Welcome to the Vampire Slaying edition of the Carnival of Personal Finance! Today’s categories and comments draw inspiration from something I’ve been enjoying lately–the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. While it deals with monsters & evil, the series also covers everyday issues of life, death, work, and finance. It may not be fully realistic there either, but it provides food for thought—both in what it includes and in what it leaves out.
If you’re not familiar with Buffy, you’ll still find plenty of personal finance here. And if you enjoy the series, I hope it’ll make this carnival just a bit sweeter. I should add that there are some mild spoilers, but nothing that’s not fairly widely available on the internet.
These posts are the tools–stakes, holy water, etc–to have in your backpack just in case vampires crash your parent-teacher night.
Jennifer Lynn from Broke-Ass Student is concerned about real-life vampires and her incredibly shrinking savings account. Are savers losers or losing? I wouldn’t mind seeing Buffy fight the inflation beast…
Funny About Money feels like she’s been trying to stick a square peg in a round hole. But she’s finally come up with a way tomake a biweekly paycheck work in a bimonthly world.
GBlogger from Can I Get Rich On A Salary muses on the cost of your favorite color. When will pay more for something, like a red car or a black iPod?
The Happy Rock asks whether we think the vending machine 2 for 1 is frugality or stealing. My two cents: as long as the thing has been paid for, it’s like anything else we find abandoned. If you can easily find out or know who left it, give it to them. Otherwise it’s free for the taking.
Passive Family Income asks: Is it Frugal or is it Stealing? Seems to be a theme this week…see if you’ve got the answer.
Penelope Pince from Our Fourpence Worth has come up with Monopoly Game Expansion to help parents teach children more money management principles through the game. This particular expansion covers saving accounts and interest. Fun idea to get your kids started with more the Monopoly basics (and the Monopoly principles).
At Uncommon Cents, Ryan has evaluated the smoke and mirrors of the new iPhone. It sounds cheaper initially, but there are some pricey strings attached.
BeThisWay has started a personal finance confession project. She ended up confessing about her credit card rates. Do you have something you want to get off your chest? I’ve been tagged…so stay tuned for that at some point.
Look at it this way, graduates. At least you didn’t have to battle a giant snake demon at your graduation. Right? I’d think that’d be on the news. Now that you’ve finished school, you’re probably hitting a more intense world with more responsibility. There’ll be rent to pay, jobs to hold down, etc. These articles have some pointers to help smooth your transition!
RC of Think Your Way To Wealth suggests the two simplest ways for graduates to achieve retirement success. The value of money saved now is amazing, compared to the value of saving later.
Ron from The Wisdom Journal shares a story based on actual events. Bad debt leads to a bad job and a rough life. Not a happy story, but the sequel is much better.
Hedy from Penny for my Thoughts has written a special post for new grads, called So,
you now have a paycheck. Your first post-college paycheck is likely to be huge compared to what you were making before. But spend it wisely.
Broke Grad Student shares 6 Common College Money Mistakes. For an easier start after college, avoid making any of these during college.
MoneyMonk has some advice for new graduates: formal education gets you a job, self education gets you rich . Don’t neglect the former, but pay attention to the latter!
Money Management & Personal Finance
The Buffy series isn’t a great place to learn personal finance. The magic doesn’t just help fight bad guys. Somehow, even though she works at a minimum-wage job and is dealing with a mountain of financial responsibility, Buffy makes it. She has stylish clothes and a nice house even when her mom’s not around to pay the mortgage. Of course, she has Giles and the other Scoobies to help, but it’s still not convincing. Then again, watching this series requires suspending disbelief anyway.
Here are some articles that Buffy and her friends could have probably used, and may be able to use in the future:
Jesse of You Need a Budget reminds us that living within your means is a two-part equation. If you’re tired of being frugal or don’t see a way to be frugaler (not a word, I know), increase your means. He notes that there’s no “income” category in the CoPF…which probably reinforces the cutting back mentality. I wonder if the “Career” category might qualify…
Foxie is apparently Dreaming of Ferraris and explains the importance of keeping your budget up to date. Review it, stay on top of it, let it change as it needs to.
Laura of Green Panda Treehouse recounts the financial lessons she learned in New York City.
At Not the Jet Set, we get a chance to learn money management from auto magazines. Insights can come from anywhere.
Kacper Wrzesniewski tells the story of how he first started saving money. I think it really helps to have an immediate goal at first, learning to delay gratification.
Mrs. Common Cents from Our Common Cents interviews Nut from Writer’s Coin on the benefits of writing about personal finance.
