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Since December, federal banks and credit unions have been allowed to offer savings accounts that include a raffle element, after some states have allowed accounts like these for some time. The goal of these lottery-like accounts is to encourage more people to save money, particularly those households with low and moderate incomes. This was the single provision of the American Savings Promotion Act, a bipartisan bill signed into law by the President of the United States.

How prize-linked savings accounts work.

When you open an account with a certain value, you receive an entry in the raffle. While account holders don’t necessarily earn interest, one lucky winner will receive enough interest to change one’s life. The more you save, the more chances you have at winning.

Here is an example of how this works, based on the “Save to Win” model, organized by the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) in 2009, in which some state credit unions are all ready participating. If you open up a 12-month certificate of deposit within a prize-linked savings account and deposit $25 into the account, you receive one ticket (like a raffle ticket). For every additional $25 you deposit into the account, you receive an additional ticket, up to ten chances per month. With the tickets linked to CDs, keep in mind that you may be penalized for withdrawing your money before each deposit matures at the end of the initial twelve months.

The prizes are generally awarded as small monthly prices or larger annual prizes. Even the small monthly prizes would be larger than the interest you could earn in the highest of high-yield savings accounts, but there’s no guarantee of receiving it. Some of the winners have been publicized like lottery winners or charities, with big checks indicating $10,000 in prize money.

For North Carolina credit unions in the Save to Win program, on the 14th of each month, there are 3 grand prize winners every year, receiving $10,000 each; three quarterly winners each year, with prizes from $500 to $1,500 depending on the quarter, and 312 winners each month across the state, winning prizes from $25 to $100. These are the Save to Win central drawings — each participating credit union may also supplement the program with their own drawings.

The state credit unions already offering these accounts may be successful in encouraging saving behavior among individuals who may not already be saving money — at least, not saving money in a bank. The accounts may attract people who are prone towards gambling or other risky behavior. Prize-linked savings accounts have been around in other parts of the world and have been shown to be successful in attracting depositors. The question remains whether encouraging good behavior through the potential of a prize has any lasting effect on savings behavior.

If people begin to associate saving money and other behaviors that ultimately benefit a family from a financial perspective with the chance to win a prize, they may only desire to take on these behaviors when they could win something — a prize more immediate than long-term financial stability. When parents pay their children a monetary prize for good grades, those children could be associating good school work with financial gain, which may not always work out well in the end.

Parents can control how they use rewards with their children, adapting the strategy to ensure they are working hard for the right reasons, but financial institutions look out for one thing: the bottom line. Banks and even nonprofit credit unions will continue to run programs like these as long as they’re profitable, with no regard for whether customers are overall in good financial shape.

Bloomberg explains some of the history of prize-linked savings accounts:

A bank in South Africa tried this in 2005. The First National Bank’s Million-a-Month Account promised savers a chance to win 113 prizes a month, including a grand prize of 1 million South African rand (about U.S.$150,000 at the time). Within 18 months, the bank had more prize-eligible accounts than regular ones. These new customers, many of them poor, saved an extra 1 percent of their incomes, a recent study found, and boosted their overall saving 38 percent…

A prize-linked savings account won’t help raise incomes, and it won’t lower the costs of health care or housing. But it may nudge Americans to pay just a little more attention to their savings, so that an unexpected expense doesn’t become a financial disaster. At the very least it could give some lucky savers the thrill of hitting the jackpot. (Bloomberg)

People are drawn to lotteries, usually for worse, but maybe also for better. If you look at the lottery as a “tax on stupid people” or a “tax on poor people,” this is a little different. In a typical lottery, you buy a ticket and never see that money again. It’s a terrible investment, yet people, not just the stupid and poor, continue to pour money into the lottery.

While offering the chance at a financial windfall might encourage more saving, is a $10,000 windfall enough to encourage behavior? I can remember my days (not too long ago) working in a corporate office environment. When the multi-state lottery prize money was high enough, well into nine digits, a group would organize and co-workers would pool money together to buy some lottery tickets. Throw a dollar in, have an infinitesimal chance of winning enough money to buy the moon. The odds are better when you deposit $25 into a bank, but the prize is not as significant. But at least you can get your money back.

Ultimately, the prize-linked savings program in South Africa was shut down because it was determined to be unlawful. But here in the United States, states and federal governments are making way for the potential for more accounts. It might take some time, but eventually, banks like Citi, Wells Fargo, and Chase could be jumping into the game.

