I do very little stock trading. In fact, the only individual stocks I hold are Microsoft (MSFT) and Akamai (AKAM), both of which I purchased with free money for opening a brokerage account. Naturally, I think free cash is a perfect candidate for experimentation with the stock market and I most likely would not have made these purchases without this particular incentive.
Zecco Trading is offering a different incentive for those who have funds for trading stocks but would like to avoid pesky transaction fees that eat into your returns. For a very limited time, Zecco is offering 20 free traders. This discount brokerage normally offers 20 free trades each month for customers who maintain a $25,000 bonus in their account or execute 25 trades each month. Otherwise, each trade costs $4.50, still one of the lowest transaction fees available.
Here is how to receive 20 free trades without meeting the minimum balance or minimum trade volume. First, be a new customer. Only new Zecco customers are eligible. Apply for your Zecco account here, and use the code bonus1 when signing up for your account. Your application must be complete and approved by September 13, 2009.
As long as you meet the above criteria, you will see 20 free trades available in your account by September 16, 2009.
For more options, see this summary of five true discount brokerages.
Our guest today is Matt Jabs, blogger and founder of Debt Free Adventure, a blog designed to help the author stay accountable for getting out of debt. Debt Free Adventure is one of my favorites among new personal finance blogs.
Today’s discussion focuses on the concept of giving yourself a raise, an important way to improve your financial condition, particularly in an economic environment that is supporting fewer raises from your employer. Tom Dziubek and I explore this concept with Matt Jabs and discover a number of ways you can give yourself a raise today.
[podcast flashvars="titles: 'Consumerism Commentary Podcast 19: 2009-08-30'"]http://www.consumerismcommentary.com/audio/podcast-019-matt-jabs-giving-yourself-a-raise.mp3[/podcast]
To listen, use the player above (Adobe Flash required), download the podcast here, subscribe to the podcast RSS feed, or use the iTunes link. Note: open links in a new window (Ctrl-click or Command-click) to avoid interrupting the podcast.
[00:00] Introduction from Tom Dziubek
[00:33] Interview with Matt Jabs of Debt Free Adventure
– [01:10] Matt’s inspiration for writing about personal finance
– [02:57] Giving yourself a raise at home
– [04:26] How to give yourself a raise
– [08:41] Creating a personal trigger to change your mindset
– [10:24] Living outside the box
– [12:16] Finding and following your passions
– [14:29] The journey is as important as reaching the goal itself
– [15:59] Dealing with customer service reps
– [21:39] Do it yourself
– [25:17] How it adds up
We always welcome feedback from listeners. If you have any comments for this episode or for any other, or if you have suggestions for future episodes, please leave us comments here or email us at podcast at this domain name.
For the increasing number of Mac users in the audience, today’s the day to start deciding whether you want to upgrade your operating system: “Snow Leopard” is on the scene.
Number-wise, this is a move to OS 10.6. It will only work on Apple computers with an Intel processor and at least 1 GB of RAM. For anybody whose Mac came with 10.5 (Leopard), this should include you. And for you, it’s a $29 upgrade. (Users of 10.4 “Tiger” will need to spend more if they want to upgrade, but it’s still possible.)
The $29 fee is kind of a double-edged sword for me: it’s the cheapest operating system upgrade of, I think, my entire life. And yet, because it’s so inexpensive, that must mean it’s not necessarily worthwhile. Apple’s been pretty upfront about that, though… most of the changes are pretty boring.
Here’s what I recommend for right now:
- Find yourself a good, detailed review of the Snow Leopard features
- Wait at least a week and keep your ear to the ground for problems people are having: I’ll be watching my Apple friends on Twitter and this part of the macnn.com forum.
- Not sure how often this will be updated, but I also found a list of programs that we know don’t work (or are restricted) with Snow Leopard
- If you can manage it without losing any software, I strong recommend doing a clean install that wipes your hard drive first. In my experience–and I used to do this for a living–the only reason to upgrade an operating system (as opposed to a clean install), is to document what goes wrong.
Personally, I’ll be watching to see what new gee-whiz features Apple will soon introduce that won’t work on anything earlier than 10.6.
When I started formally tracking high-yield savings rates, with a shared online spreadsheet, it was common to see banks offering interest rates above 5.0% APY. That was in January 2008, and the economy is in a different situation now. According to the government, there has been no measurable inflation, and now interest rates for lending are held low to stimulate the economy. Savers suffer in these conditions.
Bankers were livid this past spring when , a re-branding of GMAC Bank which had been tainted by the bailout of General Motors, rose like a phoenix and maintained the same interest rate it had been offering in its previous incarnation. The director of the FDIC got involved to prevent Ally from using its bailed-out position to create an unfair competitive advantage over other banks.
The bank must now be confident that it is no longer on the FDIC’s bad side. Click here for the latest interest rate from Ally Bank. It’s a small increase, resulting in only 50 cents more a year on an initial $1,000 balance. It seems to be a signal, though weak, that Ally wants to be considered a stronger bank than others, but I don’t think it’s a signal that we should expect to see more banks raising interest rates.
I do have an account with Ally Bank and you can read my review of the Ally Bank savings account here.
Today’s interest rate increase should not be enough to convince someone to move all of their money into this one bank, but if you have the inclination, Ally is a good choice for a diversified portfolio of accounts because at this time, I would expect they will continue offering one of the highest interest rates for highly liquid accounts and despite FDIC’s funding woes, your money should be safe.
See the review of the best online savings accounts – updated November 13, 2009.