Coffee heat rising

Carnival of Money Stories: Springtime in Arizona Edition

Welcome to this week’s Carnival of Money Stories! I wish all our contributors and all our readers could be here in Arizona just now, where the weather is in the 70s, birds are singing in ecstasy, flowering plants are shivering with joy, and there’s not a snowdrift to shovel as far as you can see.

Editor’s Picks

Kaitlyn Cole
Econ 102: Money Tips for the Rest of Us (Infographics)
This is cool!

Being Frugal
Taylor Bean & Whitaker Bankruptcy: Who Is Representing the People?
This will make your jaw drop. It’s not even Hallowe’en, but here’s a real-life horror story.

Trees Full of Money
My Experience Selling Clothes a Consignment Shop
Amazing! Makes me wish I had something better than rags in my own closet.

Madeleine Begun Kane
Mad Kane’s Humor Blog
How to Muck Up Gift-Giving
Amazing story! Amazing verse.


What Matters: Where the Spiritual Journey Meets the Financial Journey

Bible Money Matters
Practical Steps to Becoming a Cheerful Giver
In a guest post, Fred describes his evolution from a young man reluctant to give to an adult married man who shares his wealth willingly.

Oilandgarlic’s Blog
The Battle between Frugality and Simplicity, Part 2
This is a pleasant rumination.

Christian Personal Finance
How (and Where) to Donate Your Car to Charity
Get rid of the rolling stock, perform a good work, and write it off your taxes.

Bloggers Sound Off on the Move Your Money Movement

Life Tuner
Move Your Money…to a Credit Union?
Rumination on getting one’s cash out of costly bank accounts

J. Money
Budgets Are Sexy
The 11th Reason Credit Unions Kick Ass
Chiming in on the move-your-money discussion, J. Money adds a little-known feature to Jim at Bargaineering’s 10 reasons to move to a credit union.

Earn More Invest Wisely at The Sun’s Financial Diary
Why I still Bank at Bank of America
If it ain’t broke…
And Funny’s contribution:
Why I Moved My Money to a Credit Union

A Whole Lot of Stories and Reflections on Money, the Economy, and Life

Wisdom from Wenchypoo’s Mental Wastebasket
D-I-Y Economic Reform—Starving the Evil Piggies
Well said, Wenchy! And I’ll bet a lot of Americans will agree you’ve got something there.

Matthew Paulson
American Banking News
Horizon Bank of Washington Is First Bank Failure of 2010
Matt reports that some 200 banks are expected to fail this year. That’s all the more alarming when you read what the first failure cost the FDIC.

Greg McFarlane
Control Your Cash
Man of the Year
Funny story, good thoughts

Dave Ozment
Do You Dave Ramsey
You Owe What You Owe
w00t! A double rant!

Neil Uttamsingh
First Rental Property
How I Made over $65,000 on My First Rental Property by Doing Everything Wrong
An interesting article: not quite a cautionary tale, but close.

My Dollar Plan
35 Best Personal Finance Books
The list is compiled from readers’ favorites and includes remarks by recommenders.

My Wealth Builder
College 529 Plan Accounts Are Now Breakeven
With some help with dollar cost averaging, SuperSaver’s college savings funds have about recovered from the market collapse.

Free Money Finance
What We Got for Christmas
The comments are an important part of this post!

Jeff Rose
Good Financial Cents
The New Reward Credit Cards
Good discussion of the current and coming changes in reward cards

Allan Inocente
Rich Money Habits
My Financial Goals for 2010: Get Into the Money Game
Hanging on in the Philippines, the Inocentes have made it through the Great Recession in pretty good shape and are now ready to start building wealth.

Adam Baker
Get Rich Slowly
9 Sneaky Expenses That Eat Away at Your Income
An in-depth look at figuring your “real” hourly wage

Big Cajun Man
Canadian Personal Finance Blog
Birthday Things to Remember
A basketful of things consider and steps to take on your birthday

Buck$ome Boomer’s Journey to Retirement
Smaller Isn’t Always Cheaper
Bucksome discovers a little secret about fast-food drink pricing.

