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This Week from the Best Personal Finance Blogs

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Best Personal Financial Planning and Personal Investment Articles this Week from the Top Personal Finance Blogs

Carnival of Financial Planning – Edition #216 – December 23, 2011

Welcome to the December 23, 2011 Edition #216 of the Carnival of Financial Planning.

The Carnival of Financial Planning takes a long-term view of personal financial planning for individuals and families. We focus on efficient and sustainable personal financial planning practices that can lead to lifetime financial security.

This edition is arranged by subject heading, so that you can browse efficiently.


The Skilled Investor, Editor

Budgeting and Economics

Super Saver presents Check Whether a Deal is a Deal posted at My Wealth Builder, saying, “Not all deals save money as I found out when evaluating alternative options for purchasing residential natural gas and electricity.”

Janet Russell presents Personal Budget Software posted at Best Financial Planner, saying, “If you do not understand how much you spend and how much you are saving and investing, you simply do not have a financial plan. This situation dramatically increases your family’s long-term financial risk.”

DJ presents Tips For Saving Money on Heating Bills posted at The Family Wallet, saying, “Often times, too many of us heat the neighborhood each winter which simply throws money out the door. Saving money on your heating bill is not impossible; you just have to be diligent about following the above tips.”

Estate Planning

Bob presents Inherited IRA Accounts and Taxes: What you need to know posted at Christian Personal Finance, saying, “It all starts when you get a notice that a family member has passed away and you were the beneficiary of an account. The first question you should ask yourself is if the IRA owner died before or after April 2 after the year the person turned 70 1/2.”

Ashley presents Cremation vs. Burial Costs posted at Money Talks Coaching, saying, “Planning your funeral and communicating your wishes will help your loved ones make those awful decisions when the inevitable happens. Of course, make sure you are ready to die in other ways too.”

Financial Planning

Dough Roller presents Comparison of Layway Plans from 5 Major Retailers posted at Dough Roller, saying, “Layaway is making a comeback and we’ve taken a look at five of the most popular plans to show which one costs you the least amount of money.”

Shaun presents Who Spends More UK or US Parents: Average Family Christmas Gift Spending Per Child 2011 posted at Smart Family Finance, saying, “How similar are UK and US family spending on Christmas gifts in 2011? Do parents in both nations spoil their children the same?”

101 Centavos presents almost Live from Sao Paulo – random notes posted at 101 Centavos, saying, “Notes about my trip to Sao Paulo, another fascinating place!”

Daniel presents IRA Contribution Income Limits Should Be Based on Tax Rates posted at Sweating the Big Stuff, saying, “When taxes rise there is less disposable income, so contribution limits should rise, but they don’t.”

Kevin presents College Kids Need Skills, Not Good Grades posted at Thousandaire, saying, “Get a skill like accounting or engineering in college. It’s way more valuable than getting a high GPA without any real skills.”

PITR presents Owning Blogs vs. Staff Writing posted at Passive Income To Retire, saying, “To earn money online, you can do one of two things. Find out what is the best way to make money online.”

Walter Binkle presents Fixed Income Funds posted at Fixed Income Investing, saying, “The bond investment fund market is no place for an individual investor to try to beat the market and get higher returns through attempts at clever fixed income investing. Even professional bond market money managers do not beat the bond market.”

A Blinkin presents How To Stop Receiving Credit Card Offers posted at Funancials, saying, “This article will show you how to stop receiving credit card offers and junk mail. ”

Paula @ Afford Anything presents Be Frugal With Your Time, Not Your Money posted at Afford Anything, saying, “Time is like money: we must ruthlessly cut things that don’t matter, so we can spend lavishly things that matter most. Here are my Top 3 hints for achieving this.”

John presents Traveling Abroad? Save Big With A Credit Card posted at Wallet Blog, saying, “Using a credit card while traveling overseas can help save money. In fact, a recent study shows that credit cards have the potential to save international travelers as much as 15% on currency exchange.”

Suba presents Get Your Accomplishments Noticed posted at Broke Professionals, saying, “It’s tough at work these days, companies are trying to do more with fewer employees. Employees are struggling to meet increased workloads without ruining their personal lives. Most are probably just making it through the critical, must do, tasks each day.”

