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

2007

Use Your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Funds Before It’s Too Late

by Luke Landes

In two short weeks, 2007 will come to a close. If you have money in your Flexible Spending Account when the new year comes around, and your company doesn’t offer a grace period, you will lose those funds. A Flexible Spending Account is a savings plan offered by many employers that lets you put aside ... Continue reading this article…

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PriceProtectr Just Saved My Girlfriend $100

by Luke Landes

Unfortunately, I forgot to mention PriceProtectr during my recent Wall Street Journal interview, but I can’t praise this free service enough. This website keeps a private database of your purchases, in store or online, and monitors the price of the items. Many stores offer a price match policy, in which the customer would be entitled ... Continue reading this article…

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Wall Street Journal Podcast: Finding Deals Online

by Luke Landes

Last Friday, the first portion of my latest interview with the Wall Street Journal Tech News Briefing E-Report was published for podcast listeners. Today, the second half of my rambling was broadcast, this time about finding deals online. Here are the time stamps relevant to the interview. 07:10 E-Report introduction 07:25 Best place to find ... Continue reading this article…

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Overspending for the Kids

by Luke Landes

I have to applaud Kerri and Mike Miller for one reason. They were willing to share their financial problems with the readers of Money Magazine and CNN Money, despite the level of embarassment that kind of publicity might create. While the article spotlighting the couple did not say explicitly whether the Millers are spending more ... Continue reading this article…

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Holiday Gift Guide, Part 4: Frugal Homemade Gifts

by Sasha

Homemade gifts can be so much more than the sum of their parts, which makes them a great frugal gift option. They are redolent of effort, of “I thought of you all year and worked on this for you” versus “I realized I needed a gift for you ten minutes ago and picked this up ... Continue reading this article…

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The Candidates’ Income Tax Plans: Republicans

by Luke Landes

I started taking a look at the proposals for revision of the income tax code being tossed around by the latest presidential candidates yesterday. The Democrats are in favor of continuing the Bush administration’s tax cuts, but only for certain individuals. They also support a number of tax cuts that I’ll write about in the ... Continue reading this article…

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Holiday Gift Guide, Part 3: More Clutter-Free Consumable Gifts

by Sasha

I got a little carried away with consumable gifts in the food and drink category in my last entry, but that’s to be expected. This time around, my favorite ideas for non-edible consumable gifts: * Soap and Bath Products – They make a great gift basket, but are easily used up, so they don’t contribute ... Continue reading this article…

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2007: The End of TIAA-Cref for My Investments

by Luke Landes

At the end of the year, I will be ceasing my investment in TIAA-Cref funds for retirement. There are less expensive options at Vanguard, and TIAA-Cref’s customer service record has been spotty. I haven’t had any problems lately, but other people still face difficulties. My original post about my problems with TIAA-Cref from almost two ... Continue reading this article…

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Math Anxiety Could Hurt Your Finances: 5 Ways to Get Over It

by Sasha

I just ran across a cute article by TODAY Financial Editor Jean Chatzky which really spoke to me as a hater of all things mathematical. According to Chatzky, math anxiety, one of the biggest roadblocks to getting one’s finances together, affects half of all Americans at some level. It can result from any early numerical ... Continue reading this article…

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Ten Tips for the Holidays: Avoiding Credit Card Traps

by Luke Landes

It’s not unusual for even the most savvy credit-card-carrying consumer to fall into some of the most popular traps for spenders set by credit issuers. I write about using credit cards wisely, but unfortunately, many who don’t get penalized with interest and fees. Even those who always pay their credit card bill in full are ... Continue reading this article…

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Credit Cards for Balance Transfers: Low Promotional Interest Rates and Fees

by Luke Landes

Last week, following the list of 79 credit cards offering 0 percent APR, John made the following point: Awesome list Flexo. However all of them are not devoid of Balance Transfer (BT) fees. That is something to watch for especially when the BT fees are not capped. Would be great if this list could be further ... Continue reading this article…

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Livin’ it Up: Young Philly Couple Charged With Identity Theft

by Luke Landes

Jocelyn Kirsch and Edward K. Anderton live in Philadelphia but they’ve been spending their time in Paris, London, Hawaii, and Seattle thanks to their neighbors. The neighbors aren’t quite as happy, however. The two were using their expensive apartment to assist in stealing the identities of the other people living in their building as well ... Continue reading this article…

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Holiday Gift Guide, Part 2: Clutter-Free Consumable Gifts: Food and Drink

by Sasha

Besides charitable giving, this year I’m focusing on clutter-free gifts: experiences and consumables. While experiences are great gifts, consumables give you something to open and enjoy Christmas morning. Unclutterer.com has some nice suggestions for theme-based consumable gift collections, such as bulbs and seeds for a gardener, spice collections for someone who enjoys cooking, and the ... Continue reading this article…

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Thanks For the Bats

by Luke Landes

This is a guest post from someone who pops up in some of my more personal stories here on Consumerism Commentary. “A.” is a fourth-grade teacher in the New York City public school system. Every Halloween, my aunt lends her skills to my fourth-grade class by creating bats out of sewn felt bean bags, which ... Continue reading this article…

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Personal Income Statement, November 2007 (Net Income: $5,982)

by Luke Landes

Each month, I review my modified net worth in addition to my income and expenses. A monthly review helps me stay focused on improving my financial condition, and doing so in public is a way to hold myself accountable. If I have to report to the public my progress each month, I’m theoretically less likely ... Continue reading this article…

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Personal Balance Sheet, November 2007 ($121,861, +1.8%)

by Luke Landes

Following the end of every month, I take my financials from Quicken and publish a few reports online. I’ve been doing this since 2003 to keep myself accountable for my finances. The balance sheet included in this post measures my “modified net worth.” It’s a list of the present values of my assets my liabilities, ... Continue reading this article…

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8 Tips for a Unsuccessful Office Holiday Party

by Luke Landes

If your office is like mine, you celebrate the holidays (but primarily Christmas) with a gift exchange of some sort as well as a party. I’ve found the office holiday experience to be hit or miss. Now, with the help of NBC’s The Office, here are some pointers for making December in the workplace awkward, ... Continue reading this article…

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Time to Run and Hide From Stocks?

by Luke Landes

The stock market has certainly been all over the place lately. A few people have told me that the constant chatter about impending doom is pushing them towards pulling out or re-allocating their investments to expose themselves less to stocks. If I can stomach short-term losses like I think I can, I intend on using ... Continue reading this article…

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Ben Stein: 3 Biggest Retirement Mistakes

by Luke Landes

Ben Stein has been making the rounds through the media in support of National Retirement Planning Week, a celebration of preparedness. He recently met with Terri Cullen from the Wall Street Journal and sat down for a quick interview. Ben shared his opinion regarding the three biggest mistakes people often make in regards to the ... Continue reading this article…

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Holiday Gift Guide, Part 1: 3 Ways to Incorporate Charitable Giving

by Sasha

‘Tis the season to think about charitable giving, and there are some wonderful opportunities to do this while giving to your friends and loved ones. Whether it’s one of your favorite causes or one which aligns with the interests of the recipient, there are three simple ways to make a doubly-impactful gift this holiday season. ... Continue reading this article…

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