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

January 2010

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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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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Alternatives to High-Yield Savings Accounts

by Luke Landes

I am not surprised that my recent suggestion to start the decade off right by opening a high-yield savings account received a lukewarm reception. With rates between 1 percent and 2 percent APY right now, these savings are looking somewhat pathetic. Savings accounts are not designed to be investments. They will not provide the growth potential that ... Continue reading this article…

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TV Everywhere Might Just Be a Big Bully

by Smithee

My family turned off our TV service a few weeks ago, and we’ve been fine so far, watching things through Hulu, iTunes, or Netflix, wherever it’s cheapest. When we get it through iTunes, we’re paying for each episode, when it comes through Netflix, we’re paying a monthly subscription fee, and when it’s “brought to us ... Continue reading this article…

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Start the Decade Off Right: Open a High-Yield Savings Account

by Luke Landes

It’s a new year and a new decade. I expect the next ten years will fly by and 2020 will be here before I know it. Thinking about how fast the future is barreling towards the present is inspiring me to start making real changes in my life, and if there is an opportunity to ... Continue reading this article…

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Year-End Personal Balance Sheet, December 2009

by Luke Landes

At the end of every month, I review my personal finances, including bank account balances, investment performance, income and expenses, and I share some of those details here. This was the original purpose of Consumerism Commentary: to track my own finances publicly and hold myself accountable for my financial decisions. I wasn’t aware at that ... Continue reading this article…

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Podcast 37: Financial Foul-Ups With Brian Scheur

by Luke Landes

On today’s episode of the Consumerism Commentary Podcast, Tom Dziubek speaks with blogger Brian Scheur who created the website My Next Buck. Every Friday, My Next Buck features a financial foul-up or mistake. Some of these personal stories are drawn from Brian’s own experiences while others feature other personal finance writers presenting their own stories. ... Continue reading this article…

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Smithee’s Goals for 2010

by Smithee

My one goal from the beginning of 2009 was to do at least one creative thing a week. When I thought of it, it seemed pretty ambitious, then I started writing twice a week for this site, and it was automatically taken care of, so any other creative thing I did was just metaphorical gravy. ... Continue reading this article…

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