Welcome to the second anniversary edition of the Carnival of Personal Finance!

Howdy, all you crazy cats. This is deejay J.D. coming at you with all the latest, greatest sounds on wax. I’ll be spinning the platters this morning in a special edition of your favorite musical merry-go-round, the Carnival of Personal Finance.

As you know, each week we count down some of the hottest hits in the world of personal finance. Today, I’ve got something extra special for you. It’s the second anniversary of this party of pomp. Two years ago that heppest of hepcats, Flexo from Consumerism Commentary, unleashed the first edition of this festival upon an unsuspecting public. It’s grown from a dozen or so performers to an extravaganza one hundred performers strong.

To celebrate this anniversary, your man J.D. is doing something a little different. Rather than play all the current hits, I asked each recording artist to hand-pick a favorite song from the past two years. That’s right. What you have here are the hottest songs from the hottest artists, all chosen by the stars who made them popular. I only had room for 82 songs, so if your favorite star doesn’t appear this week, check back next week when the Silicon Valley Blogger will be picking the tunes.

With so many great songs to choose from, it’s hard to know which to listen to first. As usual, my personal favorites are noted with a happy star *.

Let’s rock and roll!


Dire Straits – Money for Nothing

Coping with credit and debt
* NCN at No Credit Needed is one of my pfblogging heroes. He attacked his debt with fervor, and managed to get rid of it in just one year. In this article he shares the secret to his success: Make multiple debt payments every month. (Also check out NCN’s No Credit Needed podcast.)

* Jennifer Lynn, the Broke-Ass Student, offers advice for how to fight back against collection agencies. This is an excellent, thorough article that may be of use to those of you struggling to turn things around.

Around last Christmas, K.C. at Climbing Out of Debt followed a path similar to mine. After reading a bunch of books, K.C. formulated a debt-reduction plan based on a budget.

What does getting out of debt ‘buy’ you? That’s a question The Happy Rock recently explored, drawing on first-hand experience. “We battled for three years to get rid of our $70,000 dollars in debt. Here are the benefits that being debt free…and the process of becoming debt free gave us.”

Last September, Alex, the Wealth Junkie, wrote about eliminating credit card debt. “These are lessons learned from my personal experience of eliminating $20,000 in credit card debt,” he says.

The King of Debt has an interesting post that explores why he has so much debt. Like me, he made some dumb decisions. But now he’s recognized his mistakes, and he an the Queen are now more money savvy.

Quit worrying about your credit score!” advises Matthew at Getting Green. “Not having a great credit score is not the end of the world, and keeping your credit score high should not be number one on your list of priorities.”

R. Pettinger at the new U.K. Mortgage Blog writes about reducing and eliminating debt, about developing a new attitude toward money.

Johnny K, M.D., the Finance Physician, is a newcomer to the world of personal finance blogs, but has created an excellent post featuring 10 important overall strategies you can take to minimize student debt and maximize return.

The psychology of money
* Madame X at My Open Wallet has been publishing an ongoing series of “rules” — guidelines for dealing with personal finance. Rule #16 is Who do you think you are? (Don’t be too sure!). “All of our financial actions are ultimately determined by our self-image, so being open-minded about it is crucial. And making Venn diagrams doesn’t hurt either.”

It’s no secret that Money and Values is one of my favorite personal finance blogs — I love exploring the issues that surround our relationship with money. Last fall Penny Nickel posted an articled called “Picking money over time — are we working too much?” This is a question at the core of many personal finance books (including one of my personal favorites, Your Money or Your Life).

The Financial Jungle guy wonders, “Can money really buy you happiness?” His answer is: “It depends.” It can, up to a point, but eventually there’s the problem of diminishing returns.

Living Almost Large posted a piece in April discussing the relationship between jealousy and envy. “Is it so wrong to earn money? What is the problem people seem to have with others being successful? I have no issues with other people making good money, I just hope that I am as fortunate.”

At Ian’s new Family Finance Blog, he explores one of my financial rules: “do what works for you”. The way he phrases this guideline is “know thyself”. He urges us each to understand our relationship with money.

* “When dealing with personal finance,” writes Accumulating Money, “it is important to remind yourself from time to time that our most valuable assets are things that cannot be bought.” Instead, the author advocates that you spend your money on doing things rather than owning things. I love this idea.

Michael at The Time and Money Group draws inspiration from an Oscar acceptance speech in “Forest Whitaker reminded me of a key to success: A burning desire“.

The Mighty Bargain Hunter shares 16 ways being disorganized costs you money. As a relatively disorganized person myself, I can testify that this list is spot-on.

