Monday, March 24, 2008

Carnival of Personal Finance

My post on Spending Control was accepted into this week's Carnival of Personal Finance, hosted at Million Dollar Journey. There were a lot of good posts this week that I found interesting and relevant to me.

  • I've Paid For This Twice Already - How Small a Transaction Before Plastic Seems Absurd? Personally, I would use my debit card for absolutely everything if possible. There are two scenarios when it is difficult. First, I sometimes have to take cabs (and will continue to have to do so until I move again) and cab drivers are extremely reluctant to take them, though some will. Second, the cafe at my office only takes cash (a good incentive to take my lunch, I suppose) so if I want lunch, I have to pay cash. Sometimes this is enough of a motivation for me to just skip it entirely.
  • Millionaire Mommy Next Door - Is the Perfect Financial Storm Brewing? I'm not really ready to make a call on whether the economy is going to be terrible for a while or for a long while - I think there will be a big shakeup in November of this year and the results of the election will have a large impact (not a total one, the economy doesn't respond all that quickly, but I do think it will shape the direction and length of the current state.) However, there is a point made in this article. Millionaire Mommy says that she isn't a buy and hold investor and so is playing defense. Personally, I am - I'd like to keep some "cash" on hand in an emergency savings fund, but given current interest rates, I'd prefer to put anything more than 2 months living expenses into something where I can look forward to better return rates over the long haul. I'm planning on building up my portfolio as much as possible while the downturn is occurring with an eye towards a few years down the road.
  • Money Under 30 - Asset Allocation for Investors Under Thirty. I'm just starting to explore what I want to do with the money I save, so I'm enjoying reading all posts on allocation right now. Currently, I'm investing 50-50 in a "growth" fund and an "income" fund, with nothing held in bonds/ETFs. As I get more savings to do a lump sum investment at a place like Vanguard, I'll likely adjust this allocation to better reflect a long term strategy for my age (23.)
  • The Honest Dollar - 11 Ways to Trigger an IRS Audit. I just finished up my taxes this year. They're fairly simple, but I did have one "flag" that was listed - I'll be claming the earned income credit (EIC.) I do have all the required documentation and I'm pretty clearly eligible, so I'm not worried.

One of the many reasons I like participating in carnivals is that they truly do make me think. I've gotten inspiration for two posts, one on my taxes from this year and one on my long term plans for my money. Look for those in the next few days.

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