Hank presents One Time Is Too Many With Identity Theft posted at Money Q&A, saying, “How do you protect yourself from identity theft? What are the warning signs of identity theft? One incident is too many when it comes to protecting your identity.”

Larry Russell presents ID theft protection posted at Personal Financial Planning, saying, “As a threat to your financial security, you should take the potential for identity theft very seriously. Identity theft sometimes entails a loss of your money, but whether or not you lose money, it can take a very large amount of your time to rectify. Taking these steps to prevent an occurrence is prudent.”

Erika presents Rich and single or Poor and In Love? posted at Newlyweds on a Budget, saying, “Do finances affect the way you look at potential mates? Should financed play such an important role in marriage and relationships?”

Corey presents Turn Around Your Finances posted at 20s Finances, saying, “People often find themselves with a bad credit score due to poor financial choices in the past. The sooner the credit score is repaired the better. It is a good idea to put aside money every month to cover any emergencies that may arise.”

Penny presents Financial Lessons From Unexpected Places posted at Penny Pinching Professional, saying, “What personal finance lessons do you think can be learned from a board game based on subsistence farming in 17th century Europe?”

Julie presents Pets: The Gift That Keeps on Eating posted at The Family CEO, saying, “Just imagine the look on your child’s face when, from underneath the Christmas tree, comes a Golden Retriever puppy. The unbridled joy, unconditional love, but let’s take a look at the other side of the fence: ownership costs!”

DJ presents Save Money on Off Season Family Getaways posted at The Family Wallet, saying, “Traveling off season is a great way to save money on family vacations. Not only will you have more money in your wallet, but fewer tourists will be around, affording you more time to enjoy your activities.”

Kevin presents Five Financial Conversations to Have Before You Get Married posted at Invest It Wisely, saying, “Here are five financial conservations you should have before you get married.”

Frank Bertin presents Index Funds posted at Best Investment Strategies, saying, “Short-term mutual fund trading is a zero sum game played against other very well informed mutual fund traders and other securities market traders. On average, higher mutual fund turnover is far more likely to result in lower investment fund performance — instead of superior risk-adjusted performance.”

Eddie presents Christmas Gift Guide For Your New Relationship posted at Finance Fox, saying, “This gift can say the world about you or it can become a ticking time bomb, especially if you’re in a new relationship.There are no rules per se when it comes to gift giving, ultimately you place the final value on the gift. Buying too much, too early in the relationship can be a disaster too.”

Aloysa presents Five Things Everyone Should Know About Twitter posted at My Broken Coin, saying, “I’ve recently learned the value of twitter! Read these 5 things that everybody should know about twitter too!”

Financing a Home

Kennedi presents Would You Ever Buy an Investment Home? posted at Face and Fitness, saying, “Here are some things to consider before you buy an income house.”

Miss T. presents Planning How to Buy a House posted at Prairie Eco Thrifter, saying, “Planning a home purchase isn’t something that you should just jump into without some careful planning. It pays to get yourself in the best financial position before you do anything as this can potentially make or break your plans. Here are some tips for planning your house purchase from a financial point-of-view.”

Evan presents Calculating Future Housing Costs to Determine Affordability posted at My Journey to Millions, saying, “The Wife and I have been giving serious thought to listing our house after the new year, and it was in the course of a recent discussion that The Wife told me she just wanted to know the “bottom line” in terms of future housing costs. So, I set to work doing a few calculations.”

Michael presents How to Manage Credit Cards While Buying a House posted at Begging To Retire, saying, “Buying a house is always an exciting time but don’t forget about your current debt … especially your credit cards.”

John presents Teach Your Kids to Ride Safely Into Their Financial Futures posted at Wallet Blog, saying, “Hey, I hope all is well! I think your readers will find my submission this week very useful because it shows parents the importance of teaching their children about personal finance and gives them a few tips on how to guide their kids in the right direction so they too can start building their wealth and understand how to be frugal and smart with the money they earn.”

humble savers presents Five Ways To Save – In Your First Job posted at Humble Savers, saying, “Starting you job is a big step and it’s important to start good saving habits”

Aaron Hung presents Should you buy a home in this economy? | Aaron Hung.com posted at Aaron Hung.com, saying, “Admit it, the economy is not getting any better and gas prices will never be $1 a gallon again(good times). However, there are advantages if you consider buying a home. We all know that this is a buyer’s market so you have the upper hand when buying a house with lower prices and in better neighborhoods.”

