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


Thanks very much to all the readers and contributors who have helped make Consumerism Commentary a complete community for the past five years. In the span of those five years, the “blogosphere” has exploded with thousands of new blogs that write about personal finance, the economy, budgeting, and every money-related topic you could possible conceive in your mind.

The problem now comes with finding the best of what’s out there. I have a number of suggestions.

Carnival of Personal Finance

The Carnival of Personal Finance is a weekly column, featured on a different host blog each Monday. Within the column is a select list of the week’s best articles, submitted by their authors and reviewed and screened by the host. The host also selects a few articles for “Editor’s Choice.” These five to ten articles are often great examples of the excellent writing found across the blogosphere. Note: The Carnival of Personal Finance was founded here at Consumerism Commentary. is an aggregator of over 1,000 personal finance blogs. This is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of this niche in the blogosphere. Most importantly, pay special attention to the Friends of; these bloggers take their writing seriously and work hard to produce the best content. You will find the popular listings on the most useful. The most frequently-visited articles from the past 24 hours are presented in order of popularity. Note again: I created


If you like Digg for finding the best news and articles in general, take a look at Tip’d. Tip’d is like Digg, where news articles are submitted by anyone. For example, I saw an article on MSN Money Central about Henry Paulson, and I submitted this article even though I was not the author. Submitted articles that are enjoyed by others in the Tip’d community get promoted.

It’s easy to find articles you like with Tip’d. You can browse a number of categories, such as personal finance, economy, green, and real estate. These are the types of articles that wouldn’t always “succeed” on Digg, so creating a “social media” website specifically for personal finance is a good move.

The founders of Tip’d have extensive experience with social media and beneficent search-engine optimization. If any niche new website has the potential for success, it’s Tip’d.

Every article on Consumerism Commentary is followed by an option to “Add to Tip’d.” If you read something here that you like, click on this link to share the article with the Tip’d community.


Alltop is an aggregator like With the Personal Finance page on Alltop, in one view you can see five latest articles from both mainstream finance news like The Motley Fool and Forbes as well as some of the top money-related blogs such as I Will Teach You to Be Rich, Get Rich Slowly, and Consumerism Commentary.

Google Blog Search’s business section contains the latest news from blogs as well as a search form to help you quickly find what you want from thousands of participating websites. Personal finance articles can be found in the business section. Google’s powerful search engine groups related stories across hundreds of blogs, giving you a quick idea of how many people are writing about any particular news item.


Like Google Blog Search, Technorati offers a home page for business articles throughout the blogosphere, but with this portal, you can focus on finance articles more specifically. Technorati meshes in news from mainstream media with articles from the blogosphere. In terms of search capabilities, I prefer Google, but Technorati has unique features that let you measure the popularity of blogs and blog articles.

Have I neglected to include any other resources? Please free to let me know.


PC Magazine recently published a list of their editors’ picks for the top 100 “undiscovered” websites. The list spans a variety of categories from reference to music to health. Consumerism Commentary readers are probably familiar with a few of these sites, particularly those in the “money” category. Here are some of the highlights throughout.

Hard to Find 800 Numbers: Some companies do a decent job of hiding their toll-free customer service numbers in an attempt to use e-mail (and possibly avoid complaints). Others gladly provide a long distance phone number to save money. This site lets you browse for your favorite companies to find those hidden toll-free numbers.

Cork’d: This site is billed as the “simple way to review and share wine.” I can never keep track of the wine I drink, so every time I go out, I have to guess at what I might like. Now, if there were only a device that would allow me to check reviews while at the restaurant…

Menupages: Speaking of dining out, this undiscovered website indexes menus for over 6,000 New York restaurants. This is a great way to decide where to eat rather than using other options, including visiting the restaurants’ individual websites, which may or may not include their own menus.

Kiva: This microlending site has been mentioned quite a bit by other financial blogs. Kiva provides a mechanism to provide small loans to needy entrepreneurs all over the world, improving the lives and communities of people who will likely be very appreciative.

Rentometer: I discovered Rentometer in March and found it to be an interesting way to determine whether you’re getting a good deal on rent. At the time, my rent was on the low side for my area. I’d like to see how my new apartment compares, but the site is not responding at the moment.

