Carnival of Personal Finance, Oktoberfest Edition

A roundup of the best money advice from around the web, with a focus on preparing for the holidays.

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Welcome to the Oktoberfest edition of the Carnival of Personal Finance! The Alpha Consumer blog focuses on making smart financial decisions, with special attention to major life stages such as college graduation, marriage, parenthood, and career transitions. Here’s a roundup of the best of the web’s money writers—they have a lot of tips for getting your finances in gear before the end of the year. The Carnival thrives on an open exchange, so in the name of encouraging comments, two people who comment below will be randomly selected to win a copy of my book, Generation Earn: The Young Professional's Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back, which comes out next week. Enjoy!

Microbrews (Editor’s Picks)

Maybe it’s the fall weather or the fact that the holidays are around the corner, but many of my favorite posts focused on finding meaning beyond money, long-term goals, and security.

On the search for deeper meaning: MoneyMan from FinancialOdyssey examines The True Cost of Keeping Up With the Jones. He investigates the actual expense of cable television, smart phones, big weddings, and other so-called “must-haves.”

Lauren from Richly Reasonable explores the roots of materialism and the value of generosity in Money Love, Part One.

On self-control: Lindy from Minting Nickels looks into applying discipline, even in the midst of so much temptation.

On humility: J. Money from Budgets Are Sexy admits imperfection in 5 Things I Kinda Feel Bad About Doing. He says that he never tipped his tattoo artist, doesn’t tithe to his church, and skipped writing some thank you notes. He also makes plans for amends.

On celebrating others: Paul Williams from Provident Planning recommends his 20 favorite personal finance blogs along with useful descriptions.

On tough love: Squawk Fox explains “the real reason you’re broke," and she doesn’t hold back.

Fermenting Your Career (Job Advice)

Kevin McKee from Thousandaire says HR Is Just Screwing With Me. I Hope.

Amber from Blonde & Balanced shares lessons from her freelance life in Freelancing: How to Choose a Gig and do a Great Job.

FMF from Free Money Finance investigates the career impact of a college degree in College Degrees, Earning Power, the Value of a Law Degree, and the Best Colleges.

Kristina from Dual Income No Kids asks if our professions define us in Trust Me. I'm an Engineer.

Money Beagle says One Family Struggles With Unemployment...And I Don't Feel Bad For Them!

Donna from Surviving and Thriving comes up with a creative solution for those out of work in Unemployed? Market yourself as a 'caretaker.'

Tom at Canadian Finance Blog from Canadian Finance Blog asks Are Middle Class Careers Becoming Extinct in Canada?

Holiday Ale (Shopping Season)

Jason from Live Real, Now points out Halloween Decorations Ain't Cheap and helps us deal with those costs.

Jill from My Dollar Plan suggests that we don’t waste any time and Prepare for the Holidays…Today.

Crystal from Budgeting in the Fun Stuff gives us 10 Money Saving Tips to Save $1000 for the Holidays, some of which are a bit extreme.

Sharing Beers (Family Finances)

Junior Boomer from Consumer Boomer gives us nine questions to help us shop for our family’s health insurance.

FruGal from FruGal asks Would you let a family member repay your debt?

Aaron from Prepaid Cards 123 gives us PEX Visa® Prepaid Card Review.

David from Credit Card Offers IQ offers Discover Card Updates Effective October 1, 2010.

Home Brews (Mortgages and Home Ownership)

Michael Pruser from The Dough Roller dissects part of the Obama Housing Recovery Plan in How Does the ‘Making Homes Affordable Program’ Work?

Matt SF from Steadfast Finances explains how he’s earned a 15 percent annual return in Lending Club Update: Earning 15 percent NAR on Microloan Investments.

John from Passive Family Income offers refinancing tips in When Refinancing a 30 Year Mortgage Does NOT Make Sense.

The Smarter Wallet asks Can You Get Government Mortgage Assistance From Your State?

Roshawn Watson asks Will Mortgage Rates Really Drop to 0 percent?.

Ken from Spruce Up Your Finances hosts a debate in Home Renters Should Not Pay More Taxes: A Rebuttal To Financial Samurai's Article.

Stephanie Christensen from Wellness On Less explains How I Got an $11,000 Homeowner Tax and Escrow Refund.

Collectors’ Editions (Protecting Your Stuff & Saving)

Beating Broke tells us How you Know Coins are Worthless.

FIRE Finance urges us to Save Our Hard Earned Money.

Go To Retirement urges us to Write Your Own Retirement Paycheck.