* David at My Two Dollars chose a post from earlier this year about making a financial sacrifice to get what you want. He gives a great real-life example of setting a goal, making financial sacrifices, and then reaping the rewards.

** Jim at Blueprint to Financial Prosperity submitted my favorite article out of all. “You are not your income,” he writes. “You are not your assets. Money isn’t everything, and money isn’t you.” Amen, brother.


Peggy Lee – Why Don’t You Do Right?

Money and relationships
Last Christmas, Mapgirl contemplated the relationship between love and gifts. Does an expensive gift mean the giver loves the recipient more? Would you rather have an engagement ring or the downpayment on a house? This is a great discussion.

* In May, Golb Guru at The Tao of Making Money wrote Husband, does your wife know how to invest? Wife, does you husband know how to pay the bills? Golb Guru says, “We should regularly make efforts to communicate our financial knowledge to our partner (or a family member).”

Nina at Queercents also wrote about money and mates. The post she chose to share is an overview of compatibility factors between two peoples’ financial lives. “The key is to keep each other involved and this requires talking about money.”

The Money Coach at Your Money by Design also wrote about couples and money. Her article is entitled “You, your partner, your money, and the Great Big Fight“.

Vacation and travel
Summer is just around the corner, and many people are looking forward to vacations. (I’m getting ready to leave on a long trip myself!) The Silicon Valley Blogger has some tips on how to cut down on vacation expenses. These were written in December, but are applicable to any time of year: “Walking in a Winter Wonderland for $1,300“.

The Travelin’ Man at Stuff You Oughta Know is a self-described “airline miles whore”. He warns that hoarding airline miles is a fool’s game. Use ‘em or lose ‘em!

Advanced PF is a new blog run by HMG, who recently asked, “Should you think about medical tourism?” Medical tourism? What’s that? Turns out it’s a fascinating option for expensive medical procedures. I was unaware of this phenomenon before reading this article.

Making money
There are two ways to gain wealth: decrease your spending or increase your income. A lot of time, we in the pfblogging community focus on the former, writing articles about frugality, etc. Advice and Rants has posted a long article describing methods for tackling the other end of the equation: 25 ways to make money quickly and easily (and legally!).

* Your health is your most important asset, but your career is a close second. Too often we treat our jobs as an after-thought. Trent at The Simple Dollar crafted a list of 15 things you can do right now to help your career.

Speaking of increasing income, Ben at Money Smart Life has an article on how to use leverage to make money on eBay. “I buy heavily discounted items at wholesale, outlet, or unclaimed goods stores then sell them on eBay,” Ben explains. “I borrow money for everything I purchase by charging it on my credit card.”

I know that many people are interested in credit card arbitrage, in playing the zero-percent balance transfer game. I think this sort of thing is risky, but for those seeking an introduction, the Hustler Money Blog has a “definitive guide” to the practice. This very detailed series is continued in parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Again: I urge caution with this sort of thing.

Saving and investing
Here at Get Rich Slowly, we’ve been learning about Roth IRAs. The Skilled Investor has more information on the subject in a piece that describes factors that tend to favor Roth tax-advantaged plan contributions. (There’s a second part to this piece, too.)

I often advocate a debt snowball as a psychological boost to debt elimination. Well, Blunty Money has a suggestion for applying this on the other side of the financial equation. He explains how to set up a savings snowball. This is a great way to tackle your financial goals once you’ve eliminated your debt.

General Finance has a good overview of how to open a mutual fund account.

Daddy Financials chronicles Rad’s journey “from a financial zero to trying to become a hero husband and dad”. In March, he explored two options for saving for his daughters: Coverdell IRA vs. 529 plan for college savings. Which did he choose?

The Finance Buff writes that “if you work for a publicly traded company which offers an Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP), you’ve got yourself a fantastic deal.” This article explains why it’s important to take advantage of an ESPP if you can.

* In March, Sun covered a seldom-discussed investment topic at his blog, The Sun’s FInancial Diary. How to invest in four-week T-bills: The complete process is a terrific introduction to this subject. If you’ve been thinking about diversifying, this article is worth a read.

Ricemutt at Experiments in Finance wrote about exchange-traded funds (ETFs) last summer, offering 4 things to look for before investing in an ETF. The advice here is great for investing in any mutual fund.

David at MoneyNing just published some advice on investing, too. He recommends that if your investing horizon is long term you should “be bold in investing like my boss“.

Last summer, InsureBlog published its first major investigative effort, representing several weeks of reasonably hard work: HSA, Broken: A Special Report. Henry writes: “The problem we discovered — folks who mistakenly believe they’ll receive discounts from network providers — affects everyone who’s insured and needs health care.” This piece became the basis for an article in a national HR magazine.

