Archives for March 2012

Carnival of Financial Planning – Edition #230 – March 30, 2012

Welcome to My Personal Finance Journey! If you are new here, please read the “About” or “First-Time Visitor” pages to find out more about us. If you would like to receive free updates on articles like this by email, then sign up here or you can subscribe to the RSS feed. Also, check us out on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks for visiting! Keep on learning!

Carnival of Financial Planning – Edition #230 – March 30, 2012

Welcome to the March 30, 2012 Edition #230 of the Carnival of Financial Planning!

The Carnival of Financial Planning takes a long-term view of personal financial planning for individuals and families. The focus is 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.


Budgeting and Economics

Justin presents What Should You Try Before You Take Out a Loan? posted at Budget Snob, saying, There are some situations in which taking out a loan is appropriate, such as buying a house or a car. However, in other situations, loans may not be the best choice. Before you take out a loan, its important to look at your options.

Chris presents The Recession Generation posted at Experiglot, saying, We really are the recession generation.

Tim presents 5 Business Lessons Learned from Monopoly posted at Faith and Finance, saying, Monopoly is good family fun and all, but its also a crash course in business. Here are 5 business takeaways you can learn from the old game Monopoly.

Janet presents Living expense tracking methods posted at Independent Financial Planner , saying, ” Many people do not track their living expenses and do not understand the magnitude of their consumption. Failure to monitor your consumption expenditures means that they are flying blindly regarding their future finances. “

Darwin presents The REAL Inflation Rate posted at Darwin’s Money , saying, Most Americans feel the government inflation numbers aren’t representative of the real inflation they see year to year. Here’s your solution.

Financial Planning

Craig Ford presents The Unpopular Truth About the Dangers of a Dave Ramsey Only Approach to Christian Finances posted at Money Help For Christians, saying, “Christians should consider paying attention to other financial authors as well.”

Jeffrey presents Can We Stop Gushing Over Our Self-Affirming Financial Bull? posted at Money Spruce, saying, Did the title make you uncomfortable or defensive? Good, it’s probably not new news to you that everything likes to read things that simply back up what they already think and do. Finances are no different. We like to have all the answers, and we like to be on the right track. Sure, there are little tweaks here and there but not too much to rock the boat.

Dave presents Passive Investing – Active Investing – Alpha Returns posted at Wall Street Nerds , saying, ” The Old Testament of indexing is Burton Malkiel’s classic A Random Walk Down Wall Street, first published in 1973 by W.W. Norton and now in its ninth edition. For typical individual investors, without special access to information, it offers what is likely the best financial advice they will ever get: It is hard to consistently beat the market, especially after fees. A passive strategy will do better in the long run. “

Philip Taylor presents We Finally Completed Our Last Will and Testament, Living Will, and Durable Power of Attorney posted at PT Money Personal Finance, saying, Discusses our personal estate planning, as well as our choice to pay a lawyer versus using a website such as Legal Zoom.

Jen presents Make Money While Drinking Beer? posted at Master the Art of Saving, saying, I started thinking about it – can you really make money while drinking beer? Yep, I’ve decided that it is quite possible for somebody to make money while drinking beer– though most of these things can also been done by sober people.

Shaun presents What to Do If You are in a Car Accident posted at Smart Family Finance, saying, While being a party to a car accident might be outside your control, knowing what to do after a car accident will help keep you safe and potentially avoid you legal headaches down the road.

TSI presents Where’s Waldo? – The illusion of superior professional mutual fund manager performance. posted at Skilled Investor Blog , saying, ” If investment mutual fund managers were truly skilled at beating the market, then you would expect mutual fund manager performance prowess to persist over time. Unfortunately, the evidence indicates that superior past professional performance among mutual fund managers tends not to persist. Past superior mutual fund performance is simply not a predictor of future superior mutual fund performance. “

Everything Finance presents 7 Fun Ways to Teach Children to Save posted at Everything Finance, saying, Creativity is a child’s bread and butter, so why not use that to your advantage to teach them about saving money? These clever tips are ideal for teaching your child how to make smart money decisions.

