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April 2010

Smithee Debt Update, Mid-April 2010

by Smithee

Happy Friday. It’s been just about a month since my last debt update, and I’m feeling relatively successful at it. I’m still on track to get rid of it by July, having eradicated $1,267.39 in the last four weeks. Aside from the satisfaction of persistence, there’s actual good news: as of yesterday, my employer has ... Continue reading this article…

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How to Beat a Certificate of Deposit (CD) Ladder

by Luke Landes

Building a certificate of deposit (CD) ladder is a great process that ensures you’re eventually earning the strongest interest rates available while leaving the possibility open to withdraw money every three months without penalty. In fact, even if you need to withdraw some money between the quarterly window, you would only be faced with a ... Continue reading this article…

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Exclusive Video: Bob Meighan Answers Our Tax Questions

by Luke Landes

There are only twenty-four hours left to file tax returns in the United States or file for a six-month extension. Bob Meighan, CPA and Vice President of TurboTax offered to answer Consumerism Commentary readers’ questions about filing taxes as the last minute. The good news is that even with less than a day left, you ... Continue reading this article…

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Attend a Great Private College for Less Money Than a Public College

by Luke Landes

I’m a big fan of a continuous education that lasts a lifetime, whether earning degrees or just gaining knowledge in topics you’re not normally exposed to. But when you start focusing on money, it’s easy to raise questions about how much education is worthwhile. There is a war over the value of higher education. College ... Continue reading this article…

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Would You Rather Receive a Refund or Owe More Taxes?

by Luke Landes

If you haven’t noticed, it’s tax time. I have noticed, not only because of the relentless emails I receive reminding me of this grand celebration, but also due to people I interact with. As those I know complete their tax returns, I observe the joyfulness they exude as they realize they’ll be receiving a refund ... Continue reading this article…

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Everlasting Fun Ball: a Toy for Dogs

by Smithee

As you might know, I live alongside three ridiculous dogs. We take turns being in charge, but most of the time I end up feeling like their servant with titles like “Emergency Backup Food Giver” or “Guy With the Food That Smells Better Than Mine.” The eldest of our three dogs has a friendly relationship ... Continue reading this article…

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Win $10,000 for Tuition or a $500 Gift Card

by Luke Landes

Upromise is sponsoring a contest in honor of Financial Literacy Month. There are two grand prizes of $10,000, cash that can be used for higher education expenses. We touched on the topic of the cost of education on yesterday’s podcast with financial columnist Kara McGuire. I have no children, but thinking about potential children’s projected ... Continue reading this article…

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The American Opportunity Tax Credit

by Luke Landes

Last week I offered some last-minute tax filing tips, and the IRS deadline is looming. I’m happy to tackle tax questions, and Consumerism Commentary reader Eric has one. Eric was a full-time student through May 2009, and he, like many former students, is dealing with the cost of a college education. Eric is looking for ... Continue reading this article…

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Podcast 51: Money and Parenting, Kara McGuire

by Luke Landes

This week’s guest on the Consumerism Commentary Podcast is Kara McGuire, personal finance columnist at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Kara’s column, Ka-Ching, runs every Sunday, and she also writes Ka-Blog, a personal finance blog. In today’s episode, Kara, Flexo and Tom Dziubek discuss the cost of raising a child, how to get a jump on ... Continue reading this article…

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The White House’s Tax Filing Tips

by Smithee

In the past 14 months, we’ve covered many of the ways the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act might affect your household finances, including home buyer tax credits and energy efficiency tax credits. If you still haven’t yet found the time to file your taxes, or if you’re the sort of person who makes it a ... Continue reading this article…

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Flexo’s Investment Portfolio, 1Q 2010

by Luke Landes

When I reported my net worth earlier this week, RetirementInvestingToday, a Consumerism Commentary reader, mentioned I should be reporting my investment performance as well, as raw changes in balances don’t tell the full story. An investment’s performance can’t be measured just by looking at a starting and ending balance if during that time I make ... Continue reading this article…

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Personal Balance Sheet, March 2010 ($348,492, +11%)

by Luke Landes

The first quarter of 2010 has ended as fast as it began. In observing my personal finances as I have done for the past ten years or so, and publicly on Consumerism Commentary for the last seven years, I’ve put together my monthly balance sheet. This is a list of my account balances, including savings ... Continue reading this article…

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Spirit Airlines Now Charges for Carry-On Luggage

by Luke Landes

Just a few days ago, I arrived home from a vacation that took me to Las Vegas and Death Valley. When preparing for the trip, I used SideStep for finding the best fare that fit my schedule, settling on a flight from EWR to LAS on Continental Airlines. My flights were mostly full, so I ... Continue reading this article…

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The Best Way to Invest in Real Estate

by Christian

This is a guest article by Christian of Money Obedience. If you enjoy this article, please consider subscribing to the MoneyObedience RSS feed. My parents offered a very important piece of wisdom to me: Even if everybody is doing something, you do not have to do it, too. Unfortunately I usually applied this advice to ... Continue reading this article…

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Shaving: Neither Electric Nor Expensive

by Smithee

I have trouble shaving, and it seemed to be getting worse with age. It seemed that no matter what I did, I’d end up with a red bumpy neck and hairy spots I had missed. In the last eighteen years, I’ve tried every normal razor and electric razor I could find, and none of them ... Continue reading this article…

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FreeCreditReport.com No Longer Offers “Free” Credit Reports

by Luke Landes

The Credit CARD Act of 2009 required the Federal Trade Commission to regulate marketing surrounding products offered by the credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion). Starting this month, offers like FreeCreditReport.com must be transparent about their offers when they are tied to “free trials.” It’s easy for us to single out Experian’s FreeCreditReport.com because ... Continue reading this article…

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Podcast 50: Financial Literacy Month, Cate Williams

by Luke Landes

This week’s guest on the Consumerism Commentary Podcast is Cate Williams, Vice President of Financial Literacy at the credit counseling agency Money Management International. In honor of Financial Literacy Month, Flexo and Tom Dziubek discuss several financial literacy topics with Cate, including at what age children should learn basic money skills, how many kids actually ... Continue reading this article…

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Are You a Maximizer or a Satisficer?

by Aaron Pinkston

This is a guest article by Aaron Pinkston, founder of Clarifinancial. He wasn’t satisfied with the ways people had to get life insurance quotes, so he created something better. Have you ever noticed you can relax about decisions you made while others around you are still running around frantically? On the other hand, you probably ... Continue reading this article…

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HDMI Cables Are Cheap

by Smithee

On Tuesday, I asked our readers to answer a few questions about their household TV situation, and I found that 49 percent of respondents don’t use a DVR. I was surprised to learn that, but it says more about me than you guys: I’ve let myself get sucked inside an on-demand, time-shifting echo chamber of bleeding-edge ... Continue reading this article…

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How Debt Settlements Affect Credit History

by Jeremy Simon

This is a guest article by Jeremy M. Simon. Each Tuesday, his Credit Score Report column addresses a CreditCards.com reader’s question on credit scoring. He selects questions that either best reflect a common reader concern or that highlight some particularly interesting aspect of credit scoring. Today, Consumerism Commentary is hosting the weekly question-and-answer session with ... Continue reading this article…

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