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.