I (Adina J), a self-confessed personal finance snob, select a handful of excellent PF articles from the week gone by. The TimelessFinance Sunday Reader serves these pieces to Readers of refined tastes. And because we all need a bit of comedic relief at the end of a long week, I’ll label one Personal Finance Fail — a self-explanatory category. (Submissions, for now, can still be sent to email@example.com and I’ll summarize them for Joe).
Before we get this year-end party started, an announcement: this will be my last Sunday Reader.
But, fear not, this does not have to be your last Sunday Reader nor will it be the end of my weekly columns. As of next week, I am passing the torch to Joe, who will continue to bring you the best (and a smidgen of the worst) that the PF world has to offer. Life is about to get a whole lot busier for me, on a personal and professional level, in 2013 so I simply won’t have the same amount of time as before to parse the PF blogosphere in search of interesting or informative articles each week. But I leave you in capable hands, on both scores… and I’ll see you in the comments.
OK, before this takes a turn for the sappy, let’s get to this week’s picks. First, Robb at Boomer & Echo makes a very strong case for why budgeting is not a waste of time. Tracking your spending can be a tremendous tool for getting a handle on your finances and planning for the future. I speak from experience: I did it for years. And although I stopped doing it last summer, I still recognize its advantages. In fact, it’s something I will probably start doing again at some point, once our finances get a bit of a shake-up (hopefully, as a result of higher income and not the opposite).
Control Your Cash wrote a timely post on negotiating strategy, which went – as usual – beyond merely recycling the same tired platitudes others would rely on to pad a year-end post. I called it “timely” for purely personal reasons: the beginning of the year marks salary negotiation season for me. More on this in my next post.
Robert Brokamp wrote an amusing guest post over at Get Rich Slowly about the three types of individuals whose actions shape the economy: the consumer, the ower, and the owner. He gets bonus points in my book for using Coca Cola, not Starbucks, to illustrate his points. (I am drinking a Coke as I type this.) It’s probably all stuff you’ve read before, but it bears re-reading.
Speaking of stuff that’s worth reading, Paula at Afford Anything made a list of the 4 best books she read in 2012. Don’t worry, none of them are the sort that will be made into movies starring Miley Cyrus and a mannequin with big biceps. In fact, I am adding 3 of the 4 to my Amazon queue right now – and that’s only because I’ve already read the 4th one. I’ll add my two cents to this literary discussion, and tell you that my two favourite books this year were Paul Fussell’s Class: A Guide Through the American Class System, and Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life. (I also enjoyed Jasper Fforde’s — not a typo — latest Thursday Next novel, for any fantasy/sci-fi fans out there.) Next on my reading list is Rainmaking Made Simple: What Every Professional Must Know by Mark Maraia and A History of Venice by John Julius Norwich. Additional suggestions are welcomed in the comments.
It’s only fitting to end this Sunday Reader (and my tenure as its doyenne) with a blogger who has been a never-ending source of amusement all year long. Lance at Money, Life and More picked a pretty safe topic this week: increasing your retirement contributions for the New Year. Naturally, he wrote about it in his own, Trent Hamm-ian way. You will have to read the whole article to enjoy its full flavour, but here is a hint as to Lance’s ground-breaking ideas: figure out how much you are already contributing, and then contribute more. No, really, that’s what he wrote:
The next step is quite easy now that you know how much you currently contribute. Contribute more money! [emphasis in original]
So, all you slow-pokes who haven’t been able to figure out how to increase your retirement contributions on your own until now: you’re lucky that Lance has your back. Not only that, but should you have trouble figuring out the whole contribution thing, he is here to help:
Increasing your retirement contributions is quite easy in most cases. The first thing you need to do is know how much you are currently contributing to your retirement account. Look at your brokerage statements or paychecks depending on how you contribute. If you need help figuring this out contact me and I’ll do my best to assist you. [emphasis in original]
He can also help you figure out how to write a cheque, by the way. Lance is a helpful guy all around.
Lance’s “tips” aside, my favourite part of the whole post is, without a doubt, this comment: “It’s so simple it hurts!” Yes. Yes, it does.
Have a great Sunday and a happy New Year, everyone!