Career 
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Six Figure Jobs: Lobbyist

Lobbyists have gotten a black eye recently with the scandal and corruption that’s surrounded one of the Washington’s most powerful lobbyists, Jack Abramoff, but they remain one of the most important parts of our democratic society and their salaries show it. In an 1998 study by the American League of Lobbyists, 65% of respondents (who held senior-level positions) made over six figures though it’s accepted that in order to earn the big bucks you either have to have been a power player (politician turned lobbyist) or have put in 5-10 years to make the necessary connections.


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 Insurance 
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How Insured Are You?

In the spirit of Cap’s (Stop Buying Crap) What’s In Your Wallet, I wonder how much insurance you all have of (coverages), how much you’re paying, and who it’s with? Some useful statistics (since your level of insurance will depend on what you’re protecting) are that I’m 25 (nearly 26), have a three year old car and own my home.

Auto Insurance: $696.60/yr for $100k/$300k in Bodily Injury Liability, $100k in Property Damage Liability, $2.5k in Personal Injury Protection, and $20k/$40k in Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury and $100k Uninsured Motorist Property Damage. Policy is with Geico.


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 Debt, Investing, Personal Finance 
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Carnivals and Festivals

Three personal finance-y carnivals, one possible orphan, check it out below:

Has the Carnival of Investing become an orphan? Retire at 30 hasn’t updated his blog since Feb. 14th (though the Carnival for the 20th was linked) so perhaps something wrong? Anyone know?

Thanks RS – I forgot Retire at 30 moved. Carnival of Investing available here.

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 Credit 
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Making Money With 0% Balance Transfers

I’m joining the herd, I’m going to do the often mentioned 0% balance transfer game where you request 0% balance transfer, put them in an online bank account, and earn a little cash on the side. I’ve written about the downsides in the past but since none of them concern me now, I figured it’s the best time to take advantage of these great opportunities before credit card companies stop offering these 0% rates.

My first card of choice? The credit card because it offers the 0% intro APR on balance transfers for a full 18 months, then the Regular APR, and no annual fee.” I applied entirely online and was approved for a credit limit of $6,600 which amounts to $280.50 (if I put it at FNBO Direct), or $316.80 if I open an HSBC account. (The actual earnings will be less because I’ll be paying taxes and a little bit of the balance each month)

Second card? A credit card that also had the 0% but this time only nine months, but again no balance transfer or annual fee. I was approved for a $4,000 limit which will net me approximately $127.50 pre-tax at 4.25%.

Other have done this and written about it extensively but this will be the first time I’m going to try it. And if you’re curious how these offers are bound to affect your score, Cap at Stop Buying Crap has tracked his FICO score while he’s done these offers.


 Investing 
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Interview with Phil Town, Rule #1

Today I have the opportunity to present a brief interview with Phil Town about both his life and his upcoming book, Rule #1. Phil has been writing a blog (unlike other authors who write a book and then a blog to promote it, Phil’s blog has been around for quite some time) on which he gives you an overview of rule #1 and tells you how to submit “homework” that he can review. Onward to the interview…

jim: On your blog and in the book, you’ve mentioned less-than-glamourous jobs (such as being a ditch digger, equipment washer), what have you been doing recently? (besides writing Rule #1)
Phil: I’ve been busy promoting Rule #1, and since I live in Wyoming, I have to get in some snowboarding. We’ve been getting dumped on big time this year and the snowboarding has been amazing. Of course, I spend about 15 minutes a week investing. Then, to break the tedium of goofing off, I travel to give talks a few times each month. It’s kind of different from the old days. Money isn’t what life is all about, but having some sure helps you be able to do what you want to.


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 Personal Finance, Reviews 
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Jane Bryant Quinn’s Smart and Simple Financial Strategies for Busy People

Jane Bryant Quinn Smart and Simple Financial Strategies for Busy PeopleWhen I was first approached to review this book, I was a little apprehensive because I didn’t know anything about Jane Bryant Quinn. With the power of Google though I quickly discovered that she is quite an accomplished writer and her work can be seen in magazines like Newsweek and Good Housekeeping. As I read through “Smart and Simple Financial Strategies for Busy People,” her straightforward and decided uncomplicated explanation of a lot of normally complicated (and intimidating) topics reminded me a lot of the style you see at the Motley Fool. The extra step that Bryant takes is she teaches you how to do it with as little time as possible, since this is a book for busy people.

