Carnival Of Personal Finance: Remembering John Lennon Edition

By Matt Schulz
December 03, 2012

John Lennon probably wouldn't be your ideal financial planner.

Consider a line from "Imagine," which many consider to be his signature song: "Imagine no possessions/I wonder if you can..."

No, John, most of us can't, nor would we want to. But that doesn't mean we don't still love the song -- and countless other songs that you wrote with The Beatles and in your solo career before your tragic and shocking murder 32 years ago this week.

I'm 40 years old, and like many people my age and older, I remember hearing the news of his murder. I wasn't alive when John, Paul, George and Ringo played "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1964 and changed the world forever. Nor was I alive when the group broke up a few short years later. However, I've listened to The Beatles all my life and felt the unmistakable sadness that gripped much of the world following Lennon's death. 

I was raised by a mom who had loved The Beatles since the day she first saw them on Ed Sullivan. Their music played in my house constantly and, more any other music, is the soundtrack of my early youth. Also, the lyrical brilliance of Lennon/McCartney is part of what inspired me to be a writer. 

So, in remembrance of that awful day in December of 1980, we honor Lennon and his bandmates in the Carnival of Personal Finance.  Here are the best money-related blog posts from around the Web from this past week. (Thanks to my fellow editors, Laura Mohammad and Beth Bond, for helping me pull it all together.)

After all, while John may not be the ideal guy to give you advice on your money, he certainly sang about it a lot, as you'll see below.

 

EDITOR'S PICKS

Where better to start a John Lennon tribute than with The Beatles' "Ballad Of John And Yoko"? In this song, in which John gives us a glimpse at what its like to be part of the biggest band on the planet, John sings, "Saving up your money for a rainy day. Giving all your clothes to charity. Last night, the wife said, 'Oh boy, when you're dead, you don't take nothing with you but your soul. Think!'"

These stories below will give you a great deal to think about. They're our choices for the best PF blogs of the week.

Free Money Finance ran a great guest piece from Todd Tresidder called "The Key Numbers That Make Or Break Your Retirement Security." If you're nervous about retirement -- and who isn't? -- this article is a must-read.

Justin with Young and Thrifty offers some blunt-but-necessary advice to his fellow 20-somethings: "You Don’t Need A House As Much As You Need Career Mobility." He says that making that dream home purchase can rob young workers of one of their biggest assets in the workplace.

Kevin with WealthPilgrim tells us "How To Live On One Income." This focuses on couples who are choosing to do so voluntarily -- rather than those who were forced to do so because of unemployment or other reasons. However, most of the advice will ring true in either situation.

Carrie with PTMoney.com uncovers "3 Dangerous Christmas Shopping Debt Traps And How To Avoid Them." Timely advice that we can all use. And if we do, we'll be left with more money to spend on things we really want, like -- just maybe -- the whole Beatles catalog from iTunes. 

Ray from Squirrelers breaks down what on Earth could drive people to pay hundreds of dollars for a box of Twinkies in "Bidding On Twinkies And The Crazy Value Of Brand Loyalty."

 

BUDGETING

The Beatles sang about working like a dog in "A Hard Day's Night," but as Money Mishaps' Amy writes in "Small Business Ideas You Can Start On A Budget," there is money to be had with pet-service businesses. In the post, pet taxi services and pet grooming services are touted as great money makers.

Matt with Budget SNOB reports on "3 Excellent Behaviors You Need To Stay On Your Budget," starting with the fact that it isn't making a budget that defeats the average person -- it's maintaining the budget.

 

CREDIT AND DEBT

John didn't write "Can't Buy Me Love" -- some guy named Paul did. However, it's probably the song that would pop to mind first if you asked someone to name a Beatles song that had to do with money, so we're including it. (Plus, it's just a brilliant pop song.) 

And the truth is many, many people wield their credit cards and spend their money as if they think it could buy them anything. If you've done that, this tips can help you.

Liana from CardHub answers the question "Do Prepaid Cards Build Credit?" Given the complexity of credit scoring and the growing popularity of prepaid cards, it's likely a question many have asked.

Pauline Paquin of Reaching Financial Independence advises on "How To Reduce Payments On Your Debt," writing that debt doesn't have to be a bad thing, but it needs to be managed.

Lou Rodriguez from The Amateur Consumer presents "The Top 10 Reasons Why Credit Is Not Your Friend" -- which he says was spurred by his own experiences with credit and "financial hell." 

Bob of Dwindling Debt debunks the "Myths About Debt Settlement," including that debt settlement won't hurt your credit.

 

ECONOMY AND FINANCE

One of my favorite Beatles lyrics comes from the awesomely trippy classic "Strawberry Fields Forever." In it, John sings, "Living is easy with eyes closed/misunderstanding all you see." Frankly, a lot of people take that approach to their own finances. A bad, bad idea.

In "Having A Little Bit Of Economics Is Worse Than Having None At All," Nicole from Grumpy Rumblings of the Half-Tenured argues that having a basic 101-level understanding of economics often means that you think you know a lot more than you actually do.

