Make Direct Transfers out of ING

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I wrote earlier about maxing out your Roth IRA, and I just thought I’d post a quick followup regarding how I actually moved the money directly from our savings account at ING Direct ($25 account opening bonus) to my IRA without an intermediary. As anyone with an ING Direct account is likely to know, you can transfer money into/out of any linked checking account from the ING website. This takes a few days, but it works well and can be done from the convenience of your computer. The problem is that ING would have you believe that this is the only way to get money out of your account, and it this step only serves to slow things down if the ultimate destination of your money is somewhere besides the linked account. (more…)


Google Stock Quotes

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Google now provides real-time stock quotes, an intraday chart, and some other data at the top of the results page whenever you search for a ticker symbol. Note that the most obvious quote that they provide is delayed by fifteen minutes, but they also provide a real-time ECN below the chart. This provides a very convenient way to keep track of your investments. Pretty cool little feature if you ask me.


Max that Roth!

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Aside from being the day your taxes are due, April 15th of each year marks the cutoff for IRA contributions for the previous year. And I’m here to tell that if there’s anyway possible that you might have the money to contribute to a Roth IRA before the deadline in any given year, then you should seriously think about it. You see, contributions to Roth IRAs can be withdrawn at any time, for any reason, without taxes or penalties. Don’t believe me? Check out IRS Publication 590 for details. In general terms, the ability to pull money out of a retirement count on whim might be a bad thing. After all, you don’t want to be able to raid your retirement to buy that new Jet Ski, do you? But the ability to pull your money out of a Roth does give you the flexibility to hedge your bets and make that contribution even if your not sure that you can afford it right now. (more…)


Get Yourself a Fax Machine

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Awhile back I picked up a fax machine, and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase. To be completely honest, I don’t send personal faxes all that often, and I almost never need to receive one. But when I do need to send a fax, there’s nothing better than dropping the form(s) to be faxed into the slot, punching in the number, and hitting that little green button. (more…)


Online Banking Explosion

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According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 44% of American internet users (53 million people) now bank online. That’s one-quarter of all American adults! This represents an increase of 47% since 2002 and, of all online activities tracked by the Pew, online banking has grown the fastest. In terms of age structure, 60% of internet users between the ages of 28-39 bank online, making them (actually, us) the most likely to bank online. This isn’t all that surprising when you consider that people in this demographic (like me) are young enough to have fully embraced the internet, old enough to have a decent amount of money to manage, and are busy enough to need to do it online. (more…)


Where Do You Stand?

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I ran across an interesting site called the Political Compass the other day. The motivation for this site is the realization that there is more to personal beliefs than the left/right axis. Rather, they argue that we need to look at things in two dimensions – economic and social. They underscore their view by arguing that, when looking at things from the economic perspective alone, it’s difficult to distinguish between Gandhi and Stalin. This site includes a short (3-5 minutes) survey which is used to generate a rating of your economic and social views. So how do I rate? (more…)


eBay, Taxes, and You

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Leading up to tax time there was a lot of media attention on the possibility that eBay profits may be taxable. To be completely honest, I’m not sure what the uproar is all about. After all, the IRS has always been very clear about the fact that all income, regardless of the source, must be reported. While the AP news story that most of these news reports are based on brings up the issue of whether or not your eBay sales are a hobby as opposed to being a business, this is totally irrelevant with regard to the issue of taxability. Income is income, and it’s subject to income tax. So what does this mean for you? (more…)


Reshuffle Your Retirement

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For some reason, it took me awhile to figure this out, but… While I was preparing our taxes this year I decided that we need to change the way that we’re saving for retirement. Since my employer provides a dollar-for-dollar match on retirement contributions up to 5% of my salary to our tax-deductible 403(b) plan, the initial 5% contribution is a no-brainer. However, we’ve also been making additional contributions to my employer’s retirement plan, and this is where I think that I’ve gone wrong. (more…)


From the Mouths of Babes: Made in China

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Not long ago my seven year old son made an incredibly astute observation about the current state of the US economy. He was reading the label on some sort of a package when he said “Daddy, this thing was made in China.” He went on to say that “They must make really good stuff in China, ‘cuz otherwise we’d buy stuff from other places, too.” (more…)


Got me a Safe Deposit Box

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As a parent, I’ve recently been thinking of all the responsible things that I should be doing to ensure the well being of my family in the (hopefully) unlikely event that I drop dead. Worse yet, perhaps my wife and I will both drop dead, leaving our young kids behind. I’m not overly concerned about this, mind you, but concerned just the same. (more…)