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September 2005

Friday’s Articles [redirected]

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Sometimes, excessive bargain hunting defeats the purpose of saving money. Sometimes, when shopping around to save a few dollars, you expend two important, valuable things: gas and time. MSN Money suggest shopping smart.

Consumer spending in August fell, as did incomes. Blame it on Katrina if you want.

More on hedge funds: They’re not all that wonderful. Once the hedge-fund world is demystified, we find that it’s not all that different from other parts of the investment-advisory world. In other words, it includes a few very smart people who possess genuine ability to beat the market over the long term — and many who do not.

The article from MarketWatch suggests building your own hedge fund, and proposes a hedged portfolio built out of advice from top newsletters has as good a chance of succeeding as an average hedge fund.

One Google Adsense Tip

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This is a tip I came across for web publishers who use Google Adsense. Adsense serves ads based on the content of the website in which they are included. If you’re finding that the ads served to your website are not relevant most of the time, you might want to incorporate these lines into your pages:

<!-- google_ad_section_start -->

<!–– google_ad_section_end ––>

(Don’t copy and paste, I had to use special en-dash symbols rather than hyphens to get that to display correctly.)

Anything in between those two lines will be taken into consideration when Google attempts to determine which ads are best suited for the site. Also, you may restrict a certain section of text within the website from being considered. That is done by adding (weight=ignore) to the start tag:

<!–– google_ad_section_start(weight=ignore) ––>

This technique is called section targeting and Google has more information on the topic.

Delinquencies Increase

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CNN is reporting that according to the American Bankers Association, delinquencies on credit cards (and other loans) have reached an all-time high. Taking a step back, it feels good to realize that I’m not included in these statistics. It has now been a while since I’ve been financially irresponsible. Sure, I make mistakes sometimes, such as timing a transfer poorly and being slapped with an overdraft charge. But it’s good to know I have my finances in control.

I should be thinking about taking it to the next step. I have an informal budget, but it’s more of the ex post facto sort. Also, I’ve never really set financial goals because I’ve been unsure of my capabilities. On the other hand, it’s time.

I’m setting a deadline of October 31. By Halloween, I’ll have some long term goals worked out and a specific budget designed to rein in some of my excess spending. Shorter term goals will show up during November and December while planning 2006.

CNN suggests the following checks to make sure you’re not too deep into carrying credit card balances:

* You can only afford to make minimum payments on your credit card;
* You’re always short of cash;
* You’re late on important payments, such as rent or the mortgage;
* You take longer and longer to pay off your balances;
* You borrow from one lender to pay another.

Savings Account Interest Rates Updated

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The table of savings and checking account interest rates has been updated to include some moves by Presidential, UFB Direct, and Virtual Bank.

And Here They Are

by Luke Landes

As promised, here is the new design for the $10 bill, issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. There’s a good amount of information available on the new security features. While I believe there’s no harm in having artistic (or at least colorful) money, not everyone agrees.

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Save Some Money On Gas

by Luke Landes

Last week people were sounding the warning alarm for $5 gas at the pump. I didn’t echo the thought here because at the time on the surface it seemed somewhat reactionary. But some people are still claiaming we could shortly reach that… maybe. Compare these two CNN articles. First, Rita could equal $5 gas, written ... Continue reading this article…

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Good Donation Motivation

by Luke Landes

Brian Wilson, the genius musician behind The Beach Boys, is offering to personally call any individual who donates $100 or more to a certain foundation supporting Katrina relief efforts. Here’s my challenge, for anyone who sends Jerry a donation of $100.00 or more, I will call you personally and answer a question that you may ... Continue reading this article…

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Implosion of the Blogosphere

by Luke Landes

While browsing the latest Carnival of the Capitalists, I found a great article on the topic of the blogosphere, very critical of the blog “networks” (Weblogs, Inc. and Gawker for example). The premise is that with any business idea with such a low barrier to entry will never be able to sustain profits (ie., from ... Continue reading this article…

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New $10 Bill Design Coming

by Luke Landes

There’s a new design coming for the $10 bill. There will be an announcement later this week in which the Department of the Treasury will release the new look. I like the idea of varying the designs on currency.

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More Carnivals

by Luke Landes

Consumerism Commentary has also been featured this week in the Carnival of Capitalists and the Carnival of Debt Reduction, with the entries Raise Your Credit Score and Free Credit Reports.

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Thinking About Changing Jobs?

by Luke Landes

The Wall Street Journal is offering a free article on evaluating motivation before changing jobs. The article doesn’t give much advice other some throw-away lines from career advisors, it just chronicles the stories of two individuals who recently made the decision to take a turn in the woods and forge a new career path. “The ... Continue reading this article…

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Carnival of Personal Finance is Up

by Luke Landes

The latest Carnival of Personal Finance is online at Free Money Finance. My blog entry on Medical Billing Errors is included. Check out the Carnival if you have a chance, and discover some new bloggers — and some great posts by familiar bloggers such as the spirited discussion on the black market of CDs.

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Fly In The Face

by Luke Landes

The New York Times proves that in many expensive areas of the country (California, northeast U.S., etc.), it can be much better (financially speaking) to rent rather than to buy the same dwelling. After five years in which rents have barely budged while house prices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and elsewhere have doubled, ... Continue reading this article…

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It’s Not What You Make, It’s What You Spend. Whaa?

by Luke Landes

A little tidbit gurus like to throw around is the first part of the phrase in the title of this entry. The second part is the sound Seth Green uttered as the voice of the character Chris Griffin in the new episode of Family Guy that was on earlier tonight. “It’s not what you make, ... Continue reading this article…

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Are You An Investor Or Speculator?

by Luke Landes

Mark Cuban has presented an editorial on the differences between investing and speculating. He proposes that investors no longer exist and the vast majority of those in the market are speculators. He concludes with his own opinion about how corporate profits distributed to shareholders should be taxed. True investors in businesses would not be taxed, ... Continue reading this article…

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Do You Want to Be On This List?

by Luke Landes

Forbes is profiling the 400 richest Americans. MSN Money has a good summary of the list, as well. There are five Waltons in the top ten. If you wanted to be on the list this year, you would have had to have cracked $900 million. Maybe next year.

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An Actual CitiBank Credit Card Improvement

by Luke Landes

With all the talk about CitiBank’s limitations in its online payment services, I neglected to mention an actual improvement that I noticed through the ordeal. (Luckilly, they sent an reminder of the new feature via email.) In the past, when users went to pay their credit card bill online, CitiBank would process the payment immediately. ... Continue reading this article…

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ING Direct Proffers a Weak Attempt

by Luke Landes

ING Direct raised its interest rate for its savings account today to 3.4 percent APY. It’s a very weak move in response to Emigrant Direct upping its savings interest yield from 3.5 percent to 4.0 percent. I expect the other online banks will also raise their rates. By the way, you can always find a collection of the ... Continue reading this article…

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Super Unleaded for the Price of Regular

by Luke Landes

I stopped at my favorite cheap gas station on the way home from work today. I wanted to fill my tank in case the prices go up overnight due to Rita. Apparently the station that was out of gas earlier was out of regular unleaded today. They were giving away super unleaded at regular prices. ... Continue reading this article…

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Raise Your FICO Credit Score

by Luke Landes

You may have been offered a credit score when you took advantage of the free credit report offer. CNN is offering tips for boosting that score. But first a note. Often, credit scores offered by the credit reporting agency are not true FICO scores — the ones mortgage companies use when contemplating your credit risk, ... Continue reading this article…

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