General 
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comments

The Luckiest Guy on The Price Is Right

After writing about the guy who lost $600,000 on Deal or No Deal and then the woman scammed out of $400,000 by the Nigerian demi-god of confidence men, I thought it was only fair to tell a happier tale. This one is of a 19 year old named Taylor who has the day of his life with Drew Carey and The Price Is Right.

If that stroke of luck isn’t good enough, read this story about Michael Paul Larson learning the patterns of the board in Press Your Luck, an 80s game show, and walking out with a bunch of cash and prizes. First, the story is absolutely true. Next, read the amazing story about how he won $110,237 in cash and prizes back in June 1984 (that’s $229,782.08 in today’s dollars and back in an era where the prizes were much much smaller).

See? It’s not all bad news and schadenfreude here. :)


 The Home 
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Request USPS Hold Mail Service Online

Did you know that you can request to have your mail held through a form online? I had no idea! This saved me a trip to the post office (and a 15 minute wait in the line that is always there regardless of what time I go).

You can get same day service if you submit it by 2:00 AM CST! The service is limited to certain zip codes but fortunately mine was included. Scratch that one off my list of errands today.

Online services FTW!

Going away for a while? Request Hold Mail for the time you’re gone, and we’ll keep your mail safely at the local Post Office™ until you return. Schedule the service up to 30 days in advance, or by 2AM CST (Mon-Sat) on the start date. Each address can have one Hold Mail scheduled at a time. All mail will be held, rather than an individual’s mail.

One word of warning, you may not be able to use this at some ZIP Codes so check availability first (unfortunately, that means filling out every field in the first box).

USPS Hold Mail Service Form


 Your Take 
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Your Take: If You Had A Time Machine…

Delorean: Back to the Future!

… where would you go? And why?

I’d go to the future by about two hundred years so I could get try one of those super-dehydrated pizzas like in Back to the Future. I’d like to know if that stuff was really possible or was it just Hollywood magic! :)

(Photo: f1rstborn)


 Personal Finance 
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PFBlogger Spotlight: Pinyo of Moolanomy

This edition of PFBlogger Spotlight takes a look at one of the most enterprising personal finance bloggers out there, Pinyo of Moolanomy. In addition to running a popular personal finance blog, Pinyo works hard at putting together a social media site focused on personal finance, PFBuzz, as well as a bustling forum, carnival, network, and other blogs! I have no idea where he finds the time but he does and does it well.

I had a chance, earlier this year, to interview Pinyo and for the series.

jim: Hi Pinyo, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Pinyo: First, thank you for the opportunity for this interview. I am a 34 years old Asian American. I have been in the U.S. since I was 11 years old — so I have seen and lived in two completely different cultures. As far as family goes, I have been married for about 3 years now and my wife just gave birth this past December to an awesome little baby boy.

I lived in New York City ever since I moved to the U.S. and I own a small house in Jackson Heights. Currently, I work full-time for a big corporation (which shall remain nameless) as an IT project team manager in Brooklyn, NY.


(Click to continue reading…)


 General 
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Happy Thanksgiving!

Two of the Luckiest Thanksgiving Turkeys!

Today is our annual day of giving thanks and eating ridiculous amounts of food and we will be no different! I want to thank everyone who reads, comments, lurks, links to, is linked from, and interacts with my little website over the past year and hope that we can continue to do it for another year or two (or ten!). It’s because of you that I’m able to continue doing this and for that I thank you.

Please have a safe night, please stop on by for a little light hearted Your Take post for tomorrow, and then have a great weekend!

(Photo: hammer51012)


 Reviews 
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E*Trade Bank Review

My first concrete memory of E*Trade was during a half-time commercial from a Super Bowl many years ago. The commercial was that of a monkey dancing for about twenty seconds followed by a single line flashed across the screen, “Well, we just wasted 2 million bucks. What are you doing with your money?”

Back then they were primarily a discount brokerage that offered extremely cheap trades compared to full service brokers. Since then, they’ve expanded into banking and now offer one of the most competitive interest rates available in a high yield savings account.

(Click to continue reading…)


 Business 
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comments

Mona Vie Scam? The Magical Acai Berry Juice Product

Mona Vie Acai Berry Juice ProductMona Vie. One of my friend’s wife was targeted to join Mona Vie. I’ve seen a lot of references to both Mona Vie and one of the components in its mixture, açaí, but never really looked into it. I knew that it smelled fishy, in part because its a classic multi-level marketing program, and that alone gives me reason to pause. However, I wanted to take an objective look at it, since there are a lot of MLMs out there and they can’t all be bad right?

Multi-Level Marketing / Pyramid Schemes

Only two words are needed to describe Mona Vie, the brand name of the juice: pyramid scheme. Mona Vie is a “standard multi-level marketing program,” commonly referred to as a pyramid scheme, that relies on people marketing their products. Every time you make a sale, you earn a commission. The people who recruited you, and the people who recruited that person (your “upline”) into the program will also earn a commission. If you recruit someone into the program (your “downline”), you will earn a commission on their sales. The classic pyramid scheme.

