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

March 2009

Giveaway: Free TurboTax Online Premier Tax E-Filing (10 Available)

by Luke Landes

I have ten passes for free federal and free state tax filing using TurboTax Online Premier to share with Consumerism Commentary readers. Each prize is valued over $100. If you are interested in being included in the drawing, it’s very simple to enter. To enter for the giveaway, all you have to do is leave ... Continue reading this article…

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Can an Emergency Fund Be Too Big?

by Luke Landes

Being prepared for financial emergencies is a primary step on the path to creating and maintaining solid footing, but as with other good things, too much of a positive can be negative. Every individual’s or family’s situation is unique, so it’s difficult to prescribe a hard and fast rule about the right size of an ... Continue reading this article…

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Reader Question: Find Better Loan to Pay Off Student Loan?

by Luke Landes

Occasionally, readers email me with questions about their own personal finances. Considering I share so much of my own, it’s always interesting to get a peek into the issues other people are concerned about. In fact, right now, I am actively seeking reader questions to serve as launching points for a discussion I plan to ... Continue reading this article…

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Oversight and Regulation: Too Much or Too Little?

by Luke Landes

Many economists are citing the lack of regulation of the financial markets as one of the primary causes of the recent economic collapse. Alan Greenspan, once a believer in deregulation, blames the crisis on the financial industry’s inability to monitor itself. A pattern of financial deregulation over the past two and a half decades paved ... Continue reading this article…

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IRS Accepting Returns With $8,000 First-Time Home Buyer Credit March 30

by Luke Landes

Update: The IRS is now accepting tax returns claiming the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit. Earlier this month, and in some cases at the end of February, major tax software providers like H&R Block, Intuit TurboTax, and TaxAct updated their programming to allow qualifying taxpayers to claim the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home ... Continue reading this article…

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New Study Outlines Importance of an Emergency Fund

by Luke Landes

This is timely information consider I wrote this morning about establishing a small emergency fund before taking on the task of accelerating debt payoff. Last week, Liz Pulliam Weston from MSN Money provided details from a summary of different savings studies over the past few years. I discovered this article today. According to the survey ... Continue reading this article…

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Which Comes First: Paying Off Debt or Starting Emergency Fund?

by Luke Landes

Taking the first few steps to ensure your future financial stability can be daunting. There is so much to do, trying to decide where to start can result in wasted time, and wasted time is wasted money. Eliminating debt is often the first priority, and rightly so. If debt is in the form of credit ... Continue reading this article…

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Reader Survey: Who are Consumerism Commentary Readers?

by Luke Landes

Earlier this year, I conducted a short survey of Consumerism Commentary readers. I do this once in a while to try to develop a picture of who you are. A few people have expressed interest in seeing the results of this survey, so here are some of the statistics. 58 percent of Consumerism Commentary readers are ... Continue reading this article…

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AIG Still Planning Massive Bonuses Today

by Luke Landes

Today is the deadline for American International Group (AIG) to pay $165 million in the form of bonuses to executives involved in businesses that led to collapse of the company — and the broader economy — last year. The company argues that these bonus payments were agreed to before the company required support from the ... Continue reading this article…

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Investors in Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme

by Luke Landes

Bernard Madoff is on his way to jail, having plead guilty to defrauding investors in a massive Ponzi scheme. While his victims thought they were investing with a legitimate manager, Madoff simply deposited clients’ money in a Chase Manhattan bank account and paid “returns” to earlier investors from the contributions of newer investors. The bulk ... Continue reading this article…

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FDIC Might Be Underfunded: Should You Withdraw Your Money From Banks?

by Luke Landes

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the federal organization that insures that customers do not lose deposits held at banks when those banks run into trouble, is finding itself in trouble. For years, Congress hasn’t allowed the FDIC to collect insurance premiums from banks, bowing to the strong banking industry lobby. Now that banks have ... Continue reading this article…

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Ask Any Question and Ramit and I Will Discuss the Answers

by Luke Landes

Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You to Be Rich is currently putting the final touches on his first published book, aptly named, I Will Teach You to Be Rich. He’s probably tweaking the final paragraphs as I write this. Ramit’s new book, which will be released on March 23, includes a few pages I’ve ... Continue reading this article…

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Traditional vs. Roth IRA: An Introduction and Comparison

by Luke Landes

The Individual Retirement Account (IRA) allows anyone who earns income the opportunity to save for retirement, regardless of the plans offered by his or her employer. An IRA is not an investment in itself, it’s an account type. Within the IRA, you can keep your money for the future in money market funds, CDs, stocks, ... Continue reading this article…

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Savings Account Interest Rate Roundup (Updated November 13, 2009!)

by Luke Landes

It’s not your imagination. Banks are now looking for ways to actively discourage new deposit accounts. It’s not just through lowering interest rates, they are scaling back marketing. It makes sense from a business standpoint; the economy is not so great, so companies are saving their operating expenses. Here is a summary of the most ... Continue reading this article…

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On Fire: Maytag’s Recall of 1.6 Million Refrigerators

by Luke Landes

It sounds like a variation of the old joke: “Is your refrigerator on fire? (Wait for response.) You better go and put it out!” But seriously, Maytag is recalling 1.6 million refrigerators due to a serious fire hazard reported in 41 incidents. If you purchased a Maytag fridge with a side or top freezer from ... Continue reading this article…

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Free Roadside Assistance

by Smithee

There’s a toll-free number on the back of my driver’s license labeled “Roadside Assistance.” I’d never noticed it before today, when a co-worker was telling me how she used the number to get her tire changed on the dangerously-busy Tollway. “For free?” I asked. “Of course,” she said. So I started to wonder if I’d ... Continue reading this article…

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The FTC Fights Sites Offering “Free Credit Reports” With Musical Commercials

by Luke Landes

The Federal Trade Commission wants consumers to know that the only website offering the three federally mandated free credit reports each year — one from each credit reporting bureau — is AnnualCreditReport.com. While they don’t name the “other” website specifically, this campaign is a direct response to freecreditreport.com, a service from the reporting bureau Experian ... Continue reading this article…

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The Best American Cars of 2009

by Luke Landes

Consumer Reports leaves little to the imagination when in the April issue, the editors state emphatically, “The best vehicles are built by Honda, Subaru, and Toyota.” Yet, if you are feeling patriotic, you want to single-handedly save an entire domestic industry, you’re not worried about future service from a company that may no longer exist, ... Continue reading this article…

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Citibank Offers Citi Forward Credit Card, Rewarding Users for Good Habits

by Luke Landes

Editor’s Note: Thank you for your interest, this offer expired and is no longer available. Is it ironic that Citi, a bank on the brink of disaster, is now marketing a credit card that “rewards” card holders for good financial behavior? This new credit card marketed toward Generation Y and teenagers, Citi Forward® Card (and ... Continue reading this article…

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Giveaway Reminder: Quicken Home & Business 2009

by Luke Landes

This post is just a reminder that Consumerism Commentary is currently holding a sweepstakes to give away one free copy of Quicken Home & Business 2009 for Windows. The odds of winning are still good. Visit this review of Quicken 2009 and leave a comment. You can earn an extra entry by using social media ... Continue reading this article…

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