Evolution of Wealth
Diversifying Your Income Streams
EofW notices something in a pitch from an insurance company and segues into an interesting and insightful rumination.

Joe Plemon
Personal Finance by the Book
Is There Such a Thing as Good Debt?
Joe examines a variety of loans before making up his mind.

Jacques Sprenger
The Digerati Life
Measuring Job Satisfaction: How To Be Happy With Your Job
On finding a job that doesn’t feel like work

The Amateur Financier
Fifteen Things to Tell a Younger Me
If we could go back in time…

The Smarter Wallet
How to Save Money on Groceries: A Simple Four-step Plan

Wallet decides to live on an amazing $80/month grocery budget! Wait till you see the combined cost of shave gel, toothpaste, a toothbrush, and shampoo…

Rainy-Day Saver
Don’t Stress: Get Prepared for Tax Time!
A fistful of tax credits and deductions will make their returns complicated this year, so the Rainy-Day Savers are getting ready now.

Dough Roller
How to File Your Annual Tax Returns Online
Nicole is not alone in wanting to move forward with filing.

Matthew Paulson
Fine-Tuned Finances
Turn Your Personal Finance Resolutions Into Reality
In a nutshell, several strategies to bring your financial dreams to life.

Lean Life Coach
Eliminate the Muda
Budgeting Review = Red Flags!
The Coaches find themselves over budget after the dog ate a…well, you have to read it to believe it!

Mrs. Accountability
Out of Debt Again
Christmas 2009 Target 90% Off Sale—What a Disappointment!
Is Target understocking because of the economy, or has it changed its Christmas merchandising strategy?

Carnival of Money Stories comin’ our way

Funny hosts the Carnival of Money Stories next Monday! Don’t forget to send your contributions through this handy link.

Hmmm… Looks like the Carnivals server is down again. If you can’t get through today, keep trying. The deadline is Sunday afternoon.

Looking forward to reading lots of creative money posts!

Festival of Frugality

Welcome to the 197th edition of the Festival of Frugality! This week’s theme is roads to riches. We’ve all noticed that the road has had a few bumpy patches lately. But as you can see from the many excellent posts below, we’re still travelin’ on.

Several submissions to last week’s carnival were still on the server when I checked in on Friday. Probably these were delayed when Google’s mail system went down last week. For this reason, I’m including the best of those in this week’s round-up—if you see two contributions from a single blogger, that’s the reason.

Editor’s Picks are boldfaced and tagged with jackpot dollar signs: $$$. These are posts I especially enjoyed, but I think you’ll find everything here a useful or fun read. Please be sure to Stumble, Digg, Tweet, or whatever the Festival—get the word out to your friends.

Mumbai Street
Mumbai Street

Frugal Street Smarts

$$$ Credit Card Assist
The Art of Credit Card Skimming
How the bad guys get access to your credit-card accounts, and what to do about it

Just How Expensive Are Convenience Checks?
A caveat for those who are naive about credit-card “checks.”

Luke Grand
Cash Out Life
Benefits of Paying Off Mortgage Early
Luke is preaching to my choir here.

$$$ April Dykman
Get Rich Slowly
Renter’s Insurance: Peace of Mind for Ten Bucks a Month
Just so. If you rent, read this!

PT Money
New Ways to Avoid Bank Overdraft Fees
Describes some strategies I didn’t even know you could do.

Silicon Valley Blogger
The Digerati Life
Guest Writer: Jacques Sprenger
Don’t Let Medical Bills Turn into Medical Debts!
Eight strategies for keeping out-of-pocket medical costs under control

Cash Money Life
How to Lower Your Cell Phone Bill
Smart approaches to a gadget that can quickly come to be a pricey “necessity”

$$$ DR
Dough Roller
Discover Card Brings Back the 12-Month Balance Transfer Offer!
Has your credit-card lender jacked up its interest rates? Check this out: DR has found a rare 0% 12-month balance transfer.

Paula Wethington
Monroe on a Budget
How well do you score on this coupon knowledge quiz?
Answers contain a lot of surprising information.

