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

June 2009

Study: iPhone Users Are Younger, Richer and More Productive

by Luke Landes

According to a new study, employees who use iPhones are statistically wealthier, younger, and more productive at work that their counterparts who use other smartphones. 32,000 people were surveyed and placed into categories based on the type of mobile phone they own. They were then evaluated based on income, the cost of their monthly cell ... Continue reading this article…

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FDIC Steps In to Keep Ally Bank’s Interest Rates Lower

by Luke Landes

The American Bankers Association (ABA) has not been happy with Ally Bank. A few weeks ago, the organization on behalf of its member banks sent a letter to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation complaining about Ally’s interest rates. With Ally planning to receive bailout funds through its enrollment in the government’s Treasury Liquidity Guarantee Program ... Continue reading this article…

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Facial Recognition is for More Than Your Photos

by Smithee

Most of the time when you hear the term “facial recognition,” it’s used by people trying to attract you to a new digital camera, or software, or a plugin for Facebook. On an individual level, it’s little more than a way to help your camera focus, or group and search your photos. But if you’re ... Continue reading this article…

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Estimated Income Tax Payment Due

by Luke Landes

As you are reading this, if you are in fact reading on the same day this was written, both the federal and New Jersey government are reaching deep into my bank accounts. At the end of the day, I will find myself worth several thousand dollars less than at the beginning of the day. Today ... Continue reading this article…

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Changes to Student Loans Coming July 1

by Luke Landes

While it’s great to avoid debt whenever possible, if you have to deal with federal student loans, including Stafford and PLUS loans, you might qualify for some better deals starting July 1. Interest rates will be at the lowest rates in years. If you can consolidate, lock in rates after July 1. They will be ... Continue reading this article…

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Podcast 8: Greg Grunberg on iPhone App Yowza!! and TalkAboutIt

by Luke Landes

Today’s Consumerism Commentary Podcast features an interview with Greg Grunberg, star of the NBC television series Heroes and drummer in Band From TV, a celebrity band to benefit charities. Greg, Tom Dziubek, and I discuss Yowza!!, the new iPhone (and iPod Touch) app for saving money co-created by Greg. We also discuss Greg’s roles as ... Continue reading this article…

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Consumer Reports Exposes Cool Surge’s Misleading Claims

by Luke Landes

The Cool Surge portable air conditioner claims, in full-page newspaper advertisements that look like newspaper articles, to reduce the temperature of an average room by “up to ten degrees” using as much energy as a 60-watt lightbulb. Other air conditioners often use 500 watts or more, so it sounds like this device might be worth ... Continue reading this article…

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President Obama Proposes Executive Pay Legislation

by Luke Landes

Yesterday, the White House announced new plans for letting investors have a say in executive compensation. With this proposal, shareholders of all public companies will be able to vote on the pay levels of the companies’ highest paid senior management. This sounds like a better plan than allowing the government to set absolute compensation limits, ... Continue reading this article…

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Microsoft Money Will Be Discontinued

by Luke Landes

Microsoft is ending its support of Microsoft Money, the desktop financial management software that feebly competed with Intuit Quicken. This comes as no surprise to me. Microsoft appeared to have given up on the Money product several years ago. Personally, I switched from Microsoft Money to Quicken in 2004. Although I was happy with Microsoft ... Continue reading this article…

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Forbes Gets it Wrong About “Online-Only” Bank Accounts

by Luke Landes

This morning an article appeared on Forbes.com with suggestions and warnings about online-only accounts. I have to disagree with an important statement by the author of the article, Asher Hawkins. Hawkins is offering misguided information regarding the number of withdrawal transactions a customer is allowed to make from an account designated as a “savings” or ... Continue reading this article…

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When Going Into Debt is Worthwhile

by Luke Landes

On a macro level, debt was a force behind the incredible economic expansion over the past two centuries, and the availability of debt at the family level played a role as well. Despite all that debt has brought society, many financial gurus and authors vilify debt and explicitly call the idea of borrowing money “evil.” ... Continue reading this article…

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10 Banks Allowed to Repay TARP Bailout Money

by Luke Landes

Ten banks have now been approved by the government to being repaying taxpayers for a portion of the more than $700 billion the industry has received from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in total. The stated purpose of the TARP was to provide banks with the capital to boost their balance sheets and ease ... Continue reading this article…

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Do You Get Satisfaction?

by Smithee

It seems like as long as we’ve had the Web, we’ve had support forums, usually for software, probably because you can’t depend on software to work the same way twice in a row. Sometimes the support forum is managed and moderated by the company that makes the product, and more often you can find one ... Continue reading this article…

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Let’s Stop Envying Millionaires

by Luke Landes

It is a shame that people are still fascinated with the idea of being a millionaire. According to an online etymology dictionary, the word “millionaire” was first seen in print in 1826, a year when having a net worth of one million dollars was an amazing accomplishment. An inflation calculator puts this into perspective; $1,000,000 ... Continue reading this article…

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Podcast 7: Quicken Online New Features and 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget

by Luke Landes

This episode of the Consumerism Commentary Podcast features interviews with Barron Ernst and Linsey Knerl. Barron Ernst is the product manager for Intuit’s Quicken Online and in the podcast, Barron and Tom Dziubek discuss the financial product’s features. Linsey Knerl is one of several authors of 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget. ... Continue reading this article…

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Savings and Checking Account Interest Rate Updates

by Luke Landes

A few banks have lowered interest rates offered for savings and checking accounts in the past few days. Here are a few of the new updates. Ally Bank Savings Account is offering 0.89 percent APY as of November 4, 2011 Ally Bank Money Market is offering 0.89 percent APY as of November 4, 2011 OneUnited UNITY Gold ... Continue reading this article…

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Who Are These Strangers on Twitter?

by Smithee

In my non-Smithee life, I spend a lot of time on Twitter, although it’d be more accurate to say I spend a lot of time through Twitter. I’ve made some solid connections and had interesting conversations, seen a lot of funny videos and kept up with the news I care about. Because my updates are ... Continue reading this article…

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Bank of America Allowed to Deduct Fees From Social Security Benefits

by Luke Landes

Bank of America 1, Retirees 0. In 2004, Bank of America was ordered to pay $284 million to 1 million customers in a settlement. The bank was charged with using funds from social security or other government benefits in customers’ accounts to cover bounced check fees. The California Supreme Court overturned this ruling yesterday. Federal ... Continue reading this article…

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Majority of Bankruptcies Due to Medical Bills

by Luke Landes

Not only are most personal bankruptcies due to medical bills beyond the ability of the consumer to pay, but most of the households declaring bankruptcy for this reason do so despite having health insurance coverage. Researchers from Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, and Ohio University reported 60 percent of personal bankruptcies in the United ... Continue reading this article…

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Would You Buy a Car From Wal-Mart?

by Luke Landes

After General Motors’ bankruptcy, there is no question that the automobile industry will change significantly. With less competition and higher costs of production, prices will increase. It will be more difficult and more expensive to find parts and service for some vehicles. The selection of vehicles will be more limited. Perhaps more brands will opt ... Continue reading this article…

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