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

March 2005


In New York and New Jersey, more than one out of every 25 workers has a commute of 90 minutes or more. The Census Bureau released its report on commuting yesterday, and the New York Times picked up the story.

The chart to the right shows the top commutation times by state, and inside the report you can find more interesting statistics.

My commute is 60 to 70 minutes in the morning but usually less at night since I often stay at the office late, especially towards the beginning and end of each month. In fact, I left at about 8:00 last night.

Here’s a New York fact: Among the 10 counties with the highest average commuting times, the highest percentages of extreme commuters [with drive times over 90 minutes] were found in the New York City metro area: Richmond, N.Y. (11.8 percent); Orange, N.Y. (10.0 percent); Queens, N.Y. (7.1 percent); Bronx, N.Y. (6.9 percent); Nassau, N.Y., (6.6 percent); and Kings, N.Y. (5.0).

What about shortest commutes? Worker bees in Corpus Christi, Texas commute an average of 16.1 minutes.

Gothamist answers this question:

My parents are always bugging me about renting an apartment in New York City, saying I am throwing money out the window by renting and that I should buy a place[...] They’ve offered to help me with a down payment, but is it really a good idea?

Janine Papp answers the question and takes a Wall Street Journal article into account. She goes as far as to suggest that people should wait until they have the money for the down payment rather than accept help from others. I wouldn’t mind hearing readers’ opinions on that topic.

Check Your Notices

This article was written by in Credit. 2 comments.

When a credit card company with which you have a card sends a letter in a thin envelope, it’s best to read it. Likely, the company is notifying you of changes within the terms of the agreement. (The thicker envelopes are usually new card offers and unless it’s a great deal, it’s best to shred that junk mail.) According to an article from The Motley Fool, two credit issues are set to change their terms.

Bank of America and Wachovia (one of my credit card issuers and my checking bank) are raising their minimum monthly payment from 2% to 4% of the balance. People who have budgeted $150 per month for paying off these credit cards will now have to budget $300 per month to avoid fees.

With credit card interest rates as high as they are, it’s best to stay away from carrying a balance. I use my credit card to pay for almost all of my expenses, but I pay the entire balance off every month. On top of that, my card offers a cash-back rebate which is paid to me by check; in fact, I should shortly be receiving a $200 check for purchases over the last nine months or so.

More on 401(k) Borrowing

This article was written by in Investing. 8 comments.

Following up on the topic of 401(k) loans, which was discussed here, there is a new article on CNN Money by Walter Updegrave. This article compares a scenario for two options: borrowing $40,000 through a 401(k) loan and borrowing the same amount through a home equity line of credit. Assuming the two options are available to an individual in need, one comes out better when exercising the home equity line option.

Here’s their calculation:
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Six-Figure Yentl

by Luke Landes

If you’re looking for a career change with six-figure possibilities, consider becoming a professional matchmaker. You’ll be providing a sought-after service for other professionals who don’t have time to meet new people. There are many differences between matchmaking and dating services, but are they worth the big bucks? I could use the service, sure. It’s ... Continue reading this article…

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Luke Landes, An Introduction

by Luke Landes

I’ve had many new returning visitors to Consumerism Commentary over the past couple of months, so I think it is only fair to formally introduce myself. I’ve updated this introduction in December 2013, although it was originally published in 2005. On this site and in this context, I originally called myself Flexo. I appropriated the ... Continue reading this article…

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Predicting Markets

by Luke Landes

Neville is writing about predicting the markets. Are the markets predictable? What were people predicting in 1930 and 1940, and were those predictions accurate? I was researching these questions and I came across a paper by Felix Stalder, a PhD Student at the University of Toronto, entitled The Nature of Financial Networks. It’s an interesting ... Continue reading this article…

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Dave and Annie Hall, Future Millionaires

by Luke Landes

CNN Money has yet another profile of a couple, Dave and Annie Hall, on their way to $1M in net worth. The couple’s income is $120,000 and they budget wiseley. Much of their net worth is in their home and other investment property, which is the same story shared by many of the subjects of ... Continue reading this article…

