Yakezie Carnival – 10 Tools I’m Thankful For in My Personal Finances – December 18th, 2011 Edition

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Welcome everyone to the December 18th, 2011 edition of the Yakezie Carnival!

About This Carnival

For those of you unfamiliar with the Yakezie Personal Finance Blog Network, it is the web’s largest, most involved, and most organized group of personal finance and lifestyle bloggers. Participants in the network collaborate multiple times throughout each day on the Yakezie forums and through other mediums. You can view all of the details at the “About Yakezie” page by clicking here.

Each week, the members and challengers of the Yakezie Network submit their best articles to be featured in the Yakezie Carnival. And, today, it is My Personal Finance Journey’s honor to be the host! We last hosted the carnival nearly three months ago on September 25th, when the theme of the carnival was highlighting several examples throughout history of selflessly helping others.

Today’s Carnival Theme

Being as that Christmas is only 1 week away and the holiday season is when I often reflect on things for which I am thankful, I figured it’d be cool to share 10 tools that I use in my personal finances and am thankful for as part of today’s carnival theme. You’ll find these interspersed in random order throughout the post listings below. Enjoy!

To get us started, listed below are this week’s Top 3 Editor’s Picks. Typically, when I host a carnival, it is quite clear what the three winning articles are. However, I find that when I’ve hosted Yakezie Carnivals, the quality of the articles is so high that I often find myself torn between about 8 articles competing for the top spots. 

1. Money Q&A: Three Christmas Gifts To Give Your Children That Keep On Giving – There are a few examples of Christmas gifts to your children such as Roth IRA contributions that will keep on giving long after the holiday season has ended.

2. Krantcents: Holiday Networking – Holiday parties can be a great for networking. Expand your network for the future.

3. Your Finances Simplified: Work Hard and Shut Up! – I promise you, that if you worked this hard at anything, your life would be different!  Mrs. YFS and I were at our local IHOP to take advantage of some of their seasonal pancakes and stumbled upon this very ambitious and dedicated employee who is the basis of my story.

And, listed below are the best of the rest! The selected entries are formatted as follows – 1) Blog title in bold, 2) Post title and link, and 3) a description written by the site owner about the post.

10. Online Banking – No more balancing of the checkbook is needed, and all of my purchases are tracked automatically! Additionally, I can transfer funds via ACH over the Internet without deposit slips.

Financial Success for Young Adults: Debt: The Elephant in the Room – Debt is a reality for most college students. Don’t be afraid to manage your debt so that you can have money to invest.

Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance: How to Live Well When Your Passion Doesn’t Pay Well (Part 3) – This article highlights 4 people who learned how to turn their passion into cash.

Debt Black Hole: How Much Do You Spend On Your Geek Collections? – Most Geeks take their collections (action figures, props, autographed pics, original art, authentic replicas, etc.) VERY seriously! But there’s always someone out there with a bigger collection- and more money to spend on it. What do you collect? Where does the money come from?

My Journey to Millions: Affording the Costs of Living – Presently, I’ve learned to compartmentalize things by remembering what I sometimes call the “random fund”. The random fund is small cache of money I mentally set aside that is used to pay for all the little random things life can throw at you.

Invest It Wisely: The Three Stages of Financial Freedom – Last week, I talked about the three stages of financial despair. This week I am going to look at the flip side, the three stages of financial freedom. We all want to get out of the rat race, but before we get there, we need to get out of the hole and onto level ground.

Money Cone: Selling Stuff on Amazon: A Step-by-Step Guide – How would you like to get rid of your old stuff and get paid for it? Toys, DVDs, gadgets, books, CDs… everyone’s got a few! But instead of junking them or even worse, letting them collect dust, why not sell them from the comfort of your home? With Amazon Marketplace, you can!

9. Automatic scheduled payments and savings – In my finances, I try to automate as many things as possible so that they happen without me having to remember to do them (which helps prevent me from failing to do it). I have automatic payments set up on everything from paying my homeowner’s association fees and internet bill to saving for a trip to the Grand Canyon in 2012-2013!

