≡ Menu

Carnival of Money Stories #76

Welcome to the 76th Carnival of Money Stories, a collection of the best money-related stories from around the interwebs this past week.  I'd like to kick this week's edition off with a short money story of my own; and I will, because it's my blog and I can do whatever I want to.

The True Story of How I Almost Won a Million Bucks. 


Back in my college days I found myself with nothing to do one chilly autumn afternoon when the phone rang.  It was my mother with a hot tip. 

You may have heard of the Ricola Mystery Cougher Challenge; if you haven't, it really doesn't matter because I'm going to explain it to you.  The Challenge: you hear a stranger cough, you offer said stranger a Ricola cough drop, you win a million dollars.  Bam.

Mom heard on the radio that the Mystery Cougher would be near my campus at noon. 

I would be there.  Waiting…

Long story short, I was right next to the MC, I hesitated, the guy next to me didn't, I didn't win the million bucks.

The Moral of the Story: Work hard, save, invest, and always offer a stranger a cough drop (just in case).

The End


Now, if you are an avid carnival reader, you know that the host usually says something along the lines of, "There were so many good submissions this week, I had a hard time choosing my favorites!"

Well, there were so many good submissions this week, I had a hard time choosing my favorites.  Good stuff everybody.  


Editor's Picks 

Should I Be Doing My Own Taxes? @ Money Thinking

Boats & Cottages @ Free Money Finance

Time To Be The Hardnosed Landlord @ Yes I Am Cheap


Living Stories

Dirt Locked @ Minting Nickels

I Eat Before I Go to Lunch @ Thousandaire

Why I Borrow So Much @ The Financial Blogger

10 Pantry Essentials @ Bucksome Boomer


Inspirational Stories

Working Hard For What You Want @ Free From Broke

We Made It! @ Money Beagle

Retiree Financial Lessons from the Recession @ My Wealth Builder


Contemplative Stories

The Story of The Widow's Mite: Do We Have it Wrong? @ Christian PF

Is Money Talk Rude? @ Funny About Money

Brett Favre May Lose $100 Million @ Faithful With A Few

A Moment With a Compulsive Shopping Addict @ Danielle Liss

A Tale of Recovery @ Financial Tales


Family Stories

Fun Fall Traditions @ Squirrelers

What Our Parents Taught Us About Money @ Prairie Eco Thrifter

Where Do You Start @ Canadian Personal Finance Blog


Useful Stories

8 Best Personal Finance Apps for Android @ My Dollar Plan

We Refinanced Our Mortgage @ The Sun Financial Diary

The Pros and Cons of Buying Newly Built Homes @ Spruce Up Your Finances

Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card Review @ Wanderlust Journey


Saving Stories

Are You Really Getting the Best Deal @ Good Financial Cents

19 Tips for Saving a Bundle of Money on Home Appliances @ Len Penzo dot Com

Do You Live Within Your Means? @ Green Panda Treehouse



If you didn't see you post included this week, it's not because it wasn't excellent, it just wasn't a money story.  

Submit your posts here for next week's carnival at the Canadian Finance Blog.  It's going to be awesome. 

Article publié pour la première fois le 18/10/2010


I Get Less Done When I Have Nothing to Do

If life were a sentence, it would look something like this:

Big Event…………..Something Exciting…………..Lots Going On…………..Etc.

Life is neither grammatically correct, nor is it always good times and shenanigans.

During those bouts of excitement, my productivity is at its peak.  While in the middle of our move, for example, I was able to go to work, come home and pack, found the time to exercise and even solved the riddle about how to achieve peace in the Middle East (that post is soon to follow; if I ever get around to it, that is).

Now, as I wait for December 1st and our flight to Japan, there’s really not too much left to accomplish.  A few final bills have filtered their way in, I have a couple of phone calls to make, I suppose, oh, and I have a load of laundry to do.

You know what?  I’m getting none of it done.

Let’s talk physics – a science I’m not entirely convinced really exists in a post Matrix universe, but let’s talk about it anyways.

The law of inertia states that a body in motion will tend to remain in motion and that a body at rest will tend to remain sitting on her butt, reading cheesy romance novels.  That’s just science.

Inertia applies to our lives in many ways.

Our Attitudes: A grump will tend to remain a grump (just ask me about it on one of my bad days).

Our Relationships: Crappy communication will tend to stay crappy.

Our Finances: Spenders will tend to spend.   Savers will tend to save.

But, on the bright side, inertia cannot stop change; hinder it, yes, stop it, no. 

The full law goes: a body in motion will tend to stay in motion and a body at rest will tend to stay at rest, UNLESS acted upon by an external force.

Change may not be easy.  But if I’m ever going to get some laundry done, it’s absolutely necessary.  And there is no motivating force quite like the prospect of running out of clean underpants.

Laundry may seem like a small change relative to those you would like to make in your personal finances.  It’s certainly easier to continue spending money on the “fun stuff” rather than contributing to your Roth IRA.

The answer to making these changes is to find the greatest motivator.  Don’t move a mountain with a shovel, do it with a nuclear warhead.

Don’t change your spending habits by thinking of what you should do (make IRA contributions), do it by thinking of the specific goals you hope to achieve (beach-side, piña colada retirement) or what you hope to avoid (dirty underpants).   


Article publié pour la première fois le 08/11/2010


Can you really afford a dog?

I never understood how Roger and Anita planned to take care of 101 dalmations.  How could they possibly afford a Dalmation Plantation on a songwriter’s salary?  What a ridiculous plot.

