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

March 2011

Chase Increasing ATM Fee to $5

by Luke Landes

Chase Bank can’t seem to stay out of the news. Last week, I mentioned that the bank was considering limiting debit card transactions to $50 or $100 as a protest against the industry’s regulation of interchange (swipe) fees. Today, there is news that the bank has increased the ATM fee for non-customers to $5 in ... Continue reading this article…

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How Much Money Do You Need to Feel Wealthy?

by Luke Landes

Last week, I wrote about a study that evaluates the most important issues for wealthy people, and a new study released recently, sponsored by Fidelity, also takes a look at the attitudes of the super-rich. If I were to have $1 million in investible assets — the value of what I have available to invest ... Continue reading this article…

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Chase Sapphire Card $100 Cash Back

by Luke Landes

Chase’s latest move is to consider limiting debit card transactions to $50 or $100. This plan may never be implemented, but regardless of whether it does, credit cards are often better choices than debit cards. If the plan is implemented, debit card users may need to consider using credit cards more often. Merchants will be ... Continue reading this article…

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How to Financially Survive a Disaster

by Luke Landes

When one thinks of earthquakes in the United States, California is usually the main target. The San Andreas fault line is well-known for powerful quakes. There are others located within the United States that, although they haven’t caused severe seismic activity in the most recent century or two, could produce earthquakes resulting in severe damage. ... Continue reading this article…

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Moving Away From Banks and Other Companies “Too Big to Fail”

by Luke Landes

The FDIC is progressing in its development of new rules that will apply to financial firms — not just banks — deemed “too big to fail.” The rules would establish procedures for unwinding companies whose failure would pose a threat to the economy, when that failure appears to be imminent. The government organization approved a ... Continue reading this article…

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Lending Money to Friends and Family

by Luke Landes

I try to keep the issue of money out of my personal relationships. Many people I know outside of those I know only online — my friends and family — read Consumerism Commentary. For the most part, they’re not interested because, I assume, they’d rather keep the issue of money out of our friendships — ... Continue reading this article…

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CoinStar is a Rip-Off

by Luke Landes

The whole premise is almost absurd. It reminds me of children on a playground — one invariably tries to trick another by offering three quarters in exchange for a dollar bill. Even kids are smart enough not to fall for this trick. For some reason, however, people are content using CoinStar machines. For a whopping ... Continue reading this article…

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Safe Donations to Victims of the Tsunami in Japan

by Luke Landes

Updated March 16, 2011. If you have been paying attention to the media, you most likely saw terrifying footage of tsunami waves destroying much of the eastern coastal areas of Japan, particularly Miyagi prefecture. Friday’s earthquake measuring 9.0 magnitude on the Richter scale triggered massive waves that leveled homes and farms, left thousands missing, forced ... Continue reading this article…

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Podcast 99: Swipe Fees and the End of Free Checking?

by Luke Landes

Today’s guest on the Consumerism Commentary Podcast is Preeti Vissa, community reinvestment director of The Greenlining Institute, an organization whose mission is to empower communities of color and other disadvantaged groups through multi-ethnic economic and leadership development, civil rights, and anti-redlining activities. Consumerism Commentary Podcast #99 Swipe Fees: S04E21 / 123 Adobe Flash required Download ... Continue reading this article…

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How to Get Audited By the IRS

by Luke Landes

If you have an adventurous, thrill-seeking personality, your life may never be complete until you’ve solicited an income tax audit from the Internal Revenue Service. There is good news and bad news for you. The good news is that audits have been more frequent in past years, so the chance of being audited has increased. ... Continue reading this article…

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Getting What You Want: Using Sex as Money

by Luke Landes

College students, professionals, and married couples are familiar with one of the oldest systems of bartering known to humans: bartering using sex. According to a survey of University of Michigan undergraduate students, 27 percent of unattached men and 14 percent of unattached women offered a service or gift, like laundry or football tickets, in return ... Continue reading this article…

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Capital One Venture Card Matching Airline Miles

by Luke Landes

Editor’s Note: Thank you for your interest, this offer expired and is no longer available. If you have an airline miles credit card, Capital One is offering the chance for you to double your mileage balance on that card, up to 100,000 miles. The cash value of those 100,000 miles is $1,000, so this is ... Continue reading this article…

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The Worries and Concerns of the Super Rich

by Luke Landes

A Boston College study recently looked at the community of the “super rich,” defined in this case as households with a net worth above $25 million. The purpose was to determine whether wealth, or more specifically, absolute financial security, resulted in fulfillment. There have been numerous studies on wealth and happiness, and often, the results ... Continue reading this article…

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Ink℠ Bold with Ultimate Rewards

by Luke Landes

Many small businesses are successful in part due to smart use of credit early on. Although personal debt is bad, it can often make sense for a business to use credit, whether in the form of loans or credit cards. Some businesses do well when the owner has money to invest himself, but that isn’t ... Continue reading this article…

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Soften the Effect of High Gas Prices

by Luke Landes

I got lucky: I decided to leave my job, and the associated daily commute, around the time gas prices started rising faster. Now, with more unrest in northern Africa, a gallon of gasoline at the pump costs more than $3.50 on average, with some location sporting a price north of $4.00. High gas prices, though ... Continue reading this article…

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Five Reasons I’m Happy I Rent

by AmberBalanced

This is a guest article by Amber, the writer behind Blonde and Balanced, a blog about striking a balance in life, health, and money. Blonde and Balanced was included in my list of personal finance blogs you can trust. Old-school financial gurus sometimes claim that renting is wasted money or that renting doesn’t provide a ... Continue reading this article…

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American Express Personal Savings Review

by Luke Landes
AmEx Logo

By far, the most requested review on Consumerism Commentary that I have yet to write is for the American Express Personal Savings Account. American Express offers one of the highest interest rates available with this savings account, making it very attractive from the surface. Once you own an account, how does it hold up against ... Continue reading this article…

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In-Home Photography Studio and Hiring a Maid Service

by Luke Landes

I’ve rearranged my dining room to function as a small photography studio. I haven’t had much time, but this metamorphosis should give me more opportunities to practice photography. Since this might involve people visiting my home, I finally stopped procrastinating and called a maid service. Upon some recommendations, I found a local office of Maids.com. ... Continue reading this article…

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Replacing Dollar Bills With Dollar Coins

by Luke Landes

While politicians, political commentators, and opinion-yellers are knocking heads and locking horns in Washington, D.C. in an attempt to determine how to spur the economy while cutting the budget deficit, there is an old debate about currency that refuses to die. For the most part, the public isn’t excited about the idea of eliminating paper ... Continue reading this article…

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Podcast 98: Introducing Adaptu

by Luke Landes

Today’s guest on the Consumerism Commentary Podcast is Mark Brundage, co-founder of Adaptu. Adaptu is an online financial life planning and management service. Consumerism Commentary Podcast #98 Introducing Adaptu: S04E20 / 122 Adobe Flash required Download – RSS – iTunes Table of contents [00:00] Introduction from Bryan J Busch [00:38] Interview with Mark Brundage – ... Continue reading this article…

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