Easy Like Black Friday Morning Weekly Roundup – # 4 – November 25th, 2011

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Click here to enter my free $201.40 giveaway for a chance to win 5% of My Personal Finance Journey blog income and give another 5% to a charity of your choosing! Deadline to enter is November 30th, 2011 (this coming Wednesday).

Each week (even though I missed the past several weeks! – Oops!), the purpose of the Easy Like Sunday Morning Weekly Roundup series is the same – for me to be able to connect with you, the readers, on a more personal (non personal finance informational transmission only) level, encourage community, and also to give back to the other bloggers around the blogosphere who have mentioned My Personal Finance Journey throughout the past week. This week, since I have gotten behind in doing a roundup for several weeks, I decided that I didn’t want until Sunday to put together this week’s edition. And, since it is Black Friday, that’s the reason for the minor name change! 

As far as the theme goes, the title of the roundup gives it away. The roundup theme is named after the Lionel Richie song, Easy Like Sunday Morning (which I play once a week while putting this together), to remind us of the importance of slowing down at least once a week to take appreciation for that which transpired over the past few days.

So, without further ado, let’s get started with this week’s roundup!

Weekly Updates from Jacob’s Personal Finance Journey and Life

  • I mentioned in the opening paragraph of this post that I missed doing a roundup the past few weekends. However, I did not mention why. 
  • As far as my life in general, November has been a SUPER-busy month, as it often is for a lot of people in today’s society. 
    • At the beginning of November (November 4-8), my girlfriend and I took a vacation to New York City so that she could run in the New York City Marathon. 
    • Then, almost immediately when I came back from that trip, I traveled to Richmond for the Richmond / McDonald’s Half Marathon on November 12th. 
      • This race is my favorite road half marathon running race of the year, and as usual, it was a very fun time this year as well. It was about 40 degrees at the starting gun of the race, but then warmed up to around 53 degrees F by the finish. 
      • I was very satisfied with my finishing time of 1 hour and 31 minutes! 
      • If you’re interested in seeing some pictures of me running in the race, you can click here
  • Since the Richmond Half Marathon, I have been hustling to continue my graduate school research in Alzheimer’s disease in my lab. There was a slight time-crunch since we had to analyze the data from a previous aggregation/cytotoxicity experiment and then start another 8 day experiment in order to make some progress before taking off for Thanksgiving (right now! yah!).
  • Since Wednesday, my sister and mom have been in Virginia with me to celebrate Thanksgiving. Currently, they’re attending a yoga class, so I decided to do a little blogging during the downtime. 
  • We had a delicious Thanksgiving meal last night that my sister prepared. Included in the meal were 1) sweet potatoes topped with oatmeal, 2) a 10 pound free range, never frozen turkey from Whole Foods with celery/raisin stuffing (the most expensive grocery store EVER by the way, which I never usually shop at because it is overpriced. Good – but overpriced!), 3) bacon-wrapped brussel sprouts, and 4) fresh-made cranberry sauce (from real cranberries). Shown below is a picture of the complete spread! Sure was tasty! 
    • As far as my personal finances go, I’ve encountered and am currently trying to sort through two big changes. 
      • First, last week, I finally had time to analyze my earnings from this year for tax purposes, and have determined that I will indeed, owe a quarterly tax payment in January (ahead of the normal time that taxes are due). This is due to the fact that I owe taxes on self-employment income and also from my graduate school NSF fellowship, neither of which withholds any taxes automatically. 
        • Since the amount of taxes that I owe is fairly large, I’ve been investigating opening up a self-employed retirement account as a way to reduce my tax liability. I’m fairly certain I’ve narrowed the choice down to an individual 401(k). 
        • However, it was a very difficult decision due to a plethora of differing opinions on the subject, a lack of information available directly from the IRS, and changes in the tax laws over the years. 
        • As such, I’ll be sure to put together a future post covering the various considerations in my decision-making process, as I think this would be very helpful to people in the future when they are going down the same path that I was. 
      • Second, I had been planning (and saving money) for several months now in order to install a stacked clothes washer/dryer combination unit in my condo that I purchased last year. 
        • However, after recently deciding to make my second bedroom my office/blogging space (reducing total storage space in my condo), I’ve decided that placing a washer/dryer in my house would not be the best use of space because it would effectively monopolize all storage room in the biggest closet.
        • Therefore, I’ve decided to indefinitely delay my plan to install a clothes washer/dryer in my condo. There’s always a possibility that I’ll change my mind about this in the future, but for now, I’m going to devote the money I had been saving for this purpose to other outlets.    

