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

July 2006

Finding Extra Money

This article was written by in Investing, Saving, Tips. 2 comments.


Money Magazine has a feature this month about finding extra money or “hidden assets” as they call it. I’m not going to do a whole series on these suggestions, but I will simply summarize and add a few thoughts.

1. Cash in old savings bonds. If they’ve matured, you have money that’s not earning any interest. Cash them in and put the money in a high-yield internet savings account or something more risky if you’re so inclined. Search treasurydirect.com because you may not know that you have bonds in your name… yes, it is possible.

2. Boost your savings rate. I often talk, like I did one paragraph earlier, about getting out of low-paying brick-and-mortar bank accounts and into the world of online banks where you can earn significantly more on your cash. Money talks more about making the most out of your brokerage’s sweep accounts, where uninvested cash sits. Most brokerage have higher-performing, low-risk money market funds that provide a much better alternative for a sweep account.

3. Stop paying for unneeded life insurance. Money Magazine suggests arranging for your premium to come out of your dividends. This may be practical for some whose insurance needs are lower than they once were. Also, avoid sales pitches when you go to talk to your insurer.

4. Consolidate your retirement accounts. Too many accounts can be confusing and expensive. Simplify!

5. Prune your credit cards. Simplify! Get rid of unused cards. Consolidate cards. Close accounts (but leave your oldest credit card open for evidence of credit history).

6. Unload unused gift cards. Money suggests using CardAvenue for swapping an unneeded gift card for one more useful. Beware, many gift cards lose value over time or even expire.

7. Finally sell that lousy investment. It’s easy to get emotionally attached. “Take a look at every dud investment you own and ask yourself why you still own it. You are not allowed to factor the purchase price and the long-ago value into your answer.” If you take a loss when you sell, you can deduct it from your tax return to a point.

That’s what Money Magazine had to offer, but there are many other places to “find” money. Here are two I can think of off the top of my head.

8. You can “find” money just by creating an automatic withdrawal from your checking account to an obscure checking account immediately after your paycheck is deposited. You’ll never know the money’s not available like normal, and down the road, you’ll find you have a sizable chunk of extra cash.

9. Check your state’s unclaimed funds website. Here is New Jersey’s. I searched for my last name and determined the state has some money due to my father, which was likely sent to an old address. I keep forgetting to let him know…

Feel free to add any suggestions!

{ 2 comments }

When I was 25, I was working for a small non-profit, working myself into the ground. It was a love/hate relationship. I wasn’t buying newspapers. Well, I bought some in the store occasionally, but not the entire operation for nearly $10 million.

Jared Kushner, the 25-year-old son of a wealthy New Jersey developer who was sentenced to prison last year, has bought The New York Observer…

Kushner’s father was involved in scandals surrounding former New Jersey Governer James McGreevey.

The Obserserver’s circulation is only 50,000, so maybe there’s room for growth. From the article, it doesn’t really sound like the younger Kushner has the experience to make any radical changes, but who knows.

{ 2 comments }

Thanks to everyone who submitted an article to the latest Carnival of Debt Reduction. For those interested in participating or hosting, see the guidelines and schedule.

Most of the submissions I received had simply no relation to debt reduction. I did not include those entries in the Carnival. If you’re submitting spam, skip it. If you’re submitting articles about other pesonal finance topics not related to debt reduction, there are other Carnivals.

Continue reading for this week’s debt reduction-related submissions.

Read the full article →

{ 2 comments }

The Carnival is Up!

This article was written by in Carnival. Add a comment.

The Carnival of Personal Finance is up at AllFinancialMatters. There’s another great selection of articles for browsing.

{ 0 comments }

Best of 2006, January Through June

by Luke Landes

At the end of last year, I put together a list of the “Best of 2005,” just a collection of posts here at Consumerism Commentary that might stand out. There was no rhyme or reason to my selection. Needless to say, I’m very lenient with my definition of “best.” We’re more than halfway through 2006, ... Continue reading this article…

0 comments Read the full article →

Weekly Blog Round-Up

by Luke Landes

It was a busy week in the personal finance blogosphere. Here’s what you might have read if you’ve been browsing the MoneyBlogNetwork. Nickel gave his first impressions of Emigrant Direct’s new interface and Mighty Bargain Hunter suggests celebrating your debt reduction progress. AllFinancialMatters wonders if earning more will make you happier and Blueprint for Financial ... Continue reading this article…

0 comments Read the full article →

The Last 401(k) Guide You’ll Ever Need, Five Tips, Part 4

by Luke Landes

I’m still enjoying Money Magazine’s “Last 401(k) Guide You’ll Ever Need.” So far, I’ve addressed the first three tips offered by the magainze, save early and often, spread your money around, and limit company stock. Here’s the fourth tip for maintaining a strong retirement investinment portfolio. Check in Once a Year Take a date you’ll ... Continue reading this article…

