Link Digest: Paying For Status, Nutella Class Action, Social Security Planning, Being Your Own Bank, and More

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The Perils of Paying for Status
An article in Scientific American magazine about our desire to feel powerful and achieve social status affects our decision-making. If you’re feeling insecure, you’re more likely to overpay for products and/or buy more stuff than you need. Simply knowing this common weakness may help you spend more wisely in the future.

Nutella Class Action Lawsuit
Nutella calls itself healthy, when in fact the first two ingredients are sugar and vegetable oil (fat). Class action lawsuit ensues. Lawyers get rich. Regular folks who bought the stuff can get $20 with a claim, with no proof of purchase required. If you’ve ever bought Nutella spread since 2008, you should check if you’re eligible.

Social Security and Medicare: Proper Planning Pays Off Big
I’m not an expert on this stuff, but this Morningstar article seems to do a pretty good job of summarizing the ways to maximize your Social Security and Medicare benefits and minimizing any penalties.

I Quit My Passion and Took a Boring Job
A guest poster at GetRichSlowly shares his story of quitting a job he loved (teaching high school math) and taking on a job that pays the bills (accountant).

Bestselling book’s financial promises don’t add up
Allan Roth at CBS Moneywatch does a great job debunking a “bestseller” book that is one of many misleading scams that pushes whole life insurance as “infinite banking” or “make your own bank” as a good way to build wealth. It’s a great way to build wealth, but only when you’re the one selling the whole life insurance!

What Does the Prudent Investor Do Now?
WSJ article by author Burton Malkiel about his outlook on stocks and bonds. If you can’t read it directly, try here and click on the first result.

In today’s environment, the minimization of investment fees is more important than ever. A 1% investment management fee may appear to be very low when measured against assets. But when measured against a 7% equity return, that fee represents more than 14% of the return. Against a 2% dividend yield, the fee absorbs one half of the dividend income.

GMO Quarterly Letter Q4 2011 (pdf)
Another letter to investors that I have come to enjoy reading each quarter. Jeremy Grantham gives some good investment advice, and also some market opinions that may or may not be right. I don’t necessarily agree myself, but I like his style. Right now he only likes “high quality” US equities, and he hates going long on bond duration to reach for yield.

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  1. howard_roark says

    Dont be scumbag and join in to that class action suit. Nutella is awesome and now we are suing them, driving prices up, so that you can make 20 measly buck! Come on the ingredients have always been on the label. You should remove that link what a corrupt way to make money. Just because their is a class action suit does not mean we should be toting it as a money making scheme. Something about that really bothers me, man up and take responsibility.

  2. Ken In Georgia says

    I’ve read about the “infinite banking” and “bank on yourself” concept on other sites and forums and have concluded it’s largely another instance of the life insurance industry talking to itself for reassurance that its products are logical and should be sold to real people. It’s fascinating to read forum posts from life insurance agents and others in the industry expounding the virtues of these types of products.

    Cash value loans are nothing new; they have been a feature of whole life policies since the dawn of time. And for some people in some circumstances, they might be a prudent loan to take. However I think this “infinite banking” notion is just putting new lipstick on the same old pig (no offense meant to pigs) and trying to sell it as something unique and innovative.

  3. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager says

    That Nutella lawsuit is a crack up! How does anyone think it’s any more healthier than peanut butter or anything else…?

  4. I tried to read the Morningstar article but they ask for a membership and personal information. Can you give us a bit more of a synopsis on the article?

  5. Nutella: Read “upto $4 per jar” as $0.25 per jar in actual settlement (after lawyer fee, record keeping fee, escrow fee, distribution fee) after 2 years. Lawsuits make money for lawyers not the consumers.

  6. The cost just gets passed on to the consumer, anyways.

  7. Err, the Nutella payout is going to be divided proportionally…

    With a total payout of 3 million dollar, t’s quite possible that the postage stamp will cost more than the actual amount one receives from joining the class action.

    I bought multiple jars of Nutella, but I am not going to join this BS. This is just stupid

  8. @howard_roark – Here’s a page that partially talks about Nutella’s misleading claims:

    I agree that this shouldn’t have even made it to the lawyers, they already have a system against misleading labels and/or advertising. But it happened. I don’t know the details though. I think readers can make up their own minds whether to file a claim or not.

    @Jenna – I would definitely say it’s less healthy than peanut butter!

    @Elizabeth – Morningstar membership is free to view the article. If you are making decisions about SS and/or Medicare, I would recommend signing up and reading the whole thing. It does give good overall advice, IMHO, but I can’t really summarize it better. Just give a throwaway e-mail if you like.

  9. I like the first article out of everything which is very true and many people fall for it.

    BTW, I know you have more time in your hand to read and share these articles now. Think about after 10 or so months huh 🙂

  10. These class action suits are a vehicle for lawyers to make $, plain and simple.

    You can aggegate the smallest claims, and via a few named plaintiffs (who receive much more $ than $4/jar for their time), the lawyers will get their 1/3rd of the fees. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    While this definitely appears to be among the more frivolous class action suits I’ve seen, there are occasional ones, like the one I got from my former company’s retirement plan, where they misrepresented the annual fees on certain funds. I think we can all agree that righting that particular wrong very well might be worth the lawsuit + lawyer fees, especially in aggregate.

  11. I agree with those saying the Nutella class action is ridiculous. Why single them out? How many food products make misleading claims? It is up to the consumer to read and educate themselves and make their own decisions.

    By the way, don’t kid yourself, I don’t think peanut butter is any better than Nutella. PB has sugar too. Hazelnuts have lower Omega 6 than peanuts (that is a good thing because of Omega 6 to 3 ratio issues). Cocoa has antioxidants. So it is not as clear cut as it may seem. Probably neither is an ideal food, but in moderation is not a terrible food either.

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