No one should ever be subjected to algebra, writes Shaun at Money Cactus in "How Percentages Work (And Why They Are Awesome)," but percentages can turn you on to finding great deals as a consumer. "It's all about not paying retail these days," Money Cactus writes. "Everyone loves a good sale."

In the wake of the recent passing of famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, Rich with Money Wise Pastor wrote "Zig Ziglar Quotes on Money and Success."

 

INVESTING

"Nobody told me there'd be days like these. Strange days, indeed. Most peculiar, mama." I bet that around the stock market turmoil of 2008 and 2009, countless investors would've related to that memorable lyric from "Nobody Told Me," The song, released posthumously in 1984, was Lennon's last song to reach the Top 5 on the U.S. charts.

Is there a phrase investors like more than "low-risk, high-return"? Not really, except maybe "free money." But absent that, Jeff Rose from Good Financial Cents offers up his picks for "The 10 Best Low Risk Investments For High Return."

D4L of Dividend Growth Stocks writes about "The Secret Ingredient Of Dividend Growth Stocks," advising that dividend stocks have a hidden power -- dividend growth.

Michael Kitces from Nerd's Eye View argues "Why Being Invested In Bonds At Today’s Rates May Be Entirely Rational After All."

Colin Williams of humble savers warns you not to let what you see in the media drive your investing decisions in "For Financial Independence -- Let The Seeds Grow." Williams writes: "Financial independence comes from a thoroughly planned journey."

IRA Basics' Katie gives the lowdown on these instruments' withdrawal rules in "When And How To Start IRA Withdrawals." She advises on the rules for both Roth and Traditional IRAs.

There are three things wise investors know, writes Money Walks in "3 Tips For Beginning Investors." Diversification, research and assuming some risk are the mantras of this post.

Dividend Growth Investor, in "Buy And Hold Means Buy And Monitor," reminds us that the "buy and hold" strategy doesn't completely absolve shareholders from the need to keep an eye on their investments -- at least from time to time. 

Ken Faulkenberry from Arbor Investment Planner asks, "Value Trap Or Real Value Stock? What is the Difference?" Answering that first question correctly is, according to Ken, one of the most important and difficult components of value investing.

Brent with OnTargetCoach lays out one of the most basic principles of investing in "What Is Dollar Cost Averaging? Drip Your Way To Millions." It's not sexy, he says, but it can provide a blueprint for your entire investing career.

Lance with Money Life And More shares how he almost made the cardinal sin of investing in "I Almost Made An Emotional Investing Decision."

 

MONEY MANAGEMENT

The above clip comes from a time before the Beatles found fame in America on "The Ed Sullivan Show," before John, Paul, George and Ringo became insanely wealthy. In fact, there was no Ringo in The Beatles yet -- Pete Best was playing the drums. They covered the classic, "Money (That's What I Want)" and did it brilliantly. But when it comes to money, most people aren't brilliant. Hopefully these tips can help.

Melissa from Parenting Family Money presents "Financial Considerations When Deciding How Many Kids to Have." The Beatles famously sang, "All You Need Is Love," but Melissa argues that when it comes to kids, that's definitely not true.

Few questions are more frequently pondered in personal finance than "Should You Save Or Invest Your Money?" Miss T with the awesomely named Prairie Eco Thrifter blog breaks down the pros and cons of both choices.

 

REAL ESTATE

"There are places I remember..." That line begins "In My Life," one of my favorite ballads from the Fab Four. And that's exactly what people are hoping to find when they're house shopping -- a home for them to remember fondly years from now. But picking the wrong house, or making a bad deal, can turn those pleasant memories into nightmares. 

Miranda Marquit with Wallet Hub wrote "Down Payment Assistance" -- a look at what's available for borrowers who just haven't been able to save enough to make the down payment they want for a house.

In "Things To Do When Browsing For A New House," Big Cajun Man with The Canadian Personal Finance Blog offers some great tips -- along with a story about a, well, unforgettable picture he saw hanging in a house that he and his wife were considering.

 

TAXES

"If you drive a car, I'll tax the street/If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat," The Beatles sing in the classic song, "Taxman." But it's the credits and deductions of taxes that can be among the most challenging parts of taxes, writes J.P. with Novel Investor. J.P. breaks down "How To Find Your Modified Adjusted Gross Income" -- a key step in determining your eligibility for a number of things.

In "New Taxes Coming For A New Year," Glen Craig with Free From Broke looks at what tax changes are coming for 2013. The "fiscal cliff" can change this, but here's his take.

 

OTHER

The links below didn't quite fit into any of the above categories. "I Am The Walrus" is in a category all of its own as well -- and I love it for that. Enjoy.   

"Are Banks Making You Sign Away Your Rights?" That's the question John from Wallet Blog asks in this story on the controversial topic of mandatory arbitration clauses.

Now that these two ridiculously hyped days have come and gone for 2012, PersonalCents.com examines "How Have Black Friday And Cyber Monday Changed?

Money Thinking says the first step in choosing life insurance is getting healthy. In "Shopping for Life Insurance," it says: "Did you know that obesity costs Americans millions of dollars over their lifetime?"