Amanda of Value For Your Life explains what being a surgeon has taught her about personal finance.
BJP from OneChanceToLive reminds us of the importance of discipline.
Clint from Accumulating Money has some things to say about money and marriage. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Jim of Blueprint for Financial Prosperity reviews HSBC Direct.
Debbie from Discover Debt Freedom discusses 4 budget killers to watch out for.
I’m sorry. I’m nearly out of money. I’ve never had to afford things before and it’s making me bitter. — Anya
As she gravitates towards Xander and eventually becomes one of the gang, Anya, an ex-demon (she’s quite insistent on the point), has to learn a lot about functioning in the real world. Teleportation, for instance, isn’t a right…it’s a privilege. Having to live like a normal person for the first time in 1000 years is hard for her. Fortunately she gets employment and eventually discovers the ups and downs of capitalism as a small business owner (until the end of Season 6, anyway).
If having to afford things is making you bitter, tired, or frustrated too, here are a series of posts about frugality and smart spending:
Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck is concerned that many financial experts feel that the problems of the world (and especially of young people) would instantly disappear if we could only get rid of our coffee shops. That’s nonsense. What’s more important is learning to be fiscally responsible over all.
David of My Two Dollars compares the cost of hiring movers or doing it yourself. Doing it yourself may be cheaper, but sanity does come with a price.
Blunt Money suggests we change our definitions of “normal” when it comes to spending and owning. Is frugality a mindset of controlling desire?
Andy from Tight Fisted Miser shares his food stamp experience. Definitely worth a read, whether you’ll ever be on food stamps or not.
Not on food stamps and planning too hoard food? Well, Pamela Grundy from Personal Finance Analyst has tips for responsible hoarding. If you feel the need to stockpile, make sure you do it right.
Brian Preston, in his “Money Guy” Blog & Podcast, suggests that we rethink life’s necessities, wants, and wishes. He’s come up with 12 “necessities” that people should reconsider to save more money.
MoneyNing explains how patience will keep us from spending unnecessary money. I particularly like his idea about planning spending and non-spending days.
Bob Vineyard of Insure Blog tells the true story of someone whowanted to pay more for insurance. Bob explains the cross point where the payoff is worth the price and how to decide when it’s too steep.
Mighty Bargain Hunter has come up with ten ways being fat costs money. Title pretty much says it all. If you’re looking for motivation to lose weight, this is a good place to start.
Dana from Not Made Of Money has come up with five ways to stop impulse spending.
Sivan Segev presents lunch time dimes – 10 ways to save each day. If you’ve been eating out a lot on your lunch break, these are some great ideas to help you cut back.
Dorian Wales, The Personal Financier draw 7 lessons from the creative ways airlines cut fuel costs to save money.
Aryn of Sound Money Matters has a series of tips for how to avoid airline fees this summer. So not only can we learn from them, we can avoid them too!
J. Savings from Budgets are Sexy believes that sometimes it’s ok to splurge and shares his thoughts on the subject.
Nicole from Breaking Even has a list of ten things you need in your kitchen (besides a good cook).
At the Q Family Adventure Amy shares the Catch a Reading Bug this Summer program, which libraries are doing this summer. (I know it’s happening all over the DC area as well.) If your kids, there are free books and even gift certificates in it for them.
From the Daily Money Hack blog, we learn more about air conditioning BTU, EER, & Cooling.
Luke at Money & Fitness Blog has tips for eating healthy and cheap while on vacation.
Chad Thomas of HelpUBudget shares an extreme money saving tip.
Single Guy Money deals with resisting the urge to splurge financially.
DJ of The Family Wallet has come up with some fun ways to teach your kids to be frugal.
Debt and Credit
Spike: Take it easy, you’ll get your kittens.
Loan Shark: Oh, I trust you, Mister Spike.
Buffy: Oh god, what is it with you guys? Why kittens? Why can’t you just use money like everybody else?
Loan Shark: She’s funny. I like funny in a girl.
In Tabula Rasa, Spike gets into some kitten debt and the loan shark’s men come after him and his friends to collect on the debt. I have no idea why they use kittens…perhaps it’s a satire for how our money really doesn’t stand for anything anyway.
Whether you’re trying to get out of debt or manage your debt, the following posts may be quite useful:
Bryce from Save and Conquer presents a guest post by Trisha Kulik on how credit cards and other debt affect your divorce. This may be the last thing you want to think about when getting divorced, but it’s very important to make sure that you know where all the debt is and divide it up equitably.
deepali from Paradigm Shifted has been musing on debt. Too much of it means that you’re stuck, unable to live your dream. Is there some amount that’s actually all right?
