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March 2006

So as many of my readers know, about a week ago I switched Consumerism Commentary from the Movable Type platform to WordPress. There were a number of reasons for the change, including MT’s long rebuild times for example.

Since this migration caused a slight change in the URIs for my entries — namely, the underscore characters became dashes — I had to write a small script to handle the translation so no links from outside would be broken. Even though I was changing software, old link to my blog still needed to work and not produce an error.

Doing the translation wasn’t as easy as doing a “permanent redirect” in .htaccess — I had to write a PHP script that is called from .htaccess whenever underscores are encountered in the URL. The script replaces them with dashes and redirects the browser back to the server, where .htaccess is interpreted again.

Basically, the links weren’t broken, but I lost my Google Pagerank on almost all of my pages.

I saw the effects immediately. My daily AdSense revenue tanked to sometimes less than 50% of what was expected. This has been the case almost all week, but the last few days, it appears as if things are returning to normal. I’ll have to wait another few weeks to determine if there is any more fallout from the change.

The improvements seemed to coincide with when I installed the WordPress plugin that enables a Google Sitemap, so perhaps that was the key.

Today’s earnings are pretty high for a Friday so far.


The Comcast Cable Internet saga continues. First I tried to take advantage of a free 50% speed upgrade and found out I had to buy a new modem. Then I realized I was actually getting an upgrade that more than doubled my download transfer speed for the same price.

Now I’ve received the bill. I expected they’d screw something up, and they didn’t let me down. I’m actually being charged $16 less for internet access now ($30 rather than $46). Combined with my $16 basic cable, I’m saving a good amount of money compared to when I was paying $46 for internet and $70 for television.

Thank you, Comcast!


Here are some quickies from around the pfblogosphere.

AllFinancialMatters offers nine questions to ask before you get married.

Free Money Finance writes about the importance of managing your career. FMF has averaged an annual 10% increase in his income from when he entered the workforce, many, many years ago.

Five Cent Nickel shares thoughts about frequent flyer credit cards.

Pfblueprint recognizes that one could look at student loan debt as an investment.

The MoneyBlogNetwork is giving away a new copy of Dave Barry’s Money Secrets.

Seattle Simplicity asks if you could live on half your salary.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich (will he really?) reviews Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.

If youre a blogger, don’t forget to submit to submit something to the Carnival of Personal Finance!


I have to share two interesting developments with the Ad-Free Personal Finance Blogs Aggregator, pfblogs.org. They kind of let their announcements slip away silently, and perhaps they deserve more attention.

I’ve started using the pfblogs.org Blogroll on Consumerism Commentary, and it’s really easy to implement. Check it out.

If you like pfblogs.org, you may want to read about their annual campaign which is starting in April. They have a modest fundraising goal of $200 for the month. The site will never have advertising, so any help keeps the site running smoothly.

Full disclosure: I’m the pfblogs.org webmaster.


Spending and Income Increased

by Luke Landes

It’s time for some numbers from the government. In February, consumer spending rose 0.1 percent and personal income grew 0.3 percent. Even though the income gain was higher than the spending gain as a percentage, we are on average spending more than we have available. Living above our means in the American way, and I don’t see ... Continue reading this article…

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Tips For Picking Out a Suit

by Luke Landes

Fortune Magazine presents tips for picking out a suit. It’s not exactly advice for those of us on a budget, but I’ve heard that everyone should have at least one great suit. I’ve also heard that one should dress for how your see yourself in the future, not how you see yourself now. Personally, I’m ... Continue reading this article…

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Who Wants To Buy a Millionaire Show?

by Luke Landes

If you’ve ever wanted a hit television program franchise without having to do the development work, now is your chance. The rights for the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? hit television show is being auctioned off. If you happen to be the top bidder, you’re getting more than just an international television sensation. All ... Continue reading this article…

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You Get Three Free Annual Credit Reports

by Luke Landes

Since September 1, 2005, people in my area of the country have been entitled to three free credit reports each year, one from each credit reporting agency. Last year, I got my report a few days early, avoiding the “rush.” I had planned to space my requests evenly throughout the year, by getting one every ... Continue reading this article…

