Insurance 
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Effects of Changing Personal Insurance Details on Premiums

Using Kanetix, an auto insurance comparison site, I decided to play around with the various driver characteristics to see what effect each one would have on my premiums. I chose Kanetix because it’ll give you multiple quotes and it had the easiest interface for you to change details about yourself, your plan, your vehicles (I’ve never used it to actually get insurance). This little unscientific study won’t tell you how much to expect your insurance premiums to go up if you do something bad but it should give you a relative idea of how “bad” certain offenses are with respect to premiums. As expected, insurance is all about dollars and percentages and the results, while unscientific, are pretty consistent with generally accepted thoughts.

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 Personal Finance 
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Welcome Yahoo! Finance Readers!

I wanted to extend a big hearty welcome to everyone who has come to this blog because they read Karyn McCormack article about the Best Blogs for the Young and Broke that was recently appeared on Yahoo! Finance. I mentioned to Karyn that I see my blog as a brain dump of my financial life, part journal and part guide for those who will inevitably run into the same headaches I ran into. I’m not a financial professional by any means, I’m just a guy who graduated three years ago and runs into the same sorts of problems everyone goes through in the game of life.

If this is your first trip Blueprint, the quickest way to learn a little about me is, of course, the About Me page. Two great resources that I have on my site is my blow by blow chronicles of my home buying experience (which ended last year) and the schedule of the Festival of Frugality, a weekly listing of the best posts relating to frugal living. Finally, if you want to check out some interviews I’ve held with some of the younger personal finance bloggers out there, I invite you to check out the PFBlogger Spotlight.

Those are the highlights, as for the more mundane, in the right sidebar you’ll see the recent comments as well as a listing of the most popular posts by comment. The top two articles there have seen some spirited discussions and they are about Costco’s Return Policy and Why U-Haul Is Freaking Awful. If you’re interested in getting the RSS syndication feed, there are some buttons on the right that will easily add them to the reader of your choice.

As always, if you want to reach me, feel free to email me!


 Credit, Debt, Personal Finance 
11
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7 Strategies To Help You Stick To Your Budget

Keeping to a budget is like keeping to a diet, it sucks. It’s a nuisance and a pain to keep track of every last penny you spend, it takes so much time to track everything, and eventually what happens is you loathe spending money because it will only make your monthly/weekly/daily spend on your budget bigger. However, it’s a necessary evil because if you don’t you’re only setting yourself up for failure financially. So, I’ve come up with 7 little tricks that will help you stay on track and not give up budgeting.

Strategy #1: Make it a game (by setting goals) – Did you spend $200 on eating out last month (~$6.67/day)? How about if you tried to get that number under $150 (~$5/day)? by doing this, you’ll see your budgeting as you working towards something (the goal of < $150 per month) instead of working away from something (spending in general). There are a lot of metrics you can try to achieve such as zero-days (days without spending any money), sub-$10 days (days under $10), so be creative and try to set mini-goals.


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 Investing, Personal Finance 
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Carnival of Investing #36

This week, the world of investing falls into two broad categories (at least this week it does): Investing in the Stock Market & Investing in Real Estate. While I’m not the keeper of the flame, as its steward for the week I did take the liberty of not accepting some submissions that I felt weren’t relevant (I didn’t exclude any posts on the basis of quality though some would argue hosts should). If your post was clearly not about investing whatsoever or was more personal finance in nature (i.e. money management, budgeting) then I advise you to consider participating in the Carnival of Personal Finance if you aren’t already.

Also, I apologize again for this being just a linkdump of the submissions, I was away for the weekend at a wedding in Boston so I didn’t have the time to pull a Nick and throw up a fantastic carnival.

So, without additional delay… I present to you the 36th running of the Carnival of Investing:

Stock Market Investing

Real Estate Investing


 Credit 
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Citi Dividend Platinum Select Card Closing Too!

Wonderful, frickin’ wonderful Citi… first you close my #1 cash back card, the AT&T Universal Cash Rewards, and now the word on the street, including contact with customer service representatives and summaries from letters, is that the Citi Dividend Platinum Select card is closing too? And I just got the Dividend Platinum Select card a month ago… my credit history must be loving all this action.

Not only that, but there’s talk that it’s a move towards ending cash back cards and forcing everyone towards slightly devalued points so theoretically all cash back cards are at risk. Plus, the Citi Dividend card is going to lose some of it’s reward bite – 2% instead of 5% on your purchases at gas stations, supermarkets, and drug stores (though they added utilities). Allegedly, all of this will be effective October 13th, 2006.

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 Debt 
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49th Carnival of Debt Reduction

This week I have the double whammy of hosting the Carnival of Investing and the Carnival of Debt Reduction so in order not to inundate you with carnivals I’ll be posting the older CoDR first followed by the CoI around lunchtime. As I will do in the CoI, I apologize for the lack of creativity in this Carnival because I just returned (last night) from a weekend trip to Boston for a wedding so I didn’t have a lot of time to make this one pretty. So, without additional fanfare, here is the Carnival of Debt Reduction.


 Personal Finance 
16
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I’m Considering Lasik Eye Surgery

I read this article on Yahoo Finance about Lasik Eye Surgery and chatted with a co-worker about it over email last week and it’s turned me back onto the idea of lasik. I blogged about lasik from a cost benefit analysis perspective and concluded that lasik isn’t better financially, though the comments indicated it’s not a money thing at all (I agree).

Here’s what my friend said (I added some edits or comments in bold):

LASIK – Best money I’ve ever spent! I freakin’ love it and both myself and [a friend of ours] got our eyes done at the same place, [some lasik eye surgeon]. The way we did the financing was to put money into our Flexible Spending Accounts. It takes the loot out of your paycheck, and does so before taxes (woohoo!). You’ve got to set that up during the enrollment period each year which is like May-June (I think). The Vision coverage we get here at work, VSP, does not cover LASIK completely, but they do give a 10-20% discount if the LASIK doc is in the VSP network [our vision plan]. That being said, I could only find one LASIK doc that was in the network, and didn’t end up going to them.

As far as the procedure, it’s really quite easy. Getting your teeth cleaned is more painful. I’m not very squeamish about people touching my eyes, so it was easy. Whole thing takes about 10 minutes once you are in the room. I can tell ya tons more about what I learned as far as the details of the procedure if ya want, just gimme a ring.

It’s been like 2.5 weeks now since I got it and I’m seeing 20/20 easily, and more like 20/15. The only side-effects that I’ve had are some dryness of my eyes and at night you tend to see halos around lights. Both of those usually go away during the healing period which is about 6-8 weeks.

I might be pumping up my FSA next year…


 Banking 
23
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Creating Joint Banking Accounts for Married Couples

I was having a discussion with my fiancée the other day about finances when the topic of a joint checking account came up. Essentially, she wanted a joint checking account linked to our separate individual savings accounts whereas I just wanted to keep the status quo. The idea would be that we’d each put half of our income into the shared checking account to pay for the mortgage and other related bills (electricity, cell phone, etc.) whereas our own split bank accounts would be used to cover our individual credit cards.

The reason for not going 100% joint is that in the event something happened to the other person, the joint accounts could be frozen and the other person could lose access to it and be stuck in an even worse place (so that’s the reasoning against going entirely joint).

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