Trulia: If you’re planning to make a real-estate-related move, Trulia should be one of the websites you check first. It has financial information as well as details about school districts and communities. Right on the front page, I can see that Trenton, New Jersey has made the top 5 in median listing price increases.

Topix: Here is a powerful news and blog aggregator that can organize listings by location or, as one would imagine, by topic. Some pages, like the one for Princeton, New Jersey are edited by humans, but when no human has been assigned, Topix’ intelligent robots take care of the job.

The Bargainist: For those who like to make their purchasing decision based on what’s on sale, The Bargainist provides a nearly-constant feed of coupons and deals. The only deal that stood out to me is the 40% of a CD at Borders. Even with that discount, you can find much better deals on music online.

Do My Stuff: Why do something yourself if you can pay someone else to do it for you? This site lets individuals and companies bid on your mundane and annoying tasks.

Yapta: After seeing this site featured, I joined Yapta immediately. I entered the confirmation code for my upcoming flight to California and will now allow Yapta to track my route’s prices. If the tickets become available for a lower amount of money between now and my flight, Yapta will inform me how to receive a refund for the difference. The likelihood of my holiday travel suddenly becoming available for less money is low; the flights are sold out now.

Remember the Milk: If you’re highly organized, unlike myself, you may enjoy making lists. You can tie your to-dos listed on Remember the Milk into your email or SMS (text messaging system) to allow you to be reminded of your tasks any where. Become a slave to a list — you know you want to.

Those are some of the “undiscovered” websites I found interesting or possibly useful for Consumerism Commentary readers. There are lots more — 89, to be precise — with commentary in the PC Magazine feature.

Top 100 Undiscovered Web Sites [PC Magazine]


Yesterday I received an email apparently from eBay, informing that my account was used for malicious purposes, and I should change my password post-haste. I’m very skeptical of emails apparently from eBay. Normally I delete them without thinking. But this email managed to catch my attention. Here’s a portion of the text:

It appears your account was accessed by an unauthorized third party and used to send unsolicited emails to other community members, including email offers to sell items outside of eBay. It does not appear that your account was used to list or bid on any items. Additionally, the email address on your account may have been tampered with, which is why you may not have received any emails about this activity.

At this time we have taken several steps to secure your eBay account. Rest assured that your credit card and banking information is safe on the eBay site. This information is kept encrypted on a secure server and cannot be viewed by anyone.

eBay account hackedClick on the screenshot to see that the email is authentic looking. I’ve removed all the naughty bits to protect my identity. To check the email’s authenticity, I tried to log into eBay in a new browser window — not by clicking on any links in the email.

I was unable to log in, as the email explained further. eBay had changed my password after it detected malicious activity. I reset my password after verifying my identity and logged in. In my message inbox was the same email I received externally. Apparently, my account had been used to send “questions” to the hosts of a variety of auctions pointing them to some external website. I checked my sent messages folder within eBay, and I saw 25 messages sent on July 2 to a number of other eBay users.

The account was not used to bid on any items, so I didn’t have to worry about that. I did go through and change all of my passwords as the message from eBay suggested. I’m not happy with this situation, and after being conditioned that all email appearing to be from eBay is most likely spam or someone trying to trick me into entering my password somewhere, I could easily have overlooked this warning.

There are several ways my password could have been used by a hacker. There’s the slight possibility I clicked on one of those fake eBay emails. I find that really hard to believe as I am very careful about such things. One of my computers may have a keylogging program installed on it. My home computer is protected by AVG, which has never discovered any malicious programs running, so either that’s not the answer, or AVG Anti-Virus Free has failed.

Most likely, the password was guessed through software designed to do such hacking. I could have chosen a stronger password to use.

If there’s anything to take away from my experience, it’s that not every email from eBay is fake, strong passwords aren’t strong enough, and even rarely-used accounts with unimpressive stats are targets.