Live Real, Now: Fighting Fair – Arguments in your marriage aren’t–or shouldn’t be–intended to draw blood. Fights happen. If your goal is to win at any cost, you will both lose, possibly everything.

Investorz Blog: Why Being an Investor is an Ideal Career Path – There are two big decisions in life: who you’re going to marry, and what career path you’ll take. This post concerns the later. Here is why I believe that being an investor is the ultimate “job” one can have.

HowToSaveMoney.ca: Using Freezer Cooking as a Way to Reduce Your Grocery Budget – Don’t be intimidated by freezer cooking. It can be as easy or as hard as you make it. If you just simply double your recipes when you are cooking your dinner, you will have a stocked freezer and more money in the bank, before you know it.

Money Talks Coaching: One Big Savings Account or Lots of Little Ones? – The reason I’m a fan of having separate savings accounts is because it keeps the individual balances lower. It’s a psychological thing.

The College Investor: The Best Investment Advice I’ve Received – A personal story about the best investment advice received and how it paid off.

My Multiple Incomes: How Long Referral Traffic Spends On Your Site – A look at how long referral traffic stays on your site from major social media sites.

8. Google Docs Spreadsheet – My my – where would I be without Google Docs spreadsheets? I use these little gems to track my net-worth movements from month to month, my spending in order to group the totals in to different categories, and my running monthly budget to make sure I’ve met all of my monthly requirements.

The Frugal Toad: Estate Planning Basics – What You Need to Know – Have you ever thought about what would happen if you became incapacitated or died? What would happen to your home and other assets? Do you have a will and does your spouse know what your final wishes are? An estate plan is a set of legal documents that will make sure that your final wishes are taken care of.

Personal Finance Whiz: How To Live On One Income – A Budget For A One Income Family – Can you live on one income? It may not seem like it if you have always had a two income household. But, it’s totally doable. A year ago, I might have felt differently, but this year, we’ve moved to one income in our household.

Narrow Bridge Finance: What Is the Best Time of the Year to Sell Stocks? – As we approach the end of the year, some investors are going to try to minimize their taxes by selling stocks. Someone recently asked me when you should sell, and the answer can be complicated depending on your situation.

Beating Broke: DIY Disaster; or, Our New Deck – Be sure you do as much analysis as you can on the project, and budget for unforeseen issues, before you tackle any major DIY project. Also, it’s better to have it done right, than have it done cheaply, so if you get in over your head, find a professional to help you. Many will gladly charge a consulting fee to come and tell you what you need to do next. Find one that will, or hire one to finish the job so that it’s done right.

Bucksome Boomer: A Blogger Without Internet Is Like. . . – I like getting unconnected during vacations but those times are planned. Instead of running out to a fast food restaurant with free WiFi, I took and breath and decided to make the best of it. It wasn’t bad but thankfully the outage was only 16 hours.

Money Is the Root: How Well Do You Know Your Health Benefits – Until recently, the extent of my knowledge of my healthcare benefits was that I was insured. After all, we place such a high emphasis on simply being insured that we don’t know what’s covered until the worst happens.

7. Cash Back Credit Cards – The credit cards really don’t benefit too much from having me as a customer (except for making money off of the point of transaction fees they charge vendors) since I never carry a balance month to month. Nevertheless, I really love that they give me the benefit of receiving 1-5% cash back on all of my purchases! Very nice!

My Broken Coin: Is Hoarding The New Frugal? – My friend is a very frugal person: she counts every penny, she evaluates every purchase, and she does her research before she decides to buy anything whether it is a car or a pair of shoes. Read her story here!

Money Reasons: Controlling Christmas Costs – This is how I control Christmas Costs in the past, present and future. These are strategies that worked for me and perhaps will work for you!

Sweating the Big Stuff: Give This Gift If You Want To Piss Off Your Husband – I love getting surprises, but there’s one I wouldn’t be too thrilled with. If Lauren ever does this to me, we’d have a problem. What do you think?

