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

2008

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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TradeKing Extends $50 Bonus Offer

by Luke Landes

If you are interested in opening a new brokerage account, you will now have more time to qualify for TradeKing’s $50 new account bonus. The promotion was originally slated to end this week, but the brokerage has decided to extend the $50 bonus through November. In order to qualify, open a new account at TradeKing ... Continue reading this article…

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Alternative to Credit Cards: Layaway Programs

by Luke Landes

It must be a sign of the times. This year I’ve seen at least one commercial advertising a retailer’s layaway plan. These have been out of style for at least as long as I’ve been an adult consumer. The theory is that rather than paying up front for a large item, a Christmas gift for ... 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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Should the Bailout Money Be Used to Forgive Credit Card Debt?

by Luke Landes

The Financial Services Roundtable and the Consumer Federation of America asked the Department of the Treasury today for a piece of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act money, the bailout money, to help banks and card issuers reduce the credit card balances for borrowers who don’t qualify for other government assistance like repayment plans. So far, ... Continue reading this article…

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Earn a $75 Bonus for Opening a Bank of America Checking Account

by Luke Landes

If you own a credit card from Bank of America, the bank is offering you a $75 bonus for opening a checking account with a minimum deposit of $25 before November 30. The bonus is available for Bank of America’s “MyAccess” checking account. To qualify for the bonus, visit Bank of America’s website, select the ... Continue reading this article…

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Cleaning Carpets Again and Daily Links

by Luke Landes

Four months ago, I purchased a Hoover SteamVac and used the device to clean the carpets in my apartment. I was impressed then. In order to prepare for some company this coming weekend, I cleaned the carpets again this past weekend. The results were just as great. I have a cat, and even though you ... 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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$25 E*TRADE Bonus Ends Today

by Luke Landes

Note: As of October 28, this deal is no longer available. This is just a quick reminder that the promotion for the $25 bonus offered by E*TRADE Bank ends today. In order to qualify for the $25, you must open your account by today and fund the account with at least $5,000 by Monday, November ... 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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All New ING Direct $25 Bonus Links Available

by Luke Landes

As of today, ING Direct is offering a 2.75 percent APY on the online bank’s Orange Savings Account. They are also offering $25 account opening bonuses to new customers with an initial deposit of $250 to qualify. This bonus is based on a customer referral; existing customers receive a $10 bonus for referring a new customer ... 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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5 Days Left to Earn $25 Bonus at E*TRADE (Exclusive)

by Luke Landes

Note: As of October 28, this deal is no longer available. E*TRADE Bank is currently offering a $25 bonus for opening a new savings account, but the promotion is ending soon. If you’re interested in earning this easy money, there are a few dates you should know: Monday, October 27, 2008 is the deadline for ... Continue reading this article…

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HSBC Direct Lowers Interest Rate to 3.0% APY

by Luke Landes

HSBC Direct lowered the interst rate offered on its online savings account to an annual yield of 3.0 percent today, almost two years after the bank offered a leading 6.0 percent APY. Here’s their latest corporate communication, sent to all account holders: Since I last wrote to you in mid September we have seen much change in ... Continue reading this article…

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