2008-05-14

Money Hacks Carnival #12 — The Twelve Labours of Heracles

Heracles was the son of Zeus—King of the Gods—and Alcmena. He carried the strength of many men in his shoulders and the blood of immortals in his veins. He was handsome and well-built and could get away with walking around in a loin cloth through day and night. More celebrated than any of these though, Heracles was a master of the personal-finance arts.

Little surprise that Zeus’s wife, Hera, Queen of the Gods, was none too happy about the product of Zeus’s transgression. One day, Hera sent a madness to Heracles. In the fit of insanity, Heracles threw out his budgets and coupon books, was late making the payments on his high-interest credit cards, chased speculative returns through high-load, high-fee mutual funds, refused to rebalance his portfolio, and borrowed from his 401(k). And then… he spent more than he earned!!!!

When Heracles came to, he was shocked and upset by what he’d done. He consulted with the Oracle of Omaha, who told him, to regain his honor, he must complete twelve Labours. Feats so difficult they would seem impossible.

Heracles knew he would need all of the best money hacks to prevail.

The First Labour was to retrieve the impenetrable skin of the Nemean Lion. What good would his arrows be against such a lion? Heracles knew learning and career advancement would have to show him the way. He knew he would need hacks on:

College and Career

Thus armed, Heracles outsmarted the lion and completed the Labour. The Second Labour was to slay the Lernean Hydra. A monstrous serpent with nine heads and poisonous venom. Worse, when one head was cut off, two new ones sprang forth to replace it. If this were not a blatant metaphor for a never-ending battle against debt, what was? This was a time for snowflaking. A time for money hacks on:

Frugal Spending

By applying the small amounts he saved through each hack against the hydra’s heads, Heracles was able to prevent the new heads from growing—and slay the beast. The Third Labour was to retrieve the Hind of Ceryneia, which was sacred to the goddess Artemis. How to win the favor of the goddess to be allowed intrusion on her sacred deer? Heracles arranged a match to show Artemis his good heart:

Match Made on Mt. Olympus

Touched by Heracles, Artemis allowed him to complete the Labour. The Fourth Labour was retrieving the Erymanthean Boar. Now the price of the Boar was obscene. But Heracles worried not. It just meant he would earn more miles, and this time he would pay off his balance in full. He knew the money hacks involving:

Credit Card Rewards

The Fifth Labour was the cleaning of the Augean Stables. Augeas, King of Elis, had 3,000 years of inattention to his personal finances. His stables were filled to the roofs with unopened bills and account statements, receipts, and other financial records. Worse still, Heracles had only one day to complete the task. “Isn’t there some kind of software for this?” Heracles lamented. He needed money hacks on:

Budgeting, Planning, and Organization

With software and budgeting ideas at his disposal, Heracles organized Augeas’s finances quickly. The Sixth Labour was to drive away the vicious man-eating Stymphalian Birds, which represented the dreaded erosion power of Inflation. Heracles considered countering with Treasury Inflation Protected Securities—but he was a more aggressive investor than that. He broke out his money hacks on:

Stocks, Mutual Funds, and Other Trading

And the birds quickly fled, or at least seemed to have fled when the return was taken on average over a period of ten or more years. The Seventh Labour was capture of the Cretan Bull. A relatively simple task for one of Heracles’ strength. But where to house the bull? Heracles needed the money hacks on:

Buying a Home


The Eighth Labour was to get the terrible man-eating Horses of Diomedes, yet another seemingly gentle animal that eats people in the Heracles legends. The horses would take up even more room than the bull. So Heracles moved to the money hacks on:

Investment Real Estate

The Ninth Labour was to gain the Belt of Hippolyte, Queen of the Amazons. Heracles knew Hippolyte would suffer no fools. She’d not give up her belt without promise of return for herself and the Amazons. “What about a partnership or joint venture?” offered Heracles. So Heracles and the Amazons opened up a business together, with money hacks on:

Running Your Own Business


The Tenth Labour was, well, you can guess by now. Go get some animals and bring them back. This time it was the Cattle of Geryon. Geryon was a horrific monster with three heads and three sets of legs all joined at the waist. But Geryon fancied himself an intellectual as well. An economic theorist. So Heracles engaged him on topics of:

Economy and Philosophy

The Eleventh Labour was to retrieve the Golden Apples of the Hesperides. Through participation in a personal-finance discussion forum online, Heracles found that only Atlas could access the garden where the apples were kept. But Atlas was occupied holding up the sky so that it would not crash to the earth. He literally bore the weight of the world on his shoulders. “What else feels this heavy?” Heracles thought to himself. And he knew then that he needed his money hacks on:

Taxes


Using his great understanding of taxes to relieve Atlas of his burden temporarily, Heracles completed the Labour. The Twelfth Labour was the most fearsome of all: master the creature known as Cerberus. To those who waited too long to start saving, Cerberus could seem like a ferocious monster with three heads of wild dogs and a serpent for his tail. But Heracles had started saving at a very young age. He had the money hacks on:

Retirement

Being able to determining how much he could safely withdraw each year from his retirement portfolio, Heracles found Cerberus to be a friendly sort, and the last Labour no chore at all.

And thus, Heracles regained his honor and was able to enjoy a secure retirement. Sipping mai tais on the beach, Heracles was also able to make:

Heracles’ Picks

Though already mentioned above, here were the favorite hacks of Heracles from this week’s Carnival:


Editor’s Endnote: Thanks for all the submissions—62 of ‘em! Please remember, under the Money Hacks Carnival rules, you can only submit one article per blog per week. You can submit through this link for the next Money Hacks Carnival. The next edition will be hosted by Moolanomy. Past and future editions can be found at the Money Hacks Carnival homepage.


Related posts:
Here are links to other personal-finance blog carnivals that I have hosted.

Carnival of Money Stories #56—Once Upon A Time

Festival of Stocks #85—Man on the Moon

Whoa Nelly—The Festival of Stocks #81 at Gettysburg!

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