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

January 2010

Don’t Tell Others How To Spend Their Money

by Outlaw

This is a guest article by Outlaw, who lives and works in New York’s financial district and writes on the blog Credit Card Outlaw. I don’t believe in conspiracies. A few weeks ago someone I vaguely knew from college forwarded me an email about how the World Trade Center was likely destroyed by government “beam ... Continue reading this article…

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Podcast 39: Get Financially Naked, Manisha Thakor

by Luke Landes

Today’s guest on the Consumerism Commentary Podcast is Manisha Thakor, author of Get Financially Naked: How to Talk Money with Your Honey, a book that is designed to help couples improve their communication about financial matters. Manisha Thakor is a passionate advocate for women and financial independence, and has experience in the financial industry as ... Continue reading this article…

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Flexo On Tour and Best of December 2009

by Luke Landes

Starting January 18, 2010, I will be on tour, with guest articles appearing on ten of my favorite websites. I am still in the process of writing and editing many of the articles and I plan to have most of them delivered by the end of the weekend. I will continue to be writing articles ... Continue reading this article…

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Basics of the Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee (Bank Tax)

by Smithee

Yesterday, President Obama put forth a proposal to recover a projected shortfall in TARP repayments. When the TARP was created, the EESA statute specified that the president would need a plan before 2013 to avoid shortfalls that would add to the deficit. Instead of 2013, we got one this week. Is it a good plan? ... Continue reading this article…

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Discounts Via Social Media: A Surprising Way to Save

by Kelly Whalen

This article is presented by Kelly Whalen, Consumerism Commentary staff writer. Kelly is celebrating her one-year blog anniversary this week. Everyone loves a good deal, but finding time to comparison shop at various stores can be time consuming. As a parent of four kids I’m not keen on taking the kids to multiple stores just ... Continue reading this article…

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Safe Donations to Victims of the Earthquake in Haiti

by Luke Landes

Yesterday, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, with the center only less than ten miles from Port-au-Prince, the capital of the country. Of course, the news of the devastation has been everywhere in the media. Major landmarks have been destroyed by the disaster, including the Presidential Palace and the Port-au-Prince Cathedral. Haiti is a poor ... Continue reading this article…

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Treat Your Employer How It Treats You

by Luke Landes

The more profitable your employer, particularly if it is a large corporation, the more attention the employer pays to its biggest asset, its employees. Profitable companies offer perks to employees like vacation days, 401(k) matching contributions, health care subsidies, free lunches, on-site day-care, unlimited restroom breaks, and development opportunities. Don’t confuse these benefits designed to ... Continue reading this article…

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American Express Membership Rewards Points Can Be Used to Pay Taxes

by Luke Landes

American Express offers a point-based rewards system called “Membership Rewards” to those qualify for and use their credit or charge cards. Points generally benefit only cardholders who pay their bill in full every month, so any accumulation of benefits does not first need to offset interest or late fee charges. With American Express, these points ... Continue reading this article…

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Too-Loud TV Commercial Bill Passed the House

by Smithee

I last spoke about this back in October, and I’m afraid it fell off the viewscreen for a bit, but I learned yesterday that the “CALM Act of 2009″ (view on govtrack) passed the House of Representatives by a voice vote. Unfortunately, a voice vote means nobody can tell me how many voted for and ... Continue reading this article…

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Start the Decade Off Right: Cut Out Unnecessary Expenses

by Luke Landes

Ten years from now, how do you want to look back on this decade? In terms of my finances, it would be hard to top the last ten years. This was the decade my net worth as I measure it for Consumerism Commentary soared from below zero to $300,000. Sure, that progress pales in comparison ... Continue reading this article…

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Reality Series Seeking People Who Need Financial Help

by Luke Landes

People Farm Casting, a casting agency that focuses on finding non-actors for reality television shows and commercials, contacted Consumerism Commentary to let us know about a new project. The agency, whose team has experience casting shows like Pimp My Ride and commercials like that Dos Equis ad with the “most interesting man in the world,” ... Continue reading this article…

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Podcast 38: Eliminating Holiday Debt

by Luke Landes

On today’s episode of the Consumerism Commentary Podcast, Tom Dziubek speaks Peter Pham, the CEO of BillShrink. Peter offers several suggestions to guide the many consumers who accumulated more debt than they expected this holiday gift-giving season. Peter Pham from BillShrink was also our guest on the first episode of the Consumerism Commentary Podcast in ... Continue reading this article…

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Weekend Reading: Plutus Award Nominations End Monday, Roth IRA Vs. Debt, Meeting Advisors

by Luke Landes

The Plutus Awards celebrate the best in personal finance by rewarding the best products and services, with nominations and voting open to the public. The Plutus 2.0 Awards is a special set of awards designed to recognize the best personal finance writing on the internet, and each winner of a Plutus 2.0 Award will receive ... Continue reading this article…

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$100 For a Movie Review? I Was Doing That Anyway!

by Smithee

As part of my 2010 (pronounced “MMX”) goal to publish one entertaining thing a week, I’ve been casting a wide net to find audiences and formats that can showcase my creativity and wit. (Aside: I’m not yet comfortable with self-promotion, so it’s a little awkward to be referring to myself as witty. But earlier in ... Continue reading this article…

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Start the Decade Off Right: Do Something You Love

by Luke Landes

Today, at the beginning of the “10s,” I am thirty-three years old. By the time this decade fades away in the last few hours of December 31, 2019, I’ll be forty-something. (I’d rather not do the math.) Lately, one particular phrase keeps repeating involuntarily in mind: “Life is short. Life is short. Life is short.” ... Continue reading this article…

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New Stimulus Plan: The Fiscal Menace or The Economy Strikes Back?

by Luke Landes

(Or perhaps Episode IV: Obama’s New Hope.) In a few weeks the Senate will be debating another stimulus plan. This one is billed as a jobs creation package with a $154 billion price tag. It’s an extension of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and its purpose is to increase public funding for ... Continue reading this article…

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How To Stick With Your 2010 Resolutions

by Kelly Whalen

This article is presented by Kelly Whalen, Consumerism Commentary staff writer. It’s the time of year when everyone is talking about their New Year’s resolutions or goals for the year. Tops on the majority of Americans’ New Year’s resolutions for 2010 are losing weight, quitting smoking, and saving more money. While losing weight and quitting ... Continue reading this article…

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Start the Decade Off Right: Invest For the Future

by Luke Landes

With new technology becoming available to consumers every day, like 3-D high-definition televisions, it certainly feels like I’m living in the future. How did we all survive without such marvels as wireless internet, video games that react to movement, GPS, text messaging, and video on demand? In ten years, we could as easily be wondering ... Continue reading this article…

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Flexo’s Investment Portfolio, 4Q 2009

by Luke Landes
Investment Portfolio, December 2009

Yes, you can time the market. The S&P 500 benchmark provided an admittedly handsome 27.76 percent annual return in 2009. However, if you invested in a diversified index mutual fund when the market was at its low point in March more than when it recovered towards the end of the year, you probably beat the market. ... Continue reading this article…

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401(k) Contribution Limits For 2010

by Luke Landes

In 2010, the basic maximum for 401(k) contributions is $16,500. Employees 50 and older can add an additional $5,500. These limits take your pre-tax, after-tax, and Roth 401(k) contributions into consideration, so the sum of all your 401(k) contributions in 2010 cannot exceed the limit for your age group. This limit is the same as ... Continue reading this article…

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