Archives for February 2005

What’s your Money Mind?

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Here is an interesting little quiz from Checkfree, a popular provider of online bill-paying software. It’s basically about how you handle money. My results: 63.6% Controller, 18.2% Traditionalist, Trend Setter 9.1%, Adventurer 9.1%. I think I’m actually even more controlling, but I rent and I hate doing my taxes so I put it off.

There is a little form at the end (I put in junk) and then they give you some “strategies” to help your finances, which look a lot like company-sponsored links to me. I suupose it’s worth a read. There were a couple of sites I’ve never heard of before, however, such as ThinkGlink.
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Some more finance or investment related links

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I spent absolutely no time today thinking about personal finance or investing, and it was great. (Well, maybe a bit now.) Just a great day out walking and having a bar-b-que with friends. Therefore, I thought I’d put out a couple links to some new sites I’ve bookmark’ed recently.

WellSpent – Personal Finance blogs have gone mainstream, and BusinessWeek has their own. The topics covered are very varied, which is a nice change of pace. MyMoneyBlog even got a brief mention a few days ago, neat! 🙂
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Frugal Living Ideas and the Rule of 72

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Update: I made a True Cost of Holiday Shopping Calculator to go along with this saving idea.

There are so many temptations in our consumer-driven society. I mean, I already have an iPod Mini and I still want a iPod shuffle! And who doesn’t need another banana case? One of the ways I keep myself from spending too frivolously, other than the frugalness instilled by parents of limited means, is to keep in mind the magnificent wonder of compounding.
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Great Credit Cards for Balance Transfers

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This post has been updated and moved here – 0% apr balance transfers with no fees.

RemoteTesting Post

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This post should be posted remotely…

“Good” Credit Card Debt – How-To Play the 0% APR Game, Part 3

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This post is old, please see my updated guide on
How To Make Money From 0% APR Balance Transfers

(This entry is continued from Part 1 and Part 2.)

5) Things to watch out for: Even if things go smoothly and you get your money, here are some possible consequences to consider –
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My Credit Card Number Stolen for… Shoes?

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I just found that that someone just used my Amazon.com credit card to buy $138 worth of shoes at a store called Journey. They also tried to buy $300 of shoes at Payless, but that got rejected. That’s a whole lot of $10 shoes. For some reason Bank One didn’t feel the need to call me about this, but they did disable the online access to my account. I guess this is cheaper than just calling me?!?
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Some things are just worth it.

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I don’t really write much about frugal living ideas like making bag lunches or taking 5 minutes showers, not because I don’t think it’s important but mostly because there are a lot of other sites that do it very well (and have ideas I’d never think of). However, I also feel that some things are just worth the money, even if not essential.

One of these things for me is the daily newspaper. This is one of those things that seems like an easy thing to stop receiving and save yourself $10-$15/month. I mean, Cnn.com is a click away! But I can’t.
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Jumping into the stock market!

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I woke up early today to watch the stock market open, as Neville does. I’ve been thinking of buying some shares of Scholr Pharma (Symbol DDD) for some time now. I won’t go into details why, but I just put in a limit order for 100 shares of DDD at $4.80, good till cancelled, in my Freetrade “Play Money” account. This should be a short-term position, I intend to set another limit sell order soon. We’ll see if it fills today.

Now where did I put that disclaimer? Oh, here it is.

Free tax software, and why I actually paid for mine.

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I bought my tax software from OfficeMax recently. There seems to be a new sale every week these days, but I got H&R Block TaxCut Deluxe, 1 free e-file, TaxCut State, Microsoft Money 2005 Stanard, and DeductionPro, all for $100 – $80 of mail-in rebates = $20. But wait! You can file for free at this link from the IRS.
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Chasing dividends?

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Another semi-conservative option I am considering for my Ameritrade side-bet goal is buying stocks with high dividends. Due to their favorable tax rate of 15%, a semi-sluggish stock market, and itty bitty bond yields, dividend-paying stocks are getting popular. Here are some of my findings:

There are many ways of getting into the action, my leading favorite is the ETF iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend Index fund (DVY) that invests in dividend-paying stocks. DVY owns the 50 highest-yielding stocks in the Dow Jones Total Market Index, excluding real estate investment trusts (they don’t get the 15% tax rate). The expense ratio is also a very reasonable 0.40%.

Dogs of the Dow is a strategy that involves picking the ten stocks of the Dow Jones (DJIA)which have the highest dividend yield within the last year. I have heard some good things and more bad things about this strategy. Here are some performance comparisons, note that they lag the S&P 500 in the long-term, but are much more stable.

Here is another article on ADVDX, an actively managed fund that seeks income through dividends.

Even the semi-famous bull Siegel now has modified his position to support buying dividend paying stocks. An interest except is the assertion that the 100 highest-yielding stocks in the S&P 500 have done better than the index as a whole over the past 50 years. Hmm, but could you identify those stocks ahead of time?

E-Trade cuts fees and commissions

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I find it interesting that E*Trade announced that it would cuts its fees and commissions just a month after I moved all of my accounts out of their brokerage. I guess I wasn’t the only one to do so. Capitalism in action! $19.99 per trade + bogus $3 “handling fee” coupled with subpar customer service is simply not competitive. I like the CEO Lilien’s quote – “If we treat (small investors) right, they will become the larger investors”.

Very true, but too little too late, Mr. Lilien. You guys even charged me $120 ($60 per account) to leave and it was worth it. I definitely intend to become a larger investor, but it sure won’t be at E*Trade.