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

April 2007

excuse-me-your-job-is-waiting.jpgExcuse Me, Your Job Is Waiting: Attract the Work You Want
Laura George

A few days ago, I finished reading Excuse Me, Your Job Is Waiting, by Laura George. This book follows in the footsteps of another, Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting. The premise of both books is the “law of attraction,” which is generally interpreted in popular culture as the idea that events are influenced by the attitude of those involved. Positive thinking helps encourage positive outcomes.

Of course, none of this is scientifically proven, at least not within this book. However, there are enough anecdotal testimonies to convince people the concept is “true.” In this convincing, positive outcomes can be attributed to positive thinking and negative outcomes can be negative thinking.

I’m convinced, for the most part. Whether positive thinking actually influences outcomes in a cause-effect relationship, I’m not entirely sure. Positive thinking certainly makes one feel better, and this attitude can be picked up by others involved in active communication, and can be perceived as a connection, making everyone feel better about the relationship. If you’re on a job interview, this is a good thing.

The book goes much farther with this idea. [click to continue…]


Here are some interesting articles from the MoneyBlogNetwork and beyond.

MBAs Don’t Prepare Managers for Real-Life Challenges
The process of getting an MBA is more about the connections you make than learning how to deal with real-life management problems, apparently. This is true about most degrees. In school you learn fundamental concepts and theories, but practical skills come from experience on the job. I’m not sure why this comes as a surprise to people. I’ve been slowly chronicling my experiences obtaining my MBA degree from the University of Phoenix, a school critics love to hate. [Free Money Finance]

Orlando Gas Gouging
Here’s an example of price gouging on gasoline, although prices at stations around airports usually are much more expensive than others. They don’t post their prices, yet motorists still stop by to fill up. Then they’re surprised when they receive the bill. [FiveCentNickel]

Do Payday Loans “Victimize” People?
Payday Loans are bad ideas, but are they victimizing customers, or should customers take full responsibility? Responsibility must be shared between companies that should operate in an ethical manner and not take advantage of people in difficult positions, and customers who must be as educated as possible about whatever product or service they’re considering. [AllFinancialMatters]

How To Talk Salaries With Coworkers
One way to find out whether you have room to negotiate your salary is to determine what your co-workers are making. This is a dangerous path to walk down. I wouldn’t recommend it. [Blueprint for Financial Prosperity]

Yard Sale Finds This Weekend
Mighty Bargain Hunter found some mighty bargains while on the hunt in the yards of northern Virginia. [Mighty Bargain Hunter]

Simple Way to Save $3,000 a Year: Brown Bag It
The money you save by spending $1 to $2 on lunch each day rather than $10 to $12 may amount to $500,000 after 25 years! As one commenter mentioned, you should also look at the “opportunity cost.” But eating alone at your desk every day, you miss out on opportunities that come by through socializing with your coworkers and management. [Zen Habits]

Here are a few more:

* A Look at the Digg Effect in Action
* Money in the Mattresses
* How Much Would A 3 MPH Crash Cost You? Hint: Thousands!
* How to Look Good on a Budget: The Business of Beauty

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Yesterday, Vanguard announced they have simplified their account fees. Effective on Thursday, here is the new fee structure.

* All fund accounts with a balance of less than $10,000 will be assessed a yearly fee of $20.

Now that’s straightforward. In the old configuration, my recently-opened 2006 SEP IRA would have been charged $20 anyway. So why am I so happy with this change?

Banking Deal: Earn 1.30% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at Synchrony Bank.

Because there are several ways the new $20 fee can be avoided completely by

* keeping each fund account balance over $10,000;
* maintaining total assets at Vanguard at $100,000 or more; or,
* signing up for electronic delivery of all documents, like prospectuses and statements.

With my assets at Vanguard totaling up to only about $3,000, it’s pretty clear which option was my choice.

Vanguard LogoI have a Roth IRA and another SEP IRA at TIAA-Cref. The problems I’ve had with this organization, while they have settled down except for a request from their lawyers to remove their logo from this page, are well documented. Most importantly, the mutual funds at Vanguard that match up with the mutual funds at TIAA-Cref have lower expense ratios.

