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

February 2006


Last year, I purchased a mattress and box spring and soon after I wrote about the entire process. Today, Slate published a commentary about cutting through the marketing gimmicks and making a smart mattress purchase.

After reading the article, I still feel confident I made the right decision. After four months with the new mattress, my sleep has greatly improved. That’s all that matters to me. The price was also pretty good. I don’t feel a penny was wasted, as long as I don’t consider the fact that all mattresses are overpriced. Speaking relatively, I’m happy with the deal I got.

The article at Slate is a good introduction to shopping for a mattress and helps the new shopper cut through the heaps of BS the salespeople will try to feed you.

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In a number of professions, the average salary for women is higher than the average for men. CNN is listing 39 of the 80 such professions discovered by the author of Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap — and What Women Can Do About It. If you look at the “female advantage” of each of these professions, the ones at the top are sales engineers (women earn 43% more than men), statisticians (35% more), and legislators (33% more).

The accompanying article makes some generalizations and justifications in order to determine the reason behind this situation.

* In a male-dominated field, a company may be willing to pay a premium to hire a qualified woman.
* The combination of people skills and technical skills is in demand.
* There are career programs designed to advance women.

Relatedly, I wrote about the differences between men and women in regards to salary negotiations last year.

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Are you more likely to play the major lottery when the jackpot is more than $250 million? If you happen to play, and if you’re really lucky, there’s a chance, however slim, you might win it all. Let’s say you just realized you’re taking home the grand prize and you’re the only winner. Now what?

According to the experts offering advice in an MSN Money article, here are some steps you should take.

  • Keep the ticket safe. You’re not turning the winning ticket in right away, but it’s your proof that you won. Hold on to it in a safe deposit box while you make the rest of your preparations.
  • Think about your job. We just had this discussion in the office as I put my $1 into the pool. Most winners quit their jobs, even if a significant number say they won’t. But don’t jump the gun, and don’t make a scene.
  • Find people you can trust. You’ll need a lawyer, accountant, and financial advisor. If you don’t have any currently, ask for referrals from friends.
  • Decide on a lump sum or payments. When I was younger, I used to have this discussion with friends. In general, the thinking was that it was much better to take the payment option as the lump sum payout is significantly less than the sum of all the payments. But if you take the lump sum and are diligent about investing, you could end up with more in the end. In reality, most of the time the winners who choose the lump sum option are not diligent.
  • Arrange for a special account at the bank. Although we’d love to get take an oversized cardboard check to the bank, your winnings are transferred by wire. You’ll need a special bank account to handle the deposits.
  • Change your phone number. You never know how many relatives and long lost friends you have until you have come across a large sum of money. With a new unlisted number, you can be in control of those with the ability to contact you.

The article continues with more tips:

You’re about to become filthy rich, so splurge if you want to and arrive at lottery headquarters by limo, helicopter or elephant, if you are so inclined. But don’t take too much time. There’s always a deadline.

If you’re a person who is habitually late, watch out for this. Who wants to miss out on $250 million due to traffic or issues with the day-care?

The Tax Man cometh before you even get your money, immediately making you 28% poorer. And if you’re the kind of scoundrel who owes something called state-owned-debt, such as back taxes or child support, the lottery folks take that off the top as well.

That’s quite a bite for the government, but if you’re still coming out with $180 million after taxes, can you complain?

Finding a way to spend millions may seem insurmountable, but it’s really not that difficult. Many folks — lottery winners and insta-rock stars alike — have succeeded in finding solutions to this particular “problem.”

The article provides some tips for spending and saving large amounts of money responsibly.

You’ll probably want to help out your family and those who were friends before you were rich. You might be interested in leaving a legacy by helping your favorite cause in a major way… And you’ll probably want to have something at the end to leave to your heirs — ’cause then you get to play all kinds of mind games writing up your will different ways.

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And The Winner Is…

This article was written by in Giveaways. 6 comments.

Congratulations to Emily! She is the randomly-selected winner of a free hardcover copy of The Automatic Millionaire Homeowner: A Powerful Plan to Finish Rich in Real Estate by David Bach. Here’s her comment fron the entry:

I am saving for a down payment because I am tired of being awakened at night by the guy in the apartment above mine having sex. He is young and energetic and it just goes on and on and on. Even on weeknights. I am so ready for a detached home of my own.

I understand Emily’s frustrations. When I was an undergraduate finishing up my degree by student-teaching, I had an apartment directly below a very frisky couple. It helped to add to my frustrations at the time.