Financing a Home

N.W. Journey presents Warning: The Absolute Worst Way to Buy a Home posted at Networth Journey, saying, “Learn how not to buy a home.”

Theresa Torres presents Low Cost Ways To Prepare Your House For Sale posted at TH Services Blog, saying, “Putting your house’s best foot forward for buyers need not be expensive. Here are low cost ways to help you prepare your house and make a good impression on potential buyers.”

Chelsea Prescotti presents Foreclosure: Just the Facts | CreditScore.net posted at CreditScore.net, saying, “Those who have low incomes or lose their jobs are not the only ones that may be facing foreclosure. There are various reasons people have difficulty making ends meet and eventually face foreclosure because they are unable to make their mortgage payments. Individuals from all walks of life deal with foreclosure, and it is more common than most people realize. If they miss even one payment on their mortgage, it is very difficult to catch up because they must make their current payment in addition to the missed payment.”

Financing Education

Marie presents Dorm Living and Other Money-Saving Tips for College Students posted at Money Spending Mommy, saying, “If you’re going to school full-time, you’ll have a limited number of hours each week to work and earn money. So it’s important to learn how to cut costs and live on a budget. Here are some money-saving tips that will help.”

Jules Wells presents Financial Education posted at Rational Financial Planning, saying, “A financial planning reading list about personal financial planning and investment management.”

Charles Chua C K presents What an Emergency Fund Can do for Your Car Loans and Credit Card Debts posted at All About Living with Life.

Health Care

Marie presents Subsidized Assisted Living Explained posted at Money Spending Mommy, saying, “Assisted living is a good alternative to a nursing home for seniors who need some assistance but can do most things for themselves. And for those with limited income, subsidies can allow them access to communities that they might not have otherwise. If you, a friend or a loved one could benefit from such a living arrangement, it is certainly worth looking into.”


Kay Lynn presents 3 Reasons to Roll Over Your 401K posted at Bucksome Boomer, saying, “Now that you have left your employer (career change or possible retirement), you have an important choice to make. You can either leave the money with your previous employer in the 401k plan or you can do what’s called a 401k rollover. The former seems like the easy option but let me give you some reasons why you want consider rolling over to your own personal Individual Retirement Account (IRA).”

FMF presents The Difference Good Performance Can Make posted at Free Money Finance, saying, “The numbers show why it’s so important that you work at growing your career. No other asset you have is as valuable, and if you consistently strive to grow it (by excelling at your work), you will be handsomely rewarded financially (and, by the way, it’s more likely that you’ll enjoy what you do if you are doing it well.)”

Miranda @ Financial Highway presents 50 Home Business Idea posted at Financial Highway, saying, “Many of us want to earn extra money from home. And, indeed, starting a home business can be a good way to cultivate additional income, and help you reach other financial goals that you might have. From creative business ideas, to the more mundane, here are 50 home business ideas.”

Jeffrey Trull presents Is it Better to Work for Commissions and Incentives? posted at Money Spruce, saying, “Is it better to earn a living off of commission or just a flat salary with no incentives? Perhaps adding commissions and incentives encourages workers to try their hardest and do their best work.”

Mike Collins presents The Difference Between Income and Wealth posted at Saving Money Today, saying, “Increasing your income is great. But in order to build true wealth you need to use that income to acquire assets than increase your net worth.”


Jacob @ My Personal Finance Journey presents How to Ignore Market Volatility posted at My Personal Finance Journey, saying, “This post discusses ways in which to ignore market volatility. With this market of wild ups and downs, this post points out ways to not let this volatility negatively affect ones’ investments.”

Glen Craig presents What is a Mutual Fund Prospectus? posted at Free From Broke, saying, “So you want to invest in mutual funds but you are clueless about them? A good place to start is to answer the question: What is a mutual fund prospectus?”

