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

April 2007

Earlier this morning, I reviewed Excuse Me, Your Job is Waiting (Amazon link) by Laura George and found it to be a good job-hunting book with advice based on the “law of attraction.” I’m happy to be able to give away the three copies sent to me by the publisher. Read the review, if you haven’t already.

If you’re interested in winning the first free copy, answer this simple (or perhaps not so simple) question:

What is your dream job?

Feel free to elaborate. Are you working your dream job now? How will you get there? The method I use to choose the winner may not be so random — in this case, I like insightful and interesting (and perhaps funny) comments.


excuse-me-your-job-is-waiting.jpgExcuse Me, Your Job Is Waiting: Attract the Work You Want
Laura George

A few days ago, I finished reading Excuse Me, Your Job Is Waiting, by Laura George. This book follows in the footsteps of another, Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting. The premise of both books is the “law of attraction,” which is generally interpreted in popular culture as the idea that events are influenced by the attitude of those involved. Positive thinking helps encourage positive outcomes.

Of course, none of this is scientifically proven, at least not within this book. However, there are enough anecdotal testimonies to convince people the concept is “true.” In this convincing, positive outcomes can be attributed to positive thinking and negative outcomes can be negative thinking.

I’m convinced, for the most part. Whether positive thinking actually influences outcomes in a cause-effect relationship, I’m not entirely sure. Positive thinking certainly makes one feel better, and this attitude can be picked up by others involved in active communication, and can be perceived as a connection, making everyone feel better about the relationship. If you’re on a job interview, this is a good thing.

The book goes much farther with this idea. Read the full article →


Here are some interesting articles from the MoneyBlogNetwork and beyond.

MBAs Don’t Prepare Managers for Real-Life Challenges
The process of getting an MBA is more about the connections you make than learning how to deal with real-life management problems, apparently. This is true about most degrees. In school you learn fundamental concepts and theories, but practical skills come from experience on the job. I’m not sure why this comes as a surprise to people. I’ve been slowly chronicling my experiences obtaining my MBA degree from the University of Phoenix, a school critics love to hate. [Free Money Finance]

Orlando Gas Gouging
Here’s an example of price gouging on gasoline, although prices at stations around airports usually are much more expensive than others. They don’t post their prices, yet motorists still stop by to fill up. Then they’re surprised when they receive the bill. [FiveCentNickel]

Do Payday Loans “Victimize” People?
Payday Loans are bad ideas, but are they victimizing customers, or should customers take full responsibility? Responsibility must be shared between companies that should operate in an ethical manner and not take advantage of people in difficult positions, and customers who must be as educated as possible about whatever product or service they’re considering. [AllFinancialMatters]

How To Talk Salaries With Coworkers
One way to find out whether you have room to negotiate your salary is to determine what your co-workers are making. This is a dangerous path to walk down. I wouldn’t recommend it. [Blueprint for Financial Prosperity]

Yard Sale Finds This Weekend
Mighty Bargain Hunter found some mighty bargains while on the hunt in the yards of northern Virginia. [Mighty Bargain Hunter]

Simple Way to Save $3,000 a Year: Brown Bag It
The money you save by spending $1 to $2 on lunch each day rather than $10 to $12 may amount to $500,000 after 25 years! As one commenter mentioned, you should also look at the “opportunity cost.” But eating alone at your desk every day, you miss out on opportunities that come by through socializing with your coworkers and management. [Zen Habits]

Here are a few more:

* A Look at the Digg Effect in Action
* Money in the Mattresses
* How Much Would A 3 MPH Crash Cost You? Hint: Thousands!
* How to Look Good on a Budget: The Business of Beauty

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Yesterday, Vanguard announced they have simplified their account fees. Effective on Thursday, here is the new fee structure.

* All fund accounts with a balance of less than $10,000 will be assessed a yearly fee of $20.

Now that’s straightforward. In the old configuration, my recently-opened 2006 SEP IRA would have been charged $20 anyway. So why am I so happy with this change?

Because there are several ways the new $20 fee can be avoided completely by

* keeping each fund account balance over $10,000;
* maintaining total assets at Vanguard at $100,000 or more; or,
* signing up for electronic delivery of all documents, like prospectuses and statements.

With my assets at Vanguard totaling up to only about $3,000, it’s pretty clear which option was my choice.

Vanguard LogoI have a Roth IRA and another SEP IRA at TIAA-Cref. The problems I’ve had with this organization, while they have settled down except for a request from their lawyers to remove their logo from this page, are well documented. Most importantly, the mutual funds at Vanguard that match up with the mutual funds at TIAA-Cref have lower expense ratios.

The two funds currently invested in my Roth IRA at TIAA-Cref can theoretically be transferred to Vanguard because the balances are each above the $3,000 threshold. My 2005 SEP IRA isn’t above that level, but I may be able to combine it with my 2006 SEP IRA, already at Vanguard, if I don’t mind changing my asset allocation. The 2005 SEP IRA is invested in an international index fund, and the 2006 SEP IRA is invested in the total stock market index fund.

I’d rather have all of my accounts at Vanguard, so I’ll be looking to make this transfer in the next few weeks.