In theory, banks would not need to charge fees for these accounts because they will be big money-makers for the institutions. As of September 30, 2014, J.P. Morgan Chase Bank was holding $1,377,661,000,000 in customer deposits, which would include interest-bearing and non-interest-bearing accounts. The bank spent $210,000,000 in interest on deposit accounts that quarter. That’s an average annual interest rate of about 0.00375%. Banks can profit on accounts that don’t pay interest — these are basically free loans from consumers to the institutions. They can use the deposits to earn a low interest rate. With interest-bearing accounts, banks pay the profits back to consumers, but they can keep more of the profit by paying a larger amount of interest to a much smaller number of depositors.

That’s how it would work out if each bank ran its own program. But like lotteries, an outside organization could handle the management of the prize accounts, which means that like multi-state lotteries, the funds are pooled and prizes are awarded across financial institutions. That’s where Save to Win comes into play.

How to open a prize-linked savings account.

It isn’t simple today.

To open account, first, you need to be a resident of one of the states that currently offer these prize-linked savings accounts: Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, or Washington. Then you must be a member of a credit union that offers a partnership with Save to Win, which seems to be the only lottery service catering to credit unions so far. For the most part, you won’t be able to open an account online. First, you’ll need to become a member of a participating credit union if you aren’t all ready and if you qualify. Some credit unions allow online applications. You will almost always need to visit or call the credit union to open a 12-month CD account linked to the Save to Win program.

Programs like these will continue to expand as national banks and credit unions begin taking advantage of the new law that allows these accounts in national financial institutions, both banks and credit unions. I expect that as the programs grow, they will be accompanied by significant advertising campaigns designed to get new customers in the door, appealing to the communities that banks expect would be most likely to respond to lottery-based promotions. In other words, this could be a way for banks to make profitable entries into low socio-economic status neighborhoods, something the financial industry has avoided.

To find a participating credit union in the four listed states, visit the Save to Win website. Frequently mentioned alongside Save to Win is SaveUp, a for-profit company that offers prizes to customers who exhibit positive financial behaviors, like paying off debt. That isn’t exactly the same as prize-linked savings accounts, but it follows the theory of treating customers like children (through financial rewards) to train better financial behavior among Americans.

Do you think prize-linked savings accounts are good ideas? Would you open an account for the chance to win one a lottery like this? Or is this just another way for the financial industry to take advantage of lower-class customers?

Photo: Flickr

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At the beginning of the year, I joined another investing challenge. This was sponsored by Motif Investing, who provided me and several other financial writers and bloggers $500 to invest in strategies each of us would choose. Like last year’s Grow Your Dough competition, this is a relatively short time horizon for me. In 2014, I invested in the brands behind some of the products I use the most: Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Honda, and Canon.

I invested using ShareBuilder, whose $6.95 transaction fees ate away ravenously at my gains both when I bought the stocks and ETFs at the beginning of the year and when I sold. This year, Motif Investing is the sponsor, so I am using that particular platform. After some time, I’ll put together a review of my experiences as a customer of Motif Investing. At this point, I can say it adds a social element to investing, allowing investors to create buckets of investments (to add to Motif’s own buckets). Investing in a bucket, either of your own creation or of someone else’s, requires paying just one fee of $9.95. And because each bucket can contain a number of stocks or other investments, it can easily work out to be a lot less expensive than ShareBuilder and many other discount brokerages.

With Motif Investing, your “friends” linked to your account on Motif Investing can comment on your investments and share their own market analyses. I have yet to decide whether this is a good thing; the financial news media is all ready full of so-called investment experts making predictions about the stock market; now everyone can fashion himself or herself an expert — though you can view someone’s investing performance as proof. If short-term investing results don’t even matter in the long run, this might as well be as useful as a gambling scorecard.

Here’s how I approached my participating in the investing challenge with Motif.

Following the precipitous slide in oil prices at the end of last year, and with the accompanying gas prices hitting lows not seen for years, I once again used some money — an amount whose potential loss wouldn’t hurt my financial condition — to make an investment where I thought I’d be able to buy low and sell high.

Using Motif’s tools, I created a bucket that focuses on energy, mostly oil and gas.

