Carnival of Personal Finance #234 – Weirdest Toy Crazes Edition

With the Christmas season upon us we are all, well most of us, opening our wallets and emptying them out for the delight of our beloved children. Many families take the spare no expense approach while other have carefully budgeted and allocated specific funds for Christmas gifts. Inevitably there is a single toy every year for which the demand far outweighs the supply and people go nutso crazy just get there hands on one. Many you probably remember people selling Xbox 360’s or Nintendo Wii’s on eBay for prices that seemed ridiculous.  Even more ridiculous though are some of the toys people thought were so cool but I thought were downright wacky. Enjoy the list of wacky toys I just didn’t understand, while reading through this weeks Carnival of Personal Finance listings.

Editors Picks:

Austin with Foreigner’s Finance explains four gripes with Japanese personal finance. I love to hear about other cultures and how they handle the mundane tasks like this. It is amazing how different things can be even among industrialized nations.

Dorian, The Personal Financier, discusses the dangers of excessive frugality and budgeting. I completely agree with the need for balance. Too many people take budgeting and retirement to the extreme and fail to live in the now, they are constantly dreaming of the future. Don’t sacrifice your enjoyment of now for the “potential” enjoyment of retirement.

VH from Funny About Money highlights when charitable giving goes awry. I personally don’t donate much money, when I do it is usually to the local Salvation Army or rescue ministries. I prefer to help those in my immediate township as the amount of money I can give is little I want it to improve the lives of those around me.

Modern Gal explains when good debt is bad. The age old debate about good and bad debt continues on. Many people consider mortgage and education debt to be “good” debt. Modern Gal explains why some of the good debt could really be considered bad debt.

pet-rockPet Rock – 1975

This could be the single dumbest toy idea that ever made money. Seriously people bought rocks in a box. Overhead was low so profits were high on this super cool toy. What people pay for never ceases to amaze me.

Money Management

Fabulously Broke continues her chronicle of the one she calls “The Idiot”. The latest escapade titled The Idiot is now Becoming a Doctor highlight some of the reasons why it might not be such a good idea.

Clint from Accumulating Money talks about how Christmas loans help pay for Christmas. Seriously folks if you need to take out a loan for Christmas you don’t need to be buying gifts for Christmas. Besides Christmas isn’t supposed to be about the gifts right?

Jeff Rose gives us 7 things that make good financial cents for managing your finances. These 7 idioms can set you on your way towards good financial management, Jeff provides a brief explanation on how each one applies.

Revanche discusses usurious interest rates and bad car buys. It pays to take your time and shop for a car loan, you don’t have to go through the dealership to buy a car. 15% seems steep to me but then I haven’t bought a car in quite some time either.

If you thinking about hopping on a plane anytime soon you may want to check out these 5 little known websites that will save you time and money submitted by J.D. from Get Rich Slowly.

J. Money reflects on the statement if you can’t pay for it, don’t buy it. I love the suggestion of putting a sticky in your wallet that says “Are you sure you want that?” I am willing to bet if we all asked ourselves that question every time we went to make a purchase we would buy a lot less.

Studenomist ran a piece on Christmas gifts that don’t suck. We have all gotten that crappy trinket or other lazy gift that just took up space in our house. Here is a list of things you could get that don’t suck eggs.

David, the personal finance analyst, compared Suze Orman to Dave Ramsey to see whose methodology comes out on top. He calls it a draw between the two but I think the Ramsey approach has the advantage because it has the psychological benefit of the small wins.

Miss M, gives us ways to increase our retirement savings. The first one on the list is actually what I do. My last two raises went straight to retirement, I am technically still making the same amount of take home pay but the amount I put into my 401k is up.

Jill from My Dollar Plan outlines six mistakes made by new earners. I am guilty of the going out and buying a new wardrobe and furniture faux pas.

Smarter Wallet covers managing family finances during a jobless recovery. We can all plan as much as possible and still not be prepared for what it is like to be jobless in a down economy. It pays to be prepared.

Single Guy Money wants to know what your greatest financial fear is? My greatest fear is letting my family down whether it be financially or otherwise. They are the most important thing to me and I want to make sure they are taken care of.

FurbyFurby (Photo: Valerie)- 1999

I don’t know what people were thinking because these things just creeped me out. I kept thinking someone would feed one after midnight and Gremlins would kill me. My sister had one and I just wanted to smash it with a bat, I guess it could be like those hamster things this year.