Kevin presents Would You Destroy An Entire Industry? posted at Thousandaire, saying, If you invented something that would benefit consumers immensely but would destroy an entire industry at the same time, would you release your product?

Eddie presents How Do We Measure Success? posted at Finance Fox, saying, Here’s my two cents. Singularly education, money, cars and the circle of friends do not measure ones success. Success is measured with a combo of all the above four.


Corey presents How To Make A Killing As A Bar Server posted at Bar Whiz Blog, saying, Although a tight fitting tank top and a pair of orange short-shorts won’t hurt, showing skin is not the only way to make a killing as a server. Following these “tips”, anyone can make a surprising long-term income from serving.

John presents Wage Slavery and Money Myths posted at Married with Debt, saying, Wage slavery, for some, is an everyday reality. For others, there’s no such thing and work is a pleasure.

MR presents Can A Side Blogging Business Help You At Your Primary Job posted at Money Reasons, saying, Can working at a blogging side business help you at your employed day job? I think so and here is my story.

Daniel presents Salary vs Commission: Which Do You Prefer? posted at Sweating the Big Stuff, saying, Do you like working for commission? Do you prefer a salary? There are several compensation options and each has it’s own advantages and disadvantages.

Insurance and Risk

Paul Vachon presents Saving Money on Home Insurance posted at The Frugal Toad, saying, There really are no secrets to saving money on home insurance. The trick is to include evaluating your insurance needs as a part of your yearly financial review. Most individuals don’t do this and are losing out on potential savings. Here are some of the best ways to save money on home insurance:


Kanwal presents The Biggest Investment Mistakes Canadians Are Making posted at Simply Investing, saying, I was recently interviewed for this article by Cindy Waxer she writes for publications including Technology Review, The Economist, TIME, Fortune Small Business, and Have a look. ManyCanadians are falling short of their investing goals.

Boomer presents Pros and Cons of Holding Your Mortgage in Your RRSP posted at Boomer & Echo, saying, One investment that is eligible to be held in your RRSP is your mortgage. You need to have enough cash, or assets that can be converted to cash, and hold your mortgage in a self-directed RRSP. You then make your mortgage payments to the RRSP instead of a financial institution.

Bobby Boughton presents Is it Better to Invest or Pay off Debt? posted at ReadyForZero Blog, saying, Ah the age old question: Is it better to invest or pay off debt? This article goes through a few scenarios and helps you decide which is the better route to go.

Dividend Growth Investor presents Does entry price matter to dividend investors? posted at Dividend Growth Investor, saying, “The reason for the lost decade in stocks is that many otherwise quality companies were overvalued in the early 2000s. For example Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) was trading at 29.30 times earnings in early 2000, whereas McDonald’s (MCD) traded at 26.90 times earnings. Even some of the best dividend stocks are not worth paying more than 20 times forward earnings.”

Teacher Man presents ETF Investing Low Maintenance and Stellar Returns posted at My University Money, saying, So the big day is finally here and we are ready to unveil our eBook the world. A huge thanks goes out to all of the great help Ive had building and marketing the eBook! Without further ado.

Mike presents What You Need To Know About ETF Investing posted at The Dividend Guy Blog, saying, Everything you need to know on the topic.

Managing Debt

Steve presents 10 Things You Can Do to Get Out of Debt Starting Today posted at Money Infant, saying, Are you always wondering why you can’t get off the debt treadmill and live a satisfying life without constant money worries? 10 things to help get out of debt

Martin presents Do You Know Who Has Your Credit Card Number? posted at Studenomics, saying, The scary possibility of credit card fraud.

Real Estate

A Blinkin presents Should Homeownership Still Be The American Dream? posted at Funancials, saying, This was initially a guest post I wrote for Sam at Financial Samurai. Let me know what you think. There have been numerous studies performed over the years which clearly outline the social benefits of homeownership. In the mid-2000’s it was nearly impossible to argue against the advantages of owning a home.

