As I mentioned the other day, my wife and I have been shopping for new term life insurance policies. While we currently have policies in place, our family status has changed since we bought those policies (two more kids!), and we’ve decided that we’re now underinsured. Well, as of tonight, we’re one step closer to having our new policies. (more…)
The gulf between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ in the US is apparently growing… According to recent Census Bureau figures, the number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.1 million to 37 million last year. In other words, just under 13% of Americans now reside below the poverty line. This marks the fourth straight year in which the number of people living in poverty in the US has increased. For reference, a family of four is considered to be living in poverty if they make $19, 157/year or less. For a family of two (no children) the threshold is $12, 649. On top of this, median household income in the US was flat over the past year, and there are reports that as many as 70% of American workers feel that their standard of living is on the decline. In contrast, the average CEO payout increased 13% in 2004.
[Source: The Guardian]
A few weeks ago, we received a letter from The Vanguard Group detailing changes that they will be implementing in order to discourage customers from flipping in and out of their funds. In short, investors won’t be allowed to buy shares of a particular Vanguard fund online or via phone, fax, or wire if they’ve sold shares of that same fund within the past 60 days. Customers will, however, still be able to make such purchases by mailing in a check. Money-market funds, short-term bond funds, and VIPER exchange-traded funds are all exempt from the new policy, which takes effect on September 30, 2005. Also exempt as are asset transfers, rollovers, check-writing redemptions and most automatic transactions. According to Vanguard, they’re taking these steps to “protect shareholders from the potentially harmful effects of frequent trading and market-timing.” All in all, I’d have to say that this is good news for buy-and-hold investors as it should help to keep costs down.
We recently decided to re-work our life insurance policies, so I’ve spent a bit of time shopping around online over the past couple of days. One of the first things that I found out is that the number of online insurance markets has grown dramatically over the past few years. Back in the day (about five years ago), the only real players were Quicken’s Insure Market and QuoteSmith.com. Now the field includes sites such as Insure.com, InsWeb.com, IntelliQuote.com, LifeQuote.com, MatrixDirect.com, NetQuote.com, ReliaQuote.com, SelectQuote.com, and many more. (more…)
I stopped at the dollar store yesterday to pick up some (generic) Wiffle balls for playing some backyard baseball with our kids. While waiting in the checkout line, I was absent-mindedly reading the package when I saw the following… (more…)
Although there are a number of online banks that are now paying better interest than ING Direct, I really like the ING interface, and I also trust them. Another thing that I like about ING Direct is the ability to quickly and easily create subaccounts.
Subaccounts are a great tool for budgeting, and we’ve also found them to be a great place for our kids to stash some of their allowance. However, it wasn’t intuitively obvious to me how to create them when I first set out to do it, so I thought I’d outline the process here…
If you want to create a subaccount, simply login to your account and select ‘Open an Account‘ from the left sidebar. On the next page, select ‘Open Now‘ under Orange Savings Account. Next, decide if you want a joint account. If so, you will be prompted for info on the joint account owner. If not, you will be taken straight to the account setup page. Simply enter a nickname for your subaccount, choose a funding source and amount, and click ‘Continue.’
That’s pretty much it. Easy as pie. The main thing that confused me was that it felt like I was opening an entirely separate account as I went through this process, as opposed to a subaccount that could be accessed through my main login. So I ended up calling and, sure enough, this is how you do it. It sure seems like it would be easier if they just had an ‘Open a Subaccount‘ button. Then again, maybe I’m just slow.
The FTC has compiled a list of the worst states for identity theft and, for the second year in a row, Arizona tops the list with 142.5 victims per 100, 000 people. Rounding out the top 10 are Nevada, California, Texas, Colorado, Florida, New York, Washington, Oregon and Illinois. Looking for a safe state? Try North or South Dakota, which rank 49th and 50th, respectively. For an interactive map of all 50 states, click here. Even if you live in one of the ‘bad’ states, though, it’s important to keep things in perspective, as the percentage of people affected is quite small (e.g., the numbers above work out to < 0.15% of all people in Arizona). If you're one of the affected few, then it really, really (really, really, really) sucks. But the odds of being hit by identity theft are still pretty slim, regardless of what you hear in the popular press.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could make millions regardless of your on-the-job performance? Well, that’s the deal that many CEOs have and, according to a recent article from MSN/Money, some of them are shockingly overpaid. According to the article, the five worst offenders are… (more…)
Interested in filing a lawsuit against Wal-Mart? Then check out the Wal-Mart Litigation Project, which comes complete with a list of cases in which people have sued Wal-Mart and won. The list appears to be a bit out of date, and it seems far too short to be comprehensive, but it’s still interesting to look at. (more…)
It’s that time of year again. The kids are back in school and it’s time to once again start packing lunches. This is actually a good thing for me, as it gets me back into the habit of packing a lunch for myself every day — I tend to backslide on this during the summer, and end up spending more than I should to eat out. The problem is that mornings around here can be pretty crazy, and lunch-packing just adds to the craziness. So, in order to keep things running as smoothly as possible, we’ve had to come up with creative ways of streamlining our morning routine. Probably the simplest of these steps has to do with sandwich making. (more…)