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January 2006

Here’s a corrollary to yesterday’s thoughts on underearning income. Anne Fischer from Fortune Magazine urges people who feel they are underpaid to consider whether they are actually overtitled. Here’s the letter to the editor:

I was among the top five salespeople at my software company last year, and I’m pretty sure I’m drastically underpaid. I really like working here, but I suspect I’m not being compensated fairly because I’m the youngest person in this role. How can I verify what other people in my position are making across the industry, to support my argument that I deserve more money? –Super Closer

Annie’s tips include checking with Salary.com (which I’ve noted in the past I’ve found inaccurate), classified ads, and recruiters.

She cites this advice:

“Over-titling” was a common practice in the tough financial climate of the past few years when, [Bill] Coleman [from Salary.com] says, “many people were offered trumped-up job titles in lieu of salary increases. As a result, their actual experience level and value to the company may not be on a par with the salary they expect based on their title.”

I see this in my own company, where for example there are many Vice Presidents, many of whom function mainly as department heads.


I was fortunate to be interviewed by Scott for his Money Blogger Podcast. My episode is up, and you can listen by subscribing to this RSS feed or downloading (or streaming) this MP3.

It’s very strange to hear myself talk, especially when I have a tendency of rambling. Regardless, I hope you enjoy it. Perhaps it will provide some insight into me and Consumerism Commentary… on the other hand, perhaps I’m boring. You be the judge.


Last week, I finished reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s not really about personal finance; it’s about the accuracy of certain snap decisions. I read the book with the intent of relating its message to the topics I focus on here.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking describes how some people have the ability to make accurate judgments in a split-second. In some cases these judgments are more accurate than those following a systematic, scientific review of the situation. The main thing to take away from the book is those people who are experts in their field can often make better decisions subconsciously in the first two seconds of an event than what their conscious mind can handle.

Gladwell’s stories involved very little that most people could gain. Only years of experience can prime the subconscious for “thin-slicing,” and this point is often hidden in the book.

There was nothing I could learn from this book that could be applied as advice or thoughts for the typical investor. This is a book about experts. This is a book about Warren Buffetts — the author mentions the Oracle of Omaha to bridge the phenomenon to theories of investing at one point, but it doesn’t have anything that you or I could take away without years of intimacy with a subject.

What if you do have intimate knowledge of investing? What kind of snap judgments could be made? Whether a company is a good candidate for a buy? I think it would have to be something more specific. You could take a look at an annual financial report and know whether a company is in good shape or is hiding something. You could watch the CEO on Bloomberg TV or CNBC and know whether he or she has confidence in the company. That’s about as far as I see this going.

If you’ve read the book, feel free to share your thoughts on whether there is anything within that could be applied to personal finance.


There is a lot of talk on the internets about online savings accounts raising their interest rates for customers; here’s something a little different.

PayPal has been offering for a while a pretty high interest rate — over 4.25% — on money held in their money market fund. Unlike money market accounts and savings accounts, your money isn’t insured by the FDIC, but in reality, there’s little chance of your money losing value. Anyway, the company just sent out a communication to alert their customers that they are lowering their interest rate.

I will generally keep any money from transactions in my PayPal account for a maximum of a few days. I try to get the funds into ING Direct or Emigrant Direct as soon as possible. Continue reading for the full text of the email, if you discarded it thinking it was junk mail as many messages purporting to be from PayPal tend to be.
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Overspending vs. Underearning

by Luke Landes

Are you an underearner? The general consensus for increasings savings in financial advice circles is to rein in your spending, since the expense side of the equation is easier to manage than the income side. You can cut back your spending on cable television by 50 percent, but getting an equivalent 50 percent increase in pay is ... Continue reading this article…

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My Crafty Friends

by Luke Landes

One of my closest friends has started a business designing accessories with funky fabrics. She joined together with her boyfriend who specializes in oils and acrylics. They love doing this work and the items they produce are great. Take a look at Serajay Designs if you want to see what they mean by “retro-modern accessories ... Continue reading this article…

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Some Hedge Funds Must Register

by Luke Landes

The Securities and Exchange Commission has ruled that most hedge funds must register with the organization, due to fraud and other drama in the industry. Some funds will be able to escape regulation with a designation as a “private fund.” From the New York Times article: “The new rule applies only to those funds that ... Continue reading this article…

