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June 2007


Today I received a question from a reader about the timing of credit card payments. He asked, “Is it better to pay credit off right away or wait until the bill is due?”

Assuming you are in the habit of paying off your credit card every month — and therefore you are never charged interest — go ahead and wait. In the mean time, your cash can earn interest at a bank like HSBC Direct. You don’t want to wait until the last minute as the postal service can be somewhat unpredictable. I’d suggest sending the check at least a week in advance of the due date. This may minimize your interest-earning period, but it’s safer than taking the chance of getting charged a fee for a late payment.

The best solution is to pay your bill using an “ACH transfer,” which is basically a bank-to-bank transfer of money, rather than sending a paper check. This is normally the type of processing that takes place when you pay your credit card online from your card issuer’s website.

If you are not in the habit of paying your credit card bill in full each month, then send money in as soon as possible to reduce your average daily balance. Your interest charged each month is based on the credit card’s rate and your average daily balance, so you are better off reducing that number as much and as soon as possible.

Feel free to send me questions by emailing tips at this domain name. I’m not a financial advisor, but if I can help, I will.

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I’ve discovered that I haven’t really had hot water in my new apartment since moving in. I’ve been settling for barely warm showers thinking I was just a victim of poor timing. An adjustment to the hot water heater has fixed this problem as far as I can tell. Now that I can take warm showers, I can more enjoy these articles from MoneyBlogNetwork and beyond.

Before we get to the links, here’s a reminder that I’m giving away two copies of Cash, Cars & College by Janine Bolon. With only 11 comments so far, your chances are still pretty good. Now, on with the show.

AllFinancialMatters asks whether a share buyback or a dividend is “better.” FiveCentNickel has 5 reasons you should care about your FICO score. Free Money Finance says you should ask for more when offered a job.

Blueprint for Financial Prosperity notices that financial gurus insult people. Mighty Bargain Hunter wants to know if you’d get a joint savings account.

Mapgirl explains why you need a personal finance software program rather than just checking your balances online or using only “budgeting” software.

J.D. has seen the light and has come to the conclusion that having a credit card is a good move once one is responsible enough to hold one.

Golbguru wonders whether to shop at Wal-Mart.

Consumerist answers a reader’s question: are better credit card rewards worth a higher APR? They answer correctly as expected: cash back rewards are only for those who pay their balances in full every month.

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Yesterday, I shared some data culled by the recent reader survey for Consumerism Commentary visitors. Here’s a little more information, this time about reading habits. First of all, 49.3% readers visit the website directly, while 45.0% prefer using their RSS reader. (I provide a full RSS feed for readers’ benefit.)

Here are some charts revealing how long readers have been visiting, how often readers visit, and how many blogs readers follow on a regular basis. Read the full article →

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Back in January I was seriously considering canceling my Netflix subscription. I wasn’t making much use of it for a while, but they continued to charge me every month. Rather than getting rid of the service, I simply decided to watch the movies more often. I’ve been an active user ever since writing about my consideration.

Last night, I received a notification that Netflix is lowering the price for the plan by a couple of dollars to $13.99 plus tax, and this change has been applied to my account automatically.

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Reader Question: Are Clothes a Part of Net Worth?

by Luke Landes

A reader recently posed this question to Consumerism Commentary: Are clothes a part of net worth? In May, I wrote about how to calculate your net worth. Technically, your net worth includes the value of everything you own subtracted by everything you owe. Your wardrobe, shoes, furniture, coin collection, car(s) if you have one, house(s) ... Continue reading this article…

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Survey Results: Who You May Be

by Luke Landes

A few weeks ago, I asked Consumerism Commentary readers to complete a short survey so I could learn a little bit more about who is reading this blog. It was completely voluntary, and I’m happy with the level of response. Thanks to everyone who filled out the survey! I promised I would share the results ... Continue reading this article…

6 comments Read the full article →

Giveaway: Cash, Cars & College by Janine Bolon

by Luke Landes

Earlier this month, I read and reviewed Cash, Cars & College: A Young Person’s Guide to Money, by Janine Bolon, a neat little book touching on some of the important aspects of managing money for a teenager looking to someday become a functioning adult, moreso than the average citizen. I now have the opportunity to ... Continue reading this article…

50 comments Read the full article →

Get Free Credit Advice

by Luke Landes

Here’s a new resource for getting free advice from credit counselors associated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. The organization has teamed up with MSN, and during most weekdays counselors are on hand at the Ask a Credit Counselor Message Board to answer your questions. Here’s an example of a recent question and answer ... Continue reading this article…