In a Haifa Crosswalk
At a Haifa Crosswalk

Parenthood and Family Life

Frugal Upstate
Three Ways to Save Money on School Pictures
Wow! We should hire this talented photog’ to take everyone’s kids photos

Jonathan Martin
The Negotiation Board
Negotiating for Moms
Ideas for applying negotiating techniques to those daily family fiscal matters

Stay at Home or Pay for Daycare?
Jim pushes a hot button for readers with an off-the-cuff cost-benefit analysis. Interesting article; don’t miss the comments.

Not the Jet Set
Cloth Diaper Update
NtJS calculates, in detail, the savings from using cloth instead of paper diapers over the past 500 days. Amazing!

Building a dry stone wall
Raising a dry stone wall, Wales

Building Frugal Habits

How to Think Like a Frugal Person to Tackle a Challenging Financial Situation
Start-up pointers for neophyte frugalists

One Advice
Five Fast Ways to Save Money without Even Realising
And some other good basics for budding frugal persons…

Marla Walters
Parenting Squad
Sew Easy to Save
If you’re clever, you can save with a sewing machine. I’d add that  a community college course in tailoring may help you feel a lot more satisfied with the results.

Money Smart Life
Personal Budget Tracking Creates Results
Wish I knew how to program the Mac to do what Ben’s former employer’s printer system did.

$$$ Baker
Man vs. Debt
The Shit-That-Doesn’t-Inspire-You Factor
An insight into frugal psychology

Matt B
Financial Methods
Five Monthly Expenses that Can Easily Be Reduced
From the phone bill to the mortgage: strategies to cut recurring costs

Buck$ome Boomer’s Journey to Retirement
What Frugality Means to Me
A brief manifesto on the practice of frugality

Backpacking to a Million-Dollar View
Backpacking to a Million-Dollar View

Money-saving Tips

$$$ Buck Weber
The Buck List
Borrow, Rent, or Share Those Tools
Tool lending libraries! I had no idea such a thing existed.

Tom Tessin
FGC Auto Blog
Finding Deals on Rental Cars
Several good tips here

Sound Money Matters
Six Hip Handmade Christmas Gifts
It is what it says it is!

Jeff Rose
How to Save Money on Your Health Insurance Premiums
Here’s something we’d all like to know about.

Family Balance Sheet
Got Perennials? Fall Is a Good Time to Divide and Save
Kristia learns to replenish her garden without draining her bankbook.

Kate Kashman
The Paycheck Chronicles
Three Ways to Avoid Library Fines
Great ideas, especially if you have kids who check out books at different times!

Matthew Paulson
Fine Tuned Finances
Little Tips Make for Big Savings
Revives some old-fashioned practices for modern-day frugality

Canadian Finance Blog
How to Make Your Clothes Last Longer
Several practical ideas

The Financial Blogger
Cash for Clunkers Made in Canada
The idea has caught on in America’s northernmost country—if you’re Canadian, you still have time to trade in the junker.

Guest Post
Make It from Scratch
Fleece Mittens and Scarf Tutorial
Early snow brings out Mom’s ingenuity. Result: extremely cute chilly weather gear!

Steadfast Finances
I Haven’t Bought a Music CD in Over 10 Years
Where do you get your music? How about your free music?

Gotthard Alte Passstrasse
Gotthard Alte Passstrasse

The Traveling Frugalist

Wren Caulfield
True Adventures in Money Hacking
Guest Writer: Elana Devereux
Save a Bob When You Travel Abroad
Wise and easy-to-follow advice on traveling without breaking the bank

d. ninja
Punch Debt in the Face
The Best Vacations Are Free
Our ninja has engineered a half-dozen free “vacations” (some of them more like workations) over the past couple of years.

Exploring South Wales
Exploring South Wales

Miscellaneous Leads, References, Discoveries, and Whatnot

Carol Brown
Online Schools
100 Best Twitter Feeds for Your Financial Intelligence
A tweetfest for the personal finance set!

Cecil Dellison
Clear Choice Credit Cards
A Chance for MORE Credit Card Use? New Ways and Reasons to Use Your Card
Progress marches on…

Green Panda
Green Panda Tree House
Guest Writer: Kelly Whalen
Walking: Good for You, Good for Your Wallet
Surprisingly, Kelly’s family finds many walkable destinations in the suburbs—enough to drop to one car!