The two funds currently invested in my Roth IRA at TIAA-Cref can theoretically be transferred to Vanguard because the balances are each above the $3,000 threshold. My 2005 SEP IRA isn’t above that level, but I may be able to combine it with my 2006 SEP IRA, already at Vanguard, if I don’t mind changing my asset allocation. The 2005 SEP IRA is invested in an international index fund, and the 2006 SEP IRA is invested in the total stock market index fund.

I’d rather have all of my accounts at Vanguard, so I’ll be looking to make this transfer in the next few weeks.


Those who have been following my travails closely may have a feeling I might need to start contemplating my living situation. About a year ago, a chronicled my adventures looking for an apartment with my girlfriend (one, two, three, four, five, and six) which ended unsuccessfully and with a bit of a scuffle with the real estate agency.

This time, my current lease is up at the end of June and I’m not quite sure which path to take. I will be living alone, but where? I have a number of conflicting thoughts about what would be the best for me to do.

I like the idea of not being tied down to one particular area, and renting allows me the possibility of cutting a lease short (although in my current apartment, it will require 60 days’ notice as well as a very high fee) if I find my calling somewhere else. On the other hand, I’ve been saying that since I returned to New Jersey after college about 8 years ago. I’m still here.

Right now, the New York Times says it’s better to rent than buy. That makes me feel better about having rented the past few years, but the decision to buy a house shouldn’t be about market conditions, which are unpredictable in short time spans.

Nevertheless, I don’t particularly like my current apartment. I could move to another apartment, anticipating another move somewhere down the line. Living in a condominium, I would have the option of keeping it and renting it to a tenant if I end up moving somewhere else. As an owner of a two-bedroom condo, I could write off office expenses for that second bedroom, reducing my income tax.

If my income remains consistent, I should be able to afford a home at about $200,000, or maybe a little more. I’m hoping my income continues to increase at my day job and on the side. In this area of the country, being able to afford only about $200,000 drastically limits the locations in which I could buy. Rather than moving closer to work and to my girlfriend, I would have to move farther away.

There are a number of options to consider, and time is running out. While I’m not quite sure which answer is best for me, I plan on having some discussions with people I trust in real life. Please free to leave comments.


I Buy Generic Brands and Store Brands Sometimes

by Luke Landes

When I was in college, some of my poorer friends (that is, unsubsidized by the government or their parents) would get their products as cheaply as possible. I have distinct memories of afternoons with certain friends and the beverage of choice for lunch being “No Frills Cola.” These days, I don’t go so far, but […]

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Five Couples Living on $46k, Number 4: The Wheats

by Luke Landes

I’m following the CNN Money series focusing on five couples earning about the U.S. median income, $46,000 a year (couple one, two, and three). The fourth couple in the series lives in Ruidoso, New Mexico, a noisy town. Brent Wheat is a self-employed contractor and Shawna Wheat is an office coordinator. Together, they earn the […]

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I Got a Nintendo Wii

by Luke Landes

On Sunday, I purchased a Nintendo Wii. It wasn’t for me. My girlfriend, celebrating her thirtieth birthday, wanted the game system as a gift. Not knowing much about the current state of demand and supply for the game consoles and assuming any frenzy ended with the past holiday season, we went shopping on Saturday. Our […]

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Five Couples Living on $46k, Number 3: The Leones

by Luke Landes

In CNN Money’s series about five couples living on (about) $46k (couple one, couple two), the third couple, Andrew and Ozgul Leone from Fort Lauderdale, clock in at $54,400. Here’s their profile. They’ve been juggling debt around. Their property doubled in value, so the couple took advantage of a home equity loan to pay off […]

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Weekly Blog Roundup, Warm Weather Edition

by Luke Landes

I hope everyone is getting outside and enjoying the weather this weekend, especially those of us in the New York metropolitan area. If you’ve found yourself locked in a room with only an internet connection to keep you entertained, try some of these fine personal-finance related articles from the MoneyBlogNetwork as well as other blogging […]

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Five Couples Living on $46k, Number 1: The Ogles

by Luke Landes

CNN is featuring five couples living on about $46,000 a year. How do they do it? The first couple is Matt and Ginger Ogle. Matt is a public school teacher and speech coach bringing home the largest portion of the income, while Ginger adds a couple thousand a year as as part-time assistant speech coach. […]

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