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

April 2008

Many Exchange-Traded Funds are Not All They’re Cracked Up to Be

by Luke Landes

I own shares in one exchange-traded fund, iShares Dow Jones U.S. Telecommunications Sector Index Fund (IYZ). I picked up the shares with free money from a Sharebuilder bonus, and since it was free money, I decided to attempt to choose an investment narrower than my typical investing philosophy would normally allow. Rather than a broad ... Continue reading this article…

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MoneyBlogNetwork on Emergency Funds and Latest Carnival of Personal Finance

by Luke Landes

This morning, I published an article outlining 50 tips to help add a little something-something to your emergency fund. This article is part of the April MoneyBlogNetwork Group Writing Project, in which a number of bloggers are working together to write about emergency funds from a variety of perspectives. As of right now, 16 bloggers ... Continue reading this article…

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Taxes Complete and SEP IRA Funded: Next Time With a Professional

by Luke Landes

I spent a few hours yesterday completing my tax return. Although I had wanted to work with a tax professional, my procrastination interfered with the plan. It wasn’t as complicated as I expected, but there may have been some deductions I missed. I owe a few thousand dollars, which was less than I originally anticipated ... Continue reading this article…

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50 Tips to Help Establish Your Emergency Fund

by Luke Landes

One of the first steps to cleaning up one’s financial situation before embarking on the journey to become financially independent is the establishment of an emergency fund. An emergency fund, in its most basic form, is an accessible savings account where you keep cash for true emergencies, like the loss of a job or a ... Continue reading this article…

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SmartyPig Smartly Drops $25 Redemption Fee

by Luke Landes

A few weeks ago, I previewed the SmartyPig savings account, an interesting way to collaboratively save money for goals while earning interest on that money. I like the ease of sharing goals with friends and family and allowing them to contribute, but the redemption options were limited. By design, SmartyPig prefers that once you reach ... Continue reading this article…

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Updated High-Yield Savings and Checking Rates

by Luke Landes

I took a moment today to update the list of high-yield savings and checking account interest rates. While the rates are in decline, with the best annual yields around 3 percent, it will still beat the 0.2 percent to 0.4 percent many brick-and-mortar banks are offering on their savings accounts. An email from Justin, a reader, reminded me ... Continue reading this article…

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Weekend Reading

by Luke Landes

Here are several articles I’ve enjoyed this past week. What Do You Splurge On? My answer, as given in this article at Get Rich Slowly, is my preference for dining out with co-workers for lunch every day. Making Your Own Laundry Detergent: A Detailed Visual Guide. When I asked if frugality necessitates missing out on ... Continue reading this article…

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Jonathan Clements Exits: The Essence of Money

by Luke Landes

Jonathan Clements, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, is leaving journalism. He published his last article on Wednesday, a reflection on fourteen years at the Journal and 26 years writing professionally about money. In the article, he looks at the essence of saving and investing. Why bother? A number of visitors touched on these ... Continue reading this article…

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ING Direct Referral Program: Now Capital One 360

by Luke Landes

Update: ING Direct is now Capital One 360. The referral program still exists. There is more information in this review of Capital One 360. If you have $250 and are willing to become a customer of ING Direct, you have the opportunity to earn $525 on top of your deposit. It will take some work, ... Continue reading this article…

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The Frugal Lifestyle: Are We Missing Out on Life?

by Luke Landes

Life is short, and I believe it’s important to do and accomplish the things that make us happy while we can enjoy it as much as possible, healthily and with full wits. Is this philosophy at odds with the idea of frugality? A reader recently wrote in with this question for other Consumerism Commentary readers: ... Continue reading this article…

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My First Quarter 401(k) Results Are In

by Luke Landes

Here is a case study in why you shouldn’t fret over the details in an account that’s designed to keep funds invested for the long term. I would probably stay saner if I wait three decades before looking at my 401(k) account again. I received my retirement account statement in the mail today. This is ... Continue reading this article…

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If Monthly Budgets Don’t Excite You, Try This

by Luke Landes

I have never been a fan of a monthly budget. In early 2002, when I admitted I was spending more than I was earning, I forced myself to enact categorical limits for my expenses. It helped for a short time, but it wasn’t long before I found myself with a new spending philosophy and more ... Continue reading this article…

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Missing Money: Troll the Web for Abandoned and Unclaimed Property Owed to You

by Luke Landes

The company I work for “found” several million dollars last year thanks to a common law that originated in feudal England to the benefit the King. Not every check that a company sends in the mail gets cashed. Supposed recipients, such as investors, employees, insurance beneficiaries, companies, and other customers, don’t always keep current addresses ... Continue reading this article…

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My Electric Bill: Why I Pay More

by Sasha

I asked a few weeks back whether any of you had changed your spending behaviors based on our current recession. Some of you had cut back, while others underscored the importance of always living frugally, so no recession-time cutbacks are necessary. I, too, choose to live frugally. But sometimes, I also choose to pay more. ... Continue reading this article…

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10 Steps to Break the Credit Card Habit

by Luke Landes

If you’re a Type A credit card user, chances are you know it whether or not you are willing to admit it. If you can answer yes to these questions, then a lifestyle change is in order. Do you pay interest fees when you send in your credit card payment? Have you ever paid your ... Continue reading this article…

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Weekend Roundup

by Luke Landes

The weather is nice this weekend, so I will be taking advantage of that as much as possible. In the mean time, here are some articles I’ve enjoyed this week worthy of attention. I will be choosing the winner of the $100 SmartyPig gift card this weekend. If you entered the contest, start checking your ... Continue reading this article…

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Tracking My Verizon Wireless Rebate Online

by Luke Landes

I’m not a fan of rebates, particularly the kind of rebate for which you must pay full price for a product up front with the promise of cash back if you remember to mail in your receipt and a portion of the product’s packaging in time. I’m not a fan because I’m generally unorganized, at ... Continue reading this article…

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Top Career Choices in a Recession: But is This How We Should Be Selecting Jobs?

by Luke Landes

There are a few obvious ways the economy effects the job market. In times of recession, large companies often cut back on resources, offering fewer opportunities for movement. Smaller companies suffer as well, particularly those without the flexibility of large companies. The economy has a psychological effect on careers, as well. While the economy is ... Continue reading this article…

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Personal Income Statement, March 2008 (Net Income: $9,257)

by Luke Landes

Each month, I publish a couple of financial reports on Consumerism Commentary in order to give myself a chance to review my financial health on a regular basis. Publishing the data online helps to keep me accountable for my spending and saving decisions. This post contains my income statement, and it goes along with my ... Continue reading this article…

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Personal Balance Sheet, March 2008 ($143,174, +6.7%)

by Luke Landes

Yesterday, I mentioned I would be blogging full time and quitting my day job effective within two weeks. I really appreciate everyone’s support, but I’m embarrassed to admit that the announcement was a hastily-conceived scheme for April Fool’s Day. The truth is I plan on continuing to work for a while. The idea is not ... Continue reading this article…

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