Estate Planning Resource

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I just ran across a relatively new book on estate planning called “Crash Course in Estate Planning : The Essential Guide to Wills, Trusts, and Your Personal Legacy” by Michael Palermo. It’s published by AARP, so it may end up being targeted more toward retirees than to people like me (particularly the young kids angle), but it looks like it may be good background reading if nothing else. If anyone has read this, I’d love to hear your feedback. If not, it looks like my local library has a copy. I’ll report back once I’ve had a chance to look it over.

Update: Here’s my review of Crash Course in Estate Planning.


Online Shipping Upgrades are a Ripoff

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If you’re anything like me, you do a lot of online shopping. You might also be as impatient as I am. So, have you ever been tempted to pay for upgraded shipping at a site (such as Amazon.com) when their free shipping will do? I’m not talking about upgrading to overnight shipping because you need it the next day. I’m talking about simply going from the free “Super Saver” shipping (or whatever the site in question happens to call it) to the standard shipping that’s billed as being one notch better. Well, I’m here to tell you that you probably shouldn’t bother. (more…)


Vacation Slowdown

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I’ll be out of town on vacation for about a week, so things will be slowing down a bit around here. I have, however, scheduled a few new items for publication in my absence, so please check back regularly to see what’s new.


Blockbuster Deal for Switching

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I just ran across what looks like a really nice offer from Blockbuster.com over at Growing Money. Assuming that you are currently a Netflix/Wal-Mart customer, you can get a free two month trial plus a free (to own) new release DVD. Read on to find out how… (more…)


America’s Cleanest (and Dirtiest) Cities

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As a followup to my previous post on the world’s most costly cities, I thought I’d mention another article that I recently ran across in Reader’s Digest — this time it’s a list ranking America’s fifty largest cities in terms of cleanliness. These rankings are based on air and water quality, industrial pollution, the presence of Superfund sites, and sanitation. Interestingly, the country’s most expensive city (New York) is the second dirtiest, and the second most expensive city (Los Angeles) is ninth from the bottom — who says you get what you pay for? Read on for the full list… (more…)


The World’s Most Costly Cities

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Based on a survey of 144 cities worldwide, Tokyo is the world’s costliest city. These rankings are based on a comparison of the costs of more than 200 items including housing, public and private transport, food, clothing and entertainment. In terms of U.S. cities, New York is the only one in the top 25, coming in at #13. Looking for a cheap place to live? Try Paraguay — the city of Asuncion ranked as the cheapest in the survey. Not interested in moving so far from home? Then try Ottawa, which is the cheapest North American city on the list at #122 (this isn’t say that it’s truly the cheapest in North America, just the cheapest one on the list). Read on for the top 25. (more…)


Driver’s Edge: Driving for Dollars

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Editor’s Note:  This limited-time offer has expired. 

I reported previously about improvements to the Citi Driver’s Edge credit card rewards program but, at the time, I was unsure as to what they meant by being able to earn money for the miles that I drive… Well, I just received another mailing from them, and this time they provided details.

First off, you have to enroll in the program. According to the mailing, you can initiate this process either by going to the Citi Cards web site (select “Manage my Account” and then “Special Offers”) or by calling 1-800-967-8500. However, when I went to the web site I couldn’t find any information about enrolling — guess I’ll have to call. Anyway, once you’ve made contact, they’ll send you a ‘Drive Rebates’ enrollment form.

You can register one vehicle, and you’ll receive $1 in ‘Drive Rebates’ for every 100 miles that you drive. They keep track by asking you to send in a copies of invoice for services such as oil changes, repairs, etc. As long as the mileage is clearly indicated on the invoice, they can figure out how far you’ve driven and credit you accordingly. It remains unclear as to how they establish a baseline — presumably you have to submit a recent service invoice such that they can establish your starting mileage before they’ll start handing out the rebates.

Drive Rebates are limited to $500/year, and this amount counts toward your $1, 000 annual Driver’s Edge reward limit. Also, you can redeem the Drive Rebates only when you redeem an equal or greater number of reward dollars that were earned via card purchases (i.e., no more than half the the reward dollars that you claim at any point in time can come from earning for miles driven). While this may sound a bit convoluted, it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll be sending in service invoices to claim your reward dollars anyway, so it’s not really any extra work, and it could easily net you an additional $100-$200 in reward dollars (or more) per year.

Another thing to keep in mind with the Driver’s Edge card is that the rewards can be redeemed through the ThankYou Redemptions Network (1-877-7REDEEM), so automotive services and car purchases aren’t the only way to cash out.


Happy Father’s Day

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To all of the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day! You know, it’s interesting… While Mother’s Day was accompanied by proclamations of what moms are worth, Father’s Day comes complete with a news story about what a big deal the day isn’t. (more…)


More Credit Card Customers at Risk for Fraud

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Coming on the heels of other recent reports of wayward credit card data, MasterCard International has reported that a security breach at CardSystems Solutions, Inc. exposed more than 40 million credit accounts of all brands to potential fraud, including nearly 14 million MasterCard accounts. The data theft, which apparently occurred on or around May 22nd, included names, banks, and account numbers, but not social security numbers. Thus, the compromised data could be used to steal funds, but identity theft is less of a risk. American Express reported that a “small number” of customers were affected, whereas Discover wouldn’t confirm or deny whether or not its customers were affected, and Visa wouldn’t return calls.


Tips for Preparing Your Estate Plan

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As a followup to my earlier post about needing a will, I ran across a list of tips for preparing your estate plan. Among the twelve easy steps are… (more…)