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

May 2009

Revisiting FICO 08 Piggybacking

by Smithee

Your money is important, and so I want to make sure I’m telling you the truth in every instance. A few months ago I wrote an article called What You Need to Know About the FICO Update, which contained some news about the process of “piggybacking”: Not too long ago companies started offering to add ... Continue reading this article…

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Annoying Calls From Extended Car Warranty Dealers

by Luke Landes

Several times a week, I get a phone call from a number I don’t recognize. The caller never leaves a voicemail message, so I always perform a quick Google search to see if I can find any information about the caller before answering or returning the call. In almost all cases, the unknown number has ... Continue reading this article…

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Podcast 4: Financial Advisory Website Thrive

by Luke Landes

In today’s podcast, Tom Dziubek and I talk with Avi Karnani, founder, and Matt Wallaert, Lead Scientist, from Thrive about the services offered by this financial services website and about frugality. [podcast flashvars="titles: 'Consumerism Commentary Podcast 4: 2009-05-17'"]http://www.consumerismcommentary.com/audio/podcast-004-thrive-2009-05-17.mp3[/podcast] To listen, use the player above (Adobe Flash required), download the podcast here, subscribe to the podcast ... Continue reading this article…

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President Obama’s Financial Disclosure

by Luke Landes

In a move should sound familiar to readers who have been with Consumerism Commentary since 2003 and to those who have noticed my monthly personal financial reporting, the President and Vice President have used the White House blog to provide updates on the financial condition about each of the Executive Branch families. President Obama and ... Continue reading this article…

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Insurance Companies Now Qualify for TARP Bailout Money

by Luke Landes

Even though they are not bank holding companies as originally required for the original qualifications for receiving bailout money from the public, six insurance companies will now have the option of receiving this money. Among others, Allstate, Ameriprise Financial, Hartford Financial Services, Lincoln National Group, Principal Financial, and Prudential applied earlier for inclusin in the ... Continue reading this article…

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Credit Cards and Guns in National Parks

by Luke Landes

While the Senate is working hard to put together their version of the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights some Senators are taking the opportunity of a sure-to-pass bill to tag on unrelated amendments. One example is Senator Tom Coburn’s amendment, S.AMDT.1068, whose stated purpose is “to protect innocent Americans from violent crime in national parks ... Continue reading this article…

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Airline Fees for Checking Bags

by Luke Landes

Spurred on by Erica Douglas in response to my thoughts about airline fees for checked baggage, here is a list of the fees charged by airlines for traveling with this particular expected service. I should have done this research before embarking on my previous trip to Arizona. I might not have been able to avoid ... Continue reading this article…

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2009 Federal Income Tax Brackets and Marginal Rates

by Luke Landes

Marginal tax rates are one of the most misunderstood financial concepts, and I intend to write more about this in the future. This misunderstanding occasionally leads people to mistakenly believe that earning $1 over the barrier into the next tax level would result in a significantly higher tax bill because all income would be taxed ... Continue reading this article…

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Airline Baggage Fees Increasing in Popularity

by Luke Landes

When I traveled to Arizona in April, I was charged $15 for each flight for checking my luggage. While I knew that many airlines had begun charging extra for services that were once “free,” like meals and baggage check, I didn’t recall seeing any warning when I originally booked the flight several weeks earlier. I ... Continue reading this article…

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Five Jobs For People Who Like Money and Five Jobs For People Who Don’t

by Luke Landes

There are many people who believe that the when choosing a career path and life direction, one should steer towards the highest paying career for which they could possibly qualify after several years of education, training, and 80-hour work weeks. To demonstrate, there is never a shortage of investment bankers looking for work. I have ... Continue reading this article…

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Verify Funds on That Check Before You Cash It

by Smithee

While working at Bank of America, I learned a magic phrase that I hadn’t heard before: “verify funds.” When someone writes you a check (I know, it’s 2009, but even I use them sometimes for plumbers or whatnot), you may feel uncomfortable about whether the check author has enough money to cover it. If you’ve ... Continue reading this article…

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Education Opportunities for the Unemployed

by Luke Landes

Although the latest figures indicate job loss is slowing, at 8.9 percent the unemployment rate is continuing to increase. Some unemployed individuals who want to take classes to build skills while looking for a job experience some roadblocks: Searching for work can be a full-time job. Finding time for all your responsibilities and desires can be ... Continue reading this article…

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Podcast 3: Credit Scores and the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights

by Luke Landes

In today’s podcast, Tom Dziubek talks with Ken Lin from Credit Karma about credit scores. Tom also talks about credit scores and the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act with MSN Money’s Liz Weston. [podcast flashvars="titles: 'Consumerism Commentary Podcast 3: 2009-05-10'"]http://www.consumerismcommentary.com/audio/podcast-003-creditkarma-lizweston-2009-05-10.mp3[/podcast] To listen, use the player above (Adobe Flash required), download the podcast here, subscribe ... Continue reading this article…

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Credit Cards That Already Follow the Rules

by Smithee

As part of our complete coverage of the forthcoming (maybe) Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights, I noticed a helpful article over at SmartMoney.com highlighting four different cards which already adhere to the Fed’s new rules about Credit Cards (which don’t technically have to be followed until next year) and/or some of the provisions of the ... Continue reading this article…

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Market Timing: You’re Doing it Wrong

by Luke Landes

A recent question-and-answer article from Money Magazine illustrates the problem with timing the market. While making money in the stock market is as “simple” as buying low and selling high, emotional reactions to the market often prevent that from being a feasible strategy. The question comes from an individual close to retirement, Heidi. She lost ... Continue reading this article…

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Books and eBooks by Personal Finance Bloggers

by Luke Landes

A number of bloggers who write about personal finance have branched into the world of print. Here are some of the latest offerings. Ramit from I Will Teach You To Be Rich has published a book by the same name. I reviewed the book back in March. Trent from The Simple Dollar has written a ... Continue reading this article…

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Schwab Brokerage Lowers Expense Ratios, Beats Vanguard

by Luke Landes

Here is some good news for investors. Schwab, competing for investment business with other low-cost mutual fund operations like Vanguard, Fidelity, and TIAA-Cref, has lowered the expenses on a number of their mutual funds. The Schwab S&P 500 Index Fund (SWPIX), which competes directly with the Vanguard S&P 500 Index Funds (VFINX), now sports a ... Continue reading this article…

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The Unownership Society

by Luke Landes

Seven years ago, when people I knew were buying houses they couldn’t afford with the philosophy that real estate prices always go up, and the go up fast, I was sitting on the sidelines. I had no money, no desire to settle down, and no belief that real estate in the form of home ownership ... Continue reading this article…

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Public Reaction to the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights

by Smithee

So the The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009 (full details and timeline) passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a wide margin, indicating strong support from Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike. Of the 427 Representatives who bothered to vote, 70 voted against it. So that’s about 84 percent in favor. I thought I’d ... Continue reading this article…

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The Money Tips Network

by Luke Landes

I’m happy to announce the formation of the new Money Tips Network, a conglomeration of a number of the best blogs focusing on personal finance and money. Consumerism Commentary has joined forces with these great blogs, and this group’s mission is to provide readers (and listeners) with with honest and helpful money tips. Why did ... Continue reading this article…

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