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

2009

How to Avoid Excessive Airline Fees While Traveling

by Luke Landes

My recent experiences traveling across country gave me more appreciation, or disapproval, of the lengths airlines are now gong to empty the wallets of travelers. The flight industry once positioned itself as luxury travel, with a variety of free amenities, but the industry takes the opposite approach now. Yes, it is true that airlines compete ... Continue reading this article…

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The True Cost of a Motorola Droid

by Luke Landes

I have been looking forward to replacing my Blackberry 8830 World Edition for several months now. The phone, even with ample extended memory, is sluggish and does not have the same capabilities other modern phones have. With the release of the Motorola Droid, I decided this was a good opportunity to upgrade. On my way ... Continue reading this article…

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New Staff Writer, Quicken 2010 Winners, and Best of October

by Luke Landes

Several weeks ago, I mentioned I would be seeking a staff writer to add to the Consumerism Commentary team, to add one additional article each week. After a good number of applications, I narrowed the field to six finalists. Over the next two weeks, each of these finalists will be presenting two guest articles for ... Continue reading this article…

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Podcast 29: Sharon Harvey Rosenberg, The Frugal Duchess

by Luke Landes

Sharon Harvey Rosenberg, author of The Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money, is today’s guest on the Consumerism Commentary Podcast. Sharon, known to the world as “The Frugal Duchess,” joins Tom Dziubek and myself to talk about her experiences and to offer tips for other duchesses. Production Number: S02E03 Segment Number: 39 ... Continue reading this article…

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Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009

by Smithee

After the Credit CARD Act of 2009 was signed into law, we saw how credit card issuers started making life tougher for their customers. In short, banks were levying fees on their customers indiscriminately, affecting both the good and the bad. This has been going on for months. Lawmakers have publicly condemned it, and made ... Continue reading this article…

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Quicken Online Users Will Be Migrated to Mint

by Luke Landes

When Mint and Intuit announced the latter would be acquiring the former, the Quicken team and Aaron Patzer, the CEO of Mint, now a vice president of Intuit’s personal finance division, claimed that their two similar online product offerings, Mint and Quicken Online, would continue to co-exist. This made little sense to me. In fact, ... Continue reading this article…

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President Obama and Congress Extend the $8,000 Home Buyers’ Credit

by Luke Landes

It’s official. Today President Obama will sign a bill into law that extends the $8,000 First Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit, recently set to expire on November 30, until April 30 next year. The tax credit, originally part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was intended to stimulate the real estate industry, ... Continue reading this article…

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Personal Balance Sheet, October 2009

by Luke Landes

Although it’s a little late this month, it’s now time to share my personal finances. I’ve been doing this roughly every month since Consumerism Commentary started in July 2003. I did recently make one important change — I am no longer counting my “business” bank accounts in my net worth. I’m trying to separate my ... Continue reading this article…

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Should Target Date Funds Be Standardized?

by Luke Landes

The Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) is setting up a new division to oversee new financial products, and this group is starting with target date funds. These are mutual funds usually taking the form of baskets of other mutual funds, designed to target a certain year of retirement. As the year approaches, the fund automatically ... Continue reading this article…

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Quick Survey: What Drives Your Trading Decisions?

by Luke Landes

This is a guest article by Scott Treadwell, a long-time Consumerism Commentary reader and graduate student at the University of New Hampshire. Scott is studying finance and is conducting a study in behavioral finance. Please look for the survey below and help Scott conduct his study. We are only a year removed from the greatest ... Continue reading this article…

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I Will Teach You to Be Rich, a Six-Week Boot Camp With Ramit Sethi

by Luke Landes

While I was in California this past week, I spent a few days at my brother’s new apartment before his wedding this past Saturday. Among the piles of books not yet placed into a bookcase was something familiar: I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi (review here). Ramit is a colleague of ... Continue reading this article…

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Smart Power Meters

by Smithee

We all have power meters attached to the buildings in which we live, and the little needle keeps spinning around and around, ad nauseum, at least until solar panels become affordable. I recently read a story of a family who managed to install solar panels, and while that would normally have cost over $20,000, with ... Continue reading this article…

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Delta Airlines: Good Airfare But Not My Favorite Airline

by Luke Landes

As of this past Saturday, my brother is now a married man. He and his wife live in California, and I spent Halloween attending their wedding and the past week visiting with my family in that state. I am happy I was able to take a week off from my day job and spend it ... Continue reading this article…

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Podcast 28: Dan Solin, Investing for Retirement

by Luke Landes

In today’s episode of the Consumerism Commentary Podcast, our guest is Dan Solin, author of The Smartest Retirement Book You’ll Ever Read and other books in the “Smartest Book” series. Tom Dziubek talks with Solin about planning for retirement. Production Number: S02E02 Segment Number: 41 [podcast flashvars="titles: 'Consumerism Commentary Podcast 28: 2009-11-01'"]http://www.consumerismcommentary.com/audio/podcast-028-dan-solin-smartest-books.mp3[/podcast] To listen, use ... Continue reading this article…

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Opening an SFGI Direct Savings Account Earning 2.25% APY (Updated)

by Luke Landes

It’s not every day that I find a bank account offering more than 2 percent APY, but as of October 30, 2009, I’ve discovered one thanks to a reader. “Ski Naut” contacted me yesterday to ask about SFGI Direct’s offer of 2.25 percent APY. I had not heard of the bank, so I looked into it. SFGI ... Continue reading this article…

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$50 Bonus for New Prosper Lenders

by Luke Landes

Peer-to-peer lending institution Prosper is offering a $50 bonus for new lenders who sign up for for the service and bid on two loans. Peer-to-peer lending is an interesting way for people to qualify for loans and to lend money to others. In an economy where savings account interest rates are under 3 percent or 2 percent, ... Continue reading this article…

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GMAC Asking for a Third Bailout From Taxpayers

by Luke Landes

Through today, GMAC has received government bailout funds totaling $12.5 billion. The company is asking the Obama administration for $5.6 billion more. One might say that in a true democracy, GMAC would need to ask permission from each taxpayer whose funds would go towards shoring up the company’s balance sheet, a move that would make ... Continue reading this article…

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ING to Sell Online Bank ING Direct By 2013

by Luke Landes

Update: Capital One has purchased ING Direct. Here in the Untied States, ING Direct, a banking arm of the large financial company ING Group from the Netherlands, offers more than just high-yield online savings accounts. The bank also offers investments and mortgages, and some of the latter may have been too risky, like those sold ... Continue reading this article…

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Hulu and the Subscription Model

by Smithee

This is an editorial by Smithee and a plea for your help in shaping the future of entertainment. At our house, we enjoy some Hulu programming on occasion. Even though during the recent DVR years I’ve become accustomed to skipping commercials, I don’t mind them on Hulu, for these reasons: I’ve only seen one per ... Continue reading this article…

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List of Failed Banks, Updated April 9, 2010

by Luke Landes

Over 100 banks failed in 2009. Most of these are smaller regional banks who, in order to compete with larger banks, offered risky loans and are now facing customer defaults. Larger banks were offered government bailouts to prevent failure, but these smaller banks whose failures are not seen as major risks to the economy are ... Continue reading this article…

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