Are your finances soaring? Or are they stuck in a tailspin?
Whether you luxuriate in first class or are crammed in coach eating peanuts, Taking Charge would like to welcome you aboard the Money Hacks Carnival No. 38 -- the Aviation Month edition.
If my terrible puns didn't already set it up for you, the month of November has been designated to honor the anniversary of aeronautical experiments conducted in November 1782 by French brothers Joseph Michel Montgolfier and Jacques Etienne Montgolfier, who were inspired by Joseph Priestley's book "Experiments Relating to the Different Kinds of Air" to fill paper and fabric bags with smoke and hot air. Their creations led to the invention of the hot-air balloon and man's first flights and laid the groundwork for aviation and flight as we now know it.
Editor's Picks: Flying highBloggers from around the Web submitted excellent posts for this week's carnival, but these submissions reached the loftiest heights.
- Happiness is Better has put together a great list of how these 10 reasons being financially independent can benefit your life as a whole, including improving your relationships, allowing more time for volunteering, improving your mental and physical health and promoting general happiness. It's nice to read reasons to aim for financial independence aside from wanting to simply get rich.
- The Personal Financier considers whether shortcuts to retirement amount to "Absurd Frugal Thinking or Common Financial Sense." While working overtime now may mean an earlier retirement down the road, do we miss out on life by spending more time on the job?
- I once thought acting as a (legal) air courier might be a good way to travel on the cheap, taking flights around the world and presenting people's packages in person. For everyone who sends letters and packages using more everyday means, Blueprint for Financial Prosperity offers a list of 11 sure-fire ways to save on shipping.
- StopBuyingCrap.com has a terrific review of E*Trade's online savings account, complete with helpful screenshots that show the account-opening process and account usage. Very impressive presentation.
- I've dealt with auto salespeople, but I'm unfamiliar with purchasing a private plane, helicopter or hot air balloon. Since most of us are more likely to buy a car, Sound Money Matters has put together a helpful list of Web sites to use when you're in the market for some new wheels rather than wings.
Frugality and saving: Discount air fare
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin may have wanted to save her state some money by unloading the state jet on eBay, but for the majority of fliers, saving money online is generally done through Web sites that allow for the comparison of ticket prices.
- Free Money Finance tells readers about "The Economics of Braces (And How to Save Money on Them)." Even with orthodontics, it pays to shop around.
- KCLau's Money Tips includes a post by Jacquelyn Wong about acknowledging your personal financial fears and confronting them. She says, "I have listed ... several financial fears that the majority of us will encounter."
- Eating out often gets cut from the budget when finances are tight. Military Finance Network has put together a list of nationwide restaurants and other businesses that offer free meals and discounts to veterans and currently enlisted members of the military in honor of Veterans Day.
- No Credit Needed tells us about a $208.34 phone call that lasted just 30 minutes. No, it wasn't a long distance call to a far-off country -- that was the amount saved by phoning NCN's health insurance company to investigate some charges incorrectly billed as "out-of-network" instead of "in-network." It's another example of why it pays to double-check health care, credit card bills and other financial documents for accuracy.
- ChristianPersonalFinance.com saves money at ING Direct and thinks you should, too.
- Passive Family Income acknowledges that two of his bad financial habits are being less than frugal when it comes to spending on his kids, and spending too much on his vehicles. By considering bad financial habits, we can figure out additional ways to save money.
- Lots of travelers (but hopefully not pilots) like to bring along something to read on their flights. Philaahzophy explains PaperBackSwap.com, a Web site that allows users to trade books. Could be a good way to stock up before your next trip.
- Don't know what to do with all those spare pennies? FIRE Finance has some penny hacks that can save your wallet from the wear and tear brought on by the copper coin.
Credit: Orville and Wilbur Wright
Co-inventor of the airplane, Orville Wright, receives a package of doughnuts from a group of Campfire Girls, led by the mother of CreditCards.com Assistant Managing Editor Julie Sherrier. From family collection.
The Wright Brothers, individually known as Orville and Wilbur, are the American duo generally credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane, as well as making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight on Dec. 17, 1903.
- Fitting in nicely with our aviation theme, Mr. CC of Ask Mr. Credit Card's blog writes about airline miles and the challenges and pleasures of using an airline credit card to earn flights.
- The Happy Rock suggests using the money from cash back credit cards to pay for Christmas gifts. As long as you pay off your credit card balance in full each month, the cash back can be a nice little bonus for yourself (or go toward a gift for someone on your holiday shopping list).
