Banking 
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Highest Short-Term CD (Certificate of Deposit) Rates

(Updated 11/6) I’ve been keeping a list of the best CD rates for certificates of deposit in the 12-month to 18-month maturity range, figuring that’s typically the sweet spot for CD rates. If the CD maturity is too short, banks won’t give you a good rate because it’s such a short period of time. If the CD maturity is too long, the customer is taking on a lot more inflation risk than the bank is probably paying out for. However, short term certificates of deposit still have their place:

  • You’re setting up a CD ladder and you need CDs to fill up those short period slots.
  • You have funds in an account that currently isn’t earning the highest yield for savings, transferring the funds will take time and cut down on your interest earned… so you might as well throw it into a short term CD to get a better rate.
  • You simply don’t want to rate chase and open up a new account with each new online bank that offers a high rate, so you might as well hit up a short term rate with the bank you’re worth just to get a little extra.


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 Your Take 
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Your Take: Ever Buy Checks Online?

My initial supply of personal checks, a checkbook worth, is coming to an end soon and I’ll be needing a fresh new supply. I don’t use checks very often anymore, I think they are antiquated and very insecure, but every few months I have to deal with a company that requires personal checks. It usually comes down to the company not wanting to deal with the headaches of credit cards and me not wanting to deal with the headaches of their 0% same-as-cash-but-not-quite financing offer! Anyway, the end result is that I write them a personal check and my initial stock is dwindling rapidly.

I looked into reordering checks directly from Bank of America, who gets them through Clarke American, now named Harland Clarke; but they want $20 for 50 checks! That’s outrageous! (and doesn’t include shipping) To prove how both absurd and true it is, here’s the screenshot from the order page (to be honest, if I were you, I wouldn’t believe me unless I saw this screenshot):

OK, order checks from the bank is out. It looks like I’ll have to order checks online. I looked at a couple places but it appears that Costco will probably be my best bet. Costco sells checks for pretty reasonable prices, though that option is only available for Costco members. You can get two boxes of standard single checks (400) for $10.59, $8.47 if you’re an executive member. Four boxes doubles the price, so there’s no discount for quantity. Shipping is a reasonable $4.95. That’s 400 checks for less than 4 cents a check – a song compared to the 40 cents BoA wanted!

Have you ever ordered checks online? If so, what has your experience been and who have you used?


 Government 
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$8,000 First Time Homebuyer’s Credit

Are you sitting down? Do you have a pen and paper handy? Looks like the $15,000 tax credit to buy a new home has been scrapped, saving $35 billion from the stimulus package, and replaced with an extension to the $7,500 and an increase of that credit to $8,000. The $7,500 first time homebuyer tax credit was set to expire July 1st, this $8,000 provision would extend that. CNNMoney is reporting that the credit is available for those who buy a home between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 1, 2009 (source).

The cost of the extension and modest increase is pegged at around $2-3 billion. Another key provision? The repayment requirement will be nixed. That means the $7,500 15-year loan at 0% interest will now become $8,000 cash money in your pocket. I believe existing borrowers would have that loan forgiven.

Home buyers who hoped for a $15,000 tax credit to buy a new home, as promised by the Senate, will be disappointed. A proposed $35 billion credit to support home sales was jettisoned in favor of a more modest $2 billion to $3 billion provision.

The proposal would eliminate the repayment requirement in an existing tax credit for first-time home buyers, and raise the credit to $8,000 from $7,500. Congressional aides cautioned Wednesday that the credit’s size was still subject to negotiation.

Congress Strikes $789 Billion Stimulus Deal [Wall Street Journal]


 Personal Finance 
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20 Easy Money Making Ideas

Last year I wrote a very well-received post listing 100 money saving tips for the holidays that has helped quite a few people. However, you can only do so much with saving. What if you’ve cut back as much as you possible can? You need to start looking at the income side of the equation.

It’s like losing weight, you either eat less or exercise more. If you’re down to bread and water, it really doesn’t help to read another article about how eating celery can help you lose weight. At some point, you need to start reading about working out. Let this be your article on working out your wallet and bringing in a few extra dollars.

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 Personal Finance 
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Ten Recession-Busting Money Tips for Young Professionals

Gray's Papaya Recession SpecialOver three million, six hundred thousand jobs have been lost since the recession started over a year ago. Three million, six hundred thousand. If you’re one of the three million, six hundred thousand, my heart goes out to you and I hope you’ll follow my friend Sarah as she chronicles her battle against joblessness in Diary of a Firee. If you still have your job and you haven’t started preparing for the possibility that you will lose it, start preparing. You have all the tools you need right now to fortify your finances so that, should you lose your job, you will be prepared for it.

These tips were tailored for young professionals but they can apply to anyone. They are focused less on family-related money saving ideas and more on the things individuals and couples tend to do, especially if they’re in the younger working demographic.

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 Business 
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Incorporating Your Business: Sole Proprietorship, LLC, or Corporation

When I started blogging, my “business” was a sole proprietorship. As I began to earn a little more income, I decided to move from a sole proprietorship to a limited liability corporation, an LLC, to reduce my personal liability. As the years passed and business grew, I ultimately converted to a S Corporation for tax purposes. At each step of the way, I analyzed whether going from one business entity to another made sense from a financial and a legal standpoint. You have to weigh all these factors before you decide whether filing the paperwork is worth it.

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 Personal Finance 
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PFBlogger Spotlight: Paid Twice

I’m not sure when it was that I first met Paid Twice, blogger behind I’ve Paid For This Twice Already…, but I’m really glad I did. I’ve Paid For This Twice Already is her personal finance blog and it follows her life experiences with money. The “paid twice” refers to how with debt, you buy something once and then pay for it over and over and over again in interest. I wanted to find out a little more about her (did you know she has a Ph.D. in Genetics?) so I thought I’d put her under the bright PFBlogger Spotlight!

jim: Hi Paid Twice, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Paid Twice: Sure! I am a 34 year old woman who loves to endlessly analyze and dither about this and that. I’m a mom to a preschooler and a toddler, I’m married, a taekwondo instructor, a chemistry tutor, and I’m in a lot less debt than I was a year ago.


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 Personal Finance 
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How to Strong Arm Your Way to a Better Deal

The economic malaise has probably had an effect on your life, I know it has had one on mine. However, as bad as you think your personal prospects are, it’s worse for companies that have to make payroll, rent, and debt obligations. At the end of the day, you have to take care of you and your own, which is why I recommend that you periodically shop around and use that information to strong arm your way to a better deal on the services you already buy.

Don’t feel badly about using your most powerful a weapon, the power of choice, to negotiate a better deal. When you pay $60 or $80 or $100 a month for cable television, you’re not getting $60 or $80 or $100 worth of service. You’re getting something the company is selling to someone else for $30 a month. They will charge whatever the market will bear and it’s up to you, the consumer, to push back and tell them that their price is too high. At the end of the day, they would rather you spend $5 a month than quit and spend $0.

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