Credit, Personal Finance 

Credit Card Grace Period $0 Balance Only

If you carry a balance on your credit card from month to month, the 25-30 day grace period that almost all credit cards isn’t in effect. Only when your month-to-month balance is $0 do you get the interest free grace period that most people claim as one of the best and only reasons they use a credit card! I was pretty surprised when I was told this, in part because I’ve never carried a balance, but if I did and didn’t know I probably wouldn’t notice that I wasn’t getting the grace period.

So, all you folks out there who carry a balance, get a second card for purchases you intend to pay off with the next bill that way you can still take advantage of the grace periods.

 Credit, Personal Finance 

Bankrate Survey on Checking Fees

The latest from Bankrate’s study of 248 banks, 462 types of accounts, in 25 of the largest markets showed that while checking account interest rates are still low, the fees banks are charging have gone up. The average bounced check fee was $27.05 (up from $26.90), the average ATM charge for non-account holders was $1.60 (up from $1.32), and the minimum balance requirements on most checking accounts was $2,465.

Bouncing Rubber Checks
A lot of banks are now using tiered structures where you’re charged an ever increasing fee per bounced checked. Apparently at Wachovia, the first will cost you $25, then $30 for numbers 2-4, then $35 for each one after that – all in a 12 month period.

(Click to continue reading…)

 Frugal Living, Personal Finance 

Festival of Frugality

Punny Money did a phenomenal job on this week’s Festival of Frugality (#19). I’m not just saying that because I am trying to trick you into reading it either. Each listing comes with it’s own relevant little image, a quote, a post summary, and Nick’s thoughts about it. This is not your typical listing of articles with a brief sentance and everyone should take advantage of it.

Also, the 44th Carnival of Personal Finance is available at Five Cent Nickel.


Sign Your Credit Cards

I’ve read in other place that a good way to keep your credit cards secure is to not sign the back. The advice hinges on the fact that thieves would then not have your signature and when the vendor accepted the card they’d look for the signature, see it was missing, and request ID. That advice, while well intentioned, is terrible. If a thief steals your credit card, sees the signature pane blank, he or she will simply sign it for you! Now, not only do they not have to forge your signature, since they signed it, the vendor won’t look for ID because the pane is already signed.

Here’s a better idea: Sign the signature pane and add the words “See photo ID” instead. Now, all of these precautions won’t guarantee you’re safe if your card is stolen, nothing will, but this solution is much better than leaving that pane blank.

 Investing, Personal Finance 

Carnival of Investing

This week’s Carnival of Investing may be a little on the light side because the email forwarding is no longer working, I think Retire at 30 is MIA and I hope everything’s alright. That being said the selection of seven eleven articles below are of very high quality and since there are only seven eleven, you should read them all. 🙂

  • Five Cent Nickel discusses the importance (and how you should max out) of a Roth IRA, which is something every investor should be using.
  • FMF highlights parts of Dan Reingold’s Confessions of a Wall Street Analyst and how Reingold recommends/warns that individuals should be investing in individual stocks, they should be investing with index funds.
  • Mighty Bargain Hunter talks about accidental investing in coins in “When’s a cent not worth a cent?” which discusses the current melt value of regular coins.
  • Jason Coleman of responds to an article by John Rhodes at regarding Microsoft’s place in the Web 2.0 landscape and defends the software giant after their Vista delay.
  • The Canadian Capitalist talks about how investing in the blue bloods of the blue chips (GE, Home Depot, Wal-Mart) might be a smart move if you believe that the latest BusinessWeek cover story can be a contrary indicator of a turnaround in the sector.
  • My Financial Journey takes a look at his excel spreadsheets detailing his retirement plan and his realistic rate of return. An eye opening calculation he discovers is that if his rate of return on the $100,000 he plans to have by the time he’s 30 appreciates at 6% instead of the 12% he originally calculated, his expected nest egg drops $4.5 million!
  • Ed at A Penny Saved discusses how certificates of deposit might be coming back into popularity as a short term investment vehicle.
  • Old Niu points out that the Nikkei 225 Index always seems to break out again in late March. If you believe there is still upside for the Japanese market in the next 3-4 months, there is an almost risk free investment you can use to place your bet.
  • The Family CEO takes a look at the 529 saving plans she has for her two kids and talks briefly about them.
  • My 1st Million at 33 discusses a less well known (at least less publicly appreciated) investing calculation known as the Kelly Criterion. Using the formula, you can discern a mathematically correct amount you should be investing in a particular stock. This of course, depends very heavily on your ability to accurately determine the probabilities used by the equation.
  • Investing the Middle Way brings the investment discussion towards precious metals, in this case providing a guide to investing in gold and silver.
  • Harrison Loke of Finandom Blog writes about his number 1 rule, stressing the importance of stop loss, how much you should set it at to limit your potential loss.

If you want an entry, I’ll still accept them until Tuesday night after which the Carnival shall be closed to entries. Next week’s host is Kirby on Finance, I recommend that if you want to participate then you find a way to contact Kirby directly. The Conservative Cat and Blog Carnival email forms won’t be sending the emails to the right place.

 Personal Finance 

Around The PFBlogosphere

Flexo talks about his “careers” and asks for input about becoming a financial advisor.

FMF suggests cutting out vices as a way to save money.

Nickel sold and bought a house in six days so he’ll be moving, if you can, suggest a mover you’ve worked with.

JLP was up late and saw a Carlton Sheets infomercial – he’s wondering if anyone has had first hand experience with him and his program.

Mighty Bargain Hunter talks about his experience at some auctions.

Claire of Tired but Happy writes about her financial autobiography in two parts.

 Government, Taxes 

Patriots Day – Some Get An Extra Tax Filing Day

If you live in Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont or Washington D.C. you have until April 18th to mail your taxes because you mail your return to the Andover, Massachusetts IRS processing center and Monday, April 17th, is Patriot’s Day – a recognized holiday in the state of Massachusetts. So April 18th is the official due date for your tax related mailings such as extensions and payments.


 Government, Taxes 

Would You Report Tax Fraud for Money?

PFAdvice recently blogged about a tax fraud reporting program at the IRS that would pay you anywhere between 1% to 15% of the amount of money the IRS recovers as a result of your reporting. Now, reporting sounds difficult because you need all sorts of information and proof about who you’re reporting (like their social security number, birthday, etc.) and it begs the question, would you sell out someone else for money? Chances are if you’re reporting someone then you probably know them (duh) and if you know their birthday then you probably friends with that person (or you’ve been spying on them), so would you sell them out for $100? (minimum payout).

I’m in the camp that everyone should pay their taxes, albeit minimized as much as legally possible, but I wouldn’t turn someone in for money. If someone was cheating on their taxes to the tune of a few thousand dollars (that’s a lot) and I felt compelled to turn them in (I wouldn’t), I’d do it for $0 compensation. It’s hard to sit on a moral and ethical pedestal fingering tax cheats when you’re getting paid to betray your friends.

Let me know what you think of this… especially if you disagree with me.

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