Gather Little by Little
Facing My Biggest Challenge For 2009
Comparing extra pounds with debt, Mike deploys a commonsense strategy and a little self-discipline, with excellent results.

Retirement Planning Calculator Facts
Thoughts about effective use of online calculators, plus leads to a couple of them

The Sun’s Financial Diary
Yodlee Does a Better Job Categorizing My Expenses
It’s a little disconcerting to have decide a payment for this month’s credit-card bill went to buy alcohol. Sun goes in search of a smarter online personal finance program, and finds one.

Wall Street, 2005
Wall Street, 2005

Managing Investments

$$$ MoneyNing
How to Make a Roth IRA Conversion
The mechanics are prefaced with a thoughtful rumination on why and whether to make this move. Good, easy-to-understand discussion.

ABCs of Investing
Tax-free Municipal Bonds
Introduction to a (relatively) low-risk savings instrument

Paul Williams
Provident Planning
Reduce Your Taxes: Contribute to a Health Savings Account
Brief discussion of HSA medical plans

Banker Saver
Money Savings: Short Term vs. Long Term Savings
Trying to stick with the plan through hard times

Investing Toolkit
Why Should I Start Investing?
Jeremiad: Reasons you should get on the savings bandwagon

$$$ MLR
My Life ROI
Do I Have to Pay Capital Gains Tax on my House?
Clear discussion of a surprisingly complex topic.

Clams...see any feet?

Frugalists Got Feet a Sense of Humor!

Free Money Finance
Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets to Free Sodas
Holy Hilarious Moly, Batman! I wonder if this would actually work?

How to Marry a Footballer
Is this the path away from the hard chair in front of the computer monitor?

Reflection pool at the University of West Australia
Reflection pool at the University of West Australia


Wealth Pilgrim
Wealth Pilgrim: Money Management Advice, Financial Stress Management, & Resources
Rosh Hashana 2008 vs Rosh Hashana 2009: Proof You Are Financially Invincible
Mellow and thoughtful

J. Money
Budgets Are Sexy
Talking Finances with Friends and Family
Is money a taboo subject?

Funny about Money
Living within Your Means Is Good for the Economy
Other people think so, too!

$$$ Miss M
M Is for Money
Saving Gets Easier in Your Thirties
Nice rumination on money, maturity, and growth

Elizabeth G
Modern Gal
Are You Sabotaging Your Frugal Life?
Addresses the psychology of frugality and offers positive strategies to stay on track.

Penny Copperwyre
I Abused my Credit Cards Last Week
A sorrow piled on top of hard times leads the Copperwyres to a large expenditure, but they’re undaunted.


Mumbai Street, Tawheed Manzoor, Wikipedia Commons
Haifa Crosswalk, David Shankbone, Wikipedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License
Dry Stone Wall Building in South Wales,
TR001, Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3, Wikipedia Commons
Backpacking in Grand Teton, U.S. National Park Service, Public Domain
Gotthard Alte Passstrase (The old road on the south side of St. Gotthard Pass), H005, Wikipedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License
Bwlch Maesgwm, in Snowdon, South Wales; Phil Price, Creative Commons, Wikipedia Commons
Wall Street, New York City, 2005;
GNU Free Documentation License, Wikipedia Commons
Clams, Marlith, Creative Commons, Wikipedia Commons
Reflection Pool, University of West Australia, Greg O’Beirne,
GNU Free Documentation License, Wikipedia Commons

w00t! Festival of Frugality comin’ our way!

Next Tuesday, September 29, Funny about Money hosts the Festival of Frugality. Just checked in at the site—thirty-two submissions are already in the hopper. I’m looking forward to reading them…I love the creativity that these festivals bring together.

Don’t delay! Send your best ideas and reflections on frugal living and thrifty tips through the festival’s handy submission form. Hope to hear from you this week!