I really like how this book is laid out, the chapters are somewhat chronological in terms of your financial life, but written to stand alone. The chapters themselves are titled Spending and Saving, Wipe Out Your Debt, Your Safety Net, Buying a House, Paying for College, and Better Investing (I skip listing the intro and wrap-up chapters).

Here is where you can use the book as a reference. If you’re looking for information on insurance (auto, home, renters, umbrella, etc.), peek into Your Safety Net. Do you have debt? Check out the chapter titled Wipe Out Your Debt. The organization of this book is great and the chapter titles perfectly describe the contents, something you don’t see a lot of other books do because they like the “Wow” factor of a cleverly named chapter.

Who should read this? If you consider yourself a personal finance expert, you may find a lot of this information elementary. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to researching a topic, this book can lay a solid foundation onto which you can build on. Confused about the different mortgage types? Get this book, read the summary of each type, and then continue your research online.

This book was available in my public library so you might also find it in your local library. Jane Bryant Quinn has also written other personal finance books, including “Making the Most of Your Money,” that may be of interest to you.


 Investing, Reviews 
1
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Trading With the Enemy

Trading With the EnemyTrading With The Enemy: Seduction and Betrayal on Jim Cramer’s Wall Street, written by Nicholas Maier, relives Nick’s experience working for Jim Cramer at his hedge fund, Cramer & Company, from 1994 to 1998. I picked up the book because it details the inner workings of Jim Cramer’s hedge fund and I always enjoy these “inside look” type books and this one did not disappoint. If you’re familiar with Jim Cramer or his hot show Mad Money, you’ll know that he always seems to be a madman on television. The intensity he shows on that show is a mere fraction of how intense he can get when real money is on the line and you never see the mean streak on television. In the book, Jim throws monitors, screams at brokers, and basically is insane while managing hundreds of millions of dollars and managing it quite well. Don’t screw up because you’ll might not even live to regret it.

The book will reveal a lot of insights on the inner workings of Wall Street (Cramer & Company pay six cents a share traded, way more than a private investor, but there is a reason for that – “you get what you pay for”), what it takes to be a power player in the markets, and why Jim Cramer acts the way he does. It’s really an eye opening learning experience, to be perfectly honest, because it’s amazing how much information is passed around before they hit “official news.”

How much of it is embellished? I have no idea, it was published in 2002 before Mad Money premiered but after Jim Cramer made a huge name for himself, and the author acknowledges that many are reading it just to learn about Jim Cramer. I bet some of it is since he quotes things from memory, so take that with a James Frey grain of salt, maybe a little smaller grain though. Still, a fun read if you have a lazy Sunday afternoon free.

Amazon doesn’t have any more copies but they do have a summary and some reviews available, your best bet is to try to find it in your local library.


 General, Personal Finance 
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Light Weekend Reading

As you head off for the weekend, you might want to print out a couple of these and read them at your leisure.

Five Cent Nickel had his first poll this week on budgeting and lets us know the results. 187 votes in the inaugural poll is quite an achievement. Also useful is a list of bank contact and routing information, it’s a useful reference for whenever you need to complain about something. :)

Consumerism Commentary has a fun little article involving inflation and money in movies.

All Things Financial has been running a 24 Days to Better Finances series, you should check out Day 12 if you have kids and Day 11 if you have kids and hope they’ll end up smarter than you.

FMF has been on a tear with some good money saving tips including Saving on your heating bill. He also has posted the latest in his update on useful articles in finance magazines (he still thinks Money is awesome, whereas I think Smart Money is better).

A new blog I’ve been looking at, It’s Just Money, talks about his engagement ring buying experience. Make Love Not Debt (mentioned in Business Week!) also has an article about engagement rings as well this week.

Last but not least, everyone should visit Stop Buying Crap if you’re feeling particularly stressed out, his posts always bring a smile to my face. And I actually do think I told him to STFU and download Spam Karma. :)


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