Roger tries to clear the air on the age old question how is my financial advisor compensated? Whether it is fee based or fee only makes a difference, he does a good job of explaining what that difference is.

Evan with My Journey to Millions lays down how Morningstar Ratings work. I am not much of an investor so I haven’t really paid much attention to ratings and the like, it is good to know how they come up with the ratings though.

D4L gives us 9 Small/Mid-cap dividend stocks answering the call. I am not ashamed to admit it, I know very little about investing and only recognize one of the companies listed on this list. Hopefully you can get more out of it than I did.

Setting goals is important in all aspects of finance, Dividend Growth Investor wants to know what are your dividend investing goals?

Mike, The Oblivious Investor, does a good job of explaining whether you should rollover your 401k when you change jobs. Having recently gone through this with an old 401k for my wife I agree completely that an IRA is going to provide you better options with lower fees.

Paul with Provident Planning explains why he likes and recommends index funds. I don’t currently have an opportunity to invest outside of my 401k but you can bet that I would be in index funds if I could.

The Dividend Guy is an active procrastinator boils down to making educated decisions to sit on investments you feel will increase in value.

PT from PT Money wrote up 10 reasons to get off your butt and open a Roth IRA. Great list, just make sure you meet the income requirements or you could be in trouble.

pogsPogs (Photo: hkboyee)- 1991

Pogs were based on a game using milk bottle tops. That make sense, paying money for funny looking discs doesn’t. These things were everywhere, the only thing they were good for was hitting people in the head.


Couple’s Money author, Elle, wrote a great post on saving money on groceries using a grocery list and a price book. I am a huge believer that making a list for shopping is the single easiest way to save on what you buy, I have also played around with my own pricebook database before.

Eric is the latest to jump in and debate whether you should ditch cable for internet only entertainment. I do not see myself abandoning TV to go solely web based for my TV needs. I like to watch my TV and my PC wouldn’t support that much video watching anyway.

Bob from Christian PF submitted a list of 5 ways to show love to your kids without spending a dollar. I think you could certainly expand this list past 5 items, I know my kids don’t need me to spend a ton of cash to know that I love them. I show them everyday by playing with them, interacting with them, and teaching them.

Money Funk, inspired by a lifetime movie, is going for broke. She provides a list of ways you can spend less on the things you do everyday so you can live more frugally.

RJ at GenY Wealth tells us how to save money this holiday season. The holidays are rough on the wallet this is great list of ways you can save on things you buy.

Debt Ninja is calling everyone out and says it isn’t what you make but what you spend. I will disagree a little bit, some people probably only make enough to get by and in those cases what they make is probably more important than what they spend. It is the simplest form of finance management though to just say spend less than you earn.

The Sun’s Financial Diary ran a guest post by Hank who gives us ways to keep our thrifty habits when frugality loses popularity. I like to think people will keep at least a few of their frugal ways but I realize that is probably just a pipe dream. I will keep mine, are you going keep yours?


Damon with Damon Day & Associates is running a series of articles on The Association of Settlement Companies (TASC). The most recent installment covers if TSAC is a debt settlement lobby or a protector of the people.

Lean Life Coach explains how compound interest can be both a friend and a foe. Which side of the equation you are on really determines whether it is your friend of a foe, this article explains how.


Jim over at Bargaineering explains why Charge Cards are a viable option. I have never really considered the fact that there is a difference between a charge card and a credit card. Jim does a good job of pointing out how they differ and the benefits and drawbacks of using one.

Ray from Financial Highway tells us what the best credit cards are. I like to see people with a view other than shred-it when it comes to credit cards. It is possible to use credit as tool without becoming a tool.

Anyone interested in 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards would do well to read this post by the Dough Roller. They have a large list of the 0% balance transfer cards currently available as well as some answers to common questions regarding 0% transfer accounts.

The Silicon Valley blogger explains building credit with credit cards, or secured credit cards. I really think there was something I missed about credit cards this week.

Chris from Stumble Forward has his own list of the 10 best credit cards by category. I guess it was that kind of week where everyone wrote up credit cards, could have something to do with the upcoming holiday I guess.

