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August 2006


This is unrelated to Verizon’s fee refunds, but the IRS is refunding taxpayers between $30 and $60 if they paid for long distance between March 2003 and July 2006. This is a separate issue in which the government instituted an excise tax during the Spanish-American War. That was back in the 19th century.

In May, the government repealed the tax and now the IRS has announced details about the refund:

If you want to fish through 41 months worth of phone bills to calculate how much you actually paid, you can claim that amount on your return. Otherwise, the IRS announced Thursday you can claim $30 if you’re filing a 2006 return with one exemption; $40 for two exemptions; $50 for three exemptions and $60 for four or more exemptions.

Businesses will be able to able to claim a refund as well, based on the actual amount paid.

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Comcast logoAt the beginning of the month, I mentioned I had been getting 12 Mbps cable internet for $29.99 a month. Download speeds average between 10 and 12 Mbps. The promotion has elapsed and I’m now being charged $52.95, the normal price for the “ultra-fast” 8 Mbps connection.

Lately, I’ve been feeling the pain of my reduced cable television. I’m only paying $16 a month, but I’m only getting 30 channels. I don’t watch television often, but sometimes I wish I had a better selection. I have no Comedy Central, no permium movie channels.

Meanwhile, I’m also paying for Netflix every month, yet I haven’t watched many movies. Perhaps now, without having to do classwork every night, I’ll be able to enjoy more “Flexo time.”

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Final Question of the Day

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The final Question of the Day is being hosted at Get Rich Slowly, so take a minute to answer this question over there: What does money mean to you? The full schedule is contained below. Read the full article →

On Friday, I mentioned that the FCC got involved in investigating an unscrupulous decision by Verizon DSL to continue charging a fee that was no longer required by the government.

Reuters reports that Verizon gave into market pressure (well, mostly pressure from the regulators) and have dropped the fee.

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Getting Spam on Your Ameritrade Email Address?

by Luke Landes

If you’ve been getting penny stock spam on the email address you’ve only used for your Ameritrade brokerage account, here’s why: In April 2005, Ameritrade reported that several tapes with customer information were lost… After the tape incident, Ameritrade notified me of the possible breach and I was given a year of an identity watch ... Continue reading this article…

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Monthly Review Preview

by Luke Landes

August is shaping up to be a good month for my balance sheet. Somehow, I managed to keep my expenses lower than average. That’s probably due to the fact I didn’t have as much fun this month as I would have liked to have had. I still haven’t purchased the new notebook computer or the ... Continue reading this article…

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Links for Tuesday, August 29

by Luke Landes

* Buying Into Crisis [Fortune]. Think you can find good opportunities after disasters? * Good Reasons to Use the Plastic [BankRate.com]. Credit cards can be a good idea for some. * Commuting Stress May Worsen Health Woes [Star-Ledger]. Long train rides create stress much like driven commutes.

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New Home for the Carnival of Personal Finance

by Luke Landes

If you’re looking for information on the Carnival of Personal Finance, you’ll find it at the Carnival’s new home. The new website will allow me to be more flexible with the Carnival without detracting from the rest of Consumerism Commentary.

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Automate Your Emergency Savings

by Luke Landes

David Bach, author of The Automatic Millionaire, offers suggestions for making your emergency savings automatic. Before we get to the tips, most people agree that building an emergency stash of cash that can last long enough to cover three to six months should be one of the first financial priorities, even for those in debt. ... Continue reading this article…

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Your “Real” Raise

by Luke Landes

If you’ve been wondering why your average raises over the last few years haven’t helped you get ahead, it’s because, as the New York Times reports, real wages (after factoring in inflation) have actually declined 2 percent since 2003. Apparently, the last time this has been the situation was during Wolrd War II. The drop has ... Continue reading this article…

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It Is Finished

by Luke Landes

Tonight (or rather, this morning) I can go to sleep knowing I have finished all requirements for my Master’s degree. Now that I’m done, you can expect I’ll start a series taking a hard look at my degree program and my immediate reactions.

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The Carnival is Up!

by Luke Landes

Venture over to My 1st Million at 33 to read the articles submitted to and accepted in the latest Carnival of Personal Finance. You can also vote on your favorite of the bunch.

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Verizon Wireless Thanking Customers, Offering 100 Free Minutes

by Luke Landes

Verizon Wireless is thanking all of its customers by giving out 100 free Anytime minutes. You can get them by filling out the required information at this apparently legitimate website. The form asks for your name, phone number, zip code, and last four digits of your social security number. But is the offer really legitimate? ... Continue reading this article…

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Weekly Blog Round-Up

by Luke Landes

Here’s what I liked this past week from the MoneyBlogNetwork and beyond. Mighty Bargain Hunter has been running a group writing project focusing on preparing for or dealing with job loss. AllFinancialMatters reviewed The Grangaard Strategy by Paul Grangaard. Five Cent Nickel talks about a jump in his electricity bill. Free Money Finance shows that ... Continue reading this article…

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The Market Goes Up When Congress is Out

by Luke Landes

I heard an interesting story on Marketplace yesterday evening. Apparently, the statistics show that the stock market performs better when the U.S. Congress is on vacation. They call it the Congressional Effect: the fact that Wall Street does better in periods like August, when Congress is on holiday. And not just somewhat better. Nearly all ... Continue reading this article…

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Links for Friday, August 25

by Luke Landes

* Don’t Treat Your 401(k) Like a Piggy Bank [CNN Money] * Putting Your 401(k) Plan to Work [Yahoo Finance] * Simple Ways to Make College Cheaper [Kiplinger's Personal Finance] * Consumerism Commentary in the Press (in progress/development)

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Verizon’s Fee Update: FCC Now Involved

by Luke Landes

On Tuesday, I mentioned Verizon replaced a government-required fee with a similar fee for DSL service once the government stopped the program being funded. This sounded fishy to me, and apparently the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t like the sound of it either. The FCC is sending letters of inquiry questioning Verizon’s tactics, as well as ... Continue reading this article…

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Increased My 401(k) Contributions

by Luke Landes

Since my side income seems to be growing more than I expected this year, I’ve decided to increase my 401(k) contributions to reduce taxable income. In February, I increased my income deferral rate from 4 percent — the minimum contribution necessary to maximize the company’s match rate — to 6 percent. I was already maxing out my ... Continue reading this article…

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Submit to the Carnival of Personal Finance

by Luke Landes

The Carnival of Personal Finance, 63rd edition, will be hosted on Monday by My 1st Million at 33. If you’re a blogger who has written about personal finance in the last week, feel free to submit your best article for consideration.

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Attending a Wedding This Weekend and Finishing MBA

by Luke Landes

My girlfriend was chosen to be a bridesmaid in her friend’s wedding, which is taking place in Queens tomorrow. Being in a wedding party is an expensive undertaking (though not nearly as expensive as holding the wedding). She is spending money on her dress to match the other bridesmaids, matching shoes which had to be ... Continue reading this article…

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