101 Centavos: Walk-away Negotiating – Learn about walk away negotiating, be prepared to use this technique if you have to.

Thousandaire: Thousandaire Countdown #2 – HTPC Rap – The HTPC Rap is my best (and only) rap song. It’s also the second best song I’ve ever done.

The Family CEO: The Top Three Things I’ve Sold Online – These are the top three things that I have sold online that were big wins for me!

6. High Yield Online Savings Accounts – Have you ever gotten on a traditional brick-and-mortar’s banking website and looked up what interest they’re paying on regular savings accounts? These days, it’s around 0.05%. Yes, you read that right – there’s a zero before the 5! haha However, with these online money market savings accounts (that are also FDIC insured), you can get many times greater interest payments!

Funancials: I Only Listen to Techno – crats – Technocrats are becoming very popular in within our debt-stricken governments. Greece and Italy have already placed two technocrats in charge of their countries, now which countries will follow?

Smart Family Finance: Will a College Degree Increase Your Odds of Becoming Wealthy? Gallup Poll Finds Half of the Wealthiest 1% of Americans Have a Graduate Degree – Do you want to better your odds at become part of the wealthiest 1% of Americans? Gallup polling results show that you should consider getting a graduate degree. Half of those in the top 1% of wage earners have one.

Finance Fox: Thinking of Going Back to Former Employer – Would You? – Returning to a former employer is a real trend, and it’s happening in all industries. The trend is appropriately dubbed as “boomeranging.” No one said all relationships are perfect the first time. Maybe the second time around is the charm.

Newlyweds on a Budget: The Biggest Myths about Marriage – Long time married couples have often touted these three soundbites as the best kept secret to a long-lasting marriage. But, I’m here to tell you why these are the biggest marriage myths of all time.

Squirrelers: The Albert Pujols $254 Million Contract and the Pursuit of Money by the Top 1% – Would you turn down a job that offered you several million dollars more per year than the next best alternative? Of course not! Then why do people complain when athletes switch teams and do this? This post covers the topic of hypocrisy when judging the top 1% – from the perspective of someone squarely in the 99%!

The Happy Homeowner: Maintaining Your Financial Plan During the Holidays – The holidays can be one of the most challenging times of year to maintain your financial plan. This article provides some easy ways to help you keep an eye on your bottom line as you shop for gifts, host & attend parties, and celebrate the season.

5. Roth IRA’s – My Roth IRA is quite indispensable in my overall finances. Each year, it is one of the highest priorities to be funded in order to save for retirement and shelter money from taxes while it grows.

Money Beagle: Saying Bah Humbug To Secret Santa – I said no way this year after last year’s debacle.

Novel Investor: Know The Wash Sale Rule When Selling Those Losers – The year end is a popular time to sell those loser investments for tax purposes. But, this strategy can backfire if you don’t knowing the wash sale rules.

Investor Junkie: Best 2011 IRA Promotions – The holiday season is here, and that means the end of the year is almost near. Now is the time for investors add money to your IRA account. If you currently don’t have one, now is the time to open an account. I’ve gathered up the best IRA investment promotions.

My University Money: Tracking Your Expenses – The First Step to Budgeting – Why track? Why not just do a budget? We’ll explain why.

20s Finances: Getting a Bank Loan – Learn about what factors you need to consider when you are going to take out a bank loan and why you should use it as a last resort.

4. Online Charity Donations – Each year, I donate to a Multiple Sclerosis fundraising event called the Tour de Vine. I also rally fundraising support for the event from others as well. Being able to process donations online in a secure environment plays a big role in making the fundraising process go smoothly.

Passive Income To Retire: Keep My Day Job? – In my plan to retire from passive income, I have often questioned at what point will I quit my day job. It is hard to pass up on some of the benefits that my day job offers. Find out what my plan is.

Living in Financial Excellence: Top 5 Reasons Debt Is Like the Matrix – Reasons why being in Debt is like the Matrix, the movie!