Little House presents Are Homeowners Really More Credit Worthy than Renters? posted at Little House in the Valley, saying, Aren’t I, the renter, the more stable consumer than the homeowner who couldn’t afford a home to begin with?! Don’t my years of rental payments count for something! Why is it that rental payments aren’t factored into credit worthiness and therefore counted towards my score?

Glen Craig presents What is Mortgage Amortization and How Does it Work? posted at Free From Broke, saying, People get confused when they hear the term Mortgage Amortization. Don’t be. It’s not that confusing. See what mortgage amortization is and how it works.


FMF presents Determine Your Retirement Number posted at Free Money Finance, saying, The first step in determining how much money you will need to save for retirement is to answer a few basic questions about your future. If you can answer these six questions accurately then your retirement savings number will also be accurate.

Madison presents Unveiling The Retirement Myth: Book Review posted at My Dollar Plan, saying, There are so many books about saving, investing, and building your portfolio, that it is rare to find a good book about spending down your portfolio, or the distribution stage. The book Unveiling The Retirement Myth by Jim Otar does a great job on explaining the distribution stage, in detail, with actual numbers.


N.W. Journey presents Start Planning and Saving for the Holidays Now posted at Networth Journey, saying, “Discover why now is the best time to save for the holidays.”

Ashley presents Saving For College; How to do it and why you shouldn’t feel guilty for not posted at Money Talks Coaching, saying, Saving for college is a huge task. Not only does the cost rise faster than inflation you have a very short time frame in which to save.

Kyle presents How to Save 10 Percent on Your Grocery Bill Without Cutting a Single Coupon posted at The Penny Hoarder, saying, If you’re someone who won’t use coupons or you’re somebody who uses coupons, but wants to save even more, I’ve got an unconventional way to cut the grocery bill.


Cash Flow Mantra presents Update on Income Tax Situation posted at Cash Flow Mantra, saying, For those of you who might be unfamiliar with this part of my financial life, I owe some money to the IRS, and it is not just a little bit. I had to come up with another plan which involved borrowing money from individuals so I could avoid paying more taxes plus a nasty penalty on funds withdrawn from a retirement account. Yes, I am a little like Greece and kicking the can down the road, but I think that things will be getting better.

Money Cone presents Handling Royalty Trusts in Turbo Tax posted at Money Cone, saying, If you own Royalty Trusts in a tax-deferred account, you can skip the tax preparation step and unlike MLPs, owning Royalty Trusts in your 401K or IRAs wont trigger the dreaded UBTI. But if you happen to own them in a taxable account, be prepared to spend some time doing the tax math for each Royalty Trust you own.

Super Saver presents Where’s My Refund? posted at My Wealth Builder, saying, “Despite getting a refund this year, I have not filed and therefore know why I haven’t received a refund. However, for many that have filed, their refunds have been delayed.”

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.

$64.51 Giveaway – Community and Charity 10% Monthly Blog Income Give Back # 6 – March 2012 Edition

Welcome to My Personal Finance Journey! If you are new here, please read the “About” or “First-Time Visitor” pages to find out more about us. If you would like to receive free updates on articles like this by email, then sign up here or you can subscribe to the RSS feed. Also, check us out on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks for visiting! Keep on learning!

The 10% give back giveaway fun rolls on for the month of March! 

In case you missed the first five editions of the 10% Blog Income Give Back, after doing some thinking at the beginning of October 2011 about what direction I want this blog to grow and evolve towards in the future, I decided that any income made from this blog would have more significance to me at a personal life values level if I knew that a portion were being given back to the following places:

  • 1) The readers – Obviously, without you here to read my articles and interact with my ideas, there would be no blog in the first place (let alone blog income). As such, it is only fitting that you receive a portion of any blog income.
  • 2) Charitable organizations – If you’ve read my blog before, you know that I’m a big believer in donating a portion of my money to charity. Each year, I donate between 5-10% of my income to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as part of the Bike for MS fundraiser that I do. Beyond the good that is done by donating your money, getting used to contributing to charity is also a good practice to emulate the actions of affluent individuals (T. Harv Eker discusses this in his book, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, which I would definitely recommend reading if you have a few hours).

