Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Recommended Articles

Well, it's Tuesday again and that means it's time for my weekly recommended articles post.

Let's start with this week's Festival of Frugality, hosted by Frugal for Life. Check this out, Dawn has my post about The Real Price of Cheap Books categorized under the section of the Festival titled Blogs I Have Never Seen Before, which is cool with me except for the fact that FoF was on Frugal for Life last week too, and I had a post in that one as well. No biggy.

Anyway, here are my picks from this week's Festival:

The Happy Rock posted this excellent article about the best times on the calendar to buy certain products. The source for the information is Consumer Reports. According to the article, the best day of the week to buy a flight ticket is Wednesday, since that is when unsold tickets for the next week go on sale. Then again, if you are like me you buy your business trip tickets at the last minute (because you don't have a choice), and if you are going on vacation you buy your tickets waaaay in advance, so the Wednesday rule doesn't help me much.

FitBuff has an article about not buying bottled water any more. He figures that this move will save him $60 a month. I think the bottled water industry is nothing but a sham. The water in this country is safe. In addition, from an environmental perspective, bottling and trucking all those millions of gallons of water per day, means a lot more CO2 in the atmosphere. Bottled water is not only a bad idea financially, it is also bad for the environment.

Money and Values offers an article about a zero cost star gazing adventure. As an amateur star gazer, I think Penny's idea is an excellent one. I would also like to add a couple of suggestions of my own. A decent pair of binoculars really enhance a star-gazing experience. If you want an even more interesting experience, in pretty much every region of the country you can find an amateur astronomy club. Most of these hold public star-parties in which the public is invited to participate free of charge. Many of these clubs also allow members to borrow some pretty impressive telescopes, and joining a club in my expensive area of the country costs something like $20 per year. Finally, if you are going to venture out at night, take a star map with you. Here is a link to a really good one.

This week's Carnival of Personal Finance is hosted by My Open Wallet, and my article titled Asking for (Another) Raise was selected Editor's Pick #4. I am honored. Anyway, I must admit that many of the entries in this week's Carnival just seemed repetitive to me. How many articles about growing your savings or credit card arbitrage can you read before you get bored? Given the option, I always read the original articles and skip the rest. Here are a few pieces I found original and fresh:

Sid from The Money Well gives excellent advice about how to decide whether to do something yourself or hire somebody else to do the job. Ask yourself the following question: as an unbiased third party, would you hire yourself to do the job? Very well put. In my case, that's exactly the reason I let an accountant do my taxes, let a mechanic change my oil and let a professional clean our carpets (my laziness is also a strong component of that last decision).

Breaking the Shackles comes out against the buy and hold strategy of investing. I am strongly on the opposite side on this one. A host of academic studies show that the average trader has a lower return than an investor who buys and holds an index fund. In addition, other studies have shown that the more you trade the LOWER your return - trading less is one of the reasons that women investors tend to show higher returns than their male counterparts. Here is one of my previous articles, arguing for a long term buy and hold strategy based on index funds. In fact, this was the first post I ever wrote...

Finally, Financial Reference has this great article titled simply Causation. This is my favorite article of the week. It's short and to the point. It also shows you how much garbage financial advice you can find out there.

Also, the Carnival of Home Owners posted this morning. It includes my article How Much is Your House Worth?


~Dawn C said...

Sorry, It was 1 am and I was fried!
I remember your post on "Things I Don't Skimp On"
I liked that one.

Shadox said...

I figured that was from the stress of hosting the FoF for two weeks in a row... :-)