3 comments Read the full article →

The 5.0% APY Threshold: The New Hotness

by Luke Landes

If your savings account isn’t providing you 5.0 percent or more at this point, you can consider it old and busted. A few banks have raised their interest rates on “online” savings accounts lately, so take a look at the latest chart. Emigrant Direct moved to 5.15 percent today, but you may have problems accessing their new ... Continue reading this article…

10 comments Read the full article →

Dunkin’ Donuts’ Doing Things Commercial

by Luke Landes

Chances are, if you watch television, you’ve seen the latest Dunkin’ Donuts commercials featuring one of my favorite bands, They Might Be Giants. Here’s the extended version of “Doing Things (is What I Like to Do).” The advertising agency publishes a blog, naturally, and the entry about this ad even has some of the actors ... Continue reading this article…

2 comments Read the full article →

Today’s Interesting Articles

by Luke Landes

Here are some links from the more mainstream media that interested me today. * Invest in your looks, from MSN Money. Stomach stapling pays off, but laser eye correction may not… * Forget the raise, give me flexible hours, from Fortune Magainze. * How to know when you’re ready to buy (your first house), from ... Continue reading this article…

2 comments Read the full article →

New HSBC Direct Customers Can’t Access All Features

by Luke Landes

Reader Brian submitted the following: According to your Savings Account Rates page, HSBC Direct supports Quicken Direct Connect for downloading transactions. However, I just opened an Online Savings account there, and when I tried to set up Quicken with Direct Connect, I always got an error message saying, “Your financial institution has rejected your request.” ... Continue reading this article…

14 comments Read the full article →

It’s a Seller’s Market. It’s a Buyer’s Market.

by Luke Landes

The National Association of Realtors® announced with a big headline on CNN Money all day yesterday that we’re now in a buyer’s market. Yes, the Realtors® want to get the word out because house sales are slumping in many areas of the country. There’s a big reminder to consider the source and the motivation of ... Continue reading this article…

8 comments Read the full article →

I Am Hosting the Carnival of Debt Reduction

by Luke Landes

As the title of this post says, I will be hosting the Carnival of Debt Reduction on Monday, July 31. If you’re a blogger who has written about debt in the past week or so, submit your article early to get listed.

0 comments Read the full article →

The Last 401(k) Guide You’ll Ever Need, Five Tips, Part 3

by Luke Landes

Money Magazine has done a good job of assembling five simple tips for starting and maintaining a great 401(k) retirement account. The first tip was to save early and often and the second was to spread your money around with a smart diversification strategy. Here’s the third tip. Limit Company Stock When you work for ... Continue reading this article…

0 comments Read the full article →

Special Website For The Under 30 Crowd

by Luke Landes

The Under 30 Honor Roll is a network of bloggers who are and write for twenty-somethings (and younger) with a focus on personal finance. They’re doing a great job of building a subcommunity, and have message boards as well. This is where all the “kids” will be hanging out… at least the “cool” ones. Check ... Continue reading this article…

2 comments Read the full article →

The Last 401(k) Guide You’ll Ever Need, Five Tips, Part 2

by Luke Landes

Money Magazine is presenting five tips for building a great 401(k) account. Their first suggestion was to save early and save often by diverting as much as possible directly from your salary to your retirement account. Here’s the next tip. Spread Your Money Around What you must do, though, is choose a suitable combination of ... Continue reading this article…

0 comments Read the full article →

The Economics of Shea Stadium

by Luke Landes

I was a New York Mets fan in the 1980s, and my girlfriend’s family managed to get me back into the team. A. and I attended their game on Sunday against the Houston Astros, the only game of the series my team lost. It was an entertaining game, with a three-run home run in the ... Continue reading this article…

6 comments Read the full article →

The Last 401(k) Guide You’ll Ever Need, Five Tips, Part 1

by Luke Landes

Money Magazine is presenting a series of articles focusing on 401(k) accounts. The magazine’s five basic tips can easily be exapnded to cover all long-term investing. Here’s the first tip: Save Early and Often Suppose you started work in 1990 with a $40,000 salary. You saved just 2 percent of your pay but were such a ... Continue reading this article…

2 comments Read the full article →

Emigrant Direct’s New Website is Up!

by Luke Landes

I arrived home a little earlier, and while writing my first paper for my last class before obtaining my master’s degree, I decided to check out Emigrant Direct’s new website. There has been a lot of talk over on an earlier entry about how many have not been able to access the website and have ... Continue reading this article…

16 comments Read the full article →

The Carnival is Up!

by Luke Landes

The Carnival of Personal Finance is up at Savvy Saver. There are lots of great entries this week, so take a look. Consumerism Commentary will return to a normal posting schedule tomorrow.

0 comments Read the full article →
Page 1 of 3123