Because of these considerations, I’ve decided that each month going forward, I’m going to give away 10% of my net (after-tax) blogging income/profit to My Personal Finance Journey readers (5%) and to charity (5%). Listed below is how the process will work:

  • After each calendar month passes, I’ll tally up my net blog income and determine what Dollar value correlates to 10%.
  • I’ll post the giveaway (similar to this post you’re reading now), and you’ll have approximately 2-3 weeks to enter (I apologize for the late start this month!).
  • Once the giveaway is over, a grand prize winner will be announced, and then I’ll donate another 5% of my blog income to a charity. Once the giveaway entry window ends, I’ll send out the money to the blog reader winner(s) and personally drop off the charity donation.  
  • So far, I’ve been very happy with the success of the first 5 editions of the 10% income give back.
    • In October, $205 total was given away, with $100 being donated to the charity, GreenPeace.
    • In November, $201.40 total was given away, with $100 being donated to the charity, The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. If you’re interested, you can view the details of me going to drop off the check at the Food Bank by clicking here.
    • In December, $74.52 total was given away, with $38 given to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Blue Ridge. You can view the details of the donation drop by clicking here.
    • In January, $196 total was given away, with $96 given to the Sexual Assault Resource Agency. You can view the details of the donation drop by clicking here.
    • In February, $141.20 total was given away, with $70 given to the Blue Ridge Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

So, that’s the overall flow of things and a brief recap of what’s happened so far with the give back initiative. Now, let’s get in to the specific details for this month’s (March 2012) giveaway.

Details of March 2012 10% Blog Income Giveaway
  • $64.51 total blog income to give away – $34.51 to a My Personal Finance Journey reader and $30 to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society – Blue Ridge Chapter.
    • $34.51 in the form of one prize available to one reader as follows – 
      • 1) Grand Prize =  $34.51 Amazon Gift Card or  $34.51 cash via PayPal.
    • It’s been very fulfilling developing a relationship with the local chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society through the MS150 fundraising bike ride I do each year. Click here to see the details for the 2012 edition of the ride I’ll be doing! I look forward to continuing to raise money for their efforts. 

How to Enter the Giveaway – Deadline to Enter is Midnight, March 31st, 2012

Like last month, I’ve decided to use the RaffleCopter giveaway management tool to handle sign-up facilitation for the March giveaway, so simply go through the steps listed in the widget below to enter the running for the prize and accumulate entry points.

There is no limit to the amount of points you can earn. If you refer 10 subscribers – your name will have accumulated 170 entry points! Or, if you link to the giveaway more than once, you can accumulate those 7 entry points multiple times. You can also retweet the giveaway and/or share other My Personal Finance Journey articles via social media sites once per day. In the event of a tie, I will be using a random number generator to select the winner.

Important instructions: After you complete an entry method, make sure to click and fill out the “I Did This” or “Enter” button in the widget so that I have a record of your points. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
<a href=””>You need javascript enabled to see this giveaway</a>.

Remember, the deadline for entries will end at midnight on March 31st, 2012 (about 2 weeks from today – the start of the give back). Good luck to you all! Please contact me if you have any questions. After the deadline for entries passes, the winner (one with the most points accumulated) will be contacted via email to receive their prize.

The Best Financial Calculators Government and Academia Provide

Welcome to My Personal Finance Journey! If you are new here, please read the “About” or “First-Time Visitor” pages to find out more about us. If you would like to receive free updates on articles like this by email, then sign up here or you can subscribe to the RSS feed. Also, check us out on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks for visiting! Keep on learning!

