As June comes to a close, I’d like to thank visitors, readers, and commenters who enjoyed or contributed to Consumerism Commentary over the past month. I particularly like to mention the blogs and related websites that helped sustain Consumerism Commentary by linking here and providing paths for visitors to arrive. Here are the websites, not including RSS readers, social media websites, and search engines, that sent the most visitors to Consumerism Commentary over the past 30 days.
- Get Rich Slowly +2
- Lifehacker 0
- MoneyBlogNetwork +3
- AllFinancialMatters +4
- No Credit Needed +7
- Free Money Finance +4
- The Simple Dollar 0
- Five Cent Nickel new
- My Open Wallet new
- I Will Teach You To Be Rich -7
Here are the most popular articles from the month of June.
- Getting Ripped Off for New Jersey Gasoline: Inaccurately Calibrated Pumps, Part 2 and Part 3
- Carnival of Personal Finance #157: Third Anniversary Edition
- McCain vs. Obama: Your Future Tax Bill
- How Much the iPhone 3G Really Costs You
- Passive Income: Real Estate? Blogging? I Don’t Think So
- Quicken 2009 Beta Open to Volunteers for Testing
- How I Could Find $10,000 Per Year if Necessary
- Personal Income Statement, May 2008 (Net Income: $9,943)
- Obama Proposes Second Economic Stimulus Package
- Personal Balance Sheet, May 2008 ($158,793, +7.8%)
I’ve come across a number of interesting websites thanks to the Wall Street Journal podcast, the Tech News Briefing, including the E-Report with Tom Dziubek and and Paul Herrmann. (Note: Tom has interviewed me three times for the E-Report.) Most recently, the podcast informed me about RepairPal, a website that helps you find a local mechanic including reviews, get your car questions answered by other community members (or by experts for a fee), and keep track of your own car’s service records.
The tool I find most interesting is a survey of the actual costs paid to have maintenance performed on any make and model. For example, I wanted to compare my recent oil and filter change for a Honda Civic with the prices paid by those living near me. I paid $25 after rebate.
Here are the results. The prices paid for an oil change range from $22 to $40 in my area, with the low end of this range paid at independent shops and the high end paid at dealerships.
The search results also include links to location information, phone numbers, and reviews for local shops. If the site can attract enough people to write reviews, this will be a handy resource. As of now, the site is new, so the list of shops is use but not as good as word of mouth for recommendations.
I don’t think “market timing” is a good investment strategy — in fact, it’s not a strategy at all — but it can be a worthwhile experiment if played with money you don’t mind losing.
One way to time the market is to buy low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs). These investments act as mutual funds — a portfolio of a number of stocks — that can be purchased through the stock market like any other stock. Using ETFs rather than individual stocks for market timing allows the investor to mitigate the risk of investing in just one company. Powershares Dynamic Banking (PJB) is one such ETF, designed to track the retail banking industry.
Are banks ready for a rebound? PJB is down 23% over the past 12 months. If it’s the right time, banking stocks might be able to provide not only a short-term gain, but a long-term gain if the market believes that this sector is deeply discounted due to all the various market conditions that have affected banks over the past year.
Some experts are saying that now is a good time to buy into the banking sector, but others believe that there will be more bad news ahead, trending stock prices further downward.
I’m investing for the long-term, but I wouldn’t mind finding bargains that might provide a significant increase over the next few years. Is banking the right industry for a fast recovery, and is now the right time?
Despite contributions totaling thousands of dollars so far this year, since January 1, the value of my investment portfolio is down 10%. That’s enough of a decline to make anyone consider giving up on the stock market. It’s an understandable point of view.
My 401(k) offers an automated interview to help you choose your asset allocation. Several questions resolve around the comfortability during losses. When the stock market has been in an upward trend, it’s a lot easier to say you’d be willing to experience a 20% decline over one year. However, during a bear market, those who believe they are suited for aggressive and risky investing are put to the test.
Do you cut your losses? Is it time to reconsider your long-term strategy?
I don’t think so. I’ll be sticking with my plan. If you have several decades to retirement, the stock market should continue its upward trend. In fact, staying the course and buying smartly during a bear market provides the opportunity for bargain-hunting.