My former boss at the company I currently work for knows that I have a side interest that involves personal finance and the web. Obviously, I do not supply too many details to him as I prefer to maintain some level of anonymity on Consumerism Commentary, considering the personal information I’ve been posting since 2003. He contacted me today to make me aware of an article in today’s Wall Street Journal. (The article is available for free online, for now.)

The article addresses the trend of twentysomethings (I’m 31) sharing their personal financial information online using social networking websites. One of the social networking sites mentioned is NetWorthIQ. NetWorthIQ allows people to create profiles and update their financial standing every month. These profiles can be set to either public or private. You can even look at trends and comparisons between individuals.

Wall Street JournalWhile I like NetWorthIQ, I never got into using it much. I like keeping my information on my website, first of all. Also, I think the social networking aspect encourages comparisons between individuals or groups of individuals, which I’d rather not be a part of. I’m a fan of internal comparisons for tracking progress, but comparisons between people are almost meaningless. Also, balance sheet information doesn’t mean much without an income and expense report, which I don’t believe is supported by NetWorthIQ.

Nevertheless, I think it’s a great tool, especially if you want to take some of the work out of publishing your own reports.

The article also mentions Wesabe, which provides a way to access the information one might enter in software like Quicken from anywhere. The article didn’t mention Mint, which is still under testing, but it may turn out to be a better application than Wesabe.

Two additional websites sound interesting and are worth a look.

At other sites, such as the just-launched Covestor LLC, which allow investors to share their portfolio information, members manually input transaction data for their brokerage accounts or provide their account passwords to have the firm automatically track their trades. Members can choose to remain anonymous, and the actual dollar values of trades and specific holdings of each member always remains confidential, with only percentages displayed…

On Geezeo, members can create discussion groups with other users about specific financial topics. The site lets members create a consolidated view of their financial accounts and use text-messaging technology to get quick balance updates from their mobile phones. Starting this week, users will be able to provide feedback on financial products, such as student loans, credit cards or savings accounts.

The idea of tracking your finances publicly is gaining a lot of attention and popularity. I never thought this would be something that would catch on and have “mass appeal.” That’s the beauty of the internet — people with strange interests can come together to form communities, convincing those involved that their perceptions are “normal.”


Spending More Money on the Internet

by Luke Landes

Here are five reasons according to Forrester Research people spend 15 percent more on the average online transaction compared to a traditional transaction from a brick-and-mortar store. You don’t have time to think. Once you have items in your cart, retailers want to move you through the checkout line before you can reconsider. If you’ve already […]

9 comments Read the full article →

Find a Financial Advisor Online

by Luke Landes

Some readers of financial blogs keep coming back for the free “advice.” There are some better ways to get in touch with financial advisement online, and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has a few suggestions for finding a real advisor through the internet. * The Alliance of Cambridge Advisors is a network of 75 advisors in 25 […]

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Flexo’s “Get Away From BlogSpot” Project

by Luke Landes

I have a deal for my personal finance blogging friends. Blogger was a great piece of software several years ago, bringing “pushbutton publishing to the people.” When they added BlogSpot, it only enhanced the value of the software. But let’s face it, BlogSpot is not that stable despite being hosted by Google, and many people […]

20 comments Read the full article →

Ten Websites I Couldn’t Live Without

by Luke Landes

I’ll admit there’s a little bit of hyperbole in the title of this post. I’m sure I’d survive without the internet, but I’d be unwilling. Unwilling to go on living. If I had to choose, here are the ten websites I’d want to have with me on a desert/deserted island, in no particular order. CNN. […]

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Verizon FIOS Driving Down Comcast Prices

by Luke Landes

Pkp646 asked in response to my latest Comcast adventure (which isn’t quite the latest — there’s something new I haven’t written about yet): I would be interested to know, Flexo, if there has been talk of allowing Verizon’s FIOS into your area. It seems that everywhere that they are trying to enter the field, Comcast […]

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HOWTO Let Google Blog Search Access Your Full RSS Feed

by Luke Landes

If you have a popular blog that generates income through advertising, chances are you offer an RSS feed that contains only an exceprt of each entry. This is a good way to encourage readers to visit the blog to continue reading. In the similar interest of drawing traffic to the site, you should also want […]

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