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Schadenfreude

by Luke Landes

If there is any consolation for me it all, it is that my net-worth is slowly but steadily climbing in a world where others’ numbers are quickly declining. For example, here’s the latest gossip about Ken Lay, thanks to CNN Money: His $1.9 million trust will be depleted by legal fees, which will probably total ... Continue reading this article…

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Worrisome Market

by Luke Landes

I recently increased my pre-tax 401(k) contribution from 4 percent to 6 percent. It’s not a huge jump, and my company only matches that first 4 percent, but I feel like I didn’t save as much for retirement last year as I would have liked. My first paycheck with the increased contribution will be this Friday. I’m realizing ... Continue reading this article…

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Online Savings Account Rate Updates

by Luke Landes

Some banks have raised their interest rates for their online saving accounts, including GMAC and UFB Direct. The details outlining the latest rates are here.

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Retire to the Road

by Luke Landes

When it comes to talking about retirement, there is often discussion about where in the country or the world to go to live out the rest of life after working responsibilities have ended. Where I live, it’s not uncommon for retirees to migrate to Florida. Lately, there have been more retirement communities being developed around ... Continue reading this article…

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The Carnival is Up!

by Luke Landes

The latest Carnival of Personal Finance has been posted on the MoneyBlogNetwork. Some of the articles that interest me this week are How Do You Think About Money, Debit Cards — What’s the Point?, You Don’t Really Want to Be Rich, and I Could’ve Told You So. Check out all the great articles over at ... Continue reading this article…

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Media Mentions

by Luke Landes

Congratulations to the ad-free personal financial blogs aggregator, pfblogs.org, which was mentioned both in Business Week (in an upcoming issue and online for subscribers) and in Barrons Online (for subscribers). A number of blogs were also mentioned between the two articles including MyMoneyBlog, My Open Wallet, Savvy Saver, Happy Capitalist, Frugal for Life, the MoneyBlogNetwork, ... Continue reading this article…

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Bank Robbers Steal Worthless £50m

by Luke Landes

You’ve probably heard about the Great Tornbridge Robbery, in which £50 million (about US$85 million) was heisted from a bank in the United Kingdom last Tuesday. That’s a large sum of cash to have around; in fact, it’s so large, it might as well be Monopoly money. While the story has sparked discussions of what ... Continue reading this article…

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Busy Week and Forgotten Lunches

by Luke Landes

It’s been a busy week in the life of Flexo, and I didn’t get to write as much as I would like. My work week was full of meetings and training sessions, so rather than filling up my free time at work with searching for hours, I had to use that time for work instead. ... Continue reading this article…

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Two Remiders: Carnival and Giveaway

by Luke Landes

The Carnival of Personal Finance will be hosted at the MoneyBlogNetwork next Monday. Get your submissions in early by filling out this form. I’m giving away a brand new copy of the book, The Automatic Millionaire Homeowner by David Bach. The book’s not out yet, but I’ll send the winner a copy next Monday. You ... Continue reading this article…

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Inflation In The Movies

by Luke Landes

When I was your age, sonny, I could go to the pictures for $5.25. CNN Money takes a look at money in the movies. They take some classics like Midnight Cowboy, Psycho, and Austin Powers and evaluate prices for services or products mentioned in the films, and determine how much the same would cost in ... Continue reading this article…

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Honda Hybrid at $10,000

by Luke Landes

According to the Japan Stock Blog (the original source is in Japanese), Honda is developing a low-cost hybrid vehicle. In 2007, it should be the first in the market in the $10,000 range. This sounds like a great move if the price of gasoline remains hgh. The questions will be about quality and traveling distance. ... Continue reading this article…

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Cell Phones and Radiation

by Luke Landes

A while ago, I used to hear those “exposé” news stories present reports on the health hazards of cellular phones, usually with hints that extensive use of the devices leads to exposure to radiation (in the form of radiofrequency absorbed by the body) and possibly cancer. I was happy to see a CNET report on ... Continue reading this article…

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Tax Bill or Tax Refund, Which is Better?

by Luke Landes

There are two typical responses when a person finishes preparing his tax return, depending on the result. If he owes money, I hear, “Do’h! I have to pay the government more. I wish they’d use my money more efficiently.” If he is due a refund, I hear, “Woohoo! I’m going to get a big fat ... Continue reading this article…

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Today’s Interesting Articles

by Luke Landes

Part of having a weblog is logging the web. Therefore, I present some links I’ve been reading today in between working during the day and finishing an assigment for class this evening, starting with two articles about the sexes. * The myth that women make less than men [CNN] for comparable jobs. * Men love ... Continue reading this article…

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Money Spent This Weekend

by Luke Landes

In addition to the new cable modem, here are some details on other money I spent this weekend. Grocery shopping. I spent about $120 at Super Fresh, getting a variety of food that should last at least two weeks. This is probably the most I’ve spent on food in a while, but I “splurged” and ... Continue reading this article…

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Happy Blog-Anniversary

by Luke Landes

Six years ago today, I redesigned my personal website to take advantage of a relatively new service at the time called Blogger. Part of my website became a “weblog.” The following year, I separated that blog from my personal website to gain some anonymity. Now I have multiple blogs, many websites, and lots of domain ... Continue reading this article…

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