Archive for June, 2008

Rates Going Up for Savings Accounts

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

I learned a tough lesson and trusted a financial adviser at my local Chase by investing into Municipal Bonds with the majority of my retirement money. I mostly freaked out about the interest rates going down and it was tempting to do this because it is a way to help to keep my taxes lower. The only problem is that its not making any money. I have lost over $2,000 in these municipal bonds so far and I have to keep the money in the municipal funds for over a year or get a 1% penalty.

As I was listening to someone who is on commission for bad advice I am seeing how much money I could be making in rising savings account rates. HSBC Direct has raised their rate to 3.50% until August 1, and it may even go higher when that promo ends. The first rate increase for nine months happens over at WTDirect from 3.19 to 3.26 APY.

WaMu is also grabbing the attention of customers looking for higher interest rates with the 5.00% Savings Success offer. Walk into your local bank and see what they are offering and search online. If your current bank is still punishing you with low interest from the fed rate cuts then transfer it over to a bank that is keeping up with the competition.

Fuel Boosters Ripoff

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Gas prices are raging high now that we are knee deep in summer travel season and people are on the lookout for anything that will help.  Do not count on gas additives to boost your fuel consumption.  A government agency recently named some advertising claims to avoid such as “improving fuel economy by 20%” and Federal government approved


The EPA has tested over 100 devices and only came back with six that gave improvements in fuel economy.  These are also fractional improvements in the mileage.  Do not fall for these ripoffs even if you see it on TV or hear it on the radio.

It may not be a good thing for your car to put in additives.  If you want to boost your fuel then drink a healthy protein drink and ride your bike to work that is the best way to get around in these trying times.  It may also make your heart stronger for when you see the pump prices in a few months.

MagicJack or Landline phone service?

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

The MagicJack is as small as a ciggarrette lighter and it plugs directly into your desktop or laptop’s USB.  This small device allows unlimited calling to the U.S. nationwide and Canada and will even feature International locations soon.  MagicJack only costs $39.95 for an entire years worth of calling and features such as voicemail (and caller id, call waiting, 911).  What is not to like about this “magic” phone service?

Is the MagicJack too good to be true?  I have seen many complains online ranging from it containing adware in the terms and conditions to people being charged before the trial membership runs at at 25 days.  I am always skeptical of anything that is this cheap and how and why it works.  You normally have to look into how this company is making money from such a little profit before you start giving in to the idea.  If you start a free trial then cancel it after a week.  That should be all the time you need to tell if it is working for you and if you want to keep the ‘magical’ device.

It is neat that you can plug a landline or cordless phone into the jack that plugs into your USB.  We will be seeing more and more products like this coming out.  Keep on the lookout for more ways to save money on your phone bills and cancel your landline service.

If you wish to save more money on your landline service then switch over to mobile At Home Networks which AT&T and T-Mobile are offering.  They offer services where you can boost your home cell phone signal for as little as $10 month extra using your DSL or cable broadband.

WaMu Helps you Save With 5.00% APY

Friday, June 13th, 2008

If you think that high interest accounts are only for the rich then think again. Washington Mutual bank (WaMu) is helping people save money for retirement and future emergencies down the road. The new Savings account promotion will get you 1 year for 5.00% interest when you deposit as little as $1 to start up the account.

The high interest savings account works by taking money out of your WaMu checking account and depositing that money in your savings each month. The transfers would be $25 to $500 each month which are low enough that you may not even notice helping save for college or your future.

You cannot put more than $500 in the account more than once a month so those of you with large amounts of money sitting around you should consider their CD at 3.25% APY. This 5% account is mainly intended to help families or people save money who are not good at saving money and helping them do that at a higher interest rate.

To get into this great deal go into your local WaMu in Georgia, Illinois, Texas, or Washington and ask them to open a Savings for Success account. If you do not live in any of these areas I would recommend that you check out the other WaMu offers online where you can normally get the best deals on higher yields.

$4 Gallon Gas

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

Did you notice less people traveling on the highways over the last big holiday weekend?  Americans are driving less.  Gas has quickly become America’s top economic issue since it relates to so many products and services.  Sunday, gas topped the $4 per gallon average the first time first in Alaska then it spread to other states.  On June 10th Maryland, Georgia, and Florida got hammered with $4 gallon gas.

The national average now is $4.04, but that may go up or down depending on the commodities.  The shock about $4 gas could reduce consumer spending drastically because of the fear people will not have any money left over after driving to work and running personal errands.

Commercial fleets are paying 33% of their total costs in fuel now compared to 13% in 2006.  This steady rise in commercial fleets could quickly lead to our own pocketbooks in higher prices for FedEx deliveries, cereal, among other increases in everyday goods and services.

We were complaining about these prices back in 1980 when a new level of $1 was reached but you must consider inflation with these prices.  Then again it took sixty years to reach over 99 cents price point.  Would you love to have some 99 cent gas right now?

Expect lawn care services, shipping, and anyone and everything to try to put on extra fees to pay for their gas.  We will be having dreams of hybrid cars, trucks, and lawn mowers.

You can dream all you want for lower prices at your neighