Carnival of Twenty-Something Finances: Evil Clown Edition

Welcome back for yet another edition of the Carnival of Twenty-Something Finances.  This time around, we’re going to do something a little different, highlighting not only some of the best personal finance advice directed at young readers, but also one of the most prominent archetypes in pop culture: the evil clown!

Why are evil clowns so common in popular media?  I’m no expert (it’s been years I picked up a sharp knife and slapped on a bright red nose), but I’d say that it has to do with the combination of innocence and horror.  By confronting the terror that lies underneath the goofy facade, we are able to confront the terror that besets us during childhood.

In the same way, by confronting the troubles we have with money, we are able to grow and move past our previous problems, building up our knowledge and skills as we grow.  (See?  I tied in the theme, just as I always intended to do.)  To help you get the most out of your money, enjoy the following articles, complete with information on some of the best evil clowns in history.  Let’s start with the best articles from under the big top!

Best Show Under the Big Top

The Dark Knight (c) Warner Bros.
The Dark Knight (c) Warner Bros.

It’s hard to have any discussion of evil clowns without mentioning the Joker from Batman comics.  Besides being of the oldest evil clowns in pop culture, he’s also had a recent revival thanks to the release of The Dark Knight last year.  A complete catalog of all his depraved schemes over decades of comic book, television, cartoon, and movie appearances would fill this article many times over, but make no mistake, this is the clown by which all other evil clowns are judged.  In the same way, the articles below represent the best of the personal finance world, and the cream of this carnival’s crop:

How to Use Credit Cards Without Bankrupting Yourself – I’m as much a fan of credit card usage as the next guy, and I prefer using my credit card to debit or cash whenever possible.  That said, it’s important to follow rules, such as those laid out on the Canadian Finance Blog, to ensure that you use the credit cards, and not the other way around.  Otherwise, you could end up as a statistic about the overuse of credit in the Western world.

21 Tips to Save Money in College – A wealth of tips for saving money during your college years from 21 and Broke.  Most of them are very good for the poor student trying to make their money stretch to the end of the semester.  I only wish that I had known more of these tactics when I was in school (and had access to things like Hulu and Skype).

EverBank Review – On The Digerati Life, there is a review of EverBank, an online bank.  One of the more interesting offering is CDs denominated in foreign currencies, one possible way to diversify your holdings in case the dollar continues to decline world-wide.  The yields aren’t half bad, either.

The Long Road to Getting Life Insurance – If you have dependents who rely on your income, it’s good practice to have life insurance.  Unfortunately, getting a life insurance policy can be a long process, as noted by PT Money.  If you want to know what needs to be done to get your coverage, be sure to check it out.

More Discussion on the Homeschool Issue – Stew of Gather Little by Little answers some questions about home school in general, and his decision to home school his children in particular.  It’s an interesting idea, although being public schooled myself and a few years away from having children (if all goes according to plan, at least), I haven’t done too much research into the issue yet.  Something else to consider when I have little rugrats, though.

Budgeting and Money Management

Sideshow Bob (c) Matt Groening and Gracie Films
Sideshow Bob (c) Matt Groening and Gracie Films

He might not be the most obviously insane clown, but make no mistake: Sideshow Bob is evil, pure and simple.  He’s also smart, and dutifully plans ahead.  From his plans to frame Krusty to his campaign to become mayor, he makes sure to create a plan and then follow through.  Too bad he keeps getting foiled by children… For some non evil ways to plan ahead, consider the following articles:

Considering a Health Savings Account – Trying to figure out whether to open a health saving account, as with many important financial situations, can be a tricky decision.  Luckily for you, some of the pertinent data on health savings accounts can be found on Peak Personal Finance.

The Best Free Online Budget Tracking Tool – On MoneyStance, you’ll be able to get a full review of the MoneyTrackin tool, as well as seeing just how said tool works.  Not a bad looking tool, and good luck to MoneyStance on meeting the goal of a half million dollar net worth!

The Basics of Building Wealth – A short, pretty basic article on how to get your finances in shape, courtesy of Finavigation.  If you’re new to getting your finances in order, this will be a good place to get a broad overview; if you’re a seasoned pro, consider it a helpful review to keep you on track.