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Investing Scams

by Luke Landes

CNN Money is running a story about the most popular investment scams. Similar stories are being run on MSN Money and Bankrate as well. In fact, the story is everywhere. Here are the top ten scams, as measured by the North American Securities Administrators Association. The links below provide more information on each of these ... Continue reading this article…

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Emigrant Direct Account Opening

by Luke Landes

As you may know, I am in the process of opening a savings account with Emigrant Direct, an on-line bank currently offering an interest rate yielding 3.25 percent. On March 15 I posted about my experience with a customer service representative at the aforementioned bank. That was three days after I began the process of ... Continue reading this article…

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Should You Borrow From Your 401(k)?

by Luke Landes

Borrowing from your 401(k) is generally a bad idea. There are some positive aspects of doing so, however. It’s a nice option to have if you are stuck with no other choices. Here are some of the drawbacks, as mentioned by Lewis Schiff from the Armchair Millionaire. The money you take out of your 401(k) ... Continue reading this article…

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ING Direct Savings Rate Up

by Luke Landes

ING Direct now offers a 2.8 percent APY on their savings accounts, up 20 basis points. This rate is still well below the one offered by Emigrant Direct for that bank’s no fee, no minimum balance savings account. You may want to consider ING Direct’s certificates of deposit if you don’t mind not touching your ... Continue reading this article…

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The Future for Investors

by Luke Landes

I’m not looking to make a quick million through my investments. Sure, it would be nice, but I have realistic expectations. If you’re investing for the long term like I am, you might want to read this interview with Jeremy Siegel. He has some interesting insights about what investment strategy has performed the best in ... Continue reading this article…

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Stock Market Down

by Luke Landes

The Nasdaq composite sank to a new low for the year Friday and stocks lost ground for the second straight week as investors dealt with rising oil prices and long-term interest rates. (From CNN Money.) To me this says Keep On Investing. I’m in it for the long haul. My investments are all long-term, and ... Continue reading this article…

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Retail Alphabet Game

by Luke Landes

Here’s something fun for Friday. The Retail Alphabet Game gives a player the alphabet, with each letter coming from a different brand logo. See if you can guess the brand belonging to the letter. Note that the only official way to receive a clue is to buy one from the author.

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Score a Good Hotel Rate

by Luke Landes

MSN Money often recycles older personal finance articles for its front page. I don’t really mind since I might have missed one in the past. They don’t date their articles so you never know when something was originally posted. They are featuring an article on finding deals on hotel rooms. They give some examples, but ... Continue reading this article…

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Money Magazine

by Luke Landes

Have you perused the first issue of the reformulated Money Magazine? I had a chance to do so this morning. It’s been a while since I have read a magazine. The full page ads were nostalgic; they brought me back to the time I read Sports Illustrated as a young teenager. I remember convincing my ... Continue reading this article…

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My Investments

by Luke Landes

In the interest of full disclosure, I might as well give you a a peek into the investing side of my net worth. Roth IRA Invested in the TIAA-Cref Equity Index [TCEIX], directly with TIAA-Cref. The fund invests in the stocks listed in the Russell 3000 Index. It has a low expense ratio of 0.26 percent, ... Continue reading this article…

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Another Wasted Day

by Luke Landes

The theme for today is apparently working at the office, considering this post and the previous about bad bosses. According to calculations from a survey conducted by Microsoft, a five-day work week contains only three days of productivity, on average. What were the biggest time wasters? Ineffective meetings, lack of communication, unclear objectives and priorities, ... Continue reading this article…

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Dealing With a Bad Boss

by Luke Landes

Not that this has peronsal relevance, but Gerri Willis from CNN Money offers five tips for managing your manager. * Determine what it is you really don’t like. * Hold regular meetings and think about your manager’s career goals as well as your own. * Don’t be afraid to let the manager know about your ... Continue reading this article…

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