As featured in The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, and more!

February 2005

Grease The Maitre d’

This article was written by in Consumer. Comments Off


Marshall Loeb from CBS Moneywatch has published an article explaining how to properly “grease,” that is, tip in advance to ensure special service.

His “tips” for discreet tipping:

* Talk to the person in power.
* Speak privately instead of in front of other customers.
* Fold the bill with the denomination clearly visible by the tipee.
* Sincerely thank the person in advance.

Elsewhere in CBS Marketwatch, Jon Friedman complains about blogs. Not necessarily personal finance blogs, but those whose writers tend to think they’re part of a new media revolution.

What My Future May Hold

This article was written by in Education. 8 comments.

A few weeks ago, I took the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). My “career” hasn’t had much direction lately, so I’m considering changing course. Since I probably won’t have a decent enough test score to get into the top schools, I figure it’s best to save money and go for one less expensive and in-state, such as Rutgers School of Law. Alternatively, I may decide to move out to California or some other place not New Jersey, whether I choose to go to law school or not.

This is just an idea I’ve been kicking around lately and I’ll have to completely commit myself to the education if I choose to follow through. I’ve always had so many varied interests, it’s been hard for me to settle on one and turn it into a “career.” I suppose having many interests and talents, while a great quality I’m happy to have, makes it difficult to focus and thus hard to get ahead on any one path.

For example, last year I stopped working in the corporate world to teach in a high school, only to come back to the same corporation when the program was cut back in the fall.

My dissatisfaction with my current job keeps growing and I have a hard time dealing with the fact that the work that I do makes very little use of the things at which I excel. And I’m certainly not getting ahead financially. Maybe law school is the answer. I could take a law degree and have many options for an interesting career.

ING Direct Moves Up

This article was written by in Saving. 4 comments.

Perhaps ING Direct has been feeling the heat from competitors. Today the online bank raised the interest rate offered on its savings account from 2.35% to 2.6%. The rate is still below Emigrant Direct, but I’ll still stick with ING for now.

ING also offers referral bonuses; if I refer you through email to open an account with them, you’ll receive a bonus $25 and I’ll receive $10.

New Coins

This article was written by in Coin Collecting. Comments Off

The new nickels will be put into circulation on February 28. They feature a close-up of Thomas Jefferson and I can’t say that I’m a fan of the new design. The reverse contains a new engraving of a bison.

On March 3, the U.S. Mint will begin offering their standard 2005 proof coin set, a few days ahead of schedule. The sets make nice gifts for people who enjoy coins.

Saving Money With New Twins in the House

by Luke Landes

CNN Money profiled a family that needed to put more effort into saving after the motehr gave birth to twins. Some of their tactics include borrowing movies from the library instead of Blockbuster, getting haircuts and exercise at local colleges instead of salons and clubs, and shopping for groceries at superstores. By the way, they ... Continue reading this article…

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Luxuries You Can Live Without

by Luke Landes

M.P. Dunleavey adds this commentary on MSN Money. She talks about “luxury” products that draw the attention of middle-class individuals to help them feel like they have a wealthy lifestyle. One of her points is that the premium paid for a high end item very rarely justifies the price difference. Dunleavey includes examples of various ... Continue reading this article…

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Professional Blogger

by Luke Landes

Jason Kottke is leaving his full-time job to devote himself completely to his blog. He won’t be making money through advertising, he’ll be relying on the goodwill of visitors to pitch in. His basic donation is $30 and I’m sure he won’t have a problem finding 1,000 people to donate that much money. Is it ... Continue reading this article…

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Bonus Update

by Luke Landes

On a personal note, I received my bonus last week and it was a bit lower than I expected. I’m in a non-management position, so I get paid for overtime but I generaly expect a non-impressive bonus compared to most. I have to consider that I wasn’t at the company for a while last year ... Continue reading this article…

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Sweet Credit Card Deals

by Luke Landes

This article from MSN Money is warning the readers of those sweet-sounding credit card offers, such as 0 percent interest for the life of a transferred balance. Their tips: Clarify the deal. You may have to make a purchase every month, and if you do, your payments go towards the transferred balance first. Be suspicious of ... Continue reading this article…

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Social Security Calculator

by Luke Landes

Chuck Schumer, the senator from New York, put up a fancy Social Security benefits calculator on his website. This calculator shows how much today’s workers will likely receive for their annual benefits if Bush’s proposed plan is pushed through. Here’s a hint: your combined benefit of both the government and private portion will be lower ... Continue reading this article…

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Annual Review

by Luke Landes

It’s annual review and bonus time at my company. I have my performance review meeting with my boss in about in hour, and luckilly this article caught my attention beforehand. Now I’m in a good mood, which is more than what could be said after finding out my bonus number this morning. Perhaps I’ll have ... Continue reading this article…

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Affluent Shop at Discount Stores

by Luke Landes

According to a new survey commissioned by Visa, high income earners, those with a household income of more than $125,000, are more likely to clip coupons and shop at discount stores than the general population. Also, ninety percent of those households think of themselves as middle-class or upper-middle-class rather than affluent. If being in the ... Continue reading this article…

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Spending Wisely

by Luke Landes

CNN profiled Holly Ordway, creator of SpendingWisely.com. Basically, she saves as much money as possible without a strict budget. She and her husband manage to live on only $30,000 of their six-figure household income. It’s easy for people with a high income to tell others how simple it is to save money and spend wisely. ... Continue reading this article…

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Housing Market Update

by Luke Landes

According to the National Association of Realtors, Florida had some nice gains in real estate values between the fourth quarter of 2003 and the fourth quarter of 2004, but Las Vegas, Nevada is on top. Here’s the full chart.

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Lose Your Job Over Blogging

by Luke Landes

There’s been a story in the news lately about an individual who worked for Google and was fired for having a blog. I think what a lot of people seem to misunderstand is that it’s not the fact that he had a blog that got him fired, it was the fact that conducted himself inappropriately ... Continue reading this article…

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It Helps to Call

by Luke Landes

I noticed today that the bank where I hold my checking and one savings account, Wachovia, charged me a service fee of $15. Regular readers may remember that the discount brokerage department of the same corporation charged me a yearly fee last November, but this time the situation was different. According to their rules, I ... Continue reading this article…

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Paper Currency Photographs

by Luke Landes

Have a lot of time on your hands? Spend it perusing through the image gallery of paper currency. Many different countries are represented by photographs or scans of various bank notes. I don’t suggest printing any of the images on glossy paper to take with you for use when traveling to the represented location.

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Made a 401(k) Contribution Change

by Luke Landes

I changed the contribution rate to my 401(k) today. Previously 12 percent of my pretax income was being diverted to the 401(k) despite only 4 percent of my income being matched by the employer. I reduced the rate from 12 percent to 4 percent so I could still get the complete company match while allowing me more cash. This ... Continue reading this article…

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Credit Card Rates Up

by Luke Landes

Selena Maranjian from The Motley Fool writes about credit card rates going up in an article aptly titled, How to Owe $40,000 by Doing Nothing. She includes tables showing just how damaging having a 40 percent APR on your credit can be. That’s a pretty high rate, and apparently it’s a more common penalty rate for ... Continue reading this article…

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Financial or Marital Bliss

by Luke Landes

An ever-growing body of research shows that most of us adapt quickly to improvements in our finances; we simply learn to covet a higher class of goods. But the happiness-inducing qualities of a solid marriage last and last. That’s a quotation from this special report from CNN Money. The summary is simple: If you want ... Continue reading this article…

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