    Thanksgiving Dinner Last Night at the My Personal Finance Journey Household – My mom (left), my sister (right), and the food (center)!

    My Favorite 10 Posts of the Past Week

    I read quite a few interesting posts throughout the madness that sometimes is the work week. Listed below were 10 of my favorites, listed in random order. Enjoy!

    1.    Budgeting in the Fun Stuff posted about Can Anyone Be a Successful Blogger? and enumerated four things each full-time blogger needs to be successful.
    2.    Get Rich Slowly posted about The Many Ways to Know and Control the Flow of Your Dough and discussed the different options how to keep tabs on your cash.
    3.    Cash Money Life posted about 10 IRA Rules Everyone Should Know and gave a list of basic IRA rules that everyone should know.
    4.    Budgets Are Sexy posted about The Pros of Maxing Out Your Roth IRA! and explained why he contributes to his IRA every year religiously.
    5.    I Will Teach You To Be Rich posted about how to Avoid the Top 7 Career Mistakes and identified seven critical mistakes people commit in finding their dream job.
    6.    The Centsible Life posted about DIY Thanksgiving Table Decorations and showed how she is preparing for Thanksgiving. She illustrated how to do DIY Thanksgiving table runner, DIY aluminum candle holders, and Chinese lanterns.
    7.    Frugal Dad posted about Should I Withdraw from My Roth IRA to Pay Off Debt? and discussed four reasons why you should not tap Roth IRA to pay your debts.
    8.    Bible Money Matters posted about 2 Years Without Credit Cards: Do I Regret It? and shared the wonderful feeling of living without credit cards. He claimed it was the best financial decision he made.
    9.    Financial Highway posted about 6 Winter Car Maintenance Tips to Save You Money and listed down six basic car maintenance tips that can help save time and money during colder months.
    10.  Fabulously Broke posted about Why You Should Check Your Bills Regularly and gave five different ways to help prevent identity theft.

    If you’re interested in submitting an article for consideration/inclusion to this roundup, just email me by clicking here. Since I’m only 1 guy without a time-machine to give me unlimited time each day, sometimes I miss some really good articles in the blogosphere, and it’s good to be notified of them directly.

    Guest Posts from Personal Finance Bloggers on My Personal Finance Journey

    Over the past week, there was one guest post here at My Personal Finance Journey.

    Corey from 20’s Finances and Passive Income to Retire posted about, “What Does a Passive Retirement Look Like?” Thanks so much Corey for the post! It was great to hear about your plans. 

    If you would like to guest post on my site, please click here to read more details about how to kick off the guest posting process. I’d love to hear from you!

    Blasts From the Past

    For the first 6 months after I started this blog, I pretty much “blogged in a cave.” What I mean by this is that I cranked out over 200 very good blog articles in this time period, but since I didn’t know any better, I didn’t reach out to other bloggers, get involved with the online community through commenting on other sites, or do any kind of site promotion at all. As you can imagine, some of the articles written during this time period didn’t get the attention that I think they deserved corresponding to the content contained.

    The Blast from the Past section will feature one old My Personal Finance Journey article each week that I feel is high quality, but was published prior to my blog having any sort of real readership. This week’s article is listed below:

    Hamster Revolution Email and Electronic File Management System – This post discusses the current email storage management system that I use to manage email with my day job as well as blogging activities. It discusses a electronic filling system consisting of the “COTAP” folders – one for clients, output, teams, administrative, and personal files/emails. It really works, and I have enjoyed using it ever since I wrote this post in July of last year!

    Personal Finance “Mad Props” of the Week Award

    Every once in a while, when I’m reading an article or site in the personal finance blogosphere, I’ll be so impressed in hearing about what a person did or wrote about, that all I can say to myself is WOW! This section of the roundup will serve as a running “home” for recognizing outstanding achievement. 

    This week’s award goes to Jeff Rose of Good Financial Cents. Last week, when I was trying to sort through the seemingly overwhelming decision about which type of self-employed retirement account to open, I came across several of the posts that Jeff wrote about the subject during a Google search. It was amazing how helpful the articles were – much more helpful than any IRS tax publication, Ask.com, or Wall Street Journal research. I began reading several other articles on his site and thought it was amazing how accessible he makes very difficult personal finance topics seem when he explains them in his posts. So, good job Jeff, and I look forward to reading more! 