Jon the Saver presents Start Your Long-Term Savings Before Its Too Late posted at Free Money Wisdom, saying, “Historically, the stock market has always recovered from every economic downturn, and generally can be relied upon as a safe place for long-term investment. Consider investing as part of your plan to save money for your future. ”

Janet Russell presents Fund manager performance posted at Personal Investment Management, saying, “The effort to find those few supposedly superior money managers willing to sell their services sufficiently cheaply is a costly, time consuming, and futile, “Where’s Waldo?,” searching exercise for the individual investor.”

Sustainable PF presents Sustainable Index Investing Is a Joke posted at Sustainable Personal Finance, saying, “You shouldn’t bother with sustainable index investing. Instead, do like the rest of the market does. Put your cash in the spot where you feel it’ll get the best return. Then, if you’re so inclined, spend your profits on whatever environmentally friendly hippie stuff you want. Investing should be about making money, not saving the world. The two just don’t mix.”

Finley Merriwether presents Best Bond Mutual Funds posted at Low Cost Bond Funds, saying, “Vanguard dominates this low cost United States bond mutual funds marketplace for direct purchase accounts with both low and high minimum deposits. Investment research overwhelmingly shows that lower cost fixed income funds tend to yield higher bond investing returns. ”

Echo presents How To Reduce Mutual Fund Fees And Expenses posted at Boomer & Echo, saying, “This post reviews a very helpful personal investing book titled Low Cost Mutual Funds and ETFs. This book focuses on the most important problem facing many investors today: investing costs that are excessive and unwarranted.”

Cash Flow Mantra presents An Explanation of the Stock Option Collar posted at Cash Flow Mantra, saying, “In reality, a collar is really not all that difficult to understand. It consists of owning a stock (being long), owning a protective put against that stock, and selling a covered call against that same stock. As always, a real-life example is in order so I will provide just that.”

Jack Ping presents Top No Load Mutual Funds posted at My Investment Funds, saying, “There are over 60,000 different mutual fund investment share classes sold worldwide. Some mutual funds and ETFs must be better than others, but which ones are they? How can you tell before the fact?”

FMF presents Dividend Investing is Not the Perfect Solution for Yield posted at Free Money Finance, saying, “Is investing in dividend stocks a good way to generate income? Nope.”

Don presents Dividends Paying Expenses – My Thoughts posted at Money Reasons, saying, “This is why I think dividends paying expenses is a great idea. See if you agree…”

Novel Investor presents Know The Wash Sale Rule When Selling Those Losers posted at Novel Investor, saying, “The end of the year is a popular time to sell those loser investments for tax purposes. But not knowing the wash sale rules can kill this strategy.”

DGB presents How to Build a Leveraged Dividend Portfolio posted at The Dividend Guy Blog, saying, “How to build a new dividend portfolio.”

Intelligent Speculator presents Top International Dividend Stocks (ADR’s) posted at Intelligent Speculator, saying, “Stocks you need to watch out for.”

Marc Ryan presents The Power of Passive Investing, by Richard Ferri: a book review – IndependentInvestor.info posted at IndependentInvestor.info, saying, “When we launched our site in 2008, one of the books on investing we most consulted was All About Asset Allocation, 2006 by Richard Ferri. We were therefore happy to discover that Richard had recently published a new book, The Power of Passive Investing. We wondered if he had found enough new material to warrant a new book. After reading it, we can enthusiastically respond, yes. The fact that Vanguard’s founder, John C. Bogle, accepted to write the foreword and that many others notable proponents of passive investing have praised the book, says a lot about the author and his most recent publication.”

Dividends4Life presents 7 Higher-Yielding, Low Debt Stocks With A Tiny Payout Ratio posted at Dividend Growth Stocks, saying, “All income investors love a stock with a good yield. The smart ones look for dividends that are sustainable and likely to grow. The question is, ‘In an uncertain world, how do you determine which dividends are sustainable and likely to grow?’ Of coarse, there is no way to know with exact certainty which dividends are sustainable, but there are tell-tale signs that often foretell the future.”