Husband and I are dog lovers, though we have none.  This week we get to dogsit Badger, a lab/greyhound mix with a pension for burrowing under the covers.  If we were impulsive people we would abscond with this dog to Mexico; she is that awesome.  But alas, we are planners and, aside from the obvious faults with the Mexico plan, we have our reasons for not having a dog already. 

Cost Considerations When Deciding to Buy a Dog

1. $Time – your most valuable asset. 

All animals require a significant amount of your attention on a daily basis; not to mention vet visits, additonal shopping trips, and other doggy-type errands (poop patrol!).   If you’re thinking of buying a puppy, then consider the time it will take to train your new family member.  We haven’t been able to commit to a time sacrifice because we are so busy and it wouldn’t be fair to neglect a new puppy; that, or more likely, sacrifice our other committments because we are easily distracted by cuteness.   

[click to continue…]

Article publié pour la première fois le 26/07/2010


Who’s Keeping Track?

In school your teachers assigned you grades.  At work the boss man monitors your output. Tell me, who’s tracking your financial performance?

It’s pretty popular for financial bloggers to publicly track their net worth.  And that’s great.

Why do they do it?  While I cannot know their intentions for sure, I’m betting they aren’t just being smug (though I would feel pretty smug if I were some of them).  Public accountability works.  

Since I’ve started working from home, I’ve realized that no one, aside from my mother, really cares if I’m up before 8 o’clock.  

Adulthood carries much responsibility; the unpleasant kind that too often seems to go unrewarded.  

Why do you brush your teeth every day?   Aside from the distinctly unpleasant fuzzy feeling, people tend to have a bad reaction towards smelly breath.  

Peer pressure can be a good thing.  For one thing, it can motivate you to ward off cavities. For another, it can keep you from giving up on a goal.


Humorous Anecdote (to prove my point):

I committed to running my first 5k with Husband on our Air Force base.  For those of you that don’t know, the U.S. Military requires their employees to stay in freakishly good shape (lucky me :)).  

I workout pretty regularly, so I thought to myself, “This should be a piece of cake.  I wonder if there will be a 5k cake.  That would be awesome.”

I finished in 30 minutes (respectable), but second to last behind all those freaks (with the safety car following close behind).  

If no one had been expecting me at the finish line, I might have ducked into our house (on the route) and crawled back into bed.  5k’s start way too early anyways.  

Perhaps the biggest motivator was that car following me.  I’d be danged if I was going to let that lazy driver see me give up.  

Call it “pride” or call it “Mike,” I really don’t care what you call it, but it kept me going.


You may not have a blog to announce your progress to the world.  Heck, I have a blog and I don’t even announce my progress to the world.  The world is much too nosey for my taste. But we do share our big goals with close friends and family.

The lame responsibilities we assume in adulthood somehow seem less lame when we get a little recognition. 

Go on and share your goals with someone; make sure that you are expected at the finish line.  While you’re at it, hire a car to chase you, it’s quite thrilling. 


Article publié pour la première fois le 13/10/2010


Spending Under Pressure

This past weekend Husband, Friend and I visited the “grassy knoll” where JFK was shot.  My nerdy camera around my neck, I stopped to read a historical plaque.  As I read, behind me Husband and Friend were approached by a man in a fanny pack (I should realized right then and there that something was amiss, my mother taught me never to trust men with fanny packs).

Fanny Pack Man (FPM from here on out) pointed out the window where Oswald shot from and told me mumbled to me that the view was better for picture-taking across the street.  Clearly it was, so us three adults, oddly plus one FPM, crossed to get a better look.  

Once across, FPM’s intentions became apparent as he gave us a mini-lecture about the scene in front of us.  He pointed out the marks that indicated where the gun shots hit.  He relayed the different conspiracy theories.  He wanted money

At the end of his half-mumbled, semi-informative speech, FPM delivered a time-perfected line that in effect told us we owed him $5 a pop for the presentation.  I like to say we got “Mariachi Banded” (common where we used to live in south Texas) – we received a service we didn’t ask for and were then told to pay up.  

Much to my dismay Friend and Husband reached for their wallets.  Gasp.  The rest happened in slow motion. 

*Re-reading that last sentence, I realize I might have given the impression that we were in danger.  No, we were not being robbed, at least not literally.*


[click to continue…]

Article publié pour la première fois le 06/09/2010

1 comment

Judge Not, Lest Nobody Like Ye

Everyone judges other people’s spending habits at one time or another, but eventually the shoe will be on the other foot.  Today the shoe was on my foot; my newly pedicured foot.  And it was smelly.


Today I went and got my nails and my toe nails done; rare occurrences by themselves, practically unheard of at the same time.  Sure I could do it myself, but my left hand just won’t paint worth a da… darn.  Actually, today I just felt the need to take care of myself in a special way.  This is my rationalization and I’m sticking to it.   

Actually, I was treating myself big-time because I also got my hair done (I love Wal-Mart, you only have to make one trip and POOF! everything you need is all in one place).  My stylist noticed the toe-separator-thingamajig and said to me with judging eyes, “oh, do you get pedicures often?”  So, I may have misread said “judging eyes,” my own judgment clouded with guilt by my previous splurges, but I felt judged

With my sensitivity on alert, my ears perked up when Stylist mentioned she was a smoker.  Ah ha!  What a hypocrite, judging me for spending just a few bucks on myself when she herself was throwing money down the tubes daily…  Wait a minute.  I realized the reason I was peeved was that she had stuck her nose into my finances without knowing me, and I was doing the same to her. 

[click to continue…]

Article publié pour la première fois le 31/08/2010