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

May 2010

FCC Considering Regulation to Stop Surprise Phone Bills

by Luke Landes

As the story goes, I was about fifteen when I started getting involved with online communities. At that time, however, being online meant using a slow modem to dial various bulletin boards over a regular telephone line. My problem was that I didn’t realize that I was dialing long distance phone numbers. My parents weren’t ... Continue reading this article…

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How to Pay More Than You Should: Stop Paying Attention

by Luke Landes

In March, I wrote about reducing the amount of automation in handling personal finances. Leaving your payments on auto-pilot is asking for trouble. Leaving your brain out of the decision-making process is a sure way to rack up overdraft fees when you don’t have enough funding to pay an automatic bill. Also in March, I ... Continue reading this article…

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Sallie Mae Increases Interest Rate and 10% Upromise Bonus

by Luke Landes

Earlier today, Sallie Mae Bank increased the interest rate offered on its savings account 50 basis points to 1.4 percent APY. This is one of the highest interest rates available. I’ve shared my thoughts about opening a Sallie Mae Bank savings account in this review. Sallie Mae ties directly into the Upromise savings plan, a program ... Continue reading this article…

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How to Intelligently and Responsibly Buy a Car

by Luke Landes

Car companies want you to buy their products on impulse. They would, generally, prefer that the step of thinking is removed from the consumer’s process. This is evident in the commercials you see around the holidays in which a spouse is surprised when he or she notices a gift wrapped in a large red bow ... Continue reading this article…

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Podcast 55: Generation Y Consumers, Kimberly Palmer

by Luke Landes

Our guest on today’s episode of the Consumerism Commentary Podcast is Kimberly Palmer, senior editor at U.S. News & World Report and author of the upcoming book, Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back. Our podcast producer and host, Tom Dziubek, speaks with Kimberly about the typical Generation Y consumer, ... Continue reading this article…

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Mother’s Day Reading: Financial Lessons, Saving for Retirement, and Pretending

by Luke Landes

To all those who celebrate, have a happy Mother’s Day. Jim from Bargaineering asks, “What financial lessons has your mother taught you?” Jim’s mom provided negotiation skills and some of his readers learned various lessons for dealing with credit cards, spending smartly, and being compassionate. Here are five reasons the author of the Well-Heeled Blog ... Continue reading this article…

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Congratulations to the Winners of the Plutus Awards!

by Luke Landes

The Plutus Awards is an awards ceremony highlighting the best personal finance products, services and resources. After a nomination process, finalists are chosen from the top nominees and the public — mostly from within the personal finance online and social media community — votes for the winners in a variety of categories. Here are some ... Continue reading this article…

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Insurance Companies Work for Shareholders, Not Customers

by Luke Landes

The entire concept of insurance, particularly public insurance companies with shareholders, is backward. If a company is to survive year after year, it has to make money for its owners. In the case of public companies, executives answer to the board of directors and the shareholders. The goal is, of course, to make money for ... Continue reading this article…

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Legacy Credit Card Debt: Gone

by Smithee

I mentally separated my two credit cards into “Legacy Debt” and “Newer Debt”. The former has been with me on a variety of cards, banks, and interest rates since 1997, but in the last couple of years I consolidated it onto one card that I haven’t used to purchase anything. I’ve been paying it off ... Continue reading this article…

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How I Earn Side Income From (Mostly) Blogging

by Luke Landes

Subscribe to Consumerism Commentary by adding our RSS feed to your favorite reading software. As you know I’ve been writing for Consumerism Commentary since 2003. I’ve been blogging, or chronologically updating websites, since 1994 or 1995, at that time running a web server called “Winhttpd” from the computer in my dorm room. My university did ... Continue reading this article…

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Vanguard Eliminates Commissions on ETF Trades

by Luke Landes

Vanguard seems to be one of those rare companies that wants to give customers more for less. The brokerage recently eliminated transaction fees for their proprietary exchange-traded funds (ETFs). They’ve been offering no-load, no-commission mutual funds, but with mutual funds you don’t have the flexibility to buy or sell while trading is open. While I ... Continue reading this article…

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Personal Balance Sheet, April 2010 ($356,832, +4.5%)

by Luke Landes

About a decade ago, I realized that I needed to track my spending down to the dollar, if not to the penny, to get a grip on my financial condition. It was the start of a long journey for me, one which saw me get out of credit card debt, start earning money, and getting ... Continue reading this article…

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GMAC Changes Name to Ally Financial

by Luke Landes

A year ago, GMAC Bank, or its brand, ceased to exist. In order to distance itself from its parents, General Motors and GMAC Financial Services, the bank changed its name to Ally Bank. With government funding, Ally Bank went on to become a competitive online bank, offering interest rates high enough to draw the ire ... Continue reading this article…

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Customer Service: Politeness vs. Demands

by Smithee

The prevailing wisdom when dealing with customer service representatives is to just keep repeating, “Let me speak to your supervisor,” until you eventually get what you want. Every time I read this, though, I get defensive and annoyed. I can’t forget that year I spent answering the phones for Bank of America, and the myriad ... Continue reading this article…

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Continental Airlines to Merge With United Airlines

by Luke Landes

Yesterday, the boards of directors for Continental Airlines and United Airlines agreed to merge the two companies, creating the largest airline carrier. The new company will bear the United name and the Continental brand will cease to exist. If the government approves the merger, like it did recently for Delta and Northwest, there will be ... Continue reading this article…

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Podcast 54: Improving Gas Usage and Saving Money

by Luke Landes

Our guest on today’s episode of the Consumerism Commentary Podcast is Schwark Satyavolu, president and co-founder of BillShrink. Our podcast producer and host, Tom Dziubek, speaks with Schwark about trends and tips for saving money on travel this coming summer. This episode contains a number of suggestions that will help travelers and commuters consume less ... Continue reading this article…

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