There’s is nothing inherently illegal or disreputable about multi-level marketing programs. They aren’t illegal in the sense that Ponzi Schemes are illegal , it’s just that most implementations of MLM programs only really benefit the people at the top of the pyramid. This is because many of these programs have quotas that members need to sell and, when they can’t, members often find themselves buying the products themselves just to meet quota. Anyway, enough with the generalities, what’s specifically scammy about Mona Vie?

Mona Vie Scam?

What’s this Açaí berry juice product? It’s supposed to jump all over the antioxidant health craze people have been clamoring all over and Açaí berries are a very good source of antioxidants (most dark colored berries are, like blackberries, raspberries, etc.); that part is legitimate. The drink itself is 19 juices blended together.

There are two parts of Mona Vie that are suspect. First, many agree that antioxidants are beneficial for you but Mona Vie makes some big promises such as improving cardiovascular health, improving joint function, etc. It claims that it can cure many ailments because it contains components that have been shown to address some of them. Nothing they say is a flat-out lie but it’s like saying you can do laps in a kiddie pool. Possible? Yes. Probable? Not really.

The second part that’s suspect is the fact that the stuff is $30-$40 a ~26 oz. bottle and proponents say you have to drink 2 oz. in the morning and 1 oz. in the evening. Simple math shows that each month you’ll have to spend $120-$170 on the juice, or $1,500-$2,000 a year. If you want the benefits of these types of juices, you can get it for much much less. Oh, and any distributor has to buy 4 bottles a month. Sure you can sell them, but what if you don’t? You’re always on the hook.

Other red flags? Their CEO and founder, Dallin Larsen, is a 20 year veteran of the MLM industry and the FDA recently shut down a similar juice product operation, Dynamic Essentials distributed Royal Tongan Limu juice, for illegal business practices. Hmmm…

Finally, check out the MonaVie compensation plan, courtesy of The Fraud Files blog. There are all sorts of crazy exceptions and rules. For example, you have two legs on your “downline,” but are only paid on commissions based on the shorter of the two. It gets really complicated, really quickly, and that certainly doesn’t bode well for people who sell the stuff.

The bottom line is that you’re overpaying for a product and, if you’re a distributor, you have to buy 4 bottles a month. Do you think it’s a scam? (this site, Purple Horror, documents a lot of Mona Vie’s shenanigans)

(Photo: wmode)


 Personal Finance 
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The One Sure Fire Way to Fail Miserably in Your Finances

Ignore Everything!This is a guest post by Cap at StopBuyingCrap.com, where Cap rambles on about personal finance, life, the universe, and everything. If for whatever crazy reason you liked this post, feel free to subscribe to his blog – supposedly you’re guaranteed to at least two worthwhile post per year.

Do you want the quickest way to mountains to debt, poor investment returns, and years after years of tax audits?

Ignore your finances.

Ignore the bills, ignore the secondary notice, ignore the warning signs that your investment allocations are too risky — ignore them all.

Having trouble making your credit card payments? Hey, it’s all good, open a new card account and ignore the old one! Falling short on your mortgage payments? Hey, it’s all good, let’s worry about the upcoming holiday vacations first!

Sounds ridiculous? Probably not.

We’ve all had those moments when we’re too stressed out to deal with the finances; when there’s too many things on the plate and too many other issues to take care of.

Procrastination? Apathy? Lack of proper financial literacy? What the case, there’s one simple solution to avoid failing miserably in taking care of your finances.

Start paying attention!

Here’s some starting steps if you’ve been ignoring parts or all of your finances:

1. Build that workable budget. It’s not impossible to build a budget that you can stick to. Here’s a quick tip: make realistic goals. Don’t try heroic measures like cutting $1,000 per month from the budget unless you’ve drastically changed your financial outlook. If an entire budget overwhelms you, try specific categories you can hit. Build a grocery budget or an entertainment budget, and get whoever else that’s part of the household involved! Need a hand to get started? Try this making a budget guide for some tips and tools.

2. Revisit your investment accounts. Whether it’s your retirement account or the college funding for your child, now’s the perfect time to reassess your asset allocation, risk tolerance, and investment goals. No idea where to start? Try Beginner’s Guide to Asset Allocation and An Intro to 529 Plans.

3. Get a close loved one involved. As with going on raids in WoW, better do the whole financial responsibilty thing with support than going solo (ignore the lame MMO reference). Ask your friends or family member to give you a helpful reminder to take care of specific parts of the finances. Setup a savings goal with a friend, or a debt reduction contest with loved ones. It’s always easier to face life’s challenges when you have the right support.

4. Use the latest tools to keep you updated. Most major financial institutions have online banking capability, with means for you to do automatic bill pays, transfers, and alerts. They can be extremely convenient and time savers. If you’re comfortable with bringing your finances further online, check out online tools such as Mint.com, Quicken Online, and Yodlee. Many of these services provide text based alerts for budgets, bills, and changes to your investment accounts — all to keep you on your toes.

If you have tips on paying attention to your finances, feel free to share. Take it from someone who has ignored their finances for almost a year and paid dearly for it — don’t do it! Make some time for your future, just a few days out of the month can go a long way towards financial stability and independence!


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