These are the investments I added to my Motif bucket at the beginning of the year, and in which promptly invested about $475:

VDE Vanguard Energy ETF
BNO United States Brent Oil ETF
BOIL ProShares Ultra Bloomberg Natural Gas
OIL ProShares Ultra Bloomberg Crude Oil
TAN Guggenheim Solar ETF
XOM Exxon Mobil Corporation

If you’ve following along with the markets, you probably have a good idea of how this strategy is working out so far. My investments at Motif are already down 13%. The price of oil keeps going down, and prospects for the immediate future look grim. A Saudi prince and the nation’s oil minister seem to be warning the world that oil is in a state of over-supply and under-demand, and we may never see oil at $100 per barrel again.

But even if this is true (although the pattern seems to point to investments always finding new highs — eventually), most commentary seems to point to the price of oil rebounding eventually. So the investments I chose may have some rocky times before recovering. If I could, I’d use further dips as opportunities to invest at an even better bargain, but this competition is limited to the initial %500, and further trades would result in more transaction fees, which I loathe.

On the one hand, investing in oil at the beginning of 2015 with an eye for a recovery by the end of the year may not have been the best choice of an investment. I am solidly in last place, number twenty out of twenty, in the competition’s leaderboard after one week. But there is a whole year ahead of us, and I tend to invest for the long term. If the big oil producers are manipulating the market’s supply to allow the smaller producers, like those behind fracking in the Untied States, to fail, eventually that strategy will change, and the traditional oil sources will want their investments to grow.

Personally, I’d like to see a variety of energy sources eventually overtake those that are damaging to the environment. I’ve included a solar energy ETF in the portfolio to reflect that. I think, though, that oil production is still a major factor in the global economy, and despite warnings about “peak oil” for decades, the resource isn’t drying up anytime soon.

You can also see the leaderboard above, if you are reading this article on Consumerism Commentary rather than on a newsreader, in email, or on another website. Follow along with the twenty of us where we go to show that stock picking is generally a bad idea in the short-term, and people are better off, if investing at all, leaving money in an index fund that tracks the stock market as a whole. If I had done that with my Motif Investing pot of $500, my account tracking the S&P 500 would be down only 1.5% so far this year.

With all the negative news about the price of oil, I figure it’s got to go up someday. Here are a few gloomy articles.

One of the investment advisers I talked to recently but together a potential portfolio for me, and it included commodities, but mostly as a hedge. I have been talking to money managers at some large banks and investment houses (Wells Fargo Advisors and Merrill Lynch) to discuss strategies for my investments, and ways to use my nest egg to my advantage. For example, my asset level will allow me to qualify me for super low interest rates on loans — but in certain circumstances. And loans might be helpful as I look more into investing in businesses, doing more work with start-ups, and helping finance a nonprofit organization.

I’m not making any changes yet, but I’m considering the options that are available to me. I don’t like the idea of anything that’s going to cost me more money, but at a certain level of assets, even those tiny management fees (expense ratios) on Vanguard’s index mutual funds add up to a lot of money lost every year due to fees.

Do you think it’s a good idea to invest in oil or other energy investments right now? What would be your choice for investing $500 with a goal of having the best returns at the end of the year? Or shall we just stop encouraging market timing completely? I know if I absolutely needed my investment at the end of one year, I’d leave it invested in cash. And a cash investment this year might beat out oil, stocks, or bonds, anyway. But I don’t think so. What would you do?

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A few days ago I shared four personal finance “rules” I’ve broken. So-called rules sell books because they provide a way for an author to be declarative and have solid opinions, even when these rules have been around for a long time, repeat already well-known concepts, or aren’t appropriate for everyone.

Start saving for retirement when you start working.

And sometimes, the ideas are good in theory, but difficult in practice. And difficulty shouldn’t be an excuse. Sometimes you have to make difficult choices. For extraordinary results, you have to do things differently than most other people.

I’m sure you’ve heard all the motivational sales techniques. The bottom line is you can teach good financial behavior to students all you want, but it’s not going to have a positive impact on financial behavior. Imagine yourself without the financial help of friends and family, and perhaps without the financial support from a family throughout your entire life growing up. Now, after a receiving a degree from college because you knew that higher education is the surest path to life-long financial success regardless of the degree, you followed your passion and are in an entry-level position — perhaps even in a nonprofit organization where you are paid effectively much less than minimum wage for 80-hour work weeks.

You can’t consider your needs in retirement. It’s just not going to happen when you’re not even earning enough to pay for your food and housing. Urgent needs take precedence, and thinking about the future is a luxury that only some people have. You can’t look for other, more lucrative work because you only have time for your current job and sleep, and not much sleep at that. And when shiny, happy motivational people try to get you to see that all you have to do is change your “mindset,” you want to punch them. And you’re allowed to feel this way, because most of the time, the shiny, happy motivational people are so far removed from your situation that they have no capability to understand your life and empathize with you.