Aaron from Three Thrifty Guys offers 30 ideas to back up your digital photos.

Mike from Green Panda Treehouse asks Protecting Your Computer with Free Antivirus Software—A Good Deal?.

Kate Kashman from The Paycheck Chronicles argues Extended Warranties Aren't All Bad.

Michael from The DoughRoller provides a fee-free List of Free Savings Account Offers.

Borrowed Bottles (Debt and Credit)

Jeremy Simon from Taking Charge explores the geography-debt connection in The South: We're poor, overweight—and we've got low credit scores.

PT from PT Money offers Best 0 percent Balance Transfer Credit Cards.

Cecil Dellison from Clear Choice Credit Card Blog explains why NFL Credit Card Owners Lose Points in Bank Change.

Ask Mr. Credit Card Test Drives Amex Return Protection.

Tim Chen from NerdWallet says Disney Credit Card: Doesn’t Make the Cut for Rewards or Low APR .

Craig Ford from Money Help For Christians discusses the benefits of a good credit score in A Good Credit Score—Do you play along or buck the system?

Kris Bickell from Debt Tips tells us What Are The Best Forums For Credit & Debt Help

Silicon Valley Blogger from The Digerati Life offers a credit card review in Citibank MasterCard For Balance Transfers: Citi Platinum Select.

Suba from Wealth Informatics gives us Pizza, beer, frat parties, credit card cosigning on how card companies are getting around the new marketing restrictions.

CreditCardGuru from Credit Card Forum asks What happened to the “Free Credit Report” band?

N.W. Journey from Net Worth Journey tells us How to Take Control of Credit Cards.

Jeri Ford from Help Me Travel Cheap presents How Does Applying for Multiple Credit Cards Impact Your Credit Score?, and says, "Does it always pay off to sign up for a credit card bonus?"

Doug Jacobs from Money Health Central explores Student Loans: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Jeff Rose from Good Financial Cents asks What Does It Mean to Have Good Debt?

Investing in Hops (Stock Market Advice)

Bob from Christian Personal Finance tells us Learn How To Invest in Stocks—For Free?

Pop from Pop Economics explains How to keep yourself from retiring broke.

Matt from Dividend Monk urges us to Invest In What You Understand.

Craig from Free From Broke asks (and explains) What Is Portfolio Diversification?

Investor Junkie offers a Value Line Investment Survey Review.

Mike from Do Not Wait asks Where Will Your Retirement Income Come From?

Neal Frankle from Wealth Pilgrim explores Retirement Lump Sum—Your Best Choice?

IS from Intelligent Speculator investigates International Exposure In Your Investments.

Musings of an Abstract Aucklander asks (about his e-fund) Too much is never enough. Or is it?

D4L from Dividends Value gives us 9 High-Yield Managed Distribution Policy Funds on exchange-traded funds and closed-end funds.

Bret from Hope to Prosper presents The Wisdom of Sir John Templeton.

MD from Studenomics explains Why College Students Should Invest in a Roth IRA.

Briana Ford from Go Banking Rates gives us Recession, Recovery and a Possible Double Dip: What Experts are Saying About the Economy.

Control Your Cash argues in favor of reading financial statements in A Fun Way to Spend a Saturday Afternoon.

Extra flavors (Miscellaneous)

Kevin from Financially Poor gives smokers suggestions in Thursday Quick Tip: Quit Smoking Today.

Eric from Narrow Bridge explains How Bank Failures Impact Consumers.

Tim from The Econ Man argues Yes, Frugality Matters.

Nicole from Nicole and Maggie tries to persuade us How the used car market is like health insurance, adding, "Why it isn't stupid to buy a new car... or a used one."

Funny about Money says Want to Buy That Car? Don't Test-drive it!.

RJ Weiss from Gen Y Wealth explains the confusing marginal tax rate system in How Income Tax Rates Work.

Cheapskate Sandy from Yes, I Am Cheap gives us 5 Dumb Ideas That Made Millions.

Revanche from A Gai Shan Life gives us My verdict on Allegiant, the budget airline.

Daniel from Sweating The Big Stuff asks Are You Missing The Big Picture?

Adam from Magical Penny asks Are you 'Good' with Money?

Well Heeled explores the potential awkwardness of using coupons on the first date.

Modern Gal explores Financial Lessons Learned from Visiting Food Carts.

Chris from Dealerity proves The best things in life are free.

Jason from One Money Design gives us the tools to Create a Financial Checklist.

Thanks for visiting! Be sure to check out next week’s Carnival, hosted by the Canadian Finance blog.