Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas! Have you all been good boys and girls? No naughty, all nice? Well, Santa’s here with some presents to share. In fact, you might call this a carnival — a carnival of personal finance.

Collected here today are presents from personal finance blogs all around the world. Here are 89 articles about personal finance, all wrapped in pretty packages and tied with bows. There are so many, in fact, that I’ve divided them into the following categories (clicking a link will take you to that category):

As a special gift to all of you, I’ve gathered a few classic public domain Christmas cartoons (with the help of Brett, The Frugal Law Student). You’ll find them sprinkled among the festivities. For example, here’s good ol’ Rudolph. Enjoy! (I’ve tried to make these accessible for those of you who read via RSS, too. No guarantees, though.)

~ Main Presents ~
The Dough Roller: The ultimate guide to traditional and Roth 401(k) and IRA accounts — Wow. This is a great post, and an excellent introduction to retirement accounts. If you have questions, check this out.

BankerGirl: Reading (and understanding) “The Fine Print” — “How dare someone with the financial recklessness I have demonstrated in the past claim to have conquered The Fine Print? Because I, BankerGirl, have been a creator of The Fine Print.” Great piece. As somebody who tries to read all the fine print, I can testify to how difficult it is to always get it right.

Plan Your Escape: Five reasons to manage your money — “One of the best ways to get yourself headed down the path to financial freedom is by getting a grip on your personal finances. I’m talking about knowing where your money comes from and knowing where it goes — in detail. [Here are] five good reasons why you should be managing your money and not just ‘going with the flow.’”

There But For the Grace of God: Introducing the Smiths — “Unlike The Joneses, The Smiths don’t make us feel bad about ourselves. They don’t drive drive us to spend, spend, spend, or have, have, have. In fact, The Smiths allow us to feel quite good about our financial choices and habits. Too good, perhaps.”

The Dividend Guy: How would I invest if I were just starting out? — This article contains some interesting information, but there are far too many links.

Million Dollar Journey: Confessions of a car salesman — Frugal Trader pulls the best bits from an oft-mentioned article at Edmunds. There’s some good advice here if you’re looking to buy a car.

Quest for a Million: Handling your own escrow — Yes, this article is very specific, but it deals with an issue I’ve had questions about for a long time: Should you handle your own escrow, or should you let your mortgage company continue to do so?

Being Frugal: Things I wish I knew when I was 18 — “If I had to live my life over again, there are a few lessons I would like to have learned a little earlier in life.”

I’ve Paid for This Twice Already: Five golden rules for “snowflaking’” — Snowflaking is the process of taking “small amounts of money saved or earned that are applied directly to debt or into savings before they melt away into who knows where”. I like this.

~ Christmas Carols ~
Plonkee Money: Celebrating a frugal Christmas — “Aside from the frenzy of gift buying, and the over consumption of food, many things about the Christmas season can actually be done pretty frugally.”

A Dollar a Day: The advertiser’s dream — Sometimes it’s difficult to resist the increased advertising during the holiday season, if when you know it’s a ploy to get your money.

Saving Freak: Avoiding the spending bug — A strategy to avoid overspending on Christmas shopping.

Money Crashers: Three tips for better gift-giving — Have a merry Christmas while staying within your budget.

Rather Be Shopping: Is the gift card a good gift? — Kyle lists two times when he thinks a gift card makes sense.

Big Dreams and Small Change: Is it bad to ask for toilet paper for Christmas? — “This year I have become obsessed with everything financial. I am budgeting my brains out…It turns out that not only are my actions changing, but my mindset as well.”

Sound Money Matters: Hostess gifts that won’t break the bank — “Rather than buy wine by the case, stock up on more affordable gifts that you can give throughout the year.”

MoneyNing: Christmas is coming, so time for wealthy Secret Santa — Don’t get caught up in Santa inflation — buy reasonable gifts.

The Boardcast: Holiday shoppers beware — “Managing debt involves cutting down on expenses and that’s not an easy feat when we’re constantly being bombarded with the message to ‘buy, buy, buy’.”

Mighty Bargain Hunter: Gift cards are gifts — “I don’t think gift cards are bad gifts. Here’s why.”

~ New Years’ Resolutions ~
Green Panda Treehouse: 3 ways to wisely spend your bonus — It can be tempting to just spend your bonus, but here are three smarter ways to use the money.

Quest for Four Pillars: Shooting down goals — “If your goal involves something that you don’t have any or much control over then I would call that more of a ‘wish’ rather than a goal.”

Finance for a Freelance Life: Best personal finance practices of the year — Here are the best personal finance ideas that Mrs. Micah discovered in 2007.

Tax Update Blog: Should you prepay your state and local taxes? — “While prepaying taxes might seem like a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question, it’s not necessarily so. You need to consider several factors.”

