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

September 2006


If you have been considering upgrading to Intuit’s Quicken 2007, don’t. More than a month ago, I upgraded from Quicken Home & Business 2006 to Quicken Home & Business 2007, and many things have not gone smoothly since the transition. Many of the new features that the company claims to have been added to the software do not work properly.

Quicken 2007 Home and BusinessThe interface looks nicer, and some of the default repors are designed better, but the software performs as if it has not been fully tested. Here are a few things I’ve discovered that don’t work properly.

Downloading transactions through Direct Connect for my 401(k) no longer works. After completing a Direct Connect session in which Quicken identifies that 401(k) transactions have been downloaded, every second Saturday, switching to view the 401(k) account creates two problems. First, the downloaded transactions are not there, although the software says they had been downloaded (by displaying a flag icon next to the account’s title in the sidebar). Second, the transaction screen continually refreshes, making it almost impossible to do anything else, such as add an entry manually or even switch to view a different account.

The 401(k) account does not offer downloads from the website, only Direct Connect. Therefore, I can no longer automatically update this account, and I’ll have to enter all 401(k) transactions manually. This is the only account I normally do not enter transactions manually.

For other banks that only offer Web Connect (customers visit the bank’s website to download a file contraining transaction details to will be imported), Quicken 2007 introduced a new feature called “Express Web Connect.” Theoretically, Quicken will visit the website for you and download the transactions. For the Quicken user, this should be very handy. In effect, it makes banks that only offer Web Connect function like those that offer Direct Connect.

Forget it, it only works for me about half of the time. It’s not due to the bank’s website being unavailable, as I can easily log on myself to download the file. This is what I will normally do, bypassing the Express Web Connect feature.

Supposedly, transaction downloads (Direct Connect and Web Express Connect) now take place in the “background,” which means you should be able to continue using the program while Quicken retrieves updates from the banks. In older version of the software, a status window stays open during the updates blocking access to the program.

In 2007, during “background” updates, dialog boxes continue to pop up and disappear during the connection, stealing the focus, and making it impossible to work in the program at the same time.

Strangely, every so often, Quicken creates a new empty “Checking” account, on its own, without any input from me.

Hopefully Intuit will have bug fixes available sometime soon. Until then, working with Quicken 2007 will be a pain. Don’t upgrade until you hear that the software has improved. Unfortunately, it’s too late for me to go back to Quicken 2006.

Here are some discussions about Quicken 2007:

* FatWallet: Quicken 2007… To buy or not to buy?
* FatWallet: Things That Make Quicken 2007 Go Boom
* Quicken Support Forums: Stick With 2006, 2007 is a Mess

Update: Intuit has updated Quicken 2007 to fix some of these errors.
Additional update: After living with Quicken 2007 R2 for a while, I’ve reviewed the improvements.

{ 16 comments }

University of Phoenix LogoIf you’ve been following Consumerism Commentary, you may know that I recently completed my Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree at the University of Phoenix Online. I’ve been writing a series, which is basically a review of the University of Phoenix.

The choice to take this nontraditional route was not a difficult decision for me due to my previous experiences with online education, but many people I’ve talked to have considered it without making a decision due to lack of information.

The question asked of me most often is simply, “How does it work?” Here’s how. Read the full article →

{ 10 comments }

The Money Coach's Guide to Your First MillionLast month, I received The Money Coach’s Guide to Your First Million by Lynnette Khalfani in the mail from the publisher. Here’s a look at the book from my point of view.

First of all, Khalfani (who calls herself the “Money Coach”) has devised an acrostic to outline the path to your first million dollars. Conveniently, the word is “MILLION,” and here’s what those letters mean. By the way, each line is also the title of a chapter within the book. Read the full article →

{ 6 comments }

Princess Bear Beanie BabyI read on AllFinancialMatters that at least one individual is planning to buy as many of the new Elmo toys as possible and sell them for a mark-up on eBay.

While I agree that parents should be able to raise their children so that they’re not having hissy fits and demanding the latest fad toy, in reality, that’s not always the way things go, despite parents’ best efforts. Regardless, if there’s a market for overpriced toys, it doesn’t hurt to cater to that market by selling the ridiculous things for a profit.

Those who do so are not manufacturing nor marketing the toys, adding to demand, so I don’t have the same problem I would have with companies that market these things to children.

As an undergraduate, my girlfriend had an inside connection to Beanie Babies. These things were a huge fad at the time and they were sold on every block. The manufacturer was smart and manipulated supply and made some more rare than others. This created an inflated demand for certain styles. Each store was only allowed a certain quota of these rare toys. My girlfriend was able to get her hands on the Beanie Babies before they were allowed to be released to the public and sell them on eBay.

From what I understand, this activity produced enough money to pay for a semester at college. Let me explain. The retail price of a Beanie Baby was $5.95. The “Princess Bear” on the street, with a tag in mint condition, was going for several thousand dollars at one point.