The following is a guest post from Amanda Green. Enjoy! 

The Best Financial Calculators Government and Academia Provide

Love it or hate it, the United States government is a source of unprecedented human capital and resources.  While we can’t say that Uncle Sam’s wealth trickles down to only the most necessary of places, it’s a guaranteed fact that the overwhelming majority of federal funds go to useful things, such as services to the public and grants to universities.  The existence of online financial calculators stemming from both government agencies and state schools is an example of the capability and reliability of public service and funding.

While they won’t replace the expert advice of a financial advisor, the following six calculators available through various federal agencies and public universities are free to the web-connected public and above all, are trustworthy:

University of Maryland Medical System Cost-of-Smoking Calculator

For those of you who dealing with a cigarette addiction, this cost-of-smoking calculator puts the price of your daily pack on an annual scale.  While not the main reason to quit, the financial benefits are a definite perk.

Department of Energy Fuel Economy Comparison Calculator

Analysts say to prepare for $5.00 gallons of gas by the end summer.  Those thinking about trading their gas guzzler for a more fuel efficient ride can’t afford not to stop by the DOE’s fuel economy comparison calculator to see their options side-by-side.

Department of Agriculture Cost of Raising a Child Calculator

Before you and your loved one decide to start a family, make sure it’s the right time financially by using this cost of raising a child calculator.  It’s also useful for existing families looking to see the bigger picture regarding the expenses of parenthood.

Federal Reserve Credit Card Repayment Calculator

While minimum payments give you more spending money today, they’ll result in massive amounts of interest paid over time.  To get a glimpse at the long-term state of your credit card debt at the rate your going, use this repayment calculator.

Penn State Living Wage Calculator

Many cost-of-living calculators exist online.  But, none get as specific as this living wage calculator created through economics research conducted at Penn State.  While it focuses primarily on the necessary wages needed for low income living, it provides an accurate portrait of living conditions in cities across the United States.

Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory Home Energy Savings Calculator

By plugging in information about your geographical area, home, utility bills, energy habits, and existing efficiency efforts, this handy calculator will tell you the ways in which you can further increase sustainability and eliminate waste.  It’s ideal for families as well as college roommates.

Uncle Sam has never had much of a glossy reputation, but our tax dollars do go to more useful things than we tend to think about.  The aforementioned online calculators, and the inevitable financial information you’ll gain from using them, are proof of the benefits of public funds and service.

How about you all? Do you use any financial calculators online? Have the ones you’ve had more success with been provided by the non-profit (academia/government) or for-profit sector? 

Share your experiences by commenting below!

    ***Photo courtesy of

    Welcome Budgets are Sexy Readers!

    Welcome to My Personal Finance Journey! If you are new here, please read the “About” or “First-Time Visitor” pages to find out more about us. If you would like to receive free updates on articles like this by email, then sign up here or you can subscribe to the RSS feed. Also, check us out on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks for visiting! Keep on learning!

    Welcome Budgets are Sexy readers! Thanks so much for stopping by my site by way of the my guest post today over at J. Money’s blog listed below. I’m very happy to have you here! 🙂

    How to Save Even MORE on Hotel Rooms Using Both Priceline and Hotwire

    And, thanks to J. Money, I actually found out that the post was lucky enough to be mentioned at the following places as well. I’m glad that everyone seems to be benefiting from sharing this simple money saving strategy. – Get Better Hotel Deals
    College Candy – Cheap Candy

    If you’re stopping by my site for the first time, I just wanted to give a little guide towards what I offer here, since information overload can occur quickly and time is our most valuable asset.

    To introduce myself, my name is Jacob. I started this site back in January of 2010, and since then, have poured my heart and soul in to the site to produce a product I am proud of and I think adds value to the world. You can read a little more on my background and even see a picture of me on the “About” or “First-Time Visitor” pages to find out more about us.