Prairie Eco Thrifter: The 30K Challenge: Online Money Bloggers – I was honoured when I received an invite from two of my blogging pals Derek @ Life and My Finances and Corey @ 20′s Finance to participate in a new year challenge. At first, when I read that I would be challenged to make 30K next year online, I almost fell out of my chair followed by writing an email saying “Are you nuts?”

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff: A Great Workout Music Playlist – Here is the workout playlist my husband put together for me to get me motivated. I really love the songs below, so don’t be too harsh, lol.

Cents To Save: Becoming A Full Time Caregiver – I have come to the realization that I will be my parents full time caregiver. As an only child, this is something that I knew might happen. Did I think it would happen now? No, not at all. I was pretty content enjoying my new home out in the country as a empty nester. But, with my mom’s recent diagnosis of Stage 4 brain cancer, things have definitely changed.

3. Index Mutual Funds and ETFs – As a passive investor, I don’t trust myself in making investments in buying/selling individuals stocks. Instead, I invest the majority of my money in index mutual fund and ETFs.

Cash Flow Mantra: Preparing SMART Goals for 2012 – Being an active blogger brings about many benefits, one of which is the fact that I end up reading a lot of material online and offline and so get to learn a lot of new things. One of the things that I learned this year is about goal setting and making my goals SMART.

Free Money Wisdom: The Bible and Finance: The Story of the Rich Young Man – The Biblical story of the rich young man is one of the more misunderstood and misinterpreted stories of the Gospels.

TotallyMoney: Easy Mince Pies – A simple mince pie recipe for the run up to Christmas

2. Microloans – I’m a fan of placing a relatively small amount of funds each year in microloans for developing countries. For me, I see this as sort of a mix between investing and a donation. By doing these types of loans, you can really have an impact to get someone’s life going. To invest in microloans, I have found that Microplace.com is reliable.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job…: What is the Net Worth of Members of Congress? – Ever wonder how your wealth compares to members of Congress? I’m going to go out on a limb here and tell you that they’re likely winning the horse race… a full 6+% of Congress is in the upper 1% of net worth in America. On the other hand, 30 members have a negative net worth. Make you think… remember, these folks set the country’s budget!

Saving Money Today: How to Improve Your Finances in 2012 – Twelve tips for improving your finances in 2012. Follow one each month and you’ll be in great shape in no time!

Former Banker: You Got Fired, Now What? – I got fired! What do I do now? How do I maintain my lifestyle? How do I start looking for a new job? Do I qualify for unemployment?

The Milionaire Nurse: Shoplifting: Top Ten Holiday Favorites – Businesses will have over a hundred billion in lost profits from shoplifting in 2011. This figure does not even take into account the revenue spent in loss prevention. Crowded stores during the holiday season make it even easier for shoplifting to occur. On top of that, the most popular items stolen change during this season of good cheer.

Family Money Values: Growing Your Blog with Staff Writers – Ever thought about getting help with your blog? What are the benefits of using staff writers; management tasks related to use of them; payment and legal aspects of their use; and the blog results seen from using them?

Free From Broke : Tips for Holiday Tipping – The holidays creep up fast and all of a sudden you realize you need to tip people! But, who to tip and how much? Check out some basic guidelines and tips for holiday tipping.

Money Cactus: Wealth Creation Online: Untemplater Interview – Sydney took over the reins of Untemplater early this year and has been doing a fantastic job of delivering quality content and encouraging people to shatter the template lifestyle.

RamblingFever Money: A Socially Secure Christmas Story – A short story that compares one couples Christmas savings to the way that Social Security is funded.

1. C.O.T.A.P. Folders and Microsoft Outlook Electronic Financial Information Storage System – Keeping track of detailed personal finance records can be a big pain, especially since the majority of records are being stored electronically these days. To manage all of this, I use a system of folders both on my computer/back-up hard-drive and Outlook email interface known as the C.O.T.A.P. system. In this system, a different folder is made for Clients, Output, Teams, Administrative, and Personal items. What I’ve found is that amazingly enough, most all documents fit in to one of these folders. Hence, the system works well!

