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

August 2005

Hurricane Katrina

This article was written by in Charity. Comments Off


While it’s impossible to truthfully claim that everything has been said about the disaster that was Hurricane Katrina, there certainly has been an incredible amount of discussion on and offline. Rather than repeating what surely everyone has heard by now, I’d rather just point any giving-minded readers towards what I think is the best starting point, the Katrina Help Wiki. Another good starting point is nola.com (The Times-Picayune Online).

Before making any monetary donations to an organization, make sure you have done sufficient research. There are people trying to make a couple bucks off other people’s tragedy. Be aware of the existence of scams before signing the check or clicking the “Paypal Donate!” button.

Any investment account at a brokerage usually has an associated cash account in which proceeds from sales and dividends are deposited, usually in the form of a money market fund. According to this free Wall Street Journal article, investment banks are purposely moving investors’ cash funds into accounts that earn less than typical money market funds. This, of course, allows the banks to make more money off your account.

The good news is that there are options. Many brokerages allow you to request better accounts for holding cash. For example, the default option at E*Trade is to keep your cash in a deposit account earning 0.40% interest. They do, however, offer tax-exempt money market funds yielding up to 1.57%. That rate may not compete with the likes of Capital One 360 and Emigrant Direct after taxes (I haven’t done any calculations), but it is certainly a more favorable option than the default sweep account offered.

Did you know that you can easily get a $25 credit on your Verizon Wireless phone bill? I don’t recall seeing it advertised anywhere, but if a new customer lists an existing customer as a someone who referred him or her to the company, the existing customer will receive $25 to be used towards their next bill. I’ve confirmed that my $25 bonus for referring a friend is listed on my newest statement.

As home prices have risen, so have broker commissions. Thus, many home sellers are deciding to go the do-it-yourself route. There’s an informative article on CNN with some tips for those who want to avoid spending thousands of dollars unnecessarily.

The big question is of course whether the commission savings are higher than the savings one might get my having a broker fight hard for a good price, if they in fact do that. Needless to say, selling your own home would be a lot of work if you wanted to do it right.

Instead of selling a home, I’m selling books online (most of which readers here will not be interested). I’m up to almost $100 in sales after Amazon fees.

Government Seizes Valuable Coins

by Luke Landes

Several coins created by the U.S. Mint in 1933, worth about $1 million apiece, were seized by the government. The double eagles, originally worth $20, are highly valued because they were never circulated. A few years ago, one sold for $7.59 million, but that one coin is also the only 1933 double eagle legal to ... Continue reading this article…

6 comments Read the full article →

Housing Boom Will Simmer

by Luke Landes

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan commented a few nights ago: Nearer term, the housing boom will inevitably simmer down. As part of that process, house turnover will decline from currently historic levels, while home price increases will slow and prices could even decrease. As a consequence, home equity extraction will ease and with it some ... Continue reading this article…

4 comments Read the full article →

Carnival #11

by Luke Landes

The latest Carnival of Personal Finance has been published at the new location for AllThingsFinancial. My post about selling books online has been featured this week. Also, my estimation of yearly gasoline expenses has been included in the latest Carnival of the Capitalists.

Read the full article →

Free Credit Reports Now Available!

by Luke Landes

The rest of the country was given this benefit at varying times earlier this year, but it finally has come to the east coast. I was going to wait until September 1, the official “release date,” but as MyMoneyBlog noted, the floodgates have opened a few days early. I’m talking of course about free credit ... Continue reading this article…

Read the full article →

Weblogs, Inc.’s Blogger Contract

by Luke Landes

Yesterday I mentioned that Weblogs, Inc. is rumored to be preparing a personal finance blog. Here’s a look at the contract that the corporation uses when hiring bloggers (as independent contractors). Here are some highlights: * Bloggers are paid $4 per post, with a maximum of $500 per month. * All published writing is property ... Continue reading this article…

