Archives for August 2005

Capital One 360 Mutual Funds Brief Review (Verdict: Not Good)

Did you know that Capital One 360 sells mutual funds? Dubbed the 360 Investment Account, I guess they are trying some cross-selling of their 360 Savings Account. I don’t own any of them, but a visitor asked about them, so I decided to take a look since I was interested myself. Reminder – I’m not a financial professional.

It seems like they run 9 no-load mutual funds, covering some but not all asset classes like Large Cap, Mid Cap, Small Cap, International, and Bonds. You can only buy them from Capital One 360. You can also buy a mix of the funds in 3 basket portfolios – Conservative, Moderate, or Aggressive. You must already have a savings account with them to open an investment account. I found the information from the website pretty sparse, so I delved into the prospectus and also gave them a call at 1-866-BUY-FUND. I was surprised by what I found:
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How to save $138 on your Cable bill? Just ask!

If you don’t have Comcast yet, don’t just call them and sign up. Be sure to get one of their own new customer sign-up deals, you can get $19.99 for 6 months, $75 in rebates, free wireless router,and cable modem! That’s well over $200 in savings.

If you’re already paying regular price for Cable Broadband Internet, then keep reading. I’ve been paying $42.95 a month for Cable Broadband Internet for the last couple of months after my initial sign-up offer expired. But after reading posts by Jim and Cap, I decided it was time to save some money:

1. Call 1-800-COMCAST
2. Enter Phone Number
3. Go to Billing Dept.
4. Ask for discount. Insert competitor’s deal here. SBC is offering 1 year for $14.95/month
5. Listen to them talk about how DSL is slow, they require a contract…
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Retirement Portfolio Asset Allocation Check-up

So my $16,000 401k rollover check made it to Vanguard safely via good ole’ First Class mail. Now all our retirement investments are at Vanguard. Here is the breakdown:

Vanguard Target Retirement 2035 (VTTHX) – $14,748
Vanguard Target Retirement 2045 (VTTHX) – $23,516

According to the current information at Vanguard.com, based on the weighting of each of the two funds of funds, our asset allocation is currently as follows:
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Carnival of Personal Finance #11 is up

Carnival of Personal Finance #11 is up. Check it out at AllThingsFinancial‘s new blog!

How to Juggle Six Bank Accounts To Maximize Interest

Now, I know someone commented “How the heck do you keep track of all these bank accounts?” before, and I’m sorry I didn’t reply right away. Someone else asked again, so I got off my butt and whipped up a diagram to explain it. It’s not that bad, and it’s worth it get the best interest rate for my cash. First, I use Yodlee to track bank balances. This way I just log in to one site, and at a glance I can see balances and recent transactions. If I need more detail, then I can log into the respective bank websites. Yodlee also recently added access to Emigrant Direct, so that was nice.

Now to explain how I transfer money to and from these accounts, here is a picture. Please excuse my mad Microsoft Paint skillz.
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Free Credit Reports Available Nationwide Now (Few Days Early)

If you live anywhere but the East Coast, you already have had access to a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus, as mandated by the government. Access to states on the East Coast* was supposed to start on September 1st, but according to some impatient people 😉 it is available now, five days early. So if you want to beat the rush, go for it! The official website is here: AnnualCreditReport.com. Don’t confuse it with those other “free credit report” sites that make you sign up for a 30-day trial.

Note that you just get a your report, listing your credit history, lines, and balances. Access to your credit score will cost you, but unless you are shopping for a mortgage or insurance, you’ll probably be fine using the free FICO Score Estimator from myFICO.
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Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

J-DawgWe got 1 month of free health insurance, when we got James, but we didn’t renew. My first instinct was “This is a scam. Pet insurance? Give me a break.” But then my wife’s family dog, who is less than 10 years old, broke her back just jumping around the backyard. Two surgeries and $2,400 later, she’s miraculously still with us, and limping about happily. I think the main reason pet insurance has come to be popular these days is due to the recent advances in pet healthcare, and the accompanying costs. Did you know your dog can get MRIs and chemotherapy for cancer? So I decided to take another look at dog insurance.

I lost the name of the company that we got the free month from, so I such searched for some companies available online. The three main ones I found were VPI Pet Insurance, PetsHealth, and PetCare.
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Tracking Pet Care Costs – Breaking the $1,000 Barrier

Back in June we adopted a dog, James, from the Humane Society. Although I thought about it, I decided not to post about the costs of owning a dog until his costs broke the $1,000 barrier. I’ve never had a dog before, and I wanted to keep an open mind towards the dog and not sweat it since my wife really wanted one bad as she has had dogs all her life. I’m sure the dog lovers out there understand. But almost three months later, I like the dog a lot, and we seem to have gotten over the large initial expeditures. I’ve been tracking our pet expenses using MS Money, but haven’t actually looked at the breakdown until now.

Here are the initial costs for getting our dog (1st month):
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Introducing the PricesWiki

In our efforts to budget properly, we’ve started to see how much eating out costs when friends and relatives visit, and started to cook a lot more at home when it’s just us. So I’ve been doing a lot of shopping at the grocery store, and trying to use Couponing as much as possible. One major hurdle I’ve come across is deciding at what price something is worth stocking up for.

So thanks to a 1-Click Install by Dreamhost and many hours last night futzing with it, I have created a PricesWiki for groceries. If you aren’t familiar with Wikipedia, it’s an encyclopedia written collaboratively by everyone on the internet. It’s like a big shared chalkboard that anyone can write on and/or erase. Thus, PricesWiki is supposed to be a place where everyone can help decide what a good price for something is. For example, at http://prices.mymoneyblog.com/Butter you can see what a good price for butter might be. Disagree? Change it or add your own opinion. No need to log in, just click on ‘edit’ and go for it. I encourage everyone to check it out and contribute something!
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Reasons Why I Don’t Like Craigslist. (Kind of a rant.)

You always see posts with people recommending Craigslist to sell your stuff at, or find a job, or even a mate. I’m not here to debunk that, I’ve sold lots of stuff successfully locally using Craigslist. But after some recent experiences, I’ve realized it’s definitely not perfect. Mostly, it can be such a huge waste of time. Why?

As a seller: Flakey people. I had to get rid of some baseball tickets, so I put them on Craiglist. I set the price fair, and got some offers immediately. Of course, all the emailers wrote “I’ll take them”, “I definitely want them”, or “Yes please please hold them for me, I’ll pick them up tomorrow/later/soon”.
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Free FICO Score Estimator from myFICO

FICO scores are everywhere now. You should be able to buy them while pumping gas soon. Sometimes I think there is too much emphasis on credit scores unless you are in the market for a loan or trying to refinance debt, but I guess they are used on a lot of things now. I just can’t see myself paying $15/month just to track my FICO score. But with the FICO Score Estimator from myFICO, you can estimate your FICO score for free, which is really all you need, I think. And it’s from the official FICO guys, Fair Isaac. You will need to answer ten questions about your credit history.

The main thing you can get out of this, besides your approximate score, is what actually affects your score. Let’s dissect the 10 questions:
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My Fat Rollover Check Arrived.

My $16,000 401k rollover check arrived today in a nice plain envelope. It’s actually the biggest check I’ve seen. Do you write a check when you buy a house? I guess the money gets zapped straight from your mortgage lender bank to the seller’s bank? Anyways, I thought I’d scan it for fun before I send it on to Vanguard.

401k rollover check

(See my 401k rollover decision process. [link fixed])