Patrick at Cash Money Life reminds us to think twice before canceling credit cards. Since average age is credit is part of your credit score, keeping the older cards open will keep your score higher.
Mike Leonard of Until Debt Do Us Part has discovered that competitions may be a fun way out of debt.
Dan Ray of Taking Charge tackles a more political side of debt Obama’s proposed reforms and how they’d affect McCain’s credit card rate. There’s some discussion over whether McCain’s huge credit card debt is something he’s doing as a strategy (because he can afford to pay it off) or a problem. But whatever the case, it seems Obama is more proactive on the issue of credit cards right now.
Investing & Retirement
“You need someone to organize things, and you’re not exactly rolling in it, Mr. ‘I was alive for 200 years and never developed an investment portfolio.'” — Cordelia talking to Angel
Don’t be him. A quick mental calculation of compound interest over 200 years of saving made me quite sad. Angel missed out on a real opportunity. Since you’re not immortally youthful, you should probably start investing and planning for retirement as soon as you can. Starting 10 years ago would be great, but if you didn’t, start now.
Remember, you’re fortunate enough not to have the life expectancy of a Slayer or an average Sunnydale vampire (ever feel bad for the ones she dusts seconds after they emerge from the grave?). It’s great, it just requires more planning. Here are some articles to get you started:
FrugalTrader at Million Dollar Journey has written a primer on how to buy and sell shares on the stock market. If you want to invest but haven’t learned how, this is a good place to start.
The Financial Blogger explains thatmaking money on the stock market is one of the most boring things in life. Day trading is anything but boring, but we’re talking about making money which means you can’t have as much fun with your portfolio.
Dividends4Life reminds us that life is a choice. You can choose how you’ll live, but you’ll have to accept the consequences. Unfortunately, the couple in the story he shares seem to be coming up quickly on the consequences of all their decisions.
The Dividend Guy also reminds us that patience will always reward you in dividend investing. It’s not a short-term exercise or about daytrading. The real money in dividend investing requires the fortitude not to jump in and out of stocks.
Free Money Finance explains the impact inflation can have on your retirement. Big reason not to stick with a low-interest savings account…you might lose money.
Grad Student looking for Wealth asks whether the tax free savings account is an open door to arbitraging between interest rates. Canadian or want to be? Check this out.
From Goal of Financial Freedom we learn 5 ways to whip a 401(k) plan into shape. They’re easy to implement, since 401(k)s shouldn’t be touched much anyway. Use these to make sure that when you do mess with your plan, you’re making it better.
At My Happy Retirement Blog, we learn that Vallejo, CA declared bankruptcy to avoid pensions. Scary enough when companies go bankrupt to avoid their pension obligations, but much more frightening when it happens in governments, even at a city level.
Dividend Growth Investor explains when to sell your dividend stocks.
Flexo from Consumerism Commentary explains target retirement funds, their advantages and drawbacks. Are they too conservative? Maybe too hands-off? Do people really know what’s happening with their money?
Richard Epley of the Blue Jeans Millionaire explains how to build a DIY annuity in 2 easy steps. He likes the idea of an annuity, just not the fees that normally go along with buying one.
Kyle the Amateur Asset Allocator presents The 8 Levels of Income. It’s a tiered scale involving multiple income sources. Where do you fit on it?
Peter from Money Management and You! explains why you should avoid those “green” funds. He doesn’t believe that they’ll give you a proper return on your investment.
At Revenue Reservoir, we learn a bit about a fund that tracks IPOs. If you’re interested not just in one IPO, but IPOs in general, this is something to look into.
“If the apocalypse comes, beep me.” — Buffy
Odds are, you don’t have a calling as old as time and a sacred duty to protect the world from the undead and evil. That’s good for you, actually. It means you won’t be working odds jobs, like at the Double Meat Palace. But it may also mean that you’re not really sure what you want to do or how to do it. Being a slayer, at least you get…certainty and some security. It doesn’t pay, have benefits or time off, but it’s a lifetime gig.
If you’re trying to figure out where to take your career from here, I’d suggest that rather than going for the Slayer position, you check out these posts:
Penny Nickel of Money and Values asks what your job is costing you, between work, stress, long hours, and your health.
At Free From Broke introduces Murphy’s Law in the work place. He thinks that you can count on these things happening at work, but there are ways to minimize or even prevent them.
