CNN/Money has compiled a list of fifteen of what they consider to be especially dumb money moves, along with a smart(er) alternative for each. Have you committed any of these monetary sins? Read on to find out… (more…)
About two weeks ago we received a medical bill from a local hospital for some lab work for my son. When I opened the bill I was shocked to see that we owed a princely sum. I was under the impression that we’re on the hook for 10% on diagnostics with no deductible, yet the full amount of the tests ended up going to our deductible. When I called to inquire about this, I found out that the pediatrician’s office had sent his blood to the wrong lab… (more…)
Feeling down on your luck? Want to feel better about your financial situation? Then drop by the Global Rich List, enter your annual salary, and prepare to be amazed at how well off you really are. I have no idea how accurate the numbers are, but we’re well within the top 1%. Of course, that figure doesn’t take into account the number of people supported by my salary.
40 year mortgages are becoming more popular. To date, these loans have been rare because banks couldn’t sell them to investors via Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. However, that all changed this month when Fannie Mae started buying 40 year mortgages. Whether or not they’ll catch on is a different issue. While monthly payments are a bit lower, you’ll end up spending substantially more over the life of the mortgage — not only due to the extra ten years of amortization, but also because rates are typically 1/8 to 1/4 point higher than for a 30 year mortgage. On top of this, interest-only mortgages offer lower initial payments, and have thus been gaining in popularity in the last couple of years as real estate prices have exploded.
Just a quick note to let everyone know that I switched to a summary RSS feed last night. I apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause, and hope that you’ll understand. I’ve made this move in order to protect my content from blatant ‘scraping’ and republication. I’m not a big fan of summary feeds myself, so I’m still trying to figure out how best to implement this… I sometimes have a hard time figuring out if I really want to read an article if the summary isn’t long enough, and I hate clicking through only to find that I don’t really want to read it. Thus, I’m still experimenting and trying to determine the ideal length. If you have any thoughts, please feel free to post them. Thanks.
CNN/Money has an interesting article on home price appreciation in the 100 top markets, including a table listing the percent increase in each over the past five years, as well as a forecast for 2006. Some of the five year numbers are pretty unbelievable… On the one hand I’d love to have been in the market in some of these places, but on the other hand I’m thankful to live somewhere that homes are affordable — the five year increase in my area was just under 20%. The bottom line going forward: prices will likely keep rising over the next year, although the hottest markets should cool off a bit.
Editor’s Note: This limited-time offer expired and is no longer available. Please see our list of CD rates
I just got an e-mail from Pentagon Federal Credit Union announcing that their 3 year CD pays 5% APY (rate effective June 1- June 29). It’s sort of a strange rate schedule, as their 3, 4, 5 and 7 year CDs now all have the same APY. In a rising rate environment, I’m not sure who would opt for the longer term… Anyway, I can personally vouch for PenFed — we’ve had CDs there for close to 2.5 years and have never had a problem. I have no idea if this is the best deal going, but it beats the heck out of the averages on Bankrate.com. Note that, like all credit unions, you have to meet their criteria for membership. In this case, however, that’s pretty easy to do. Even if you’re not affiliated with the military in any way, you can simply join the National Military Families Association (NMFA). The NMFA requires a $25 annual membership fee, but you don’t have to maintain your membership beyond the first year in order to remain a member of PenFed. And you can sign up for the NMFA over the phone with PenFed when you’re opening your account, which makes it really easy.
I previously wrote about how we’ve gone about setting an allowance for our kids. Briefly, starting at age five they get $0.50 per year of age per week, and this (along with all other money coming in from gifts, etc.) gets divided into one of four pots — spending, short term savings, long term savings, and charity. This weekend I sat down and took the time to set up online bank accounts to hold their long term savings. Since we already bank at ING Direct ($25 account opening bonus), I simply created a subaccount for each of my kids. I then ‘swept’ their long term savings from the container on the kitchen counter into their new accounts — this amounts to sticking their money in my pocket and then transferring the same amount from our main account to their subaccounts. I figured that I’d let them collect up their long terms savings a month at a time and then, on the last weekend of the month, we’ll sit down and move the money into their accounts. Despite having done this just two days ago, they’ve already asked a couple of times if they could login and look at their money. I can only imagine their excitement when they see that first interest payment!
The IRS has announced the closing of 68 of their 400 walk-in service centers nationwide. The IRS claims that visits to their help centers have declined by 19% over that past two years, while phone support has grown by 7% and traffic to the IRS website has more than doubled. This cost-cutting move has, however, been criticized for putting an unnecessary financial burden on eldery and low income taxpayers, many of whom don’t have access to online assistance, and may now have to seek professional tax prep help. So what does this mean for you? Probably the biggest thing is that there are now fewer places to go to get inaccurate information on how to file your taxes.
Well, I spent two or three hours this afternoon sorting through my e-mail inbox at work. It had somehow swollen to 678 (!) messages. I used to be in the habit of sorting out my inbox â€“ filing, deleting, and and trimming things back down â€“ every Friday (at worst), but I’ve recently let that slip. When combined with my apparent inability to delete even the simplest, most inane messages, it got ugly. And fast. I’m not done yet… I’ve still got about 50 messages left to handle, but it’s now back down to a manageable level. If I can find a few spare minutes this weekend, I’ll be back on top. While I was at it, I also got myself off of a few extraneous mailing lists. This won’t completely stem the tide, but it should at least slow things down just a bit.