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

May 2007

ING Direct Closed Customer’s Account Due to Bad Credit

by Luke Landes

Is it discrimination to cancel a customer’s checking account for their bad credit? ING Direct has done so to Nick, who emailed me (and Consumerist) a complaint forwarded to the ING Direct ombudsman. ING Direct has closed his Electric Orange account, a checking account that earns 0.20 percent – 1.10 percent APY currently. Evidently, ING Direct performs ... Continue reading this article…

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Sold My ESPP Shares, Nice Profit, More Tax Owed

by Luke Landes

At the beginning of the year, I started participating in my company’s newly-offered employee stock purchase plan, which gives us the opportunity to automatically deduct up to 10 percent of our paychecks and defer that money for use at the end of the quarter. At that time, we are able to purchase stock at a 15 percent ... Continue reading this article…

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Fraternity Alumni Associations: Something Valuable?

by Luke Landes

When I was an undergraduate, I was in a fraternity. When I say that to people, I always provide a quick qualification: it was more like a music service or honor society than a fraternity. We didn’t have a “house,” and most of us didn’t do the crazy things you see in movies. While I ... Continue reading this article…

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Ten Questions to Ask Before Getting Hitched

by Luke Landes

Perhaps she calls you “her sweeitie” and you call her “lover.” Maybe you don’t have cutesy names for each other, but if you’re planning to get married, hopefully you know each other very well. This encompasses a little more than favorite restaurants, medical allergies, and middle names. There should be some serious discussions about life ... Continue reading this article…

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Admin Note: Downtime

by Luke Landes

I apologize if you’ve been trying to visit but have experienced long load times or… nothing. We had a hardware failure today and it looks like DreamHost has us back up and running for the time being. I’m in the process of evaluating dedicated hosting options, so expect some stability soon. By the way, you ... Continue reading this article…

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Bank of America Will Offer No-Fee Mortgages

by Luke Landes

According to USA Today, Bank of America will soon begin offering no-fee mortgages. That means they won’t charge for applications, appraisals, loan originations, title insurance, flood certifications, and even private mortgage insurance. I was thinking about this last night, and it occurred to me that this is simply the next step in a pyramid scheme. ... Continue reading this article…

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The Carnival is Up!

by Luke Landes

Golbguru from Money, Matter and More Musings hosted the Carnival of Personal Finance earlier today, or technically yesterday. There were a number of very good articles included, so take a look if you have a chance. Here are a few in addition to those Golbguru has chosen to feature. * Using My Emergency Fund To ... Continue reading this article…

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Renting Makes You Richer

by Luke Landes

Over the weekend, Moom left a comment on 7 Ways to Kill Your Net Worth after observing a number of mainstream media articles touting the idea that real estate — your own home — is not a good investment. Interesting how now that the housing market is stagnating or going down in many regions there ... Continue reading this article…

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Do You Need 80% of Your Current Income in Retirement?

by Luke Landes

If you’re planning for retirement, you might be concerned with determining how much income you’ll need to support your current lifestyle. I’ve seen 80 percent tossed around as this magic percentage. That is, if you make $100,000 in your current lifestyle (and manage your expenses appropriately), the fewer expensive you’ll have in retirement mean you’ll only ... Continue reading this article…

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Weekend Spending Update

by Luke Landes

It’s been a busy weekend. On the entertainment front, I caught Spider-Man 3 with some good friends I don’t get to see very often. It was good, but not spectacular. The tickets cost $10.25 including the $1 “convenience fee” for ordering them in advance online. It was a good thing I did, they show was ... Continue reading this article…

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Weekly Blog Roundup, Sealant Edition

by Luke Landes

Here are some interesting articles from the MoneyBlogNetwork and beyond this past week. Replacing a Lost Social Security Card. I’ve done this once in my lifetime so far, and according to Jim, I have nine more allowed replacement requests until I die. This isn’t really personal-finance related, but Nickel is celebrating his two year anniversary ... Continue reading this article…

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Trading Window is Open and I’m Making Some Changes

by Luke Landes

On Monday, the trading window opens for employees at my company who are normally restricted from trading company stock. Here are the actions for which I’ve submitted my clearance forms and I’d like to do right away. * Sell one third of my company stock holdings in my 401(k) and reallocate that amount in a ... Continue reading this article…

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7 Ways To Kill Your Net Worth

by Luke Landes

If you’re interested in seeing your bottom line decrease each month, here are a few tips courtesy of CNN Money. Personally, I’d rather see my number go up each month, but perhaps that is just me. Ignore your money. Buying and holding doesn’t have to mean “owning and ignoring.” Asset allocation is one of the ... Continue reading this article…

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Consumerist Roundup

by Luke Landes

Dude Busted For Running An Illegal Bank For Tax Evaders From His Suburban Home Today’s lesson: don’t give your money to someone you don’t know who runs a “bank” out of his house. Oh, and you’ll get caught if you try evading taxes. Shop Around for Student Loans Summarizes a New York Times article: start ... Continue reading this article…

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Your Dream Job: 3 Steps for a Career Change

by Luke Landes

A few days ago, I started a contest by asking about your dream job. There have been great responses so far. Patrick wants to pitch: My dream job would be a professional baseball player — specifically a knuckleball pitcher. Why a knuckleballer? Well, it is a niche player who can be tremendously successful one game, ... Continue reading this article…

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How Much is Your Mom Worth?

by Luke Landes

Mother’s Day is approaching, which means you’re going to start hearing about a certain survey in noth the traditional and the “alternative” media. The paycheck comparison website, Salary.com, creates a questionnaire each year to determine the value of the work a mother does for her family. By determining the ten most popular “jobs” a mom ... Continue reading this article…

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This Week in the Archives: Sleeping, Paris Hilton, and Apartment Hunting

by Luke Landes

My friend Nickel is celebrating the second anniversary of his blog, FiveCentNickel. Did you know that Consumerism Commentary has been around since July 2003? I’m looking forward to my fourth anniversary. In the mean time, here are some articles from this week in some of those prior years. From May 1-7, 2006: * May 2: ... Continue reading this article…

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Personal Income Statement, April 2007 (Net Loss: $117)

by Luke Landes

Have you checked out my latest net worth report? Here is its companion, my income and expense report for April 2007. Although my bottom line increased this past month, it wasn’t due to saving or spending. My income this month totaled $7,731, but my expenses came to $7,848. This was the first month in a ... Continue reading this article…

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Personal Balance Sheet, April 2007 ($90,496, +2.41%)

by Luke Landes

After a strong net worth increase in March, April ended up a little cooler. Now that I re-combined my “business” assets and liabilities with the rest of my finances, I’m looking at slightly different numbers than last month’s report. My liquid accounts are down this month by 5.21 percent, thanks to a hefty tax bill. This ... Continue reading this article…

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Governor Jon Corzine Voluntarily Pays Ticket

by Luke Landes

Jon Corzine, the governor of New Jersey, was in an accident a few weeks ago. He was badly hurt because he wasn’t wearing a seat belt at the time. He fractured his thigh, ribs, and other bones and spent some time in a hospital. He’ll be spending even more time rehabilitating. He wasn’t issued a ... Continue reading this article…

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