12 comments Read the full article →

Hawaiian Gas Caps

by Luke Landes

When we talk about gas caps, we are usually referring to the round knob that you remove when you stop to fill up your tank and sometimes forget to replace before driving away. But there’s a new kind of gas cap in the Aloha State. Hawaiians have now been assured by law that they will ... Continue reading this article…

Read the full article →

Derivatives, The Future of Investing?

by Luke Landes

CNN Money is featuring an article discussing derivative investments, in particular, investments designed for the small investor to hedge his or her bets. HedgeStreet is a company that lets people speculate on economic events, such as gas prices hitting $3.00 by a certain date. This hedge, for instance, might be good for someone with a ... Continue reading this article…

4 comments Read the full article →

Some Changes

by Luke Landes

If you visit Consumerism Commentary (rather than reading from an RSS feed reader), you may notice some changes to the appearance. I’m working on making the web site more standards compliant, although perfect compliance is impossible due to the Adsense ads. There will continue to be some changes as I find time to implement them.

4 comments Read the full article →

Online MBAs Making the Grade

by Luke Landes

A few months ago, I asked if Master of Business Administration degrees are worthwhile. The conversation that ensued began to focus primarily on those MBAs of the online variety, one of which I am currently pursuing at mostly my company’s expense. Business Week has also evaluated the merits of an MBA from an online program. ... Continue reading this article…

Read the full article →

New Personal Finance Blog on the Horizon?

by Luke Landes

Weblogs, Inc. will apparently be starting a personal finance blog, most likely with the hopes of generating ad revenue. I’ll be keeping my eyes open to see what direction their blog takes. It makes sense; personal finance blogs have received some friendly press from the Wall Street Journal print and online editions lately. A smart ... Continue reading this article…

4 comments Read the full article →

Outrageous CEO Compensation

by Luke Landes

We’ve all heard the reasons (sometimes excuses) for the fact that many CEOs are compensated orders of magnitude higher than the working class or middle management. Perhaps sometimes the justifications have merit. How about when corporate profitability or performance has plunged under a CEO’s guidance? Here is MSN Money’s list of the most outrageous offenders: ... Continue reading this article…

4 comments Read the full article →

Contrarian Attitude to Investing

by Luke Landes

I don’t normally read Charles E. Kirk but I do have The Kirk Report in my RSS feed reader, so once in a while, I might come across something in which I find myself very interested. Today, Charles mentioned an article he wrote more than a year and a half ago called Walking a Stock ... Continue reading this article…

2 comments Read the full article →

How Much Will I Spend On Gas This Year?

by Luke Landes

I’m in the mood for some calculations. I paid $2.47 per gallon for gasoline last night. What will it cost me to drive to work this year, assuming $2.50 is the average I’ll pay? I drive 80 miles to and from work (combined) each day. To make the calculation easy, let’s say each year I ... Continue reading this article…

3 comments Read the full article →

Saving Up For The Next Vacation

by Luke Landes

I don’t have any concrete plans for another vacation, but I did take a step to organize my funds for a trip of some sort. Normally, I throw whatever change I have left in my pocket at the end of the day into a jar. (However, I do keep quarters separate since I need them ... Continue reading this article…

1 comment Read the full article →

Carnival #10

by Luke Landes

It’s hard to believe we’re already in the double digits. Carnival of Personal Finance #10 has been posted on Frugal for Life with 26 submissions. The article I submitted deals with one way to waste time and money. Many wonderful articles are featured this week, so make sure you check them out.

Read the full article →

Selling Used Books (and Other Items) on Amazon.com

by Luke Landes

I’ve decided to clean out my apartment a small amount by selling some used books on Amazon.com. Most are college textbooks that have been sitting around for quite a while. I’m writing about this here for two reasons. First of all, I’ll track my experience selling on Amazon.com. Secondly, maybe there are readers of this ... Continue reading this article…

10 comments Read the full article →
Page 1 of 3123