the credit card companies! 🙂

Dan January 7, 2008 at 8:13 am

Outstanding job.

The spend less, earn more theme is spot on.

WealthBoy January 7, 2008 at 8:18 am

Wow! Very comprehensive list of great information!

LJ January 7, 2008 at 8:32 am

Thanks for hosting and including my article in this edition of the carnival!
There are soooo many great articles, I don’t know where to begin!

Take Care


FourPillars January 7, 2008 at 8:54 am

Great theme – thanks for including our submission!


Craig January 7, 2008 at 9:03 am

Great job and thanks for including my article!

Eden January 7, 2008 at 9:16 am

Thanks for hosting, Mrs. Micah! That must have taken forever to put together. 🙂

Pinyo January 7, 2008 at 9:30 am

Nice work Mrs. Micah. I wish I could’ve participated in this one, but I didn’t have any post worthy of CoPF this week.

vh January 7, 2008 at 9:50 am

Wow! This is a bonanza! I’m looking forward to reading all these.

Thank you for hosting this big project, and thanks for including one of my squibs.

Clever Dude January 7, 2008 at 9:58 am

Hey, thanks for (almost) top billing! I’m glad you enjoyed the article as I spent a good bit of time putting it together! 🙂

Paula G January 7, 2008 at 10:14 am

Hi Mrs Micah,

Thanks for compiling all this…and thanks for the featured slot! I am glad you found the article so thought provoking & worth bringing attention to.

Art Dinkin January 7, 2008 at 10:19 am

Thanks for including my post! Looks like a lot of good reading for this morning… 🙂

PT from Prime Time Money January 7, 2008 at 10:44 am

Thanks for sharing all these great articles. Lot’s of new year reading to do tonight.

Millionaire Mommy Next Door January 7, 2008 at 10:56 am

Fantastic job hosting, Mrs. Micah! Thank you.

David January 7, 2008 at 11:10 am

Thanks for hosting, and choosing my entry as an Editor’s Choice! 🙂

The Digerati Life January 7, 2008 at 11:32 am

Thanks for hosting Mrs. Micah! Great job and I’m honored you picked my post as an Editor’s Pick!

RacerX January 7, 2008 at 11:52 am

Thank you for including me! This was a laot of work for you, Great job!

Ryan S. January 7, 2008 at 12:15 pm

Woohoo! Thanks for the inclusion, Mrs. M. I’m quite honored and you really went above and beyond!


FIRE Finance January 7, 2008 at 12:47 pm

Thanks for hosting this huge carnival and including our post. Great job indeed!

Best Advice on Debt January 7, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Thank you very much for the post! I will return the favor.

CatherineL January 7, 2008 at 1:19 pm

Mrs M – this is v impressive. It must have taken you ages to put together.

fathersez January 7, 2008 at 8:05 pm

Hi, Mrs. M,

Sorry to check in so late.

Thank you for this great effort and including my post as one of your choices.

Have a great week….I am off now to earn more and spend less. Have to find out how by reading more of the blogs especially yours.

Best regards

Flexo January 7, 2008 at 9:01 pm

Thanks for hosting!! Great job!

Husband January 7, 2008 at 9:53 pm

You did such a good job. 🙂

PiggyBankBlues January 7, 2008 at 11:48 pm

wow, i’ve got my reading cut out for me 🙂 great list!

Lily January 8, 2008 at 12:23 am

Thanks for hosting and for including me! It was a great joy to read the Carnival. 🙂

calgirlfinance January 8, 2008 at 9:43 am

Thanks for hosting and including my post – I know it was submitted right at the deadline. I can’t wait to read more of these articles!

wealthy_1 January 8, 2008 at 7:48 pm

Nice job, Mrs. Micah!

All About The Ben January 9, 2008 at 1:44 am

Thank you for hosting my article in this week’s carnival Mrs. Micah. This week’s posting is very nicely done.

K January 9, 2008 at 2:01 am

Thanks for hosting, and including my post!

My Dollar Plan January 9, 2008 at 10:55 pm

Great job Mrs. Micah! Looks like a lot of work. Well done.

billspaced March 25, 2008 at 9:33 am

Wow. Most awesome carnival! So many great articles — your summaries help a great deal!!!

hank May 6, 2008 at 5:02 pm

Indeed a good list! and a lot of work! Good job of hosting!

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