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Highest Savings Account Rates

If you have fifteen minutes, you can be earning more interest on your savings account. Many Bargaineering.com readers are familiar with high yield savings accounts, so for the seasoned veterans you won’t get much out of this post (maybe this one on reward checking accounts is new to you?). In recent weeks, there’s been a huge influx of new readership and I wanted to take the time to introduce a concept that has been all the rage in personal finance – high yield savings accounts.

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 Banking 
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How to Minimize Bank Account Fees

Bloody Bank Fee MoneyBanks used to make their money by taking customer deposits and lending it out at a higher interest rate. Along the way, they discovered they could siphon off a little bit here or there in the form of “fees” cleverly disguised as “convenience” charges.

Bankrate does annual fee surveys of what banks charge and the fee amounts are absolutely astounding. Overdraft or nonsufficient funds (NSF) fees average $29.58, ATM surcharges average $2.22, and the average monthly service charge on a checking account is around $12.55. That adds up to billions of earnings for banks.

Let’s talk about how to minimize these fees.

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 Banking 
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10 Reasons Why Credit Unions Kick Ass

Fire Police City County Federal Credit UnionCredit unions exist to help its members. Commercial banks exist to enrich their shareholders.

You read that right. Credit unions are unions that exist to help its members. That’s why they often have better interest rates on both loans and deposits. Commercial banks are businesses. Their sole purpose is to figure out how to make more money from its customers (you!). Interest rates are often very low (or nonexistent), loan rates are often competitive, and they always try to sell you new products because you are a customer.

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 Personal Finance 
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Bargaineering 2009 Annual Financial Review Week

Since Career Week was so successful, mostly because of all of your insightful comments, I thought I’d bring you another “week” of focused posts. This time, since we are so near the end of the year, we’ll be focusing on an annual financial review. In reality, the topics in this series apply to any time of the year,not just year’s end, but you have to take a look at least once a year.

I hope the tryptophan from Thanksgiving has cleared your system because I need you fully awake this week. In each of the four areas, I’ve picked a few topics designed to “optimize” your personal finances. Some of them are very basic, like getting more interest out of your savings accounts, while others may be a little more complex, like optimizing your asset allocation. Regardless of the topic, I hope you let me know what you think of it. You guys made Career Week a success, I hope we can do the same with the Year End Review.

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 General 
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Happy Turkey Day!

Turkey turkey turkey!To those who are celebrating Thanksgiving today, I hope you and yours have a festive Thanksgiving day and weekend. I hope you celebrate the merriment and cheer that is Thanksgiving, enjoy the time with loved ones, and stuff yourself full of food prepared with loving care. To those who aren’t celebrating Thanksgiving, eat something decadent. :)

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to thank you all for visiting today and every day. So often people think that I’m an expert because I write a personal finance blog. The reality is that while I may be more knowledgeable than the average Joe on money matters, it’s because I’m constantly being educated by the you guys. I see this as a community, not as a podium, and I’ve learned as much from you as, hopefully, you have from me. I hope we can do this for a long time together.

I don’t want to take too much of your time because today should be spent off the computer and with real live human beings. :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

We’ll return with regularly scheduled programming on Sunday… when I unveil another themed week!

(Photo: voght)


 Personal Finance 
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How To Get A Low Interest Rate APR on Credit Card Debt

List of Credit Card Debt I’ve been getting a lot of stories of people struggling to get out of debt because of the recent How to Fight a Debt Collector series. They haven’t reached the point of fighting debt collectors yet and they want to keep it that way. As much as others like to malign those deep in debt, the vast majority of debtors want to make good on what they owe.

If you’re in heavy credit card debt, the first thing you need to do is take stock of your financial situation and stop spending. You need to get yourself on a budget and stop the bleeding. Once you get that under control, the next step is to restructure your debts so you can make up lost ground. That’s where this post comes in.

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 Personal Finance 
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Federal & State Telephone Recording Laws

Pay Phone TappedIn the last post about suing debt collectors that violate the law, one of Craig’s recommendations was to record your conversations with debt collectors as evidence they violated the FDCPA. In the comments, there was discussion about whether recording or taping telephone conversations was legal. I thought a post clarifying the issue would be valuable.

Federal law permits the recording of phone calls and “other electronic communications” with the consent of at least one party to the call. From a Federal perspective, as long as you consent to the recording, you can record it without telling the other parties on the call that you’re recording the call.

However, just because it’s permitted Federally doesn’t mean every state allows it. The states are separate into “one party consent” states and “all party consent” or “two party consent” states.

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 Personal Finance 
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Don’t Write Personal Checks

Last weekend, the Consumerist mentioned a story that fewer retailers were accepting personal checks this holiday season. They cited check fraud as the big reason for not accepting checks and I argue that check fraud is the big reason why many consumers should not write checks.

The personal check is one of the most insecure methods of payment.

Consider this test, I call it the internet safety test. If you took an image of a completely filled out of a check, how much of it would you have to black out before you’d feel comfortable posting it on the internet?

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