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Flexo’s MBA: Still In Progress

by Luke Landes

I am only a few months from finishing my Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Phoenix (Online). It’s still a lot of work. The work is more of an annoyance now, taking my time away from activities where I’d be earning more money. It amazes me that many of my classmates were ... Continue reading this article…

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Walking Away From Your Money

by Luke Landes

If you don’t itemize your taxes, you may be overpaying the government, according to Bankrate.com. The General Accounting Office has found that filers of 1998 returns who used the standard deduction instead of itemizing paid the Internal Revenue Service almost $1 billion more than they should have. Should you itemize? It depends on your expenses ... Continue reading this article…

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Sort Out Your Finances

by Luke Landes

David Bach’s latest column on Yahoo Finance serves as a checklist for getting your personal finances in order. I went through this process several years ago but it would have been nice to have some guidance. Simply getting your information together in one location is the essential first step in organizing your financial life. Here’s ... Continue reading this article…

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You Know, The Federal Reserve… For Kids

by Luke Landes

While we’re all anticipating an increase in the Federal Reserve’s short-term interest rate, the Fed has been busy creating a website for kids. The aptly named Federal Reserve Kids Page contains an eagle with large talons and mildly interesting trivia aimed at middle schoolers and those needing a refresher course on the twelve Federal Reserve ... Continue reading this article…

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Who Wins: Republicans or Democrats?

by Luke Landes

Jeremy Siegel is asking which political party is better for the economy: Republicans or Democrats. He kills the suspense only a few paragraphs into the story (and I’ll spoil it for you): Despite the behavior of the market during the last Presidential election, over longer periods of time, the stock market has done significantly better ... Continue reading this article…

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Status: Free Money Invested, Transaction Fee Recovered

by Luke Landes

Click here for the latest Sharebuilder promotion, a $25 bonus. Way back in August, I took advantage of a ShareBuilder promotion that gave me $50 for investing. With the free money, I bought $46 worth of IYZ, the iShares Telecommunications ETF. The other $4 was ripped from my clenches as a transaction fee. I’m happy ... Continue reading this article…

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Hit Hard At The Pump

by Luke Landes

I’ve been feeling the pain of rising gasoline costs again lately, and I’m not the only one. I’m looking forward to next month when I’ll be on vacation for more than a week (and have very few expenses) and when I return, I’ll be starting my new job with a shorter commute (41 miles compared ... Continue reading this article…

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Spend More With Cash or Plastic?

by Luke Landes

Liz Pulliam Weston is suggesting using cash rather than plastic because of an inclination to overspend. I’m a big fan of credit cards. Most offer fraud protection and online reconciliations so I always know exactly what I am spending. When I pay the balance off at the end of the month, it’s also nice to ... Continue reading this article…

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Cable Internet vs. Cable Television

by Luke Landes

Last month, I mentioned my cable company, Comcast, was offering a free upgrade to 6 Mbps service. For those not familiar with downloading speeds, that’s pretty fast. I had to buy a modern, standards-compliant modem in order to take advantage of those speeds, however. Considering all the work I do at home, it has helped ... Continue reading this article…

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Good News For DiscoverCard Holders

by Luke Landes

DiscoverCard has made some improvements to its online features. You can now schedule payments in advance, make payments as often as every three days, and have your payment post the same day if the transaction is initiated before 5:00 pm Eastern. The last improvement is a nice touch for procrastinators. I once tried to use ... Continue reading this article…

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This Week In The Blogosphere

by Luke Landes

Here’s a round up of what’s been going on with the members of the MoneyBlogNetwork and beyond. If you haven’t yet checked out the network’s forum for pfbloggers, make sure you take a look. There are some interesting conversations. The MightyBargainHunter points out a a pregnant teen waitress who received a $1,000 tip from a ... Continue reading this article…

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Lose Your Money In Three Easy Generations

by Luke Landes

Here’s an interesting statistic: Nine out of 10 affluent families will lose their wealth within three generations. The article describes some steps you can take if you happen to be in one of those wealthy families to help your money last for centuries. It seems to come down to passing along values in addition to ... Continue reading this article…

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