Ask Mr. Credit Card gives us the skinny on luxury credit cards. I don’t have much love lost on my regular credit cards, I certainly don’t need any luxury ones, interesting all the same.

beaniebabiesBeanie Babies (Photo: Aunto) – 1995

They are so cute aren’t they? Blah I can’t believe people really started to collect these things like they were going to be some kind of killer investment. You have a better chance speculating in the gold or oil markets than making a killing on beanie babies.

Real Estate

Aryn of Sound Money Matters gives us five ways to improve your home value. Great list, one thing I would add would be to switch out the off color wall outlets, switches, and covers for new bright white ones. It is amazing the difference such a small change can make.


Sola is ditching the schedule A in favor of the standard deduction this year. The new standard deductions are higher and they allow for you to include your real estate taxes without itemizing. This could lead to more people taking the standard deduction.

Sam, the Financial Samurai, explains why a tuition hike for the poor is like a tax hike for the rich. I agree that a 32% hike in tuition is just downright ridiculous. Students especially those in California, which has a high cost of living, can barely make it as it is and raising tuition by that much could drive students out of state. Imagine if your income tax went up 32%, what would you think?

Darwin’s Finance author, Darwin, explains the 2009, 2010 FICA Tax Rates and why they matter. He outlines FICA limits and how shifting income into or out of the current tax year could easily save you thousands of dollars in taxes.


Free Money Finance provides five steps to a six figure income in just seven years. Out of this whole list I think #3 is probably the most important in maximizing your earning potential. The better you perform the more valuable you make yourself to the company. The more valuable you are the more they are willing to pay to keep you on board and happy.

Nicole over at Rainy Day Saver asks if social media is killing your earing potential. I don’t know about you but I think the world has definitely lost some productivity to twitterers. I am willing to bet there is a true spike in productivity when Twitter has technological glitches.


Fire Finance has taken the time to explain the unemployment rate. We all hear about it in the news almost daily now but how many of us truly understand what it is and how it is calculated?

The Mighty Bargain Hunter talks about how not to stay in business when competition comes to town. He details an experience he had recently at what sounds like a soon to close Food Lion.


The Amateur Asset Allocator, Kyle, explains how to build defensible passive income streams. Some of the suggestion could be passive but in reality even a passive income stream like blogging requires you to be far from passive to actually make money doing it.

Betty from Control your Cash hopes the salesman curses your name. She explains how you should negotiate prices first as well as how the salesman will try to trick you with flashy statements and numbers.

Len Penzo asks what would you be willing to do for $1,000,000.00.  $1 million is a lot of money but I am certainly not going to loan out my wife ,or myself for that kind of money. I am sure there is a line somewhere that when offered the right amount everyone will break but $1 million isn’t worth as much as it once was.

Baker from Man Vs. Debt has taken the time to highlight the top ten money movies from the last decade. Great list, I think he hit it pretty dead on. I loved both Boiler Room and The Pursuit of Happyness.


1 Funny about Money December 7, 2009 at 8:10 am

Gosh, thanks for the Editor’s Pick! And thanks for hosting this huge carnival–nice job!

LOL! I forgot about Pogs and Pet Rocks! It is amazing what people will pay for. I remember thinking at the time, IF ONLY i could com up with a “pet rock” idea, I’d never hafta work again.

2 Kyle December 8, 2009 at 6:58 am

There is no better time than now. We all look back at the pet rock and talk about how silly it was but that guy made a lot of money on a simple idea. If you can come up with the idea and find the right people to market it you can sell almost anything to anyone.

3 FB @ December 7, 2009 at 8:19 am

Thanks for the inclusion into the carnival

Pet Rocks.. that was seriously something I thought should have never become a craze.

Did you know they have Pet Rock on USB now? Yeahhhh…

4 Kyle December 8, 2009 at 6:57 am

I noticed that while I was looking for a photo of the original pet rock. I am not sure what they do though do you know?

5 Studenomist December 7, 2009 at 9:01 am

Happy Monday and thanks for the link!

6 Evan December 7, 2009 at 9:30 am

Thanks for hosting! Pet Rock was before my time, but I remember pogs and furby! Furby was just weird and freaky

7 Len Penzo December 7, 2009 at 9:34 am

Thanks for hosting and including my post, Kyle. I had a pet rock once, but I finally had to take it to the pound because it kept peeing on the carpet. I never went back to see if it got adopted – I think they put it down.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get a tissue.


Len Penzo dot Com

8 Kyle December 8, 2009 at 6:56 am

I actually think I may have adopted your pet rock and am currently using it my garden… 🙂

9 ElizabethG December 7, 2009 at 9:55 am

Thanks for hosting and for the Editor’s Pick.

