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

November 2007

Credit Card Jacked Up Interest Rate: Cancel the Card?

by Luke Landes

Kimberly Lankford from Kiplinger recently handled a question from a reader. Capital One raised her interest rate from 9.9 percent to 15.9 percent on her account, and she’s wondering what her options are. You could decline the rate change and continue to pay off your balance at the old rate… Capital One would then close your account ... Continue reading this article…

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10 Easy Ways to Save Money Without Much Effort

by Luke Landes
Saving strategies for the real world

The holiday season is approaching, so I know I’ll be spending more money. I have even begun planning a vacation, and I want to make sure I can afford it. Additionally, I am projecting that my side business will make less money in the future and not allow for the career transition from full-time cube ... Continue reading this article…

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Warren Buffett: Don’t Repeal the Estate Tax

by Luke Landes

If you are lucky enough to inherit (for example) $10 million in property or investments from deceased relatives, you are also lucky enough to pass a good portion of that to the government in the form of estate taxes. It is kind of a strange concept. Why should that money be taxed? It is simply ... Continue reading this article…

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A Car’s Resale Value: Does it Matter?

by Luke Landes

When I purchased my Honda Civic a few years ago, I chose this particular car because it was economical and reliable. I knew that Civics hold their value well, but I wasn’t planning on selling the car for many years. Kelley Blue Book recently announced their awards for best resale value. If you need a ... Continue reading this article…

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My Picks From the Top 100 Undiscovered Websites

by Luke Landes

PC Magazine recently published a list of their editors’ picks for the top 100 “undiscovered” websites. The list spans a variety of categories from reference to music to health. Consumerism Commentary readers are probably familiar with a few of these sites, particularly those in the “money” category. Here are some of the highlights throughout. Hard ... Continue reading this article…

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Gift Cards: Customers Lost $8 Billion Last Year

by Luke Landes

Here’s another reason not to give gift cards or certificates as presents this holiday season (or any other time). According to estimates by TowerGroup, $8 billion was lost by consumers last year who let their gift cards go unused — expired, lost, or ignored. Consumer Reports also says that their latest survey shows that 27 percent ... Continue reading this article…

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Pros and Cons Of New 401(k) Auto-Enrollment Rules

by Luke Landes

Employees who do not specifically choose to do anything with the retirement plans offered by their employer are being targeted by the Labor Department. Under new rules, individuals who do not make their own choice will be automatically placed into 401(k) plans in which their investments will be allocated in a mix of stocks and ... Continue reading this article…

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Against Social Multitasking: Be Where You Are

by Sasha

I had family visiting from California this weekend, and was very glad to be able to take time off from work and everything else just to be able to spend it with them. It’s precious time I’ll always remember. In the midst of our happy chatter over brunch this morning at a great local diner, ... Continue reading this article…

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Gay Men Earn 23% Less Pay Than Married Men

by Sasha

Are gay men discriminated against by employers? Yes, according to a new study which appears in the Journal of Labor Research. The study, co-authored by Bruce Elmslie, professor of economics at UNH Whittemore and Edinaldo Tebaldi of Bryant University in Rhode Island, contains an in-depth analysis of wage and labor data collected by the U.S. ... Continue reading this article…

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Reader Question: Forgo ESPP Share Discount?

by Luke Landes

JBW submitted a question to Consumerism Commentary alongside an earlier discussion of my own Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP) shares and I’d like to highlight the question here. I’m currently trying to decide what to do in terms of my employer’s ESPP. The discount is 10 percent and stock is bought on a monthly basis (the ... Continue reading this article…

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Pop Star Follies Part 2: Michael Jackson’s Foreclosure

by Luke Landes

We’ve been discussing Britney Spears’ reported poor financial management strategy lately. A recent court report described her overspending and lack of investment, although this may have been a part of her spousal support strategy. She must have financial advisers on her payroll, right? There must be more to the story. Nevertheless, I’m not stepping up ... Continue reading this article…

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The Decline and Fall of the U.S. Dollar

by Sasha

The U.S. dollar hit record lows today due to concerns that China might shift its foreign exchange holdings elsewhere. I’d been concerned before when I first heard that the Canadian dollar was ahead of our own, but today, The Guardian reported that the American dollar had reached a 26-year low against the British pound: By ... Continue reading this article…

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8 Secret Credit Scores You Don’t Know About

by Luke Landes

I’ve mentioned before that your income (or reported income) comes into play when you are offered credit. But wait! Your income isn’t considered when Fair Isaac Corporation calculates your credit score. We were discussing qualifying for mortgages at the time, but recent article from Liz Pulliam Weston confirms that credit card companies use some scoring ... Continue reading this article…

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Do You Get Vaccinated Against Influenza?

by Luke Landes

My company was offering vaccinations today for any employees wanting to gain protection from the flu this season. By the early afternoon, they ran out of vaccine and added another date a week from now to the schedule for those who did not get a chance. I’ve never opted for the flu vaccine. It has ... Continue reading this article…

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Higher Health Insurance Premiums for Overweight: Discrimination?

by Luke Landes

If you are seeking your own health insurance outside of an employer plan, your weight has a lot to do with the premium you’ll pay as well as your ability to even qualify for insurance. Insurance companies find this to be logical. Overweight individuals account for a higher percentage of health-related costs than they should, ... Continue reading this article…

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Weekly Blog Roundup II, Heroes (Season One) Edition

by Luke Landes

I’ve been a fan of the television show, Heroes, from the beginning of the first season, but my girlfriend is only a recent convert. We started viewing the first season in order with marathon sessions this past weekend, in between putting together report cards for her students. Here are some more recent articles from the ... Continue reading this article…

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The 5 Top Credit Cards for 0% APR on Purchases

by Luke Landes

Editor’s Note: Thank you for your interest, these offers have expired and are no longer available. Updated March 20, 2008. If you manage your money well and can afford to do so, there’s nothing wrong with using 0 percent offers to make larger purchases. Taking this approach gives you two advantages: you can leave more of ... Continue reading this article…

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Personal Income Statement, October 2007 (Net Income: $5,851)

by Luke Landes

This article is a companion to the personal balance sheet, posted earlier this morning. Inside, I take a look at my spending and income throughout the month of October. October was another fairly ordinary month, with only a couple of extra expenses included. After reviewing my expense categories for the month, I found a few ... Continue reading this article…

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Personal Balance Sheet, October 2007 ($119,970, +6.4%)

by Luke Landes

For those of you new to Consumerism Commentary, one unique feature — in fact it was the original purpose for starting this blog — is the fact that I publish my financial reports at the end of each month. This post is my balance sheet, which measures my “modified net worth.” It’s a calculation of ... Continue reading this article…

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Grabbing the Last of the 5.65 APY CDs

by Sasha

Now that the Federal Reserve Board lowered the interest rate, it looks like we’re seeing the last of the 5.3 percent APY savings accounts, which appear to be a dying breed. I personally expect even these to disappear shortly; after all, why offer rates in the 5s when other banks are touting rates in the 4s ... Continue reading this article…

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