The Carnival of Money Stories

Scheherazade spins a story
Scheherazade spins a story

Many of our favorite bloggers are still submitting posts that aren’t stories. Some are tips, some are lists, some are reports, some are how-to’s…but a real narrative with rising action, a climax, and a dénouement (in nonfiction, that would be the lead, a body leading up to a point or resolution, and the wrap) is rare. And richer than all of our tribe. What made the original Carnival of Money Stories unique—and, IMHO, interesting—was the emphasis on story. Without that, what you have is yet another round-up of PF posts, a reiteration of the Festival of Frugality and the Carnival of Personal Finance. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…just that it’s being done elsewhere.

On the other hand, as submissions started to pour in, so few actual stories appeared among them that I began to realize why recent hosts have included volumes of the same stuff every other carnival is doing. If you restricted your choices only to narratives in which something happens, your carnival would be a bit light on content. So I decided to divide this edition into two sections, the first to include full-blown narratives that spin us a tale, and the second to include the best of all the other journalistic genres. In effect, then, every post is an editor’s pick; to gild that lily, though, I’ve marked the ones that delighted me the most with little red hearts…♥♥♥

The frog asked to be admitted to the palace
Frog went a-courtin'...

True Stories

♥♥♥ FMF
Free Money Finance
My Jobs, Promotion, Success, and Failure
This is the latest chapter in the saga of FMF’s two former bosses, Rude and Maniac. The story gets more amazing with every passing day. More is promised!

♥♥♥ Darwin
Darwin’s Finance
Top 10 College Degrees in 2009 with Massive Demand
So you want to be a chemical engineer? Darwin offers another story of life and career—very interesting and very worth reading.

♥♥♥ Jessica
Debt Kid
Why I’ll Never Get Another 30-Year Mortgage
What’s wrong with mortgage debt? Let us count the things…

Jack Schmidt
SectorMatic Money Journal
The High Cost of Deep-Fried Coke
An entertaining ramble kicks off from the discovery of an amazing confection.

Kristen Ellis
Frugality in the Making
Behold the Almighty Raincheck
Kristen discovers a way to extend sale dates and enhance the value of coupons.

J. Money
Budgets Are Sexy
Blogger Showdown #1: J. D. Roth vs. Trent Hamm
Two of our favorite bloggers tell their stories in interview fashion. The first of a series—great idea!

Vikki C, Guest Author
Bible Money Matters
Be Content, Save Money, and Be Happier
A reflection on what really  matters in life

The Investor
Ten Money Mistakes I Have Made
‘Tis what it says it is.

Silicon Valley Blogger
The Digerati Life
When to Get Personal Property Insurance
SVB learns from experience why renters (homeowners, too!) need extra coverage.

Miss M
M Is for Money
Retire by Fifty
Miss M lays out a plan to achieve a dream: off the gerbil wheel by age 50!

The Smarter Wallet
How to Own a Car for Cheap
Think Smarter’s car is funny-looking? He laughs every time he drives to the bank!

Single Guy Money
Yes, Single People Can Buy Homes, Too
Wow! This one comes under the heading of “no one could make this stuff up!”

Money Blue Book
Net Worth Update and Buying a Home
Uh oh…MBB is ready to make the big leap into homeownership.

Miss Bankrupt
My Deadbeat Television
Miss B. experiences an epiphany…then wonders if her new insight means she’s overly parsimonious.

Mr. Credit Card
Ask Mr. Credit Card
Poorer Than Thou: Interview with Stephanie
Mr. CC talks with the Poorer Than Thou’s proprietor about  her three-year-long blogging and debt relief journey. At 22, Stephanie may have succeeded Mrs. Micah as the youngest PF blogger!

Mr. Tough Money Love
Tough Money Love
Thoughtful Spending to Save Money
Mr. TML strategizes some electronics purchases and draws some conclusions about the process.

Ali Baba in the Cave of the Thieves
Ali Baba in the Cave of the Forty Thieves

The Best of Everything Else

♥♥♥ Kathryn
Out of Debt: Christian Personal Finances and Debt Help
International Unemployment Rates
Startling! Compares the U.S. unemployment rate with those of a long list of other countries.

♥♥♥ Robert Alan
Sell It! On the Web
Maximize Twitter for Your Small Business
For those of us who already spend too much time on the Web, there are third-party applications to help automate some of Twitter’s crucial functions.