    In short, I like to offer actionable personal finance advice with the goal of achieving long-term success. 

    Specifically, I really enjoy writing about the following areas (I’ve also listed several posts related to each topic in case you’re interested in reading more):


    Additionally, if you liked the theme (how to save money / frugal living) of the guest post I wrote for Budgets are Sexy today and are interested in similar posts I’ve written in the past, you might want to check out the ones below:


    If after sampling some of the content above you think that my posts will add value to your life, there are many easy ways to stay in touch with new material when it goes up! See below for details:


    Also, each month, I give away 10% of any income I make from this site, with 5% going to blog readers and the other 5% going to a charity selected by the grand prize winner. You can read about all of the details by clicking here.

    So far, we’ve given away:

    • Current total given to charity = $334
    • Current total given to blog readers = $345

    If you want to enter in to the March 2012 giveaway, it will be on the way in a few days. Stay tuned!

    Thanks for visiting! Keep on learning!

      ***Photo courtesy of

      Professional Indemnity Insurance Explained

      Welcome to My Personal Finance Journey! If you are new here, please read the “About” or “First-Time Visitor” pages to find out more about us. If you would like to receive free updates on articles like this by email, then sign up here or you can subscribe to the RSS feed. Also, check us out on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks for visiting! Keep on learning!

      The following is a guest post. Enjoy!

      Professional Indemnity Insurance Explained

      Business owners purchase Professional Indemnity Insurance (PI) in order to protect themselves from losses due to claims from third parties. There are several types of policy and they can be tailor made for the type of business they will be protecting. There are three main types; errors and omissions, malpractice and professional indemnity itself, and although they offer similar coverage and protection, they are geared toward different industries. For example, malpractice insurance is tailored for the medical profession and will protect against damages claims filed by clients and patients whereas errors and omissions (E&O) will cover mistakes (omissions) and errors that may lead to financial losses for clients. This is commonly purchased by professionals like lawyers, architects and web designers. Professional indemnity is the most broadly purchased policy and will cover damages and financial losses by a third party.

      Insurance companies will take over the responsibility for paying settlements both in and out of court, up to the policy limit – and any legal fees will also be paid.

      Premium amounts will differ from business to business depending on the risk assessment. Applicants considered to be higher risk will pay higher premium prices and these can also be affected by the coverage amount selected by the applicant.

      “Run-off” coverage can be added to the policy plan so that the professional is still covered when the business closes, or they decide to retire. This is due to third parties being able to sue years after the incident occurs, or even when the business has been closed for years. Run-off will provide protection in these circumstances.

      If a professional decides against taking out an indemnity insurance policy, they will be responsible for paying any settlement fees out of pocket, as well as their own legal fees and perhaps that of the offended third party. This can run to thousands of pounds and in some cases, could affect the future of the business.

      How about you all? If you are a business owner, do you have business insurance and/or professional indemnity insurance? Why or why not?  

      Share your experiences by commenting below!

      Jacob’s Thoughts – Listed below are my random thoughts as I was reading this article.

      • Personally, I have zero experience dealing with business insurance, so I cannot comment too much on the points in this article. 
      • Overall, I think that having business insurance is a very good idea for most business owners. 
      • However, before blindly deciding to take on this added insurance, you should make sure that the nature of your business warrants the need for this added protection and expense item. 
      • For example, for my sole proprietorship that I have set up for my blog, I don’t believe there is very great of a need for business insurance since 1) I don’t have a separate physical office away from my home that needs to be protected, 2) have no employees to look after, and 3) I do not provide physical goods or services to customers/clients that I could be sued over if something went wrong.
      • Sure – there still exists the minute risk of me being sued for something like slander or using intellectual property without authorization, but there are many steps that can be easily taken to avoid/control these things. So, overall, I don’t feel that I need business insurance just yet.
      • However, if I had a business such as a doctor’s office or bakery, I would be much more apt to have a business insurance policy. 

      ***Photo courtesy of