Managing Credit and Debt

Marjorie presents Card Hub’s 6 Credit Predictions for 2012 posted at CardHub.com, saying, “The holiday season tends to be a time for nostalgia and reflection, but as the calendar turns from 2011 to 2012, we will undoubtedly begin looking to the future, making resolutions and wondering what the new year has in store. But why wait? Foresight is key in finance, so let’s make some predictions for things that will affect your wallet in 2012.”

Charles Tran presents Chase Sapphire Preferred Review: 50000 Bonus Points Worth It? posted at CreditDonkey Review, saying, “$95 annual fee vs 50,000 bonus points, is it worth it?”

Joe Plemon presents Take Control of Your Debt by Setting a Time Goal posted at Personal Finance By The Book, saying, “Setting a time goal will kindle your creativity, force you to be focused and give you the enthusiasm to maintain your momentum.”

Marjorie presents Bad Credit Guide posted at CardHub.com, saying, “The arena of bad credit is often very confusing and filled with misleading information, causing you, the consumer, to sometimes feel unsure which way is up. To help you, we have compiled a “Bad Credit Guide,” which explains bad credit, debunks myths and directs you toward the ultimate goal of good credit standing.”

Mike presents CIBC Visa Cards: Comparing The Options posted at Rewards Cards Canada, saying, “CIBC Visa cards offer a wide range of benefits and services including rewards, cash-back and competitive interest rates.”

Peter presents Learning How to Increase Returns and Become a Better Peer to Peer Lending Investor: P2P Lending Educational Resources posted at Bible Money Matters, saying, “Because I’m becoming more interested in social lending through sites like Lending Club and Prosper I’ve also been looking into places where I can educate myself a bit more about how this whole peer to peer lending paradigm works, and how to maximize my earnings. While doing some research on the topic I came across a variety of good educational resources that I thought I’d share today.”


Beating Broke presents 4 Frugal Ways to Keep Kids Busy During Christmas Vacation posted at Beating Broke, saying, “There are plenty of frugal ways to keep the kids, especially your preschool and elementary school kids, entertained during the Christmas vacation. Consider the following activities:”

Bradson Oakley presents No Load Mutual Fund posted at No Load Funds, saying, “There is no good evidence that investment sales loads and other 12b-1 sales fees charged to investors result in higher mutual fund and ETF performance. In fact, the opposite has repeatedly been shown to be true.”

Sustainable PF presents Sustainable Index Investing Is a Joke posted at Sustainable Personal Finance, saying, “You shouldn’t bother with sustainable index investing. Instead, do like the rest of the market does. Put your cash in the spot where you feel it’ll get the best return. Then, if you’re so inclined, spend your profits on whatever environmentally friendly hippie stuff you want. Investing should be about making money, not saving the world. The two just don’t mix.”

The Skilled Investor presents Investment Timing Does Not Work posted at Financial Management, saying, “You must have your money invested and at risk to get risk premium returns. Jumping out and in or “timing the markets” doesn’t work.”

Craig Ford presents Christmas Lessons on Repentance and Redemption from Three Villains posted at Money Help For Christians, saying, “Chistmas offers all of us a chance to change.”

Jeri Ford presents Best Current American Express Membership Rewards Transfer Bonuses posted at Help Me Travel Cheap, saying, “A guide on how to get even more value out of Membership Rewards.”

Tim @ Faith and Finance presents How Does Subjective Value Work? posted at Faith and Finance, saying, “People value things differently, which is key to understanding the free market. Read about subjective value and how it affects you each day.”

The Financial Blogger presents Preparing for an Interview posted at The Financial Blogger, saying, “Time to crush that interview in the financial industry.”

Dr. Dean presents Decisions: How YOU Can Improve! posted at Dr. Dean’s TheMillionaireNurse.com Blog, saying, “Do you make good decisions? The decisions we make impact all areas of our life, including our finances. Join me in a review of the process and ways to improve your method.”

Retirement Planning

YFS presents 401k Is Not Enough: Alternatives to Your Retirement Planning posted at Your Finances Simplified, saying, “Nowadays, it’s disconcerting to realize how employee retirement plans just don’t seem to be enough to cover one’s retirement.”

