MyMoneyBlog Giveaway – Promote this site, Plug your site, Win Free Stuff!

(I just want to make it clear that anyone can enter, even if you don’t have a website!)

Ok, other than hating both Money and Quicken this week, I’ve decided to have a little giveaway/contest! This is my first try at this, so forgive me if I do something wrong. If it’s fun I’ll do it again!

Prizes (Qty):
(3) CD of your choice from YourMusic.com
(1) $5 Starbucks Gift Card.
(1) One week of being the “Featured Site” on this blog.
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Quicken’s Dirty Little Secret

Ok, after digging a little bit more about how to manually import my transactions from VirtualBank and Presidential Bank into Quicken 2005, I find out… I can’t. Not only that, the reason is just stupid greed in my opinion. Both Microsoft Money and Quicken 2005 use the OFX format for exchanging financial data, but Money still allows you to import data using the popular .pif format. Quicken? Not only does it not allow you to import data using the .pif at all, it evens cripples your software to not accept OFX files unless your bank pays them.
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Bought Quicken 2005 Deluxe to compare with Money 2005

Ok, so after “reconciling” tons of transactions with Money 2005, I went ahead and purchased Quicken 2005 on the way home yesterday. I figure, the $60 is worth it in the long run if I can get my budget in order and improve on it, and I got MS Money cheap. I’m not giving up on Money just yet, I just want to find the best product for me.

First impressions? I only installed it last night, but downloading transactions for most banks has been smoother than with Money, everything balanced out right. However, some banks, like VirtualBank and Presidential Bank, don’t seem to export in Quicken’s new format. May the best personal finance software win.

Having issues with Microsoft Money. Help?

Ok, I’m missing something here. I spent a good chunk of this weekend trying to import all my accounts into Microsoft Money 2005. It looks like it uses Yodlee to synchronize accounts online, but more than half of my accounts require me to manually download transactions in “Active Statement” format, from each individual website. Many of these banks sync perfectly fine in Yodlee Oncenter too. Arrrgh.

Then, when I do download the files, the balances are all messed up. For instance, say I download a file containing 1 deposit of $1,000, bringing my balance from $10,000 to $11,000. But Money just shows a balance of $1,000.
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Maximizing My Tax… Bill? Underwithholding On Purpose.

unclesam.jpgMost of us pay taxes as part of our paycheck each month, as Uncle Sam mandates it to be. For many people, this means overpaying a little bit each month “just to be safe”, and getting a nice fat tax refund the following year (We ourselves got $1,046 back this year). But, as others have pointed out, this is the equivalent of giving the government a interest-free loan. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather take an interest-free loan myself. So instead, why not withhold as little as possible, invest the money you would have paid out somewhere earning interest instead, and in April pay back the government what it’s due. (Similar to taking advantage of 0% APR credit card offers.) But how little can you pay?
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The eternal question: Rent vs. Buy?

At least for me it is. Jim from Blueprint for Financial Prosperity lays down his results in this interesting article. Looks like he’s going for it! He also introduced me to Dinkytown.net, home of tons of neat financial calculators.

I remember running these numbers over and over about a year ago. As Jim also concludes, the most important variable is the expected appreciation of the house. It can change your break-even point from 10 years to just three or less. Another friend of mine just got an interest-only loan with 5% down on his townhouse, and it’s starting to wear on me. Am I missing out? Every time I write my rent check, I wonder…
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Monthly Goal due 4/30: Microsoft Money & Budgeting

Since I only have a week left(!), I’ll make this month’s goals very brief.

1) I want to have all of my financial accounts added and updated in Microsoft Money 2005.

2) Very very roughly, I want to see where our money is going each month.

3) (From last month) Review my W-4 Withholdings and minimize the overpayment for this year.

Monthly Goal due 4/30: Microsoft Money & Budgeting

Since I only have a week left(!), I’ll make this month’s goals very brief.

1) I want to have all of my financial accounts added and updated in Microsoft Money 2005.

2) Very very roughly, I want to see where our money is going each month.

3) (From last month) Review my W-4 Withholdings and minimize the overpayment for this year.

March Monthly Goal Update: Taxes & More

Ok, so I’m chronically late on my monthly goals. Briefly, here is the status of the goals that I set for March:

1) “File taxes for myself and the missus…”

Done. It was a pain doing taxes for 2 states for two separate people and a joint federal tax return and trying to divy up all those incomes and figure out what’s taxable, but I think I did it right… Anyways, we ended up getting about a $1,000 refund. So in a sense, Mickey Mouse took my tax refund.
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March Monthly Goal Update: Taxes & More

Ok, so I’m chronically late on my monthly goals. Briefly, here is the status of the goals that I set for March:

1) “File taxes for myself and the missus…”

Done. It was a pain doing taxes for 2 states for two separate people and a joint federal tax return and trying to divy up all those incomes and figure out what’s taxable, but I think I did it right… Anyways, we ended up getting about a $1,000 refund. So in a sense, Mickey Mouse took my tax refund.
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Mailexpire.com – Free and awesome way to avoid spam

nospam.gifThis is slightly off-topic, but I’m constantly annoyed that whenever you want to simply read a news story or use their “free” service, sites often make you register and provide your name, e-mail, address, etc. I mean, it’s obvious that the only reason to do that is to (1) get demographic information for advertisers and (2) to sell your e-mail and contact info to those advertisers. Please note that MyMoneyBlog does not record or share any e-mail addresses left in the comments. In fact, an e-mail address isn’t even required to post.
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Free Annual Reports, and How to Read Them

I just got a piece of mail from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, of which I am a subscriber, offering free annual reports and prospectuses of many publicly traded companies and funds at http://kpf.ar.wilink.com. They even ship them to you for free. However, many popular companies are not available (I searched for Costco (COST)).

A better option is AnnualReportService.com, which doesn’t ship but shows you the .pdf version of reports for many more companies. You’ll need to log in to see them, but feel free to use the one I just made (cut & paste):
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