♥♥♥ Patrick @ Military Money
Military Finance Network
Is REDUX Retirement Worth It?
If you’re career military, you should look at this. In addition to a clear-eyed comparison between REDUX and the High-3 Retirement System, Patrick also provides links to several military retirement calculators. If you’re a voting taxpayer who cares what happens to the men and women who choose to defend our country, you’ll want to take time to read this, too…it’s an eye-opener.

♥♥♥ Matt Jabs
Debt-Free Adventure!
The Whole Armor of Personal Finance
An original and clever sustained metaphor. Neat drawing, too!

Little Dough Girl
Well, That’s a Pretty Tasty Deal
Scavenging for coupons—and cash!

Robert D. Flach
The Wandering Tax Pro
Tax practitioner wishes clients would remain conscious—and conscientious—about their returns.

Michael Bass
Debt Prison
Helpful Hints for Debt Settlement
Contains some extremely interesting facts and advice. This is a very good post.

Jeff Rose
Good Financial Cents
Cash for Clunkers Tax Rules
Best description of this program I’ve seen, and best explanation of its implications

Jason Price, Guest Author
Christian Personal Finance
My Life with Mvelopes Personal
Review of PF software for folks who budget using the envelope system

Dough Roller
Balance Transfer Smackdown: 0% for 6 months vs 3.99% for 12 months

DR asks readers to decide: which is the better deal? But when you read the details, you realize the answer isn’t obvious!

The Fat Lady Sings…

And for the final aria, I can’t resist sharing this bit of silliness with you:

Funny about Money
When Real Estate Is Funnier Than Real Life

Aladdin in the Magic Garden
Aladdin in the Magic Garden

Next Week!

J. Money hosts the next edition of the Carnival of Money Stories at Budgets Are Sexy. Remember to send your stories to the carnival through this convenient form.


Scheherazade Went On with Her Story. Virginia Frances Sterret.  Public Domain. Wikipedia Commons.

The Frog Asks to Be Admitted to the Castle. Walter Crane. Public Domain. Wikipedia Commons.

Ali Baba in the Cave of the Forty Thieves. Maxfield Parrish. Public Domain. Wikipedia Commons.

Aladdin in the Magic Garden. Max Liebert, Aladdin und die Wunderlampe. Public Domain. Wikipedia Commons.

Moments of Fame

This week several carnival hosts have kindly featured various recent squibs from Funny.

The question about the worst financial mistake you didn’tmake appears in the 197th Carnival of Personal Finance, hosted this week by Four Pillars, who set a theme of the basics of personal finance. Hah! One of Four Pillars’s editor’s picks is My Money Minute, confirming my suspicions about pet insurance with a well-argued post and elaborate example. The Happy Rock is locked in battle with the grandparents over…what else? All the wonderful STUFF they keep giving the kids! Gather Little by Little discusses the ethics of keeping an unearned windfall.

“Frugality, Savings, and the Causes of Doom” made the 170th Festival of Frugality, which is live at MoneyNing. Speaking of pets, as we were above, Green Panda Treehouse, confronted with a sick cat, suggests a fewways to save on pet care. Off the Book of Phillip Sparrow¹topic, Family Balance sheet reflects on a much weightier matter: how she and her husband are handling a sharp business slowdown. And over at Pecuniarities, Penelope Pince makes the shrewd observation that not all “free” offers really cost nothing.

Spring has sprung at Moneytld, along with the Money Hacks Festival. This week’s well-organized edition is particularly good: it contains a lot of really interestingposts. Probably the least of these is Funny’s report on the credit union loan officer’s guess that comparables around the Investment House will rise in about nine months. I was especially interested in Free Money Finance’s list of 20 money-making activities, because one of them, “Write a Blog,” leads to a rich cache of information about monetizing blogs. Dough Roller thinks now is the time to refinance (assuming, I guess, your house isn’t worth $61,000 less than you owe on it…ahem!)—you have GOT to see DR’s amazing photo of Ben Bernanke! And in the gotcha coming & going department, Mark Montgomery reports that Sallie Mae’s new student loans now require payments while you’re still in school; repayment periods will drop and payments after graduation will rise commensurately.

¹{cackle!} Don’t you just love an obscure allusion?