Personal Finance 
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Personal Finance Week in Review

Do you know what an exchange traded fund is? It’s like a mutual fund you can trade like a stock, it’s crazy. So, how do you buy an ETF? JLP writes all about it, so check it out.

Have you ever considered being an investment banker? If you can see past the bundles of money, you’ll probably see the “Alcoholism. Depression. Heart disease due to stress. Delusions of failure.”

If you just opened up a bank account, you’ll probably want at least one check book. So, Nickel wrote up a bit on how to order checks without getting ripped off and scammed.

If you’ve ever taken a Myers-Briggs test, you’ll probably remember what you “were.” Me? I took one at my last job and I was an ENTP (Extraversion, Intuition, Thinking, Perceiving), but MBH recently wrote a piece about how this would matter with respect to your personal finance.

Have you ever been the victim of identity theft? Hopefully not, but you should still read this brief post about the best place to report identity theft.

Are Payday loans a threat to National Security? LAMoneyGuy writes about an interesting USA Today article about how military servicemen and women were more likely to take pay day-type loans and which come with a high fee and high interest rates, it’s an interesting bit of information I didn’t know about.

Lazy Man and Money, who will be hosting the Festival of Frugality next week, writes a brief post about how Boston Sports Club keeps charging him even though he’s moved and went through the pains of canceling in the first place.


 General 
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500,000th Customer – Oct 27 2006 11:29:57 pm

According to Sitemeter, the 500,000th unique visitor to Blueprint for Financial Prosperity came here by way of Google when they were trying to find out: “are flu shots really necessary?” which led them to a post I wrote about the necessary adult vaccinations (4th result) on Oct 10th of this year, a mere three weeks ago.

Some interesting and utterly useful facts about the visitor:

  • OS: Windows XP
  • Browser: Internet Explorer 6.0
  • Location: Chandler, AZ
  • ISP: Qwest Communications

Funny thing is they viewed one page and stayed a whole 0 seconds. ZERO SECONDS!

Haha, and this entire time Nickel was trying to be the 500,000th visitor and he was off by one, he was the 500,001th by 2 seconds. Okay, I’m done dorking out on stats, thanks for reading and enter my 500,000 visitors contest! :)


 Free 
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500,000 Unique Hits Contest, Giving Away 5 Books

This contest is now closed. Thanks everyone!

Yep, Sitemeter can confirm that nearly half a million unique fools people have visited my humble blog (it’ll roll over sometime tomorrow)… if you asked me a year and a half ago whether I ever thought my blog would get so many visitors, let alone a hundred thousand, I would’ve told you that you were crazy. Why would anyone read this blog!? (Don’t worry, I’m not as self-defeating as my pal Cap at StopBuyingCrap) So, to celebrate this momentous occasion, I’ll be giving away five books that I have sitting on my shelf to one lucky reader. One person will win all five books. I don’t know which five they’ll be (they’ll be personal finance-ish books, books that PR firms have sent me to review) but one person will win them.

So, how can you win these five books? I will draw an entry at random on Midnight on November 3rd (it’ll actually be sometime in the morning of November 4th) and there are two ways to earn an entry (you can earn up to two entries):

  1. Blog about how I am awesome and am approaching half a million (or have breached) uniques and that I’m giving away five books. (You can skip the awesome part but talk about the five free books… and please link to this post, if you don’t then I have no real way of tracking it and I can’t give you credit for it)
  2. Leave a comment (with your email) below with a unique Laffy Taffy-type joke (please leave your email or I won’t know how to contact you!).

What’s a Laffy Taffy type joke? It’s a pun, a groaner, a joke you would only ever tell someone because you couldn’t believe how bad it was.


 The Home 
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Bubble-Proof Housing Markets?

According to the experts over at Business 2.0, there are five bubble-proof markets. They’ve listed those markets, their historical appreciation rates (from 1949 to 2006, national average is 2.3%), and the reasoning why they’re “bubble-proof.”

1. San Francisco – 4.2% appreciation rate – The reason they give for this area being bubble-proof is because of the abundant green space and the fact that builders can’t build on the green areas like Treasure Island, Presidio, and the Marin Headlands.

2. Los Angeles – 3.7% appreciation rate – The reason for LA being bubble proof is that there’s no more room, 75% of development is in areas filling out Los Angeles.

3. Seattle – 3.2% appreciation rate – Another bubble-proof city protected by the fact that you can’t make any more land, recently the city council approved new zoning laws that removed restrictions on building heights downtown.

