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

July 2010

SmartMoney’s Top 10 Discount Brokers

by Luke Landes

Discount brokers are everywhere. Not long ago, only a few companies offered the ability to trade stocks with low commissions. If you wanted to trade with a full-service brokerage, it might have cost $30 for each transaction. For this fee, you would talk with a broker assigned to your account, who would help you make ... Continue reading this article…

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George Steinbrenner’s Heirs Inherit $1 Billion Tax Free

by Luke Landes

Whether or not you believe the New York Yankees have seen successful years because of or in spite of the team’s fabled owner, George Steinbrenner, you have to admit he has good, though of course unfortunate, timing. If the tax laws don’t change, or if they do change but are not deemed retroactive, through his ... Continue reading this article…

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Payday Loans Fees and Interest Rates: Fair Comparison?

by Luke Landes

I consider payday loans one of the worst forms of debt. That being said, in states where these services are still legal, they provide a way for struggling individuals to afford necessities like food and housing until their next paycheck, for a fee. Unfortunately, many borrowers don’t simply use their paycheck to pay back the ... Continue reading this article…

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Verifying Funds on Checks, 2010 Edition

by Smithee

Last May we found a list of the biggest American banks and investigated each to find if it was possible to verify funds on a customer’s check over the phone. For example, you’re a landlord and you want to know if your iffy tenant, who banks somewhere different than you, wrote you a bad check. ... Continue reading this article…

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Turn Off Your Air Conditioner and Save Summer Money

by Luke Landes

Last week, the New York metropolitan area experiences a heat wave with temperatures above 100°F for several days. The hazy, hot, and humid weather kept people in the air-conditioned indoors as much as possible. Con Edison, the power company that provides electricity to New York City, called customers asking them to preserve energy by turning ... Continue reading this article…

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How to Build Credit

by Luke Landes

In a perfect world for a consumer, no one would need credit. There would be enough time to earn and save money before needing a car or a house. Credit cards would be used only for cash back rewards and other bonuses, and no one would ever pay interest. There would be no such thing ... Continue reading this article…

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Podcast 64: Taking Control of Your Finances, Flexo

by Luke Landes

In today’s episode of the Consumerism Commentary Podcast, Tom Dziubek speaks with Flexo about his recommended steps for people to take control of their personal finances. Among the things Flexo talks about are the importance of self-awareness, taking an inventory of your personal finances, tracking your money and getting out of debt. Consumerism Commentary Podcast ... Continue reading this article…

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Flexo’s Investment Portfolio, 2Q 2010

by Luke Landes

Last quarter, almost all of my investments were experiencing positive performance. Three months can make a big difference. My investments tell a different story today. One thing has not changed since last quarter: my company stock continues to do well, even when the broader stock market is in decline. This was not my best performing ... Continue reading this article…

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YouTube Leanback: Another Option for Free TV

by Smithee

This week YouTube released a beta of an interface called Leanback, open for anyone to try right now. It starts out full-screen and immediately starts playing videos it thinks would interest you based on your YouTube contacts’ activities like rating and choosing favorites. I presume it will also, if it doesn’t already, suggest videos based ... Continue reading this article…

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Rich Homeowners More Likely to Walk Away From Mortgages

by Luke Landes

When it comes to walking away from a house and mortgage, wealthy homeowners are doing their part. Not only are those with a $1 million net worth or above more likely to stop payments, but they are also more likely to see their home as an investment and cut their losses. Of homeowners with a ... Continue reading this article…

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Discover® More Card $75 Cash Back Bonus

by Luke Landes

The offer you are interested in has expired. Read our review of the Discover More Card.

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Financial Services Companies Get Ready for Boomers

by Luke Landes

The Baby Boomer Generation consists of Americans born between about 1946 and about 1964. Many individuals in this generation are approaching the typical retirement age, as defined by the U.S. government’s tax and benefit policies. While some are delaying their retirement thanks in part to recent poor stock market performance, underfunded nest eggs, and the ... Continue reading this article…

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Personal Balance Sheet, June 2010 ($340,741, -1.1%)

by Luke Landes

July will mark the seventh anniversary of Consumerism Commentary. These seven years I’ve been tracking my finances online to keep myself accountable for my financial decisions. In 2003, there was no such thing as a “personal finance blog community;” this arose out of the desire of a few of us to track our finances in ... Continue reading this article…

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I Deposited a Check With My Phone

by Smithee

This past weekend was my first chance to try to deposit a check without going to the bank, and it was fantastic. I was always ambivalent about the fact that Chase Bank swallowed up the friendly Washington Mutual, but now I’m a little glad, since they’re among the first of the enormous banks to bring ... Continue reading this article…

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How to Get Your Spouse On Your Financial Team

by Neal Frankle

This is a guest article by Neal Frankle. Neal is a Certified Financial Planner and blogs at Wealth Pilgrim. Neal writes about taking action steps to improve clients’ financial situations and finding balance at the same time. I’ve often wondered if the posts we write about personal finance are getting into the hands of the ... Continue reading this article…

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Podcast 63: 8Coupons, Investing vs. Paying Down Mortgage

by Luke Landes

Today’s episode of the Consumerism Commentary Podcast has two guests. First, Tom Dziubek talks with Landy Ung, co-founder of the online coupon and deal aggregation website 8Coupons. Landy discusses what features the website offers and how they use natural language processing to help discover deals. In the second segment, Tom speaks with Consumerism Commentary founder ... Continue reading this article…

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Independence Weekend Reading: Priceline, Secrets, and Condoms

by Luke Landes

For many Americans with typical jobs, this is a long holiday weekend. I could use the break from my day job, which is becoming increasingly stressful with many co-workers out of the office at various times this summer. Frankly, I’d rather be spending the time working on my own projects. As readers know, I’ve been ... Continue reading this article…

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New Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan

by Smithee

Historically, it’s been difficult, if not impossible, for Americans with medical problems to acquire affordable health insurance. That changed yesterday with the rollout of another piece of this year’s Affordable Care Act, the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP). As of July 1, 2010, adult citizens or legal residents who have been without insurance for six ... Continue reading this article…

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Track Savings Goals With Mint.com

by Luke Landes
mint[1]

Mint.com added a new feature this week to its online personal finance management software. Like SmartyPig, the new focus is on savings goals. I’ve recently become a fan of SmartyPig’s approach to goal tracking, so I was interested in seeing Mint.com’s new feature. In addition to tracking your account balances as any other personal finance ... Continue reading this article…

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Home Buyer Tax Credit Extension

by Luke Landes

Good news, everyone. The home buyer tax credit extension, after failing in the Senate last week, was finally passed by the House of Representatives earlier this week and the Senate late last night. The bill that includes the extension has been signed into law by President Obama on Friday, July 2. Originally, before the extension, ... Continue reading this article…

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