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April 2005

Two Stories On The Web

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Tracy Harger, a recovering mutual fund addict, tells her story of how she became a junkie and how show finally broke her habit. Moral: just like other vices, everything can be acceptable in moderation.

Amy Chan Hilton and Edgar Hilton have or are finishing their doctorates in engineering and currently have a combined income of $140,000. They are on their way to becoming millionaires through their savings, investments and a plan to retire when they become 40 in less than ten years. They’re avid savers but manage to live a good life from the sound of it.

More Changes

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As I’m getting ready to post my financial reports for April, I’m making some changes to my accounting methods. I would like to get this information out in the open in case anyone has any questions or suggestions ahead of time. This would allow me to make changes if necessary, but I think everything’s going to be okay.
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Unaffected by the failure of the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin to come the “dollar of the future” as expected in the 1970s and by the failure of the Sacagawea dollar coin to be used for anything at all in the last six years, Congress is taking another stab — this time, at dead presidents.

Compared to the past dollar coin efforts, the state quarters have been wildly successful, mostly due to collectors who hoard the coins and keep them out of circulation. The state quarter initiative involves the release of five new quarter dollar coin designs every year for ten years, 1999 throuh 2008.

The new Presidential Dollar Coin Act will introduce two new dollar coin designs every year. Each design will feature a past POTUS, whether dead or alive (but mostly dead). Congress is counting on collectors getting into the game; the cost of minting a coin is well below its face value, so the US Mint makes money when people collect.

Car Prices Going Up?

This article was written by in Consumer. Comments Off

While doing research for an article for Business Week, Amey Stone has come to the conclusion that car prices are on the way up. Incentives are running out, and makers can’t squeeze any more savings out of their operational processes.

She makes an interesting point in an entry on her weblog, Well Spent: … 10 years ago it took the average worker 30 weeks to pay for a car, but it takes just 20 weeks today.

Interestingly enough, the price of the car I purchased last year (a new 2004 Honda Civic LX) was within $1,000 of 20 weeks of my salary at my current job. This confirms what my boss has known all along: I’m an average worker.

Emigrant Direct Limiting Features

by Luke Landes

You may remember that I opened an account at Emigrant Direct to take advantage of their 3.25 percent APY. I received a letter today from the bank explaining that they are limiting one of their features. The letter states: As of Monday, May 23, 2005, EmigrantDirect.com will no longer accept additional deposits to the American Dream ... Continue reading this article…

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Student Loan Consolidation

by Luke Landes

Most people are predicting that interest rates on student loans will go up on July 1. It might make sense for people with these loans to consolidate before the rate increase. I still have a small portion left over from my undergraduate degree but I’ve also begun accumulating a balance from my graduate degree, 90 percent ... Continue reading this article…

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Back To Reality

by Luke Landes

This weekend, I arrived home from my California Vacation. It wasn’t exactly a Griswold farce, but the week had its share of zany moments. Now I’m back to reality — New Jersey — and things aren’t looking good: * The stock market hasn’t exactly been working in investors’ favor this year. * Mathew Emmert from ... Continue reading this article…

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Paperless Checking at ING Direct

by Luke Landes

I just visited my account online at ING Direct and was presented with a survey. They are considering rolling out a new product: Paperless Checking (or “Electric Orange”). The gist of it is it can be used for online bill pay and still earn a good rate for checking accounts. The survey mentioned that ING ... Continue reading this article…

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Joshua Tree

by Luke Landes

In the interest of posting more personal information, I’d like to share my experience at Joshua Tree National Park. From what I understand, due to the rain the desert is the lushest it has been in many years. I’ve been told I’m very lucky to have experienced the desert at the time I did. This ... Continue reading this article…

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Getting House-Purchasing Help From Parents

by Luke Landes

Many people I know are buying or have bought their first houses with help from their relatives. It’s great that parents and grandparents are able to help the new buyers out with getting their feet in the door that leads to a great wealth-building opportunity. There are, of course, some issues to consider if you ... Continue reading this article…

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401(k) Getting Whacked By The Market?

by Luke Landes

I’m sitting in a suite at the Renaissance Esmerelda in Indian Wells, California, not far from Palm Springs. It’s great to get away from reality for a few days, especially when family is covering the bill. I’ll be heading back to the Orange County area tomorrow, and back home to New Jersey on Saturday. I ... Continue reading this article…

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Off to Sunny California

by Luke Landes

In one hour, I’ll be leaving for southern California, where I’ll visit family and stay at Joshua Tree. Unfortunately, some of my time on vacation will be spent online since I’m in the middle of a course (Operations Management) for my master’s degree. I may end up blogging after all, but updates will be sporadic.

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Best. Deduction. Ever.

by Luke Landes

Marketplace is a mini radio show on National Public Radio. They air for a few minutes in the morning and a half an hour in the evening, after the markets have closed for the day. The program offers financial news and tends to have interesting discussions about the economy. As we’re coming down to the ... Continue reading this article…

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Friendly IRA Reminder

by Luke Landes

The deadline for funding IRAs for 2004 is coming up at the end of the week. If you haven’t maxed out your 2004 Roth IRA at $3,000 ($3,500 for anyone over 50 years old) then you have less than 72 hours to do so. At the same time, think about fully funding your 2005 Roth ... Continue reading this article…

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Wachovia Fees Going Up Again

by Luke Landes

Last September, I posted about Wachovia adding a $50 annual fee to its individual investor discount brokerage account. I was disappointed I couldn’t get it waived, so I decided that I would transfer my funds out in 2005 before getting charged another annual fee in September. The account termination fee was $75, so I’d be ... Continue reading this article…

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Your Looks Affect Your Income

by Luke Landes

After education and experience are factored out, good-looking, tall people simply make more — 5 percent more — than average-looking individuals. This study was released by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Not only did they discover that beautiful people make more than average, but below-average looks carry a 9 percent penalty. There could ... Continue reading this article…

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Buy a Toyota Prius New or Used

by Luke Landes

According to USA Today and Kelley Blue Book, a used 2004 or 2005 Toyota Prius can sell for $1,000 to $3,000 more than a new Prius. There is a waiting list for new Toyota Priuses, so those who want one right away are willing to pay a little more for instant gratification. The USA Today ... Continue reading this article…

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New RSS Feed and Audio Feed

by Luke Landes

I am now using FeedBurner to generate Consumerism Commentary’s RSS feed. If you already subscribe, you will see no change since the feeds are autoamtically redirected. I’ve also begun adding audio clips to some blog entries. They can be downloaded directly from this site or you can subscribe to them. They function as podcasts so ... Continue reading this article…

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How To Blog Safely

by Luke Landes

The Electronic Frontier Foundation — you might remember them as the group behind the Blue Ribbon Campaign if you were writing formative blogs or other websites in 1997 — have published an important article for people who write online. The organization exists to protect fundamental rights regardless of the technolog involved. Specifically, those of us ... Continue reading this article…

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You Would Think They Would Have Negotiated

by Luke Landes

Eric Schmidt, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the co-founders of Google, have agreed to take a pay cut. In 2004, they each had been earning a six-figure salary, but during the second quarter they decided to reduce their salaries to $1. The company’s compensation committee offered to give them raises this year, but the co-founders ... Continue reading this article…

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