    If you know of someone in the PF blogging world that is really doing amazing things, feel free to send me an email for consideration in future roundups.


    Listed below are the giveaways I’ve come across in my journey through the personal finance blogosphere this week (along with the links so that you can head over and enter!). It’s great to see everyone giving back to their readers through these promotions. 
    • Money is the Root is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card until December 3rd.
    • Investorz Blog is giving away 3 copies of The Millionaire Fastlane until November 30th.
    • My good friend Crystal from Budgeting in the Fun Stuff is holding a $50 Thanksgiving Giveaway until November 30th.  
    • Debt Eye is giving away one $25 gift card per month for getting a score of 70% or higher on a financial literacy quiz. 
    • Sustainable Personal Finance is giving away over $1200 in cash and tech gadget prizes for their 1 year blogoversity until December 19th (I’m sponsoring one of their prizes!)

    If you’re hosting a giveaway and it’s not listed above, please send me an email to let me know, and I’ll get it included in next week’s roundup!

    Blog Carnivals Featuring My Personal Finance Journey Articles

    ·       Sustainable Personal Finance hosted the Carnival of Personal Finance and included My Current Asset Allocation and Net Worth Growth – July – October, 2011
    ·         Modern Tightwad hosted the Total Money Carnival and included 10 Tips to Save Energy and Money This Winter
    ·         Money for College Product hosted the Money for College Roundup and included 10 Tips to Save Energy and Money This Winter
    ·         Sweating the Big Stuff hosted Best of the Rest and included What are the Best and Worst Jobs in the World?
    ·         My University Money hosted the Carnival of Financial Camaraderie and included Smart Choices Save Money on Life Insurance
    ·         Don’t Mess With Taxes hosted the Tax Carnival and included Is Social Security a Ponzi Scheme?
    ·         Workers’ Comp Insider hosted the Cavalcade of Risk and included Five Common Life Insurance Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
    ·         Arbor Asset Allocation Model Portfolio (AAAMP) Blog hosted the Self-Directed Investing For Retirement Carnival and included Valuation-Informed Indexing vs. Passive Investing – Which is Better?
    ·         Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance hosted the Carnival of Passive Investing and included Was the “Lost Decade” Really Lost for Investors?
    ·         Sweating the Big Stuff hosted Best of the Rest and included How You Can Obtain Long-Term Electricity Savings
    If you are hosting a carnival that includes (or included) My Personal Finance Journey and I missed listing it here (I don’t get trackbacks since I’m not on WordPress, so I have to rely on direct email and Google Alert notifications), please email me so I can include it in my roundup. Thanks!

    Top 10 Referring Sites to My Personal Finance Journey This Past Week

    1. Miss T @ Prairie Eco Thrifter.
    2. Jon @ Free Money Wisdom.
    3. Corey from 20’s Finances.
    4. Krantcents.
    5. Evolving PF.

    Best Reader Submitted Question From the Past Week

    This section will serve as a running location for any very insightful, high quality questions submitted by readers throughout the week.
    There were no questions submitted this week. However, if you are wondering something about personal finance, please feel free to email me and ask!

    My Other Sites

    Currently, my only other site besides this one is The Carnival of Passive Investing, which runs monthly editions. If you have any passive investing posts you’ve written recently, you can submit them to be included in the carnival.

    However, I have several other domain names purchased, and I am currently learning WordPress Self-Hosted to get these sites live as soon as time allows! I’ll be sure to keep you all updated on progress.

    Well, that wraps up this week! If you have any suggestions or recommendations for things you’d like to see in this weekly roundup, just let me know by sending me an email!

    As always, thanks to all the readers for creating such a great community here at My Personal Finance Journey. Your interaction is what keeps me going on this blog!

    Until next time – Jacob


    1. Sounds like a busy month indeed! I'm definitely interested in hearing about your individual 401K. 🙂
      My recent post Weekend Wrap Up Thanks Giving Edition

    2. I like your idea for the self employment retirement account to save on taxes. Have you looked at an SEP IRA?

      • Thanks for your comment Eric. I looked at a SEP IRA VERY closely, but ultimately, decided to go with an individual 401k instead because it had higher contribution limits. I hope to put together a post soon discussing my ideas for choosing one vs the other. Stay tuned!
        My recent post Easy Like Sunday Morning Weekly Recap and Roundup – # 5 – December 17th, 2011

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