4 (Plus 1) Great Credit Cards Offering 0% on Purchases

by Luke Landes

Editor’s Note: Thank you for your interest, these offers have expired and are no longer available. For people who are responsible with managing money, sometimes it makes sense to pay for large purchases with a 0 percent APR loan or credit card. The reasoning is fairly simple. If you have a card that is offering an ... Continue reading this article…

0 comments Read the full article →

My Next Step: Two Bedroom Condo or More Renting?

by Luke Landes

Those who have been following my travails closely may have a feeling I might need to start contemplating my living situation. About a year ago, a chronicled my adventures looking for an apartment with my girlfriend (one, two, three, four, five, and six) which ended unsuccessfully and with a bit of a scuffle with the ... Continue reading this article…

31 comments Read the full article →

Consumerist Roundup

by Luke Landes

Hey Bank of America! Your ATM Gave Me A Fake $20 Wealth Junkie (who has a blog) received a fake $20 on a routine ATM trip, and didn’t know it was fake until a Costco employee informed him. He brought it back to the bank and they apologized. What is a Secured Credit Card? People ... Continue reading this article…

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Five Couples Living on $46k, Number 5: Susan Slingland

by Luke Landes

The final “couple” in CNN Money’s series on the spending habits of households living on about $46,000 isn’t a couple at all. Susan Slingland is a full-time piano accompanist at Appalachian State University. Susan seems to have her expenses under control. At $675 a month, her rent is her biggest expense, and she keeps that ... Continue reading this article…

8 comments Read the full article →

I Buy Generic Brands and Store Brands Sometimes

by Luke Landes

When I was in college, some of my poorer friends (that is, unsubsidized by the government or their parents) would get their products as cheaply as possible. I have distinct memories of afternoons with certain friends and the beverage of choice for lunch being “No Frills Cola.” These days, I don’t go so far, but ... Continue reading this article…

25 comments Read the full article →

Five Couples Living on $46k, Number 4: The Wheats

by Luke Landes

I’m following the CNN Money series focusing on five couples earning about the U.S. median income, $46,000 a year (couple one, two, and three). The fourth couple in the series lives in Ruidoso, New Mexico, a noisy town. Brent Wheat is a self-employed contractor and Shawna Wheat is an office coordinator. Together, they earn the ... Continue reading this article…

2 comments Read the full article →

I Got a Nintendo Wii

by Luke Landes

On Sunday, I purchased a Nintendo Wii. It wasn’t for me. My girlfriend, celebrating her thirtieth birthday, wanted the game system as a gift. Not knowing much about the current state of demand and supply for the game consoles and assuming any frenzy ended with the past holiday season, we went shopping on Saturday. Our ... Continue reading this article…

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This Week in the Archives: MBA Degrees, Fancy Weddings and Student Loans

by Luke Landes

In case you haven’t been visiting Consumerism Commentary for a year or two, here are some of the articles you may have missed. These are from April 23-30, 2006: * Apr. 24: The Penny Costs More Than One Cent (5 comments) * Apr. 24: Good News: Get Your Degree in Two Weeks (5 comments) * ... Continue reading this article…

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Five Couples Living on $46k, Number 3: The Leones

by Luke Landes

In CNN Money’s series about five couples living on (about) $46k (couple one, couple two), the third couple, Andrew and Ozgul Leone from Fort Lauderdale, clock in at $54,400. Here’s their profile. They’ve been juggling debt around. Their property doubled in value, so the couple took advantage of a home equity loan to pay off ... Continue reading this article…

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Weekly Blog Roundup, Warm Weather Edition

by Luke Landes

I hope everyone is getting outside and enjoying the weather this weekend, especially those of us in the New York metropolitan area. If you’ve found yourself locked in a room with only an internet connection to keep you entertained, try some of these fine personal-finance related articles from the MoneyBlogNetwork as well as other blogging ... Continue reading this article…

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Five Couples Living on $46k, Number 2: The Thibaults

by Luke Landes

Here is the second couple featured by CNN Money in their series about five couples living on an income of $46,000 a year. Michael Thibault is an insurance claims adjuster and Lisa Thibault works part-time. Together, they may earn about $60,000 this year in Indianapolis, Indiana. That seems to put them at an income significantly ... Continue reading this article…

15 comments Read the full article →

Schwab Lowers Account Minimums

by Luke Landes

This could be good news for anyone just starting out with investment accounts. Schwab lowered the minimum starting balance to $1,000 from $2,500 (or $2,000 for IRAs)and removed below-the-minimum fees for all their investment accounts as long as at least $100 is deposited into the account on a monthly basis. (Source: BusinessWeek.) I recently opened ... Continue reading this article…

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Five Couples Living on $46k, Number 1: The Ogles

by Luke Landes

CNN is featuring five couples living on about $46,000 a year. How do they do it? The first couple is Matt and Ginger Ogle. Matt is a public school teacher and speech coach bringing home the largest portion of the income, while Ginger adds a couple thousand a year as as part-time assistant speech coach. ... Continue reading this article…

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This Week in the Archives: TIAA-Cref, Disneyland, and ING Checking

by Luke Landes

Here’s a look back at some of the “finer” articles from Aprils gone by. During this time last year, I was in California for a portion of the time. Here are a few from April 16-22, 2006: * Apr. 18: TIAA-CREF Didn’t Fund My SEP IRA (7 comments) * Apr. 19: In-N-Out (14 comments) * ... Continue reading this article…

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USB Flash Drive With TaxCut Giveaway Winner #4

by Luke Landes

It’s time to reveal the fourth winner of the free 256 MB flash drive. Congratulations to commenter number 57! Now there is only one day remaining of this giveaway. If you’re interested in entering for a chance, leave a comment on this post. Thanks to H&R Block for sending these over for our readers. These ... Continue reading this article…

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Redesigned 401(k) Statement Includes List of Fees

by Luke Landes

A few days ago, I received a redesigned quarterly statement for my 401(k) account. It contains the usual sections, including a summary, transaction detail, a pie graph of my asset allocation. It clearly stated my account performance, not including deposits as performance, for the first quarter: 3.41 percent. The statement also includes for the first time ... Continue reading this article…

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