Sustainable Personal Finance: Sustainable Index Invest – Is oil sands producer Suncor really the best choice to go into a fund like this? Newmont Mining? Really? Where are the solar and wind power companies? What’s up with all the banks on there? What do they do to help the environment, besides recycling their bottles?

Faith and Finance: 8 Year-End Tax Moves to Consider at the End of 2011 – 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

Watson Inc: 3 Powerful Ways To Decrease Your Financial Stress – These days people are fraught with economic stress.

How about you all? Which article in the listings above was your favorite? What personal finance tools do you use that you’re thankful for? 

Share your experiences by commenting below!

***Photo courtesy of http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3105/2602363529_aa2be7a127.jpg 


  1. Great Job with the carnival Jacob! I would have to say Vanguard's app for my iTouch. Vanguards site provides exactly the information that I want without being cumbersome to use. Great company, great app!
    My recent post How to Teach Kids the Value of Money

    • Thanks FT! I still haven't upgraded to the smart phone world, but that app sounds like a good one!
      My recent post Easy Like Sunday Morning Weekly Recap and Roundup – # 5 – December 17th, 2011

  2. Thanks for hosting and including my post!

  3. Thanks Jacob! Honored to be included.
    My recent post HOWTO Calculate Your Retirement Income

  4. freefrombroke says:

    Thanks for hosting this week and including our tipping article.
    My recent post Mint.com Review – Manage Your Money Online Free

  5. Shaun @ Money Cactus says:

    Great list of tools, I'm a huge fan of Google Docs, couple in here that I need to check out too. Thanks for adding my interview.
    My recent post Wealth Creation Online: Untemplater Interview

    • My pleasure Shaun! Keep up the great work on those interviews! How many total have you done now?!
      My recent post Easy Like Sunday Morning Weekly Recap and Roundup – # 5 – December 17th, 2011

  6. Thanks so much for the inclusion and thanks too for hosting. Sounds like you have a great list of tools in place. We use Quicken for logging our stuff and it works great. We also use rewards credit cards which are super great for traveling.

    • Thanks for stopping by Miss T! I just purchased a copy of Quicken to use for 2012 to track things courtesy of some advice I received from Robert @ College Investor. I look forward to seeing how it goes with Quicken!
      My recent post Easy Like Sunday Morning Weekly Recap and Roundup – # 5 – December 17th, 2011

  7. Thanks for hosting and including my article!!
    My recent post Why I Don’t Give to Charities

  8. krantcents says:

    Thanks for the inclusion and Editor's pick, I really appreciate it.
    My recent post Most Likely to Succeed

  9. Thank you for including my post!
    My recent post Where did our money go?

  10. Thanks for the editor's pick! I really appreciate it.
    My recent post The Little Expenses Can Quickly Add Up

  11. Thanks for hosting and including my post
    My recent post New Cost Basis Reporting Changes For 2012

  12. You did an amazing job on this carnival. Great quality. I loved reading your top 10

    • Thanks for stopping by Barb. I bet you have a pretty insightful top 10 tools list too!
      My recent post Easy Like Sunday Morning Weekly Recap and Roundup – # 5 – December 17th, 2011

  13. Thanks for the inclusion, Jacob! Strangely enough I got the trackback from a spammer site instead of from here!
    My recent post Book Review and Giveaway Part One: Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School

    • haha – Sorry you had to hear about the post via a spam site! I suppose I owe them a “thank you” for promoting my material, in their own way!
      My recent post Easy Like Sunday Morning Weekly Recap and Roundup – # 5 – December 17th, 2011

  14. Thank you for hosting the carnival and for including my post.
    My recent post 4 Things To Stop Doing With Your Finances

  15. Great carnival! Can tell you put a lot of work into this one.
    My recent post A Socially Secure Christmas Story

  16. Lisa @ Cents To Save says:

    Thanks for hosting! Always so much to learn from these great carnivals!

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