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

2008

Changed My Verizon Wireless Plan: Same Features for $30 Less

by Luke Landes

Earlier this year, I upgraded my only phone — I have no need for a land line — to a BlackBerry 8830 on Verizon Wireless. Now I receive my important email (in addition to some junk mail) where ever I happen to be. I accepted the fact that I would be paying for this service. ... Continue reading this article…

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News and Blogs: Wednesday, November 12, 2008

by Luke Landes

Seeking Guest Authors for the Week of November 23. I’m looking for a few writers to provide a small number of articles later this month while I am in California. While I’ll be blogging somewhat regularly during this time, I like to use this week every year to feature writing by other authors. If you ... Continue reading this article…

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Take Control of Your Finances Part 1-C: Make Accurate Predictions

by Luke Landes

Now that you’ve taken an inventory of your finances and determined your net worth, I can tell you that the number is meaningless. Well, there is a point to your net worth, but it’s not the most important number to your finances. Your net worth tells a very small part of the story that defines ... Continue reading this article…

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Take Control of Your Finances Part 1-B: Take an Inventory

by Luke Landes

An acquaintance of mine formerly owned a store that sells “country” products like hand-crafted wood furniture, candles, and decor inspired by rural living. Twice a year, she recruited family members and friends to help take an inventory of the entire store. This process involved many hours of walking throughout the building and counting items on ... Continue reading this article…

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Take Control of Your Finances Part 1-A: Become Aware

by Luke Landes

Who are you? For any one human being, the number of answers to this question approaches infinity. There are many aspects that are included in the definition of self. The most common response is to answer with the collection of sounds used to nominally identify yourself: “I am Joe.” Our names, generally given to us ... Continue reading this article…

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November Cash Experiment

by Luke Landes

After reviewing October’s expenses last week, I decided that November would be a good month to experiment with a cash-only philosophy. Some studies have shown that in general, people spend less money when their only option is cash or that the use of credit cards inspires additional spending. Most of the time, these studies simply ... Continue reading this article…

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Twitter Poll: Will You Be Spending More or Less Than Last Year on Gifts?

by Luke Landes

Every so often, I present a question to Twitter to get a feel for opinions and ideas of Consumerism Commentary fans, readers, and friends. Yesterday, I asked whether you plan on spending more or less this holiday season than you did last year on gifts and other holiday expenses. With a troubling economy that doesn’t ... Continue reading this article…

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Personal Income Statement, October 2008 (Net Income: $9,074)

by Luke Landes

Despite the 6 percent decrease in my net worth in October, my income and expenses were healthy. My income was at my expected level for both my salary and “extracurricular” income. October’s expenses were a little higher than expected, but still within an acceptable range. Each month, to accompany my balance sheet, I publish my income ... Continue reading this article…

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Personal Balance Sheet, October 2008 ($164,209, -6.1%)

by Luke Landes

Following the end of each month, I publicly review my personal financial condition. This is the primary reason I do not use my full name on this blog; I’d like to be able to continue sharing the specific details of my finances without providing people who know my in “real life” the ability to search ... Continue reading this article…

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November News for Consumerism Commentary

by Luke Landes

Consumerism Commentary Community Over the weekend, I created the Consumerism Commentary Community, or C3, a forum or message board for discussions with other Consumerism Commentary readers. This blog has a large number of regular readers, and the new Community website is an oft-requested feature. Please stop by and add to the discussion. In order to ... Continue reading this article…

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Fed Cuts Two Rates: Federal Funds Target Rate and Discount Rate

by Luke Landes

The Federal Reserve Board responded to the economy yesterday by lowering the target for the federal funds rate to 1 percent and the discount rate to 1.25 percent. The first number is the rate usually in the news. The federal funds rate is the interest rate that banks charge to lend their balances to one another. If ... Continue reading this article…

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How Five Banks Post Your Deposits and Withdrawals: Do They Trap You Into Overdraft Fees?

by Luke Landes

Update: Bank of America settled a lawsuit for $410 million concerning this issue below. In his documentary film Overdrawn!, Karney Hatch mentions that banks often post your deposits and withdrawals to your bank account in such a way that they maximize the possibility of overdrafts. Even if you believe you have a large enough balance ... Continue reading this article…

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How to Avoid Overdraft Fees, and Quicken Premier 2009 Giveaway

by Luke Landes

The giveaway to receive one of two free copies of Quicken Premier 2009 has ended. As I mentioned earlier today, overdraft fees (also known as NSF fees, insufficient funds fees, etc.) are basically interest paid for the privilege of using a bank’s money for a short period of time, a loan. There are ways to ... Continue reading this article…

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Overdrawn!: A Documentary About Bank Fees, Screening Tonight

by Luke Landes

If you are in the area of the University of California, Berkeley, stop by Mulford Hall tonight to see a screening of Overdrawn!, a documentary film by Karney Hatch. In the film, Karney takes a hard look at practices by big banks, primarily overdraft fees. The documentary follows the writer/director as he talks to bankers, ... Continue reading this article…

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When Your Company Stops Matching Your 401(k) Contribution

by Luke Landes

Yesterday, GM announced that it would be suspending the company’s matching contributions into its employees’ 401(k) retirement plans starting November 1 and lasting until financial conditions improve. For people like me who make their living working for a corporation, the 401(k) match is practically expected. One way to look at the company match, if dollar ... Continue reading this article…

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Economy in Shambles, Times are Tough: Oh Really?

by Luke Landes

Yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 514 points, making October 22 yet another day among the top ten worst days on Wall Street. But it’s the credit crunch that we’re feeling on Main Street. Until the banks start lending to each other again, it’s difficult for small businesses and individuals to find loans necessary ... Continue reading this article…

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Rich People are More Likely to Cheat on Income Tax Returns

by Luke Landes

According to a new study by Joel Slemrod, a professor at the University of Michigan’s business school, and Andrew Johns, an IRS researcher, the more you earn, the more likely you are to cheat on your taxes. The study compiled data from tax returns from 2001, audits, and unpublished data from the Internal Revenue Service. ... Continue reading this article…

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FNBO Direct Lowers Online Savings Account Interest Rate to 3.25% APY

by Luke Landes

Only yesterday, HSBC Direct lowered the interest rate offered on the bank’s online savings account from 3.25 percent to 3.0 percent APY. Today, following suit, FNBO Direct lowered its rate from 3.5 percent to 3.25 percent. These drops are now expected with the Federal Reserve lowering interest rates and the London interbank offered rate (Libor) decreasing. It’s increasingly hard ... Continue reading this article…

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Emotions and Money: When to Keep Them Separated

by Luke Landes

Human beings aren’t logical, and it doesn’t take a scientist from Vulcan to prove that fact. A corollary to this statement is that human beings do not make logical decisions when it comes to their personal finances. Consider some things that could happen if people thought about the financial consequences of every choice: People would ... Continue reading this article…

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How to Get the Latest News and Opinions in Personal Finance

by Luke Landes

Thanks very much to all the readers and contributors who have helped make Consumerism Commentary a complete community for the past five years. In the span of those five years, the “blogosphere” has exploded with thousands of new blogs that write about personal finance, the economy, budgeting, and every money-related topic you could possible conceive ... Continue reading this article…

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