- Debt Wizard over at Money Help says, "The right credit card for you depends on your spending habits and if you are able to fully pay off your credit card each month."
- "A credit card representative told me that my credit card limit alone will affect my credit score," MoneyNing writes. "Do you believe her?" Based on my understanding of credit scores, my answer would be no.
- Budgets are Sexy considers how Johnny Carson sidekick Ed McMahon got into his financial mess. Even celebrities need to spend less than they earn!
Economy: 'Snakes on a Plane'
If it hasn't been said before, perhaps Samuel L. Jackson should be considered as a candidate for the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. After proving he could contend with a Boeing 747 full of serpents in the cult 2006 film "Snakes on a Plane," dealing with the economy should be no sweat. And just think of the catchphrases!
- Cathy Sykes at MoneyToSpare.net takes a look at the sudden drop in the price of oil, asking, "Why, after nudging $4, has the price of gas suddenly plummeted by 50% or more? Is this classic supply-and-demand working...or something else?" After cautioning that cheap gas may not be here to stay, she recommends that consumers avoid the old wasteful driving habits. I'd second that for excessive business travel that burns up unnecessary jet fuel.
- Money Beagle labels the current economic slowdown as a "Catch-22," with saving necessary for combating excessive debt, but spending needed to encourage economic growth. The term Catch-22 comes from Joseph Heller's darkly humorous 1961 novel of that name describing Air Force pilots in World War II who are caught in a no-win situation due to a bureaucratic catch.
- Richard McLaughlin of Oh, the Places You'll Go ponders whether it is unpatriotic for companies to conduct operations abroad. "The lesson here is not about patriotism, it is about economics," he says. "If a company chooses to offshore -- that is their choice and one made for the stockholders."
Eating well: The snack cart
Airline food may provide material for comedians, but it more often provides disappointment or indigestion. Luckily, these bloggers have some tastier options to share.
- Annette from Craft Stew says, "I was always taught that the cornerstone of frugality is 'waste not, want not.' Here is a delicious way to avoid wasting bits of old bread." Her bruschetta recipe looks both simple and tasty.
- Tanesha at Personal Finance Analyst gives us a list of some of the healthy (well, healthier) food options at restaurant chain Wendy's. I can vouch for the chili (190 calories and 14 grams of fat for a small serving) as a tasty, budget-friendly fast food selection.
- 15 Minutes to Riches has peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch four days a week instead of eating out, which should amount to over $1,200 in annual savings. I agree with the suggestion about trying different jellies to avoid boredom. Another suggestion? Apple butter.
- The Lean Times suggests saving money by eating like a peasant.
Investing: Buckle up
The economy's woes have spelled turbulence for the stock market, causing many investors to reach for their air sickness bags. If you aren't afraid of a bumpy ride, fasten your safety belt and consider the following investment tips.
- Dividends4Life names some sectors and stocks that should do well under an Obama administration.
- The Financial Blogger gives us a crash course on options and makes a nice analogy comparing options to lottery tickets. For those of us in the market right now, the analogy of airplane turbulence (and the possible resulting air sickness) may be applicable, as well.
- ABCs of Investing provides a short post on balanced mutual funds.
- There's money to be made buying penny stocks, writes Beating The Stock Market.
Careers: Air transportation industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the air transportation industry provided 487,000 wage and salary jobs in 2006. Most jobs in the industry are found at large airports located near cities that function as hubs for major airlines.
- Harvesting Dollars takes note of soaring layoffs and unemployment.
- Lisa at Greener Pastures is concerned about the possibility of job loss, something I'm sure all employees can relate to, saying, "As the U.S. jobless rate rises, I'm getting the jitters."
- For other workers who are concerned, PennyJobs.com tells readers how to find a new job. The job search process should be especially tough in the down economy, but these tips should help.
- Living Almost Large argues that slacking off pays -- at least when it comes to avoiding fees and charges by automating your recurring bills via automated payments. I pay my mortgage this way and enjoy not having to worry about missing a payment.
- Ozone from Poker Tips has put together an entertaining list of "some funny bets that poker players have made among each other." These "prop bets" include a poker player who said he could live in a Bellagio Hotel bathroom for 30 days and an exotic dancer who attempted to eat 100 Oreo cookies in two hours.
- Uncommon Cents talks about "Netbooks and Linux: Getting it Done on the Go."
Taking Charge hopes you've enjoyed your time with us. We know that you have a choice in personal finance blogs and appreciate you visiting us. Thanks to everyone who submitted, and for those bloggers that were included, please link back to us -- after you've, of course, returned your seats to their locked upright position.