Welcome to the 203rd Carnival of Personal Finance.  When determining a theme for this week’s carnival I wondered what one should do for a theme?  I thought about swine flu, a reference to Obama’s first 100 days, or perhaps Cinco de Mayo.  All good choices but I dug deeper.  What is the purpose of the carnival?  To expose you readers to personal finance material you may not come across on your own accord.

With that in mind I decided to mine the depths of Wikipedia for interesting things you may not know.  To make the search easier I picked only people that were born on May 4th.  There pickings were slim, but that just made the research all the more fun.  Each category features something interesting I learned that is loosely related to the category  and the someone born on May 4th.  Enjoy!


Editor’s Choice: The Jacksons

Who doesn’t love a reference to Michael Jackson?  Most people actually.  Oh well.  Michael’s mother and one of his Jackson 5 brothers both have birthdays today.  Katherine (mom) and Jackie (brother) both call May 4th birthday and I’m sure the family always gets together for a big party.  Actually they don’t because most of them hate each other.  Regardless, I love me some Jackson 5, especially “ABC”, and I love me some Personal Finance Blog goodness.  Here is the best of the carnival.

  • Investing School presents Confessions of an Active Investor.  Even The Weakonomist argues against active investing, I look at those people like I would a gambler.  Well this guy is an active trader and claims to have beaten the market, but he points at that it comes with costs (and I’m not talking transaction fees).
  • Tim from 401k Planning presents Thoughts on 401k Plans vs Traditional Pensions.  Here we’ve got a classic argument among finance professionals on 401ks and pensions.  We’re trending towards 401ks, but is that the best thing for us?
  • Jim from Bargaineering presents Free FICO Credit Score.  Normally I’m not a huge fan of promoting FICO scores because they aren’t a number you should be overly concerned with unless you’re about to apply for some type of loan.  But Jim put together some tips on how to get your FICO score for free and you can’t say no to free.
  • FFB from Free From Broke presents Credit Cards Don’t Suck, You Suck!.  Taking responsibility for your own actions is very important when it comes to personal finance.  It’s true credit card companies have done some sketchy things, but only in the most rare cases have they ever broken the rules they showed you when you picked up their card.  If you get surprised by some fee or interest rate increase, there is a good chance you’re surprised because you didn’t read the fine print.



One of my most favorite movies ever is Trading Places. Is it because it’s the funniest “Wall Street” movie ever?   No.  Is it because Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy are the funniest guys of the 80s?  No.  I love Trading Places because of Paul Gleason as Mr. Beeks; the weaseling banker was a fantastic supporting character.  You might know him better as the principal from The Breakfast Club.  In Trading Places though he rocked a fantastic beard I only wish I could reproduce.  Rest in peace Gleason, I’ll always remember you as the evil banker you were.


Finance & Economy:

Ever heard of a company called AIG?  Me neither until I read today was Maurice Greenberg’s birthday.  Apparently this guy ran the company from 1968 until 2005.  In 2007 and 2008  the company experienced some troubles because they made some poor investments in houses or something.  Of course since that happened 2 years after he left there’s no way he could have been involved.


Frugality, Saving & Budgeting:

Being the wife of a president is tough work these days.  Michelle Obama works hard skulpting her arms, Laura Bush had the world’s first medical case of “frozen smile”, and Hillary Clinton… err… no comment.  But it wasn’t always that way.  Julia Tyler, wife of 10th US President John Tyler, was raised in a world of luxury and pampering.  Southern sympathies during the Civil War estranged her from her wealthy family and friends after John Tyler died.  An economic depression finished off any amount of fortune she still had and Julia lived her final days in the care of her children, because the small federal pension of widowed presidential spouses couldn’t cover her expenses.  Perhaps Julia Tyler could have used some frugality, saving, and budgeting tips like these:


Money Management:

Being of member of ‘N Sync sure has advantages.  Lance Bass made millions being the bass singer for the group.  But being a millionaire isn’t enough for some people (sure isn’t for me).  Bass leveraged his popularity to go to space.  He participated in a program that allows Russia to subsidize the cost of space flight and send wealthy space tourists beyond the wild blue skies.  Russia remains an important contributor to global space travel with help from wealthy space tourists; this is a brilliant method to raise extra cash.  Alas Lance’s sponsors fell through, but fear not, he did become fluent in Russian during his training.


Credit & Debt:

Hosni Mubarak has been the president of Egypt since 1981 (longer than this humble blogger has been alive).  The man knows a thing or two about debt management.  When you’re in over your head with debt the advice of the blogger community is often to contact creditors and negotiate settlements and debt reductions.  Mubarack had the same idea.  In exchange for helping the allied coalition in the Persian Gulf War the USA, Europe, and certain Gulf states forgave $20 billion in debt owed by Egypt.  And how much debt did you reduce last month?


Real Estate:

You think real estate speculation was big a few years ago?  Imagine you’re living in the 1800s and the world is still largely uncharted.  John Hanning Speke was an adventurous young chap and decided it was his life’s calling to find the source of the Nile River, the amazing river that for some reason run’s north and just happens to be the longest in the world.  He found the source and named it Lake Victoria, forever embedding Britain’s heritage into the most important real estate in Africa.



You’ve probably never heard of Stanley Biber.  Stanley may have had one of the most fascinating careers of the 20th century.  Sure James Hardy did the first heart transplant, and Jonas Salk may have cured Polio, but Stanley Biber conducted the world’s first sex change operation!  He had a long and successful carreer, had he not died in 2006 he’d be 86 today.



Will Arnette is an actor best known for playing the idiot son on Arrested Development.  On the show, the main characters’ company, “Bluth Company,” is in trouble with the SEC for defrauding customers and eventually the father is charged with treason for building houses for Saddam Hussein.  See there are people worse than Bernie Madoff, but they are fictional.  You can’t categorize that show at all, but it’s fantastic – just like these posts.


This concludes the 203rd edition of the carnival. Please check out the carnival’s website for more details. Next week Earn What You Spend will host the carnival.  He’s a Carolina boy, which makes me love him, hate him, and expect great things all at the same time.  I’ll be there, will you?

Carnival of Personal Finance

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