The Dough Roller — another newish personal finance blog — has just begun a series on making the most of Morningstar, the stock and mutual fund research site.

At Wealth Building Lessons, you can read about Canadian Royalty Trusts, a type of investment available to our northern neighbors.

William Wallets’ best article at A Financial Revolution is all about The Sharpe Ratio, a means of calculating the risks and rewards of a given investment.

Economics — the Big Picture
At The Simple Pound, Kirsten examines the relationship between interest rates and inflation. This is a good introduction to a fundamental macroeconomic concept.

At Extreme Perspective, Paul argues that we are experiencing the greatest economy ever. I have some problems with the premises of this article: unemployment is not at a 25-year low; inflation most certainly is not at a 20-year low (it’s twice what it was in 1998, for example); and soaring real estate values are a questionable virtue. However, Paul makes an excellent point that the economy doesn’t matter — it’s your own personal financial situation that’s important.

Jon at Smart Money Daily also takes a look at economics. His is an oblique examination of our departure from the gold standard and the implications of “fractional banking”. His article is all about why it’s impossible to get out of debt.

What is driving Americans to plunge themselves deeper into debt?” asks Steve at Debt Free. He looks at recent research from a University of Michigan professor that argues that the feeling of elation we get from making purchases causes to make more of them.

Is the American Dream dead?” wonders Home Finance Freedom. This article debunks the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Economic Mobility Project.

Shadox at Money and Such is alarmed, saying, “A sub-prime bail-out? Hell no! The government should let the sub-prime market fail. They should let the people who knowingly accepted unreasonable risks bear the burden of their mistakes.”


Joel Grey and Liza Minelli – Money

Real estate
The husband and wife team at Not Made of Money share the story of “how we sold our home ourselves“. If you’ve ever considered doing for-sale by owner (FSBO), this is a great place to start. We bought our first home from the owner, and it was a great transaction for everyone involved.

Everyday Finance “just loves living on the edge”, and offers a detailed article that bucks against conventional wisdom. Is an interest only mortgage really that risky? His answer is “no”. “An Interest-Only mortgage is a much more prudent use of your real estate funds compared to a conventional loan over a 10-year time period, all other things being equal.” A provocative piece!

If you’ve ever been interested in real estate investing, check out Adventures in Money Making’s article, “How to invest in real estate for cash flow“. It’s a simple introduction to the basics.

News flash: Investing in real estate is risky! In February, Kay wrote that greed can make seemingly sensible people lose all perspective.

Automobiles
Often personal finance bloggers write about how to do things the “right” way. But it can be just as instructive sometimes to see what happens when you do things the wrong way. Advanced Personal Finance has just such a tale with “How not to buy a car“, a lesson we can all take to heart.

* David at Money Under 30 has a great post from last summer. He spent a month as a car salesman a couple years ago, and so he’s written up some advice on how to beat the auto dealerships at their own game. This is a must-read if you’re in the market for a new car.

Journey2Retirement applies investment principles to analyze the risk-return relationship with driving at or above the speed limit.

As seen on TV!
Lazy Man thinks he may have discovered a plan that will allow him to cut the cable TV. He shares his idea and gets some suggestions from his readers.

Prime Time Money does a little cost comparison. Is it cheaper to watch Ultimate Fighting via pay-per-view or down at the local Hooters?

Paul at One Year Exit Plan believes you’d be better off without television altogether. “Watching NO TV can change your shopping and spending habits. If TV is the premier conduit for marketing and advertising, how does NOT watching TV affect your lifestyle? We believe that by turning off the thing, you’ll be on the path to saving more money than through any other action.”

Frugality and simple living
Living Behind the Curve is a new blog from Dani and Mer. Their motto is: “Simple. Frugal. Fabulous.” Mer recently posted an article that typifies this way of thought. She’s an iLuddite — she doesn’t own an iPod, and doesn’t feel the need for one. She makes do with a 6-year old mp3 CD-player. Why? Because owning an iPod has never made financial sense to her!

SFordinarygirl writes: “One of my biggest goals this year was to buy fewer clothes and work with what I already have in my closet. I had two large garbage bags of clothes ready for Goodwill. But I decided to go through the bags one last time to see if I keep anything. And I picked out this dress and a few other items to keep. In this post I give a few examples of how I gave new life to some old clothes.”

Simplicity is a value held by many people on the path to wealth. At My Money and My Life, Story Girl wrote about four easy ways to move toward a simpler life. These are great ways to approach voluntary simplicity.