14 comments Read the full article →

This Week in the Archives: Upside-Down Cars, Eminent Domain and GM

by Luke Landes

Here’s a look at what you may have missed from Consumerism Commentary in prior years. From June 23-30, 2006: * Warren Buffett Gives Most of His Money to Bill Gates * Selling a Car While Upside-Down * Quicken 2007? * Looking for Apartments, Update 5 From June 23-30, 2005: * Eminent Domain Rules Officially Changed ... Continue reading this article…

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20 Pounds of Mints

by Luke Landes

A while ago, I participated in a little contest sponsored by the fine folks at Mint, and for some strange, cosmic reason, I was selected to be the recipient of 20 pounds of mints. I was trying to move, yet people still wanted to send me boxes. I’m not complaining, though; the mints came in ... Continue reading this article…

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Experience Review: Two Men and a Truck (North Arlington, NJ)

by Luke Landes

When I decided that I didn’t want to break my back moving my heavier furniture down one flight and up at least one more, I also decided that I wanted someone else to do that for me. I could have done more research when choosing a moving company, as I was hoping for a recommendation ... Continue reading this article…

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Homeowners Out of Touch With Reality

by Luke Landes

I have limited access to the internet over the next few days, so there may be only sporadic posting on Consumerism Commentary during that time. I saw Les Christie’s article, Out of Touch With Realty Reality, last night and I found it interesting. If homeowners are convinces that their homes are increasing value even in ... Continue reading this article…

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The Carnival is Up!

by Luke Landes

I’m working from home this morning while I am waiting for the movers to arrive to take care of the final touches. While you’re waiting with me, read some of the best articles the blogosphere had to offer last week by browsing the latest Carnival of Personal Finance, hosted by The Digerati Life in literary ... Continue reading this article…

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My Weekend: Packing and Moving

by Luke Landes

My choice for a new apartment isn’t the most frugal decision I’ve ever made, and I’m fine with that. The apartments are in a nicer area, they don’t attract partying college students, and they’re relatively new. That shows in the $1,425 monthly rent. The loft area, while increasing the square footage and appeal, also draws ... Continue reading this article…

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Weekly Blog Roundup, Still Moving Edition

by Luke Landes

Over the past few days, I’ve been bringing boxes from my old apartment to my new, and last night, during both trips, I got caught in a downpour. I should be almost completely moved by Munday, after the movers I’ve hired take care of the larger furniture. Here are some interesting articles from other bloggers ... Continue reading this article…

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Cash vs. Credit Card: Gas Stations Charging Different Prices

by Luke Landes

I noticed something disturbing last night. I pulled into my favorite low-cost gas station, which happens to be Valero. It’s my favorite simply because it’s the least expensive in the area and it’s right on my route home from work. Apparently they have begun charging 6 to 8 cents more per gallon for payments with ... Continue reading this article…

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What Are You Talking About, Willis? High-Interest Loans.

by Luke Landes

If you’ve watched television late at night, as I do when I’m trying to come up with things to write about here on Consumerism Commentary, you might come across Gary Coleman pitching cash loans. Here’s the commercial I keep seeing (embedded video). If you can’t see it, here’s the direct link. Arnold’s talkin’ ’bout CashCall, ... Continue reading this article…

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Moving In: Setting Up My Utilities

by Luke Landes

Last week, I called my gas and electricity provider, PSE&G, to transfer my account from my old apartment to the new. The phone system said that I should complete my request online, so that’s what I did. It’s a good thing I called the back earlier this week to verify they had my information. As ... Continue reading this article…

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This Week in the Archives: Solvency, Mistakes, and Loan Consolidation

by Luke Landes

86.6 percent of regular Consumerism Commentary readers have been visiting this blog for a year or less. That’s a lot of people who have missed articles written this week in prior years. If that includes you, this retrospective is for your benefit. Here are some of the articles that may be worth a read. From June ... Continue reading this article…

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$250 Bonus for American Express Business Gold Rewards Card

by Luke Landes

Editor’s Note: Thank you for your interest, this offer expired and is no longer available. I just received a notice that the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card has increased its sign-on bonus from $50 to $250. I’ve updated my list of credit cards with bonuses with the new information. The $250 bonus is in ... Continue reading this article…

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