Well, that’s where I was when I was twenty-three and twenty-four years of age. As I mentioned the other day, I couldn’t save ten percent of my income, and I couldn’t think about retirement. No words from a financial advisor or a motivational speaker could change the fact I couldn’t afford my all-ready bare-bones existence. Getting out of that situation wouldn’t have been possible without a safety net, which in my case, was living with my father for free for a few months to change my life’s direction.

Spend less than you earn.

This is perhaps the core tenet of personal money management and getting started on a path to financial security and eventually financial independence. It makes mathematical sense. You only grow when you have a surplus. A business that never has profit will eventually fail. A person whose financial position deteriorates every month will eventually crash and burn.

Just out of college working in nonprofit, I could barely make this work; in fact, most of the time, I was simply unable to reduce my spending below my income, simply because I needed sustenance and shelter. So I had to break the same money rule I was reading about every day on the Motley Fool discussion boards. And I did not feel good about that. I mentioned that I only had time to work at my job and sleep; I took up much of that time available for sleeping to try to freelance. I offered my services as a web developer to a few companies, and probably worked too much for too little money.

Now that my situation has significantly improved, I’m once again breaking this rule. That’s after a decade of being mindful of my financial situation, from both income and expense perspectives. With a new job working fewer hours and making much more money, and while keeping my expenses low, I not only was able to meet my expenses, but I had time to focus on my own projects, which eventually resulted in being a proprietor of a multi-million dollar business.

Particularly in the last few months of last year, my income from working has been significantly down from before I sold that business. And I’ve been spending more than I’ve been earning from work. The good news, and why I can break this rule today, is that I can afford not to work. I have investments that should last me for the rest of my life, and these investments also generate income.

I haven’t been using this income so far, and I’ve been depleting my savings instead. Starting with this month, I’m changing that approach. I will continue to write for Consumerism Commentary and earn money as a writer, and I will supplement that working income with income from investments, at least until I’m free to work on some more lucrative projects. And I consider myself very fortunate to have this flexibility.

Keep six months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund.

This rule comes in many forms. The “six months” idea seems to be the most popular, but I also like the idea of keeping a months’ worth of expenses in liquid savings for every percentage point of unemployment. Emergency savings should, among other things, keep you going in the event of the loss of a job. In times of high unemployment, it could take longer to find a job. And the more time you spend unemployed, the harder it will be to get a new job, as unemployment carries a pretty significant stigma among hiring managers.

My situation today permits some flexibility for me. And my situation at the beginning of my career would have prevented me from having any emergency fund. Many people will argue that you can start an emergency fund with as little as a dollar a week. This is true, and it’s probably affordable for just about anyone with a job, even minimum wage. But it’s going to take a long time to build a complete emergency fund with a dollar a week, especially if your living needs still exceed your income.

I’ve seen the popular year-long project in which you start with saving a dollar the first week a year and double that amount every week until the end of the year. This is a great idea if you have the capacity. But exponential savings can quickly climb to a requirement that’s unattainable for someone like the twenty-three year-old me.

Have life insurance valued six to ten times your annual income.

This might be a good rule for some people, but even as written, it’s pretty vague. There’s a big difference between carrying insurance at six times your income versus ten times your income.

I don’t carry any life insurance. The only reason I would possibly buy insurance now would be because it’s apparently cheaper to start now than wait until I’m older and my living situation warrants it. But that’s not a great reason; it’s like buying a second refrigerator just because it’s on sale and you expect your current refrigerator to stop working sometime within the next thirty years.

I have no children, no wife. There’s no one relying on my ability to earn income. That will probably change one day, but even if it does, because of my good fortune in business, I would have other options for caring for my loved ones after an untimely demise.

Rules are made to be broken. Well, that’s what they say. It’s a meaningless cliché, and in fact, rules are not made to be broken. But the personal finance rules you often read about, if you read financial blogs or books, or if you watch television shows, or if you’ve ever listened to a financial speaker who prefers the sound of his or her own voice, are usually nothing more than guidelines. Sometimes they are ideals. And in many cases, the reasons for not being able to “obey” are beyond your immediate control.

