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November 2004


4 studios back new DVD format

It seems like the movie studios are putting their weight behind Toshiba’s HD DVD format, a specification vastly inferior to the tech-preferred Sony Blu-Ray.

Simply, the storage capacity of a dual-layer Blu-Ray disc is 50GB while the maximum a HD DVD disc can hold is only 30GB. Since the writable discs will only be single layer, the Blu-Ray and HD DVD discs will whole 25GB and 15GB respectively. Any other differences between the discs are negligible.

More storage capacity means more special features, longer video, or most unlikely, better quality video compression. (Consumers tend to choose longer play over picture quality, which explains the popularity of VHS’s EP mode for recording.)

Betamax died off quickly mainly because movie studios, when forced, supported the VHS format because it was technologically inferior. The public didn’t seem to mind. The VHS devices were cheaper, and with a format that ensured lower-quality copies, the movie studios felt their product was safer in the hands of the public.

‘Tis The Season For Giving

This article was written by in Saving. Comments Off

An article on CNN Money gives readers tips on charitable giving:

* Give With Confidence (research the organization you choose to determine its legitimacy)
* Wide Up Over the Phone (don’t be taken in by scammers)
* Beware of Mail Tactics (don’t be taken in by scammers—again)
* Be In It for the Long Run (think long-term)
* Get the Tax Deduction (if the donation qualifies and you reach the minimum limit)

I was reading bits of The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko over Thanksgiving. The authors suggest that people who build wealth at a better-than-average rate tend to stay far away from charitable giving. Needless to say, I didn’t really like the book, especially its tone. Most of these books are so similar; they only have, at most, five things to say. The pages are then filled with corny “real-life” examples of those five points.

In any case, don’t choose a charity under pressure. Don’t choose one just because your friends tell you to donate. If you’re going to give charity, choose one that means something to you. Or, if you are someone who might donate to an organization in someone else’s name as a gift, make sure it’s a charity that has meaning to the recipient.

Happy Thanksgiving!

This article was written by in Administration. Comments Off

Happy Thanksgiving to all USians out there. I’m on vacation in Orange County, California at the moment, and I’ll post a Flexo update to my finances when I get back to Jersey next week. Have a great holiday!

ING Direct Moves Up

This article was written by in Saving. 3 comments.

Month after month, I’ve been incredibly happy with ING Direct for my savings accounts. I just noticed that their interest APY has gone up to 2.25%. I haven’t found anything higher for savings account.

Email me for a referral and you’ll get $25 to open your account and I’ll get a $10 bonus.

The Lottery

by Luke Landes

The Motley Fool has some tips on how to teach kids about the lottery. They suggest showing children some sort of physical manifestation of what the odds are really like. I think that’s a great idea for demonstrating how money is wasted. While we’re talking about the lottery, MSN Money also has an article about ... Continue reading this article…

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Ashes, Ashes

by Luke Landes

As you know if you follow the news, the U.S. dollar has been losing value when compared to other currencies around the world. I don’t know much about currencies, but I know that means anything dealing with something from outside the country (say, traveling overseas or imported food) is going to be more expensive. Someone ... Continue reading this article…

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For Smokers

by Luke Landes

Aside from the obvious health risks, the financial impact of smoking regularly has some pretty rough implications if you do the numbers, according to Hilary Smith and MSN Money.

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Top 30 ZIPs With Six-Figure Salaries

by Luke Landes

According to CNN Money the chart below shows the top 30 ZIP codes based on the percentage of residents earning $100,000 per year or more. If you’re wondering why regions like Beverly Hills and other rich locations around Los Angeles, or regions in Manhattan like the Upper East Side, didn’t make the list, it’s because ... Continue reading this article…

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More Millionaires This Year

by Luke Landes

There are more millionaire households in 2004 than ever, and they have increased in number at a record rate year-over-year. The latest research shows that the number of millionaires has increased 33 percent this past year to a total of 8.2 million U.S. households. Most of the people surveyed said that it was not real estate ... Continue reading this article…

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Debt Help

by Luke Landes

From MSN Money and Bankrate.com, 15 signs you need help with your debt. Seek help from a credit counselor if you do: Any trip to a credit counselor should be preceded by a thorough analysis of your family’s personal finances: how much money you have saved, how much you owe, how much you have coming ... Continue reading this article…

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Fix Up Your Home to Increase Value?

by Luke Landes

An article at The Motley Fool points out the ineffectiveness of making improvements around your home to “increase its value.” It may be worthwhile in some instances, but it’s rare for the value of your home to increase in value the same amount it costs to make the improvement. So if you find yourself with ... Continue reading this article…

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Losing a Job?

by Luke Landes

If you find yourself laid off, Here are some tips from The Motley Fool that can help you in your preparations and in your negotiations at your next corporate job.

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Fed Moves Up

by Luke Landes

You may have heard that the Federal Reserve Bank (aka. The Fed) has raised its interest rate by one quarter percentage point to 2 percent. (Another way of saying one quarter percentage point is 25 basis points—a “basis point” is a hundredth of a percentage point.) Digressing for a second, I should clear up any confusion ... Continue reading this article…

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Above Average

by Luke Landes

It doesn’t always feel good to know you’re above—way above—average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, who just released the results of their National Compensation Survey, the average annual health insurance premium for singles is $810.84. I enrolled in my 2005 medical and dental plans last night. For medical I chose the least expensive ... Continue reading this article…

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Win Ben Stein’s Advice

by Luke Landes

I am going to make this really simple. It is fine to have no money when you’re young. It is not fine to have no money when you’re old. It is even fun to be poor when you’re in college or right out of it. But to be retired and in your 70′s and not ... Continue reading this article…

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Better Than The Bare Minimum

by Luke Landes

The Lazy Man’s Guide to Retirement (from CNN Money) lists five easy steps for those who don’t want to expend energy and still be able to retire. Here are the five steps: Think about how you want to live when you retire Take advantage of your 401(k) or a similar investment account Use automatic contributions ... Continue reading this article…

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My Latest Statement

by Luke Landes

I checked my credit card statement online today and discovered that my APR has increased from 11.7 percent to 14.7 percent. Now, I don’t think I’ve paid a finance charge in several years because I pay my balance off every month, but still the change disturbed me slightly. I sent a note to customer service asking for ... Continue reading this article…

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Travel Savings

by Luke Landes

Liz Pulliam Weston explains through an article on MSN Money how travelers can save money. She suggests, for frequent travelers, to build loyalty to a specific airline with good benefits rather than always shop for the lowest price. I only fly about three or four times a year at the most, so I can’t say ... Continue reading this article…

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Into The Woodses

by Luke Landes

Once again, here’s another Millionaire in the Making story where most of the money is based on property ownership. One of their properties, a condominium, was foreclosed when their broker found it for them. That’s a great way to save some money in many cases. I like the fact the couple met online. That’s more ... Continue reading this article…

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Post-Election Update

by Luke Landes

Like the rest of the country, I am dealing with the aftermath of the presidential election. The stock market rallied for the day after the elections, but it’s probably more of a response to the fact the election was over quickly, not a response to specifically the guy who won. While we could think about ... Continue reading this article…

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