4. Boston – 3.0% appreciation rate – The first non-West coast city listed and the first city protected by something other than the fact that there is no more land, Boston’s bubble-proofness is the result of strong wage growth.

5. New York City – 3.0% appreciation rate – It’s New York City.

via Business 2.0.


 Credit 
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Requesting Credit Line Increases

Every six months or so (I just do it whenever I remember), I pop into a few of my accounts and request a credit line increase. Why? I know that I don’t need the additional credit but I still ask for it because now is when they’re most likely to grant me a credit line increase. Banks usually won’t give you money when you actually need it, it’s a paradox! Well, most credit card companies will not entertain the notion of an increase within the first six or first twelve months because they’ve given you all they’re comfortable with and won’t even consider increasing it… yet. If you even try requesting one from a newly minted card, you’ll be greeted with a message to come back later. But, after you leave credit limit purgatory… the sky’s the limit and you should try to soar.

Once you’ve made it out of the no-increase period, requesting an increase is easier at some companies than others. Citi and American Express will both allow you to increase your credit line entirely online whereas Discover will force you to call their 800 number and talk to a human being. Now, when you go to request an increase, prior to entering any information, the company may offer you a small increase. This isn’t meant to placate you, this is because they planned on increasing it some amount in the near future and since you asked, they’ll just give it to you now. I always accept this increase because it comes without any pull of your credit history.

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 Personal Finance 
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How Do You Calculate Net Worth For Couples?

I haven’t calculated a Net Worth value in several months now, mostly to hide the fact that I bought an engagement ring, but now I have a dilemma. Since my fiancée and I have begun using a joint checking account and direct depositing all of our money into it, I have no idea (or concept) of my net worth, only our net worth. So, I wanted to ask every engaged/married couple out there… when you calculate net worth (haha, I wouldn’t calculate it if I wasn’t writing a blog, to be entirely honest) do you just add all the assets together?

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 Personal Finance 
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Welcome Business Week Online Readers!

If you came from Business Week, you likely read my quote about The Money Blogs and Karyn’s lukewarm 2.5 star review of the site (if you came here first and plan to read the article, my quote is on page two). To expand a little about my experiences with The Money Blogs, Brice contacted me when he was just creating the site and asked me whether I wanted to syndicate some of my content. In return for my content, I would get ‘exposure’ because my work would be put before the eyes of many readers (I have no doubt The Money Blog can drive traffic) and they could, in turn, become loyal readers. That sounded great until I started poking around the site and saw exactly what I told Karyn, links back to the blog only appeared on the author’s about page. Usually you will see aggregators link back to the article in some prominent position, say in the title, but to relegate the link back to the author’s page is a little too much. In return for a hundred articles, you would get one link in The Money Blog’s setup. If you were so prolific as to write a thousand articles, you would still get only one link on a page that likely will never earn much authority in the eyes of any search engine. What do they get? User generated quality content that they can use to build readership and sell advertising. It’s a win – WIN for everyone involved.

I’m usually not such a negative Nancy so please enjoy the rest of the site where I don’t do a whole bunch of complaining and whining. :)


 Personal Finance, Retirement 
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Nationwide’s RetirAbility Check Tool Review

Nationwide, a recent supporter of Blueprint, has produced a tool, with the help from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, that will ask you a few questions and produce a “RetirAbility Score.” Your RetirAbility score will give you an idea of where you stand from a retirement perspective and it may be a reality check (see the play on words?) if you’re woefully behind on your retirement savings.

So, my thoughts on the tool…

  1. You’ll need Macromedia Flash 8 and a decently fast computer to run the tool or the videos that you’re forced to watch will play sluggishly.
  2. The screens of questions are separated by information sections, which means you will need a good 20 minutes to devote to going through this entire process since each new screen will come with a new video. The information screens are useful though because they will give you advice if you’re behind and some statistics so you don’t feel as bad for it.
  3. If you’re under 35, this tool wasn’t designed for you and you’ll have to pretend you’re 35. This means your RetirAbility score will be off (since you’re showing your assets at 25 but pretending you’re 35). What actually happens is that the guy in the video will tell you that the tool was designed for “folks older than you but certainly not wiser” and if you want to continue you’ll have to pretend you’re 35… which kind of defeats the purpose of this tool, doesn’t it?
  4. Another gripe I had was a usability issue – there is no way to go back in the tool… so when I first went through I just breezed through it and put in mostly real information (except I put that I had $200k in the bank) and received a skewed score – and I couldn’t go back!


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