Dan from Everyday Finance has come up with 6 questions you should answer if considering an MBA. They’re a good investment for some, but are they right for you right now?
Todd from Harvesting Dollars evaluates whether getting an MBA is worth it.
The Dough Roller explains the importance of keywords for home-based business online marketing.
Gas & Cars
Spike knows how to make the car work for his daylight excursions:
Buffy’s got the right idea. Maybe not about waiting until a catastrophe to start driving, but certainly about her general means of transportation. It’s stood out to me recently that she tends to walk (or run) everywhere. Must save a lot on gas, maintenance, etc. If you live in a place where that’s possible, awesome. If not, here are a few gas and car posts you might find useful:
S. Shugars of Saving Advice has a strange strange idea trading in a fuel efficient car for a “huge” SUV. She thinks it’s a good deal. Commentors aren’t so sure.
Madison of My Dollar Plan just sold her car! She shares what worked and what didn’t.
FiveCentNickel describes how to hack your MPG and improve your gas mileage by 15%.
Bob from Christian Finance asks When do gas saving techniques go too far? Everyone wants to save gas but do some people go too far?
Lisa Spinelli from Greener Pastures tells us what actually happens when you have to file a claim with your car insurance company. Let’s just say that they’re not inclined to pay up…
At Living the Frugal Life, Crystal shares her #1 way to save gas and improve fuel economy. She believes that this method will save you as much gas as using a hybrid car.
If you’re in the Buffyverse, I’d advise buying Real Estate somewhere other than Sunnydale. Sure the prices are low, but keep in mind all the upkeep as well as the possibility of your tenants becoming eaten, possessed, or being evil in the first place. When you’re scouting out a good place to live or to invest, check for a Hellmouth. Once you know there’s no Hellmouth, try these articles for more useful Real Estate info:
Erica Douglass has come up with a strategy for when to buy real estate and when it’s better to rent. When is a house price accurate for the area and when is it too much?
Facing foreclosure? I certainly hope not, but if you or a friend are, Tushar of Everything Finance has some simple foreclosure solutions.
Money Answer Guy asks whether renting can ever be an investment.
At Living After Foreclosure, we can learn a bit about Albany’s confusing foreclosure intervention bill.
Maria of the Frugal Homesteading Blog asks whether the economy is in a recession or not. Some people are fighting the idea that the States or the world is entering a recession. But other financial groups are more concerned.
Will from Your Finish Rich Plan asks “Is 2008 next after the stock market crashes of 1929 and 1987?” He sees significant similarities between our current economic climate that of the 1920s.
Silicon Valley Blogger of The Digerati Life has suggestions to protect your job and career during an economic slump.
These posts are the random magical tools that Buffy and her friends manage to find. Maybe you need an orb of whosit or a spear of someone else. Perhaps that troll’s enchanted hammer or special orb would come in handy if you’re fighting off Glory.
Brooke (from Dollar Frugal) and her husband, recently adopted their nephew. She explores the costs of having a child. Right now, she’s not ready to have a second, biological one.
Anna from To Be Debt Free suggests that you evaluate your financial plan and insurance. Being properly insured is key to avoiding some financial pitfalls.
Prime Time Money describes his experience at an all-inclusive resort. Wondering if they’re a good value? He’s got answers on the one he visited.
Millionaire Mommy Next Door reveals a dirty little secret. She knows better than to hide her old possessions, and plans to make some changes to free herself from her past to be open to abundance.
Ryan Taylor from Millionaire Money Habits looks at Henry Ford’s wealthy mindset. At his core, Ford had a wealth mindset, it’s no surprise he was about to change the face of American business and industry.
From Sick of Being Poor we get Yard Sale 101. If you’re planning to do hold any yard sales this summer, check this out!
Finance Girl from Finance Gets Personal reports back on her garage sale.
Kelly from Almost Frugal wonders whether people who write about personal finance should blog anonymously. I can understand both sides of the discussion…I suppose part of it depends on what field I was working in.
Living Almost Large asks where the lines of division fall in our society. Are they racial or financial?
Future Millionaire of Saving Savy presents her Millionaire in the Making interview with a fellow blogger.
Smarty of Growing Money discusses the best places to hide money at home and asks if you have other ideas. Of course, don’t lose the money like the people in one of her examples!
Curt from PennyJobs got an additional $180 with his stimulus check. Nicely done.
Debbie from American Consumer News discusses protecting your medical information from theft. The last thing you want is to have someone else filing claims on your account.
Debbie the Debt Destroyer has some tips for controlling medical costs.