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

March 2010

Use Less Soap and Detergent in the Washing Machine

by Luke Landes

Doing laundry is one of those chores that’s rather easy, but I find myself avoiding it as much as possible. As a result, I end up doing large loads every seven to ten days. Even for these full loads of clothing, I usually only fill the detergent cup about half way. Even at that point, ... Continue reading this article…

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Beware the Downloadable Content (DLC)

by Smithee

I buy maybe three video games a year, which is as often as they make games good enough to buy. I find it impossible to pay $60 for a new game, partially because as a child of the original Nintendo, I got accustomed to $40 games, so I always wait at least a couple weeks ... Continue reading this article…

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Win a Free iPod Touch From H&R Block

by Luke Landes

This giveaway is now closed to new entries. Thanks to everyone who has participated. We will be selecting the winners shortly. It’s time for another giveaway. H&R Block wants to give an iPod Touch to two Consumerism Commentary readers. The iPods will be delivered with an app pre-installed to help taxpayers as we approach the ... Continue reading this article…

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Car Insurance Coverage

by Luke Landes

The first time I shopped for car insurance I didn’t know much about what I would be buying. I should have taken the time to learn more about the various types of coverage before shopping. As a result of my lack of preparation, I did a poor job comparing rates. I was slightly better armed ... Continue reading this article…

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Podcast 47: The Financial Physician, Lou Scatigna

by Luke Landes

The Consumerism Commentary Podcast is featuring Lou Scatigna, author of the book The Financial Physician: How to Cure Your Money Problems and Boost Your Financial Health. Lou also hosts the Financial Physician Radio Show on WOBM and XM Radio. Among the topics discussed, Lou talks about his approach to giving financial advice, his take on ... Continue reading this article…

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Giveaway Reminder: 5 Winners of Extreme Finance Package

by Luke Landes

The giveaway has ended. Thanks to everyone who has participated. The winners will be notified shortly. This week I will be giving away five “extreme finance packages” containing Quicken, TurboTax, and QuickBooks. Each winner will be able to choose their flavor of each piece of software. Today is the last day to enter to win ... Continue reading this article…

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Bank of America Seizes Parrot, Owner Sues for $50,000

by Luke Landes

Bank of America is controlling the news cycle lately. First, the bank eliminated overdraft fees for debit card purchases. Now, the bank has apologized to a woman for seizing her parrot. Back in October, Bank of America believed Angela Iannelli was defaulting on her mortgage and she had abandoned her house. The bank ordered a ... Continue reading this article…

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I Might Need $3,000,000 To Retire: What’s Your Number?

by Luke Landes

ING Direct‘s recent survey results about retirement are scary. I don’t know what the world is going to be like in thirty years, the time I’ll be approaching “retirement age.” I do know that if my pattern of increasing expenses doesn’t change until then, and if I’m still earning primary income by trading my time ... Continue reading this article…

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Bank of America Ends Some Overdraft Fees

by Luke Landes

Last year, Smithee reported that Bank of America was the first major bank to allow customers to opt out of overdraft protection and the associated fees. Those customers who opted out of overdraft protection would have their card rejected when attempting to make a purchase without the funds available. Thanks to these changes as well ... Continue reading this article…

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Your Human Capital

by Luke Landes

When I post my financial reports each month, they reflect only a small piece of who I am as a person. My bank account balances are only a small part of my life although they are center stage on Consumerism Commentary. I try to avoid labels for this reason; when I reach a net worth ... Continue reading this article…

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Sallie Mae Bank Savings Account Opening Review

by Luke Landes

At the beginning of March, the banking arm of Sallie Mae, a publicly-traded corporation whose main business is student loans, began offering high-yield savings accounts. As I’ve mentioned before, “high-yield” is currently a joke; just a few years ago, you could deposit cash in high-yield savings accounts and count on slightly beating inflation. It is ... Continue reading this article…

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The New Credit Card Statements Are Here!

by Smithee

I never thought I’d put an exclamation mark on a sentence about credit card statements, much less be sincerely excited about it, but here we are. You have to pick your battles in life, and clearly-displayed information is one of mine. Educating people about credit card danger is another. Today, I feel like I’ve won ... Continue reading this article…

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Giveaway: 5 Extreme Finance Packages (TurboTax, Quicken, and QuickBooks)

by Luke Landes

The giveaway has ended. Thanks to everyone who has participated. The winners will be notified shortly. Thanks to the team at Intuit, Consumerism Commentary has “extreme finance” packages to give to our readers. This is a complete package that covers personal finance management, tax filing, and even business accounting. Five of these packages are available. ... Continue reading this article…

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TurboTax Online Review, New Features

by Luke Landes
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Last year was the first year I abandoned my own tax return preparation, deferring to a professional to do the dirty work. I’m glad I did; he suggested I restructure my business retroactively, resulting in a savings of about $15,000. I still haven’t seen most of this; the IRS is still processing my amended 2008 ... Continue reading this article…

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Podcast 46: Your Money: The Missing Manual, J.D. Roth

by Luke Landes

Today’s guest on the Consumerism Commentary Podcast is J.D. Roth, founder of the website Get Rich Slowly. J.D. has made the transition from blogger to published author. In this episode, Flexo, Tom Dziubek, and J.D. discuss the financial advice in his new book, Your Money: The Missing Manual. We also discuss the process of publishing ... Continue reading this article…

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Dallas’s Smart Power Meter Problem

by Smithee

I wrote last November about a rollout in my city to upgrade everybody’s power meters to the “smart” kind which should allow the power companies to operate and communicate remotely with our electricity. They should also enable us consumers to have more data about which devices in the house waste the most energy. It appears ... Continue reading this article…

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Unexpected Income: What Should You Do With a Windfall?

by Kelly Whalen

This article is presented by Kelly Whalen, Consumerism Commentary staff writer, who hosts a weekly internet show called the ¢entsible show. Unexpected income is a problem many people would love to have, but it happens more frequently than people realize. Whether it’s a $20 birthday check from your eighty-something grandmother or a raise, there are ... Continue reading this article…

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Best of Consumerism Commentary, February 2010

by Luke Landes

Don’t forget! Consumerism Commentary is in the running to win a few Plutus Awards. The Plutus Awards are designed to celebrate the best personal finance resources such as books, savings accounts, and blogs. Vote here now before the deadline on March 16. The finalists were selected from among those that received the highest number of ... Continue reading this article…

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When It Makes Sense to Chase Savings Interest Rates

by Luke Landes

I’ve been closely tracking changes in high-yield savings account interest rates for a few years. Having a high-yield savings account is an essential part of being in control of your finances, and it’s the perfect vehicle for the bulk of your emergency fund. There is a possibility of having too much of a good thing. ... Continue reading this article…

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Scarlett Johansson’s Home For Sale at $2 Million Loss

by Luke Landes

The market for Hollywood Hills homes of the stars hasn’t been immune to the real estate downturn. Although she purchased the house for $7 million in 2007, the asking price is now $4.59 million. Judging from the photographs on CNN Money, the villa looks like a great place to live. CNN Money often profiles houses ... Continue reading this article…

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