I hope it was worth it to someone… I know it made my girlfriend happy. She knew the opportunity wouldn’t last as folks would eventually get tired of those silly little stuffed bears.

{ 5 comments }

My MBA at the University of Phoenix Online, Part 2: Admissions

by Luke Landes

Normally, when you want to be accepted into a university to study towards completion of a Master’s degree, schools require potential students to take the GMAT, a standardized test. The University of Phoenix does not have this requirement. The school has a different philosophy for accepting students.

23 comments Read the full article →

Kiplinger’s Article: Must-Read Bloggers

by Luke Landes

Earlier this month, I welcomed readers of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, as Consumerism Commentary was included in an article entitled “Must-Read Bloggers,” amongst a number of several very worthy blogs. I’ve scanned in the pages and included them at the bottom of this post. For some reason, Kiplinger’s editors in their infinite wisdom decided not ... Continue reading this article…

8 comments Read the full article →

My MBA at the University of Phoenix Online, Part 1: The Decision

by Luke Landes

In August, I completed my Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with the University of Phoenix Online. I’m putting together a series about the entire experience. When I started working for my current employer in 2002, I decided to take advantage of the practically free education they were offering, 90 percent reimbursement for any work-related classes ... Continue reading this article…

64 comments Read the full article →

Find a Financial Advisor Online

by Luke Landes

Some readers of financial blogs keep coming back for the free “advice.” There are some better ways to get in touch with financial advisement online, and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has a few suggestions for finding a real advisor through the internet. * The Alliance of Cambridge Advisors is a network of 75 advisors in 25 ... Continue reading this article…

0 comments Read the full article →

Carnival of Investing #40

by Luke Landes

Welcome to the 40th Carnival of Investing, hosted by Consumerism Commentary. If this is your first visit here, feel free to take some time to learn about me and this website. Thanks to Jonathan from MyMoneyBlog for the opportunity to host this traveling event. Now, on with the show, starting with my favorites, “Editor’s Choice.” ... Continue reading this article…

2 comments Read the full article →

Did You Notice Today’s Date?

by Luke Landes

The blogosphere seems to be saturated with stories retelling what people were doing when they first heard (or felt) the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center five years ago, on September 11, 2001. Here’s my contribution to the meme.

Read the full article →

The Story of the $300 Deposit, or: Looking for Apartments, Update 6

by Luke Landes

As you may know, I’ve resigned my current lease and I’m no longer looking for a new apartment. Back in early June, I described the best and most affordable apartment I found. I also described how they advertised the unit as being available July 1. After showing us the apartment, they mentioned it wouldn’t be ... Continue reading this article…

17 comments Read the full article →

Sometimes, You Spend Some Money

by Luke Landes

My weekend, spent in New York with my girlfriend, was a little expensive. No, we didn’t crash in a Manhattan hotel, nor did we see a Broadway show. All of our time was spent in Queens. On Satuday morning, without any plans for the weekend yet, we decided to be spontaneous. Here’s what we decided ... Continue reading this article…

3 comments Read the full article →

Drowning in Debt? 6 Tips for College Students and Recent Grads

by Luke Landes

One of the books I’m working on is The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions, by Anna Ivey. I write a bit about decisions regarding graduate education, thanks to decisions I make in my own life, so I agreed to mention the book on Consumerism Commentary. One of the many things I learned while pursuing ... Continue reading this article…

6 comments Read the full article →

Can You Trust Your Financial Advisor? Or Anyone?

by Luke Landes

The truth is people are selfish. A person makes decisions on what actions to take based on what they believe will benefit him or her. Is there such a thing as true selflessness? Even when someone helps another individual “out of the kindness of his heart,” isn’t she really acting in order to get that ... Continue reading this article…

10 comments Read the full article →

Free Software to Make Your Computer Run Better, Stronger, Faster

by Luke Landes

These tools are indispensible. When I coach people through buying and setting up computers, I always suggest they forego the software pack that comes with computers purchased at Circuit City, Best Buy, and any number of manufacturer-direct shops, and install the following free software instead. AVG Free Anti-Virus. This anti-virus scanner is as good as ... Continue reading this article…

14 comments Read the full article →

Is Robert Kiyosaki a Liar?

by Luke Landes

Wonderful. After reading Ben Stein’s column, which I mentioned earlier today, I came across Robert Kiyosaki’s latest on Yahoo Finance, Lying is Easy, Wealth Takes Work. Let’s just start right at the top: Being politically correct means saying what’s polite rather than what’s accurate. I like to be accurate. Actually, being politically correct is saying ... Continue reading this article…

41 comments Read the full article →

Personal Income Statement, August 2006 (Net Income: $3,542)

by Luke Landes

Thank Tim Berners-Lee for the invention of the World Wide Web. Without him I wouldn’t be increasing my net worth as quickly as I am. Although, one could argue, without the web, I’d be spending less money, too. Nevertheless, here’s how money came to me and left me during the month of August, 2006.

17 comments Read the full article →