So please, when you read about rules of personal finance, keep your neurons engaged. And don’t feel guilty or inadequate if you feel you can’t meet someone else’s goal. And feel free to disagree and argue. Gurus like it when people don’t argue, and just go along with their words of wisdom. They will dismiss those who disagree, and accuse adversaries of “just not getting it.” They will call you jealous of their success rather than defending their views, because their views don’t always stand up to criticism, and calling names or attacking character is easier than discussing ideas intelligently.

What rules do you break?

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For the first time in several years, at the beginning of 2014, I shared my personal and financial plans for the year. I had navigated away from sharing personal data on Consumerism Commentary, leaving an opening for Naked With Cash. Over the course of the past two years, eleven readers shared their financial goals and progress with monthly updates, much like I had done from 2003 to 2011.

I wanted to share my financial and personal goals for 2014 because I had gotten away from some of the more personal aspects of life while business need prevented me from sharing some of the details, like income and net worth. It was time to regain some control, so in 2014, I shared more than just my financial goals, but peered into my life for some thoughts on personal development in addition to some new business goals.

My first goal for the year was to grow my consultancy business. I started the year off with a bang, with a few bloggers who were looking to grow their websites — to generate income. I am not interested in marketing myself in this sort of fashion, but I let the community know I was available. I may have taken the wrong approach — rather than setting a high value on my time as a “blog business coach” and pricing my time at a rate commensurate with the fact that I grew a website into a multi-million dollar business in a very competitive environment, I presented myself as someone who would be willing to work with anyone’s budget.

One particular client lasted only two sessions, until he realized that the type of coaching I was offering was not what he wanted. And then he never paid the invoice. And then I ran into him at a conference. And he said he wished he had listened to my advice in the first place. People don’t seem to want to talk about the big picture and look at their overall approach to their business — they just want a checklist. That wasn’t what I was interested in providing, so I moved on. I decided to focus on other areas of my life.

So in terms of income for 2014, my primary source has been writing for Consumerism Commentary. Since I sold the website in 2011, I’ve moved from an employee of the company that purchased the site, writing and advising on a variety of matters, to a paid-by-word freelancer with a responsibility for writing several articles a month plus a flat monthly fee for managing the website’s editorial system. And as the company’s budget for the website continued to shrink, I wrote less. Because I had committed to the second series of Naked With Cash, those four posts a month became the bulk of what Consumerism Commentary had to offer readers in 2014. Unfortunately, several of the Naked With Cash participants and experts did not match my commitment for whatever reason, and for me, the series was a big let-down this year.

That’s the main reason I’m not bringing it back in the beginning of 2015.

Another goal in 2014 was to explore forming a nonprofit organization. I’ve made some progress. I put together an initial board of directors (or trustees) and we’ve had a few meetings. I’ve formed the business entity, registered with the State of New Jersey, and successfully applied for 501(c)3 status. The mission, at least for now, is to support the development of young people into financially capable human beings through effective behavioral education, behavior modeling and reinforcement, and advocating for industry responsibility.

Here’s the issue: we can all agree that financial literacy is a problem in the United States. And as more and more newly-graduated adults find themselves starting their “real lives” in more debt they could possibly handle, there must be some type of education that could be provided to all children of a certain age in this country so they can avoid making poor choices with money and see financial success much sooner.

That theory has been proving wrong. Curricula in financial literacy aren’t ineffective. They have an effect, but it’s not a positive effect. Children who have the “benefit” of financial literacy in their education actually perform worse when managing their own money as adults. There have been a number of studies that come to this conclusion, but other studies conclude that even at best, financial literacy education doesn’t improve financial conditions later in life.

So the goal of my nonprofit is to take another path, recognizing that people don’t learn financial behaviors from courses in school or class trips to a bank. Children learn financial behavior from their role models. And the children at the most risk for future financial distress don’t have positive role models. How do you get positive role models into communities where that might not exist in a family setting? One possibility is working with organizations that all ready provide role models, like Big Brothers Big Sisters. Any other attempt to introduce community-acceptable role models into low socio-economic status neighborhoods might be too much of a challenge.

There is a long path ahead for this nonprofit idea. I’ve also concluded that I have no interest in spending the rest of my life fundraising, so that is one concern. But in the coming year, I’ll explore this further.

At the end of last year, I set aside some money as a donation to my alma mater. I strongly feel that my college education played an important role in forming my identity as an adult, even if like many people my degree and course of study aren’t related to what I do today professionally. I mixed my passion for personal finance with my undergraduate major in music education and came up with an interesting solution. Because I believe that degrees that require internships can be somewhat unfair for students who can’t afford to spend a semester working for free, I took the first step in establishing an annual stipend for an internship. This way, a student who has an opportunity who work with one of the best arts organizations, most of which are located in expensive cities, doesn’t have to worry as much about how they’re going to pay their bills during that internship period.