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Carnival of Debt Reduction

by Luke Landes

Welcome to Consumerism Commentary for the 20th edition of the Carnival of Debt Reduction! If you are new to this blog, take a look around. You may want to find out more about me or browse through a categorical “Best of 2005.” The Carnival of Debt Reduction is a living document that travels from week ... Continue reading this article…

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Around The Blogs

by Luke Landes

Let’s see what’s been happening around the blogosphere this week. * JLP from AllThingsFinancial describes the TurboTax Gift Reward Program and is still amazed by his sons. * Nickel from Five Cent Nickel recommends Kill-a-Watt for lowering electricity bills. * Jim from Blueprint lists words to avoid on resumes and notes the increase of salaries ... Continue reading this article…

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Don’t Rely on the DMV

by Luke Landes

If I can only leave one tip about cars, this may be the piece of wisdom I would choose. Do not rely on the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to remind you to renew your vehicle registration. Although they are supposed to send a reminder and renewal form in advance of the expiration, ... Continue reading this article…

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Friday Reading

by Luke Landes

* Don’t forget to submit your entries for the Carnival of Debt Reduction to me. * Glücklich Geburtstag, Herr Mozart! Sie sind nur zweihundert und fünfzig heute. Danke für alle Ihre Musik! * Sprint Nextel sues those companies selling phone records online. * Four ways to save on college costs. * Ford plant bans competitors’ ... Continue reading this article…

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Giving Incentives Away With The House

by Luke Landes

In order to keep from lowering their asking price, home sellers are adding extra incentives to draw attention to their houses. To attract buyers, sellers are offering cars, European trips, landscaping for a year, and even 42″ plasma televisions at no extra cost. It sounds to me like it’s getting tough to move houses by ... Continue reading this article…

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Portable Health Insurance

by Luke Landes

On the radio this morning listen to the report), the news anchor mentioned Bush would be proposing portable health care insurance in which workers can take your benefits with you from job to job. My gut says it sounds like a way to make insurance less costly for business and more costly for individuals.

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Economy Didn’t Grow As Much

by Luke Landes

The government’s gross domestic product (GDP) report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis says the economy grew only 1.1 percent (annualized) in the last quarter last year, down from 4.1 in the third quarter. That’s a significant plunge, and the rate’s lower than what most economists expected.

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Income Disparity by State

by Luke Landes

Incomes are going up somewhat, but they’re going up much faster for high-income families. A report by the Economic Policy Institute provides state-by-state details to show you just how much those in the executive suite are sweeping the floor with the underlings. CNN helpfully compiled the data into tables which allow you to drill through ... Continue reading this article…

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More Articles to Review

by Luke Landes

Here are some of the articles I’ve been reading since the last link dump. * The truth about Google and click fraud. Google expects some, so it’s built into the price. * Ameriprise notifies customers of data theft. They tried to recruit me to sell their financial products (full time job, not through this blog). ... Continue reading this article…

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Participation Requested

by Luke Landes

One thing we would like to accomplish with the MoneyBlogNetwork is to spotlight other wonderful blogs covering personal finance. AllThingsFinancial is spearheading the campaign, so if you’re a blogger and you’d like your website to be featured, visit AllThingsFinancial and send an email to JLP. Here’s another chance for bloggers to participate: Next Monday, I’ll ... Continue reading this article…

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Tax Filing Time, I’m Going To Owe

by Luke Landes

I’ve begun receiving my 1099s and W2s, and that means it must be tax time. Jeff Schnepper steps right in to provide me with 15 quick points to motivate me to get my taxes done and done well. For the past several years, I’ve been filing my taxes online with TurboTax Online for which I’ve ... Continue reading this article…

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False Tax Returns Cost NYC Millions

by Luke Landes

From the Associated Press: Two accountants have been indicted on charges of tax evasion and helping hundreds of their clients file false city and state tax returns, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars. These accountants, Jeffrey C. Rosner of Queens and David E. Cohen of Staten Island, charged up to $500 per tax ... Continue reading this article…

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Apparently I’m Retiring Soon

by Luke Landes

Somehow I managed to get on the mailing list for AARP, the Organization Formerly Known As The American Association Of Retired Persons But Now Known By Acronym Only. I probably put down a fake date of birth on an unrelated website that asked me for my age many years ago, and now every few weeks ... Continue reading this article…

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