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March 2006

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 not a fan of clothing in general.

Here are the tips:

* Make sure the suit is properly made. Hand-stitched is the way to go, not glued. Is there glue in my suits? I have no idea.
* The fabric should fit the role. The tips in Fortune talk about Super 200 vs. Super 100. I had no idea what this means. Luckilly the U.S. Congress was there to help me. The number refers to the diameter of the wool thread used.
* Opt for a very fitted silhouette. Boxy is bad. It’s all about getting high armholes, apparently.
* Wear appropriate trousers. Basically, thinner people do well with lower cut pants and others should have trousers cut higher.
* Get the right size shirt. Get one that fits closely to the body.
* Colors! The article suggest sticking to no more than three different ones. I’m not great with matching colors when it comes to clothing (or web design for that matter), but it’s easy to stay in the realm of “safe.”
* Patterns are wonderful, but don’t get carried away. I’m not a fan of patterns, favoring solids. The article says not to mix patterns, but mix scale of the same type of pattern.
* Accessorize and coordinate. Ties and socks should match, and cufflinks should be of a good quality.
* Get a great tailor. To me, this should probably be the first step. “You can buy off the rack and just worry about the shoulders and torso fitting correctly, because the right tailor can take care of the rest. And the best tailors can do miracles.”


Walking Away From Your Money

This article was written by in Taxes. 9 comments.

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 for the year. In order to qualify for itemization, your expenses in certain categories must be more than a certain percentage of your income. Specifically, certain miscellaneous itemized deductions must exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income before you qualify. Here’s a description of itemization from the IRS:

Whether to itemize deductions on your tax return depends on how much you spent on certain expenses last year. Money paid for medical care, mortgage interest, taxes, charitable contributions, casualty losses, and miscellaneous deductions can reduce your taxes. If the total amount spent on those categories is more than the standard deduction, you can usually benefit by itemizing.

On the other hand, some people are required to itemize, even if the standard deduction would be more favorable. The following defines people who must itemize (from Quicken’s itemization information):

* Married filing separate and your spouse itemizes.
* U.S. citizen who can exclude income from U.S. possessions.
* Nonresident or dual-status alien.
* You file a short-period return because of a change in your accounting period.

Some expenses, such as state and local income taxes, interest expenses (on a mortgage, for example), and charitable contributions are always deductible and do not need to reach the 2% floor.

Since I use software — TurboTaxOnline and the free-to-print TaxAct — to calculate my taxes, I’m always sure to attempt to itemize. Not once has itemization worked out in my favor, so I have been taking the standard deduction. For many people, mortgage interest payments are what often push people above the 2% threshold.

When has itemization worked for you and when has it not?


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 how Bach suggests you categorize: Read the full article →


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 a 0% balance transfer offer from DiscoverCard to an unused credit card operated by MBNA, and the results were not pretty.


Review: Career Intensity by David Lorenzo

by Luke Landes

I’ve got another “advance reading copy” to mention. Career Intensity: Business Strategy for Workplace Warriors and Entrepreneurs by David Lorenzo is a guide to taking charge of your career, whether you’re an independent Entrepreneur or a “Workplace Warrior” looking for advancement. The book contains concrete suggestions for actions and philosophies that ensure an individual will ... Continue reading this article…

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Capital One Interest Rate Now 4.25%

by Luke Landes

The banks keep raising the interest rates for their online savings accounts. Joey wrote in to inform me that “Capital One is up to 4.25 percent (annual percentage yield) in their high-yield savings account.” This bank has Joey’s favorite web interface. I’ve updated the list of online savings account interest rates.

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Personal Balance Sheet, February 2006

by Luke Landes

I can’t believe it’s March already. I turn 30 this month. As if it’s a sign of things to come, Kevin Pollack won’t be coming to my birthday event because — so he says — the movie he’s filming has been delayed. Yes, a bunch of friends and I were planning to see the actor/comedian ... Continue reading this article…

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