The TimelessFinance Sunday Reader is not your typical PF carnival. In fact, it is not a carnival at all. It is a weekly round-up of interesting and informative articles that I, Joe Wood, serve to you garnished with a healthy dose of my own opinion. For comic relief, and because bad writing and poor decision-making is in no danger of extinction, the PF Fail of the Week tradition lives on. Send your suggestions (and PF Fail nominations) to email@example.com who will help me pick the cream of the crop.
A new year, a new Sunday Reader. Gangnam style. Given the time of year, many PF bloggers’ thoughts turned to wishful thinking a.k.a. New Year’s resolution-making, including here at TF. Of course, the result was a ton of boring, hopeless articles by authors who came out looking like narcissists (myself included). But I won’t generalize; I know Adina and Sara are taking their resolutions very seriously, as do others in the PF world.
Take Derek, who plans to be Free at 33, for example. He isn’t just committed to making positive changes in his life — he’s committed to helping you do it. He’s showing us how to set goals and stay accountable like a personal trainer. Which I obviously don’t need to maintain my glorious six-pack.
If you’re looking for some goals to get started on, check out Robb’s monthly financial planning checklist over at Boomer & Echo. It’s not exactly spreadsheet ready but you’re likely to get a couple great ideas for quick wins in your financial life.
101 Centavos (sorry, Adina, but nobody else bothers to add the accent aigu), on the other hand, doesn’t do resolutions. Instead, he wrote about the heights of absurdity being achieved in the world of marketing – and it’s all about the marketing these days. “Bold aromas of wet grain sack, crushed whole nut, and crusty artisanal raisin bread with a vibrant, silky dry-yet-fruity medium-full body and a hot and spicy dusty gravel road finish.” This describes something called Arkansas Lightning, which I understand to be some sort of liquor marketed to hipsters. Dirty, dirty hipsters.
Get Rich Slowly staff writer Kristin Wong wrote a thoughtful post on whether we romanticize poverty as a keystone in learning financial independence. Sure, there are bragging rights inherent to the claim of being a truly “self-made man”. I can even see the appeal of early-life poverty as a character-building exercise. A bizarre phenomenon — evident in certain PF blogs — is the vilification of wealth. This should be paradoxical if the whole damn point of personal finance is building wealth. More and more, however, PF is devolving into whining about debt hell or — at best — the fiscal purgatory of avoiding debt. Anything more than modest wealth attracts suspicion. Somebody should explain to people who hate rich people that they’re not being very ‘tolerant’ themselves.
The folks at Control Your Cash decided to crush a few more of your deeply-cherished but incorrect beliefs this week, by tackling prevalent myths about gas mileage. The title says it all: everything they tell you about gas mileage is a lie. It’s a great read but I will say I think the claim that each car has an optimal speed for fuel efficiency is true. It makes sense that the function would be an inverse parabola with a peak, simply because of physical realities like momentum and aerodynamics. Lacking any contradictory evidence, I’ll continue to believe it, despite the fact that it’s been shoved down my gaping maw by a socialist government.
Finally, the Personal Finance Fail of the Week goes to recidivist Honey Smith of Get Rich Slowly. I don’t know at what glacial pace she is planning to get rich, but I assume it involves a payout to her estate from her own life insurance policy. If you didn’t believe me when I said that wishful thinking was a major theme this week, just take a look at Ms. Smith’s list of financial goals for 2013. First up, she hopes to pay off $5,000 in debt. An admirable goal for somebody with $5,000 in debt. Unfortunately she has ABOUT TWENTY ****ING TIMES THAT. It could be worse — at least she’s paying it down, right? Except that, in the very next breath, she talks about taking on more debt to buy a house. Let’s look at her scenario:
- Honey says that she plans to buy a house (presumably with her self-employed partner) at around $150,000.
- Her current debt load is around $99K.
- Her net monthly income is $2,000 (of which over $1,600 is devoted to living expenses and debt payments).
You know what? Nuts to calculations. It’s another stupid decision in what is clearly a long line of awful choices. Joe out.