~ Boughs of Holly ~
My Two Dollars: Money mistakes: The I applied for too many credit cards syndrome — “People talk about the one piece of advice they would give to a high school or college student, and mine would be this – stay the hell out of credit card debt.”

Blueprint for Financial Prosperity: Don’t use home equity to pay off unsecured debt — “Before you transfer that debt over, let me give you a few warnings and then some alternatives that may be more attractive.”

One Snarky Chica with Issues: My focus on debt reduction has made me the office leper

No Credit Needed: The mortgage mess — NCN argues that the sub-prime mess occurred because people are addicted to borrowing money.

The Better Credit Blog: Bankruptcy can be a better option than a debt settlement company — Reasons to stay away from debt settlement companies.

Worldwide Success: How to eliminate credit card debt — “Eliminating your credit card debt is not rocket science.  It takes some discipline and perhaps some habit changes.”

~ Eggnog ~
Me vs. Debt: Score watch alert (your FICO score has gone up) — “I was inspired to share about credit scoring and how amazing it can feel to make slow progress!”

All About the Ben: Tips to improve your credit score — “If you have poor credit and would like to work on improving it, here are some good ideas that will work.”

Money Blue Book: Credit cards that help

Debt Prison: The skinny on balance transfers — “Transferring your high interest balance to a new, lower APR% credit card seems like a great idea, [but] if not done properly you could end up in a worse position than before you made the transfer.”

Millionaire Money Habits: Credit crunch: getting a loan just got tougher — If you are planning to buy a home, need a car loan or even a line of
credit, things are changing if they haven’t already.

~ Christmas Bonus ~
The Sun’s Financial Diary: Finding the funds that beat the S&P 500 — I actually think this is pretty interesting. Sun created a list of low-cost, low-risk that beat the S&P 500 over a longer period of time, but didn’t require a fortune to buy into.

How I Will Be Rich: Some good investing advice — Matt writes that the best investment advice is “to really forget about your investments”.

Brip Blap: How to start investing — “Too many people try and overanalyze the process, but when you get right down to it, the tough part is coming up with the money to save, not how to save it.”

The Honest Dollar: Index funds vs. ETFs — “For basic investors who want to buy a total market index, which is the better option: index funds or ETFs?”

Building Equity in Toronto: Seven reasons I’m not buying ETFs and index funds — BEIT takes a contrarian view, explaining why he prefers to invest in individual stocks.

Dividends4Life: 5 lessons learned about investing — “These 5 lessons are the most important I’ve learned during my years of investing.”

FIRE Finance: Our 7 mutual fund investing mistakes — “We would like to share some of our mistakes committed during our early years of investing.”

Bull Returns: Why most investors underperform the market — If someone parked their money in an index fund, they’d make about 10% a year. Why do so few investors do this?

PFBlog: Why I’m not a dividend investor — “I pay attention to a company’s dividend status and history, but I discount such information and focus more on business opportunities and valuation.”

Money Changes Things: Energy efficient motivations: pocketbook, planet, and petro-politics — Energy efficiency upgrades and energy conservation are great investments with the big motivators.

Physician Entrepreneur: Select mutual funds with lower turnover — “Look at a fund’s reported turnover rate as an indication of how much trading and therefore the relative amount of commission expense incurred by the fund.”

Financial Reference: Introduction to value investing – books — Learn about investing from books!

Christian PF: Would Peter Lynch invest in CROCS? — “If I would have been more attentive, I could have made a nice chunk of change investing in Crocs.”

~ Gifts from Grandma ~
My Digerati Life: Quitting my day job, retiring early: 5 steps to lifestyle change — “Here’s an update on my plan to retire from my day job — crossing my fingers that I’ll be making it happen!”

My Retirement Blog: A weak case against Roth IRAs — “It’s not very often you hear someone touting the benefits of a Traditional IRA over a Roth IRA, but today it happened.”

Alpha Consumer: Save more money — unless you’re retired — “According to a joint survey by the AARP and the American Council of Life Insurers, retirees may not be spending enough.”

The Financial Philosopher: The five-minute retirement plan — Do you have a definition for the word, “retirement” that is unique only to you? If not, you may be headed down a road paved by social conventions.

Living Almost Large: Renting in retirement — “Does renting in retirement make sense? From a purely financial standpoint, I think it does.”

Canadian Dream – Free at 45: Revising the retirement plan — CD makes changes to his retirement plan.

~ Candy Canes ~
The Frugal Duchess: Five reasons I have a crush on my parents’ retirement magazines — “I love all of the retirement magazines my mom and dad share with me when I go to visit.”

The Happy Rock: Call Comcast and save on your cable bill — “One quick call can slash your cable expenses — here is my example.”

Monroe on a Budget: Other out-of-pocket medical expenses — “There are other expenses for a routine illness or injury that get overlooked, that is, until you’ve got to deal with it.”

Free from Broke: Where did that coupon go? — Here’s a system to keep track of coupons.

Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck: Fiscally responsible, not cheap — local spending — “At first glance these memberships look like expenses, but I’ve learned that these memberships actually save us money.”

My Wealth Builder: College 529 savings account results — “Based on my analysis of the results, I will be allocating a higher proportion to the international fund index in the future.”

~ Five Gold Rings ~
Father Sez…: What our family mission statement says about money — “We should all have a broad road map on where we want to go. Our Family Mission Statement is our broad road map.”

Lightship Mutual: How to choose the best checking account — An okay piece, but it really bugs me when people write things like “who actually goes inside banks anymore?”. I do, for one, as do most of the people I know.

Money Blue Book: Four basic steps to jump-start your financial future — Great tips for newbies.

Moolanomy: Quick wins, Pareto, and personal finance — This post is a little technical, but it’s interesting.

Saving Advice: What if money really grew on trees? — “Would everybody be rich and well taken care of due to readily available money? Or would we still end up with rich, middle class and poor people?”

Investing Lessons: Paying a high price for ignorance — Educate yourself about your finances.

1MansMoney: Well rewarded — A rewards credit card can be a great way to get “free” money.

4EvaYoung: How to dig your financial grave faster — “If you are a financial train wreck waiting to happen then here are some handy suggestions to quit your stalling and get it over with.”

2million’s Personal Finance Blog: Payoff mortgage for a better rate of return? — A real-life look at whether it makes sense to prepay a mortgage.

Finance and Fat: Why pay $99 for something when you can pay $120? — Money mistakes happen to all of us!

Homo Economicus: Personal diversification: multiple streams of income — “Are you diversifying your income streams to maximize reward and reduce risk? You should be.”

No Credit Needed: $10 a day equals three-quarters of a million dollars — “If I contribute $10 per day ($3600 per year) for 50 years at 5%, I’ll have more than $790,000!”

~ Tinsel-Lined Tree ~
Finding Financial Peace: The top five reasons you blow your budget — “Check out these common budget busters and how you can avoid them!”

Consumerism Commentary: Overspending for the kids — “Thanks to bombardment of commercials and peer pressure, kids have strong desires for nice clothing and cool toys.”

Early Retirement Extreme: The true cost of coffee addiction — The latte factor in action.

Single Guy Money: The Breakup — More latte factor. The Single Guy has broken up with Starbucks.

Money Myths: Unintentional saving — “Look for opportunities to save from unexpected life events.”

Investing Lessons: Is bigger better? — “Bigger may be better but is also more expensive. Expensive upfront and also in the long run.”

~ Stocking Stuffers ~
Broke Grad Student: Mint myths debunked — “I’d like to set the record straight once and for all and debunk the myths that have been spread about Mint.”

Five Cent Nickel: Eleven great books about money — Nickel polled personal finance bloggers for their favorite books — here are the results.

Free Money Finance: What you need to know about wills — Thoughts on drawing up a will.

Financial Mistakes to Avoid: Avoid these ‘will’ mistakes — “Without a will, your friends and family can enter a very difficult time where they experience many financial stresses as your assets and property are being allocated.”

My Dollar Plan: Volunteer income tax assistance — A profile of a program sponsored by the IRS to help people navigate through the difficult tax law, obtain free filing, and get money back into the hands of those who need it the most.

Cash Money Life: How to avoid counterfeit goods — “Counterfeit goods cost consumers and legitimate manufacturers hundreds of billions of dollars every year.”

Prime Time Money: Educate kids on personal finance — Sources for personal finance information for a child or teenager.

Journey to Financial Freedom: The ways to be rich and happy — “We will be happy only if we can fulfill the five categories of needs of [which money is only one].”

Queercents: Susie Bright on Suze Orman: The lesbian approach to getting rich — “Susie Bright is known as the sexpert and one of the first writers/activists referred to as a sex-positive feminista — who better to opine on Suze Orman’s financial advice for women.”

The Baglady: Is there really a Fair Tax? — “I think the FairTax is definitely an interesting idea, but it probably won’t get enough support to be passed into law in the state it is in now.”

College of Cash: Sell books back or keep them? — “Campus bookstores are a rip-off. But if you know for sure you won’t ever be using the book again, you might as well sell it back.”

Oh My Aching Debts: Buying a home: American Dream or financial nightmare? — “Is the fall of home values and the credit crunch crushing the American dream of owning a home?”

Searchlight Crusade: Which makes more difference — buyer’s agent or listing agent? — “For the average person and the average transaction, the buyer’s agent makes a lot more difference.”

~ Ho Ho Ho ~
That’s all I have, boys and girls. I hope you had a merry Christmas. And be sure to come back next week when I’ll be visiting the good folks at The Digerati Life.

Final carnival stats: 118 submissions, 29 rejected, 89 accepted (9 of which were highlighted). Seven hours to prepare: 5-1/2 hours to compile and list links, another 1-1/2 hours to create theme and post carnival.

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