I saw chia pets at the store over the weekend, made me nostalgic for the simple pet rock!

10 Financial Samurai December 7, 2009 at 10:17 am

Hi Kyle – Great job putting together this carnival and thanks for the link!

No wacky toys for me this Christmas, just need a new pair of tennis shoes!

Best, Sam-urai

11 Money Funk December 7, 2009 at 12:52 pm

I understand the pogs and Furby (the creepy thing that won’t shut up), but the Pet Rock…that person made so much money from it! Geesh! Shows that marketing and the psychology of shopping is more impressive than the item. 😉

Thank you for hosting! There are many great articles to keep me busy this morning.

12 Dorian Wales @ The Personal Financier December 7, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Thanks for selecting my post as Editor’s Pick and for hosting the Carnival.

Great Blog.

13 Betty Kincaid December 7, 2009 at 5:08 pm


My cousin had boxes of beanie babies. She was convinced they were going to be worth big bucks one day.

Thanks for featuring our post and the trip down memory lane.


14 Kyle December 8, 2009 at 6:55 am

I wonder if your cousin could somehow adapt the beanie babies into a twisted game of cornhole where the beanie babies serve as the corn filled bags…

15 SingleGuyMoney December 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Thanks for hosting and including my post. I like the theme.

16 Damon Day December 7, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Hey Kyle,

Thanks for including me in the Carnival. This was a monster of a carnival. I was born in 77 so don’t remember the original pet rocks, but I certainly remember imitations growing up in the 80’s. You couldn’t go to a county fair without someone selling rocks with 2 googly eyes, a smile and some hair clued on it :-0.

Sold em like hot cakes 🙂 I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it 🙂

17 Kyle December 8, 2009 at 6:54 am

I still can’t believe people actually bought a rock in a box, but they did. Word is the “inventor” made millions on the darn things, I guess overhead for a rock in a box isn’t very high.

18 Austin December 7, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Thanks for featuring my post, Kyle. Glad you liked it and I’ll try to get some more posts up comparing Japan & America for you. Any topics you’d be interested in reading about?

19 Kyle December 8, 2009 at 6:53 am

I just find it interesting to hear about the slight nuances in other cultures. I unfortunately find that most Americans, at least in my neck of the woods, think all other countries are some kind of third world nation.

20 LeanLifeCoach December 7, 2009 at 8:06 pm

Great job hosting the carnival! If anyone needs a mint condition Chilly bear, I’ve got it!

I am honored to be included with such great talent! Thank you for the link.

21 Kyle December 8, 2009 at 6:50 am

Glad you submitted an article, the pleasure was certainly all mine for getting to read yours, and the other great articles submitted for this weeks carnival.

22 Nicole @ Rainy-Day Saver December 7, 2009 at 9:27 pm

Great job hosting and thanks for featuring my post. And what the heck was with the Furby? Oddest gift ever!

23 Kyle December 8, 2009 at 6:48 am

I am telling you that thing was scary, I wanted to just throw it in the garbage. I have heard some kind of animatronic pet hamster is the big thing this year.

24 FIRE Finance December 8, 2009 at 4:17 am

Thanks for hosting the carnival and including our post. Best wishes ahead :).
FIRE Finance

25 Broke by Choice December 8, 2009 at 6:44 pm

Thanks for taking the time to put this together. The articles about Roth IRAs and mistakes of new earners were great to share with my friends.

26 J. Money December 10, 2009 at 12:15 pm

POGS!!! ahahahaha….I never did quite understand those things.

27 Katie Adam December 12, 2009 at 5:30 pm

“I am a huge believer that making a list for shopping is the single easiest way to save on what you buy, I have also played around with my own pricebook database before.”

That is true with most supermarkets heavily at war when it comes to discounting they still have ways of getting you to spend extra money. Grocery prices do add up so its wise to always stick to your original budget and plans, that way you do not get tempted.

28 Udayan Chattopadhyay May 19, 2011 at 6:16 am

I was so amazed at the mentioning of pet rocks that I did some research on it. It seems it also came with a ‘training manual’ filled with jokes and puns. (How ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ can be easily accomplished whereas ‘attack’ required a little help from the owner). Anyways, hats off to the marketing genius who managed to sell rocks in a box!

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