Money Management as You Approach Retirement – Most of us hope to retire, and here we have some advice on how to manage our money as we approach retirement from Associate Money.  Although actually, most of the advice (like investing for the future and avoiding credit card debt) makes sense for just about every age group.

Saving Money

Pennywise (c) Stephen King
Pennywise (c) Stephen King

One of the most horrifying characters from an author specializing in terror, Pennywise the clown was the ‘It’ from Stephen King’s It.  It’s worth mentioning that the name is actually taken from an old saying, ‘Penny Wise, Pound Foolish’, indicating someone who pays close attention to the small expenses but allows the big ones to overtake him.  If you want to be ‘Penny Wise AND Pound Wise’, you’ll need to pay attention to all your spending, and take advice like this below to cut your expenses whenever possible:

Coachsurfing to Save Money and Make Friends – Apparently when I wasn’t looking, crashing on the coach of a complete stranger went from being completely unacceptable to a popular way to travel cheaply.  True Adventures in Money Hacking shares a story of sharing houses in Costa Rica, as well as provides some links to resources if you want to have some adventures of your own.

The Argument Against Frugality – It sounds almost blasphemous, making an argument against frugality on a personal finance website.  Well, don’t panic; The Sun’s Financial Diary is actually making a point that most of the arguments made against being frugal are actually incorrect.  Check it for some ammunition the next time your friend tries to tell you there’s nothing wrong with splurging a little.

Black Friday Wisdom – A bit late for this year’s shopping orgy, at least by the time this carnival will go up, but perhaps the tips shared by the Personal Finance Analyst can help you out for next year.  Better yet, just spend the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas avoiding any shopping center (save for grocery stores or drugstores) and save yourself a lot of trouble.

Biking to Work is Not Only Good for Your Health, but Your Wallet – It’s probably obvious, but the less gasoline you personally burn traveling, the less money you have to spend.  As Michal on Energy Saving Gadgets notes, biking to work (assuming it is possible, of course) is a great way to get your exercise and keep more money in your wallet simultaneously.

How to Buy Craft Supplies on eBay – While the article from Craft Stew focuses pretty squarely on craft supplies, the advice listed is pretty good no matter what type of item you’re planning to buy or what online store you intend to use.  It’s definitely worth a read through, even if the closest you get to crafting is to walk by the craft store when you’re at the mall.

Getting Out of Debt Is Lonely –  Debt Kid shares more about his financial life with his blog readers than with many members of his family.  I can relate; I put my net worth online, but barely talk to anyone in my extended family about my financial goals.  Anyway, keep up the good debt eliminating work, Debt Kid, even if most of your friends know nothing about it!


Buggy the Clown (c) Eiichiro Oda
Buggy the Clown (c) Eiichiro Oda

As you might know from my previous stints hosting this Carnival, I like Anime.  Anime has its own evil clowns to handle, including Buggy from One Piece, who has the power to divide his body into individually controlled pieces (yes, it’s just as weird as it sounds).  Similarly, when dealing with credit card debt, your best tactic is to divide and conquer, taking each debt in turn (while paying the minimum on the rest, of course).  For more good advice on handling credit, read on:

Best Credit Card – Which credit card is the best is the source of some long, if not particularly heated, debates.  Luckily, Financial Highway has a list of items to look for when considering which credit card to take.  His last comment, on remembering to be responsible, is important no matter which credit card you finally choose.

Are 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards for Life Possible? – An interesting question posed by Money Ning, about a card that would be the holy grail of many less than responsible credit users if it really existed.  As noted in the article, though, recent changes in credit card laws mean that such cards, will likely cease in the near future, if by some odd chance you could find them before.

Capital One Classic Platinum Credit Card Features – A review of the Classic Platinum Credit card from Capital One, as written by One Mint.  My personal favorite feature is the ability to put your dog’s picture on your card.  I just have to ask, how many people really need that feature?