My interaction with the university also provided me with an interesting opportunity. Last year, I visited my undergraduate college’s new entrepreneurial program and gave a talk to a number of students, sharing my experiences as an “accidental entrepreneur.” My story was significantly different than those of the typical business leaders invited by the university, so it may have helped the students think a little differently about their potential path as, well, mostly start-up founders.

This past year, I continued my personal training and improved my nutrition. This year, I’ve seen some physical improvements. This hard work, working with a personal trainer three times a week and changing the way I eat, is starting to pay off. I thought I would have seen results faster, but I’ll take what I can get.

I wanted to spent more time this year focusing on my personal relationships. When I wrote these goals, it was just a few weeks after a long-term, long-distance relationship ended. It was a couple of months before I entered a new, even longer-distance relationship. I spent a lot of time traveling this year. And I found myself really needing to be the best partner I could be. We’re very happy together, but distance in a relationship can be very painful. Besides a romantic relationship, there are other people in my life, friends and family.

When I set these goals at the end of last year, I intended to do a better job maintaining some of those relationships. Balancing that has been difficult as I try to spend as much time as possible with my girlfriend, as time with her is too rare.

With whatever time I had left for myself, I intended to spend the year working with photography. I did, and my skills are ever improving. I even sold a print of a photograph of San Francisco’s AT&T Park before even trying to sell prints. I still spend most of my effort on portraiture, and you can see some of my work here (and buy prints if you are so inclined). I don’t intend to make a living from photography, mostly because I would hate to do wedding photography, and that’s where the money is. But it has provided me a nice artistic outlet.

I have also begun volunteering with a local nonprofit organization that runs a drum and bugle corps — a highly competitive marching band consisting of only brass, percussion, and color guard that places very high performance demands on the young people who participate. I’m getting back to my roots in music just a little bit.

Financially, my struggle this year was to live off of income from working rather than income from my investments. I barely made it. I’ve depleted my cash-based savings, but I’ve managed to leave my investments alone. The investments come from income before selling my business and proceeds from the sale of that business. I’ve only withdrawn from those accounts for taxes, for sales broker fees (for the sale of the business), and for legal fees. Since inception, the account has grown over 25% even taking those withdrawals into account. I’m in a position where I can just live off the income from the investments for the rest of my life, and starting in January 2015, I may need to begin living partly off these investments.

Some of my friends can’t understand why I haven’t been doing this already. I’m successful, financially independent, yet I’m continuing to work and live mostly like I did several years ago when my business was first starting to grow. I haven’t figured this part of my life out yet. Maybe that will be a goal for next year.

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Naked With Cash: Brian, 2014 Wrapup

by Luke Landes
Brian - Naked With Cash 2014

Naked With Cash is an ongoing series at Consumerism Commentary in which readers share their households’ finances with other readers. These participants benefit from the accountability that comes from tracking their finances publicly and the feedback of the four expert Certified Financial Planners (CFPs). For more information, read this introduction. Throughout this past year, four ... Continue reading this article…

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Naked With Cash: Jake and Allie, 2014 Wrapup

by Luke Landes
Jake and Allie - Naked With Cash

Naked With Cash is an ongoing series at Consumerism Commentary in which readers share their households’ finances with other readers. These participants benefit from the accountability that comes from tracking their finances publicly and the feedback of the four expert Certified Financial Planners (CFPs). For more information, read this introduction. Over the course of 2014, ... Continue reading this article…

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Black Friday Was a Bust

by Luke Landes
Holiday shopping

The National Retail Federation has admitted defeat. Sales over the past holiday weekend dropped 11 percent over Thanksgiving weekend in 2013 according to the organization in a press release yesterday. The organization reversed course after being highly positive about the prospects for shopping leading up to the announcement of the estimated figures. Shopping traffic for the ... Continue reading this article…

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Naked With Cash: Jake and Allie, October 2014

by Luke Landes
Jake - October 2014 Naked With Cash

Naked With Cash is an ongoing series at Consumerism Commentary in which readers share their households’ finances with other readers. These participants benefit from the accountability that comes from tracking their finances publicly and the feedback of the four expert Certified Financial Planners (CFPs). For more information, read this introduction. This year, we have four ... Continue reading this article…

2 comments Read the full article →
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