SB presents Don’t Give Up, Get Even With Your Financial Frustration posted at One Cent at a Time, saying, “Preparing for retirement is not always our number one priority. At the same time we may notice swings in our accounts every day, making it hard to see progress toward their goals. No matter how discouraging retirement planning can be, you should never give up preparing for your financial future.”

Mr. Money presents Why NOW Is the Best Time to Start Saving for Your Retirement posted at Smart on Money, saying, “Actually, years ago was the best time to start saving for retirement. As soon as you started earning income was the best time to save for retirement. But now is the second best time to start saving for retirement.”

FMF presents Ideas for Staying Busy in Retirement posted at Free Money Finance, saying, “Sure, you may have the money to retire, but what actually are you going to do with all that free time?”

Money Cone presents How to Calculate Your Retirement Income posted at Money Cone, saying, “In this post I’m going to show you how to find out what your income will be at retirement, if you continue saving what you are currently saving. No, no worksheets or spreadsheets or complicated calculations! Not on this blog! I want to highlight a FREE Retirement Income Calculator I found very useful.”

Barb Friedberg presents What to do with retirement funds when I switch jobs posted at Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance, saying, “A reader asked about what to do with her retirement funds when she switched jobe. See how I approached this complex topic.”

Philip presents Exploring Extended Stay Options posted at PT Money Personal Finance, saying, “Discusses extended stay options, gives sources for doing further research, and offers reasons they might help a family save money on travel.”

Justin presents 5 Purchases to Wait on This Holiday Season posted at Money Is the Root, saying, “If you are one of my fellow procrastinators then do yourself a favor and hold off on these these purchases until 2012. In fact, start your Christmas 2012 shopping next month, you will be amazed at how much you can save!”

Lisa presents Saving Money: How Important Is It? posted at Thriftability, saying, “No matter what age you are, a savings account is important. You can never be too young or too old to start saving. And here’s why you should be.”

Lazy Man presents Today’s Deal: Ditch Your Landline for VOIP and Save Big posted at Lazy Man and Money, saying, “Nearly two years ago I wrote about how you can get free lifetime phone service for $150. The product is called the Ooma Telo and it’s something that I’ve been using the for many months now. It is a great savings over both a standard landline phone and alternative VOIP services such as Vonage (which I had before I switched.)”

Frank Knight presents Best S&P 500 Mutual Fund posted at Best Mutual Funds, saying, “The no load index fund strategy of the Schwab S & P 500 Index Fund tracks the S and P 500 stock index. This no load index fund was listed as one of the top 25 lowest cost index mutual funds in a research study.”

Kelsey presents Versatile Salt: 10 Household Uses posted at Money Mum, saying, “If you think table salt can only be used to season your food, think again; salt is actually an incredibly versatile material to keep around your home for everything from cleaning to home repair. Since it’s also quite natural and inexpensive, learning how to utilize salt in a variety of ways can be great for both convenience and saving money.”

Pam presents How to Eat Healthy on a Budget posted at Frugal Living, saying, “Eating healthy doesn’t have to cost more. Here are some tips for staying healthy on a budget.”

humble savers presents How To Set And Achieve Goals For Your Money – Three Step Guide | humble savers – Practical ways to save money posted at Humble Savers, saying, “Goal setting for your money is vital for financial success. Our three step guide will help you to understand and prioritize your goals; and achieve them.”


Super Saver presents Strategies to Lower Federal Income Taxes in Retirement posted at My Wealth Builder, saying, “As a retiree, I’ve learned that I have additional opportunities to minimize our tax responsibility. I gladly use those opportunities to send less of our hard earned money to the wasteful federal and state governments. These strategies simply require the capability to shift income and deductions.”

Tim @ Faith and Finance presents 8 Year-End Tax Moves to Consider at the End of 2011 posted at Faith and Finance, saying, “Before you know it, 2011 will be in the past and tax season will be upon us. Because it will be here sooner than you know it, now is a good time to look at what you’ll need to accomplish for your 2011 taxes before the end of the year”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of Carnival of Financial Planning using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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