Visa Black Card Review – Another credit card review from Ask Mr. Credit Card, this time of the Visa Black card, a prestige credit card.  The $495 annual fee is a bit high for my taste, but if you want to take advantage of some the special services offered to card holders (like 24 hour concierge service), it might be worth a look.

Gift Cards

Killer Klowns (c) The Chiodo Brothers
Killer Klowns (c) The Chiodo Brothers

With the holiday shopping season upon us, you’re going to be looking for gifts for some of the people on your list for whom you don’t have any good gift ideas.  In those situations, why not go for one of the great classics of American cinema, like Killer Klowns from Outer Space?  Or, if your recipient has any taste, consider a gift card, after you read the cautions listed below:

An Argument for Giving Gift Cards – Bob of Christian PF takes on the increasing popular trend of giving gift cards, as well as Joel Waldfogel’s advice (which seems to be everywhere this year) that giving gift cards makes much more economic sense than actually choosing a gift.  While that might be true, I (and Bob, judging by his comments) would hate for Christmas giving to be determined by economic expediency.

New Regulations for Gift Card Holders – Speaking of gift cards, it’s important to know what sort of penalties or other restrictions are attached to the cards.  As American Consumer News notes, new rules to control such penalties will be in place by 2010’s holiday season, but for now, you still need to watch for such ‘gotchas’ when you purchase gift cards.


Violator (c) Todd McFarlane
Violator (c) Todd McFarlane

Investing is the process of putting your time, treasure, and effort into building up your assets.  One evil clown who has plenty of experience in this process is Violator from the Spawn comics.  Charged with the task of training Hellspawn to serve in Satan’s army, he has plenty of experience in growing his ‘assets’ over time.  Hopefully, you’ll take a less diabolical route when it comes to your investing, and some ways to do so can be found below:

Investing with Stock Trading Services That Teach – So, you want to learn how to trade stocks?  Then head to The Smarter Wallet, young man, and you’ll find plenty of good advice on learning to trade via online communities and stock trading communities.

Ten Myths About ETF Investing – A very thorough, very complete guide to ETFs from the ETF Database.  While having an obviously pro ETF stance, the commentary is solid, and the advice on ETF uses and benefits is sound.  If there’s anything you heard about ETFs you want to confirm as true or not, this is a good place to start your research.


Krusty (c) Matt Groening and Gracie Films
Krusty (c) Matt Groening and Gracie Films

More apathetic and greedy than truly evil, Krusty the Clown from the Simpsons is the stereotypical lifelong showman who’s long since begun to phone in his performance.  (I’m including him simply because I need another clown, and I’m a big Simpsons fan.)  The lessons that can drawn from Krusty’s appearances are many and diverse, from the importance of always paying your taxes to the impact of celebrity endorsements on product sales.  In the same way, these last few articles are diverse and show a variety of different themes.  Read on:

Sccusesufl Peosrnal Finnace Deos Not Riqueire Perftceion – If you can read this title, congratulations!  You just proved research from Cambridge University correct, showing that not all the letters in a word need to be in the right order for it to make sense.  Similarly, The Dough Roller reminds us that we don’t need to get every detail of our personal finances right in order to succeed financially, as long as the big things are done right.

IPodMeister: Trade your CDs for an iPod or iPhone… legally? – Now, this is an interesting one.  Lazy Man and Money raises a few very good questions about digital copies and Apple’s copyrights while using a service called iPodMeister.  Frankly, with as many questions as he raises, I’m inclined to avoid this service for the foreseeable future, at least until any potential Napster-esque legal battles get settled.

I Believe These Events Are Inevitable – I’ll be completely honest: I don’t agree that everything on this list from My Wealth Builder is an inevitability, particularly the health care related predictions.  That said, I will gladly admit that I may be wrong, and certainly it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for the worst, even if it never comes to pass.  Better to be caught with an umbrella on a sunny day than without one when it pours, after all.

Multiple Intelligences: Why You’re A Green Rock Star but Suck at Saving Money – A discussion of the different types of intelligence and how they affect our ability to manage money, from Tyler of Frugally Green.  Understanding how you live, learn, and grow is vital to being the best you can at developing your skills, whether we’re talking money, music or anything else in life.

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