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5 Car Insurance Discounts You Should Know About

by Jim Wang on August 13, 2013

Car InsuranceAhhh insurance! Everyone loves insurance!

Actually no one loves car insurance, except for insurance agents, because it’s something we pay for that we hope we never need. I used to try everything I could to get a discount (something that has extended to other insurances) and so I wasn’t surprised by any of the insurances included in CarInsuranceQuotes.com’s recent slideshow, titled “5 Car Insurance Discounts You Should Know About.”

Check out the slideshow and let me know if any surprise you. 🙂


PerkStreet Shutting Down Operations

by Jim Wang on August 12, 2013

Perkstreet LogoPerkStreet is shutting down its operations. According to their website, they were pursuing investment the last six months and failed to do so. They’ll be shutting down. PerkStreet offered a checking account that had a debit card with 2% rewards – twice that of most other debit reward cards. It was a pretty compelling offer but it appears not compelling enough.

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5 Ways to Save Money on Homeowners Insurance

by Jim Wang on August 12, 2013

GEICO BillboardHomeowners insurance is one of those “necessary evil” expenses. If you own a home, you need homeowners insurance (if you have a mortgage, your lender will require it). Like all other insurances, my approach to them is to use it strictly for disaster scenarios and try to save as much money as possible on the annual premiums. That means getting the bare bones coverage and putting the money we save into a savings account where it can accrue interest.

The best example of this was with our car. My first car was an Acura Integra, I just had liability insurance and it saved me about a thousand dollars a year (I was much younger then and in a riskier demographic). I put that extra money into a savings account and was lucky enough to never need it. I did the same with my next car, again I was lucky enough not to ever need it and that account now has a few thousand dollars in it.

We do the same with our homeowners insurance though the difference in savings is not as significant. Here’s what we do to lower our premiums:

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Your Take: The COINS Act

by Jim Wang on August 09, 2013

DollarEvery once and a while, someone introduces a bill to either kill the penny or kill the dollar bill. The one to kill the dollar bill is known as the Currency Optimization, Innovation and National Savings (COINS) Act and it’s made an appearance several times now, most recently this June. Senate Bill 1105 proposed to slowly transition away from the $1 bill in favor of the $1 coin. It’s estimated that the move would save $5.5 billion over 30 years, which sounds like a lot but it isn’t. US Federal spending for the 2012 fiscal year is $3.5 trillion. It is, however, still a savings and honestly I prefer $1 coins to $1 bills.

The problem is that they try this all the time and it never gets out of committee. In 2011 it was introduced, with the same name, and never left committee (House Version, Senate Version). Each had a handful of co-sponsors, was introduced again by the same Senator (Harkin, Democrat from Iowa), and who knows if it’ll make it out. I’m not hopeful.

Do you want to phase out the $1 bill in favor of a $1 coin?



Back to School Deals on Laptops, Messenger Bags

by Jim Wang on August 08, 2013

HPNow that it’s August, a lot of people have back to school in mind. With the various sales tax holidays, I know a lot of my friends spent last weekend buying some stuff they need for their kids and some for themselves. We’re test running a partnership with LogicBuy (owned by Ziff Davis) where they curate a few good deals, in this case some back to school type stuff in laptops and messenger bags, and you get to tell us what you think about this partnership.

Do you like seeing these curated deals? Are you completely not interested? Please let us know in the comments. We want this to be useful to you and need your help to do it.

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Congress Moves to Lower Interest Rates on Student Loans

by Jim Wang on August 08, 2013

UniversityAfter taking a lot of flak for doing nothing (I’m sure they took it to heart before they went on vacation), Congress has completed step two of lowering student loan interest rates last week. Prior to leaving for vacation, the Senate passed a bill that would tie interest rates to the yield on the 10-year US Treasury note on June 1st, plus 2.05%. Graduate students would pay the yield on the 10-Year T-Note plus 3.6%. This means that loans issued this Fall for undergraduates would have an interest rate of 3.86% while graduates would pay 5.41%. Undergraduate loan rates are capped at 8.25% and graduate loan rates capped at 9.5%.

The House had previously passed a bill 221-198 but after the Senate passed their bill, they had to reconcile and pass it again. This time the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013 sailed through 392 to 31. The Senate bill passed 81-18. President Obama is expected to sign this bill into law.

I paid for college using Stafford Loans (and others) and benefited greatly from them. My rates were set at around 3% when I consolidated following graduation. I even got a deferment when I started graduate school again and eventually paid it off over the next few years. The difference between 3% and 6.8% is not difficult to see, it’s more than double. Having your interest payments double can be painful, especially when the average student loan debt is around $24,000 (which happens to be a little less than what I owed). At 6.8%, a 10-year $24,000 loan calls for a $276 monthly payment. Lower that to 3% and you’re talking only $231. A savings of $5300 over the life of the loan.

While this doesn’t do anything for folks who have loans right now, it does lower borrowing costs for future students.

Did you have student loans? Would doubling the interest rate have impacted your decision or ability to go to college?

(Credit: kevin dooley)


TurboTax Class Action Settlement for Refund Processing Service

by Jim Wang on August 07, 2013

IntuitIt’s not every day you see a class action settlement involving a tax preparer and not a refund anticipation loan, but today we have out. Intuit has settled a lawsuit associated with the extra fee they charge when they collect the preparation fee a certain way (it’s the “Smith et al. v. Intuit, Inc., Case No. 5:12-cv-00222” lawsuit). If you did your taxes between January 12th, 2008 and May 28th, 2013 and opted to have your preparation fees taken out of your tax return, you may be eligible for a piece of a $6.55 million settlement. When you paid for your tax preparation with a checking account, there was no extra fee. If you paid for it from your return, using the Refund Processing Service, there was a $29.95 fee. Someone sued and the result is a settlement fund.

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Are Change of Address Services Worth It?

by Jim Wang on August 06, 2013

MailboxesWhen we moved a couple weeks ago, the first thing I did was fire up the USPS official change of address form and update our address. It cost us $1 but resulted in a handful of coupons (Lowes, Pottery Barn, Overstock) and our address changed. Back in the day, you could go to the post office and fill out a form for free but it seems like that option is gone now. The last time I went to the post office, the forms were replaced with flyers explaining the online form.

When I was searching for the form, I saw a lot of ads touting “address change services.” These service promised to change your address with the USPS as well as notify other organizations to your change of address. They lumped in junk mail removal services and several other “services” designed to save you time but separate you from your money. I began getting curious about their business model and wondering if the services were worth it.

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