Saving money is well-and-good, but sometimes we go too far. Andy and Money Walks chose an article from April in which he describes the difference between frugal and cheap. “Being frugal means making smart spending choices or getting the most for your money. Cheap while on the other hand, is looked more upon as selfish and stingy.”

The Clever Dude shares his most popular article of all time, which was actually written by his wife, the Clever Dudette. She has written a short but compelling introduction to the frugal lunch. This post and its comments contain a number of great ideas to save money by brown-bagging it.


ABBA – Money, Money, Money

The basics of personal finance
* Why is it so important to maintain an emergency fund? Tricia at Blogging Away Debt has a real-life example in her piece on emergency funds, rainy day funds, or whatever you want to call them. “I believe having that emergency fund saved me from really losing it and getting too discouraged.”

It’s important to spend a little time to find ways to save big money in your life. It’s easier than you think, really. In March, Patrick at Cash Money Life told the story of how two phone calls saved him $1,000. You may not save that much from exercising some initiative, but I’ll bet you can save a couple hundred!

What is a sound financial lifestyle? The Mint Blog recently asked this question to seventeen different bloggers (including yours truly). Here are the answers, and some suggestions on how to achieve this ideal.

Budgeting is one of those key concepts that intimidates a lot of people. Many people try and fail. At My Financial Awareness, Pete has a nice article offering tips for having a successful budget.

If you’re just starting to work with a budget, it can be difficult to make all the numbers add up. There’s so much to buy and so little money to go around! Junger at the Online Savings Blog offers 10 ways to immediately start saving money. These are some good avenues to explore if you’re having trouble making ends meet.

What is real net worth?” asks Broke Now, Rich Later. This blog argues that what we traditionally call net wroth is actually net savings. This article provides an alternate means to calculate actual net worth.

Nickel at Five Cent Nickel writes: “As important as your saving and spending habits are, being truly financially responsible involves much more. To this end, I’ve put together a list of ten ways to cover your ass(ets). This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good starting point.”

Planning for retirement
How much do you need to save for retirement? How much is needed to be wealthy? Super Saver explores these questions at My Wealth Builder, providing a simple methodology for one to calculate an answer based on one’s own financial situation.

FrugalTrader at Million Dollar Journey has a series of articles he’s proud of, too. In February, he published a guide to retiring early, including installments on:

Graceful Retirement is a new member of the personal finance blogging world. It’s run by Grace, a 58-year-old single mom who got a late start on saving. Her entry describes a special family situation, and explains what to do when you need a special needs trust.


Pink Floyd – Money

Hints and tips
Last summer, Free Money Finance drafted a list of the ten best money moves you can make. His list does a great job of boiling down the mass of money talk to the bare essentials of personal finance.

* Flexo at Consumerism Commentary wrote a great article last winter describing how to become the CFO of your own life. “Thinking about my finances and treating them in terms of a business makes sense. Putting together these reports each month like a business is the most important part of being the CFO of my life.”

Brett McKay, the Frugal Law Student, offers a mammoth list of 180 money-saving tips to turn your financial life around 180 degrees. If you can’t find something to help you save money here, you’re not looking hard enough!

ISPF at Grad Money Matters has the cure for “honey, let’s eat out today” syndrome. This piece has some great tips for making meals at home more exciting.

In February, Jeffrey Strain of Saving Advice had a conversation with a former burglar. He taught Jeffrey the best place to hide money. There’s nothing like getting advice from the pros!

* Stephanie at Poorer Than You crafted a three-part series featuring money advice for the college student. There are some good tips in that first part, but also check out parts two and three.

One Frugal Girl shares an article from last January that describes three purchases that will ultimately save you money. She advocates cooking classes, quality knives, and a set of pots and pans. Read how these can help save you money!

Ask Mr. Credit Card published a huge list of 101 personal finance tips to improve your finances. There’s something for everyone here!

Have you ever received advice from a billionaire? Stewart Hsu did, and he shared three tidbits with his readers.

In January of this year, Harrison at Journey to Financial Freedom collected 36 money-management tools, financial calculators, and spreadsheets. There are some great personal finance tools on this list.

Last August, Cap at Stop Buying Crap wrote about how to keep track of 95% of your accounts in one place (so that life can be a little easier). This sounds like a nice idea to me — I ought to explore it further.

* Atheists should tithe argues Plonkee in an article I’ve linked to before. “If you truly believe that there is no one but us to turn to, then act as if no one else can help us with our problems and start contributing to the solutions by giving money (and lots of it).”

GRS is committed to helping our readers save and achieve your financial goals.Savings interest rates may be low, but that’s all the more reason to shop for the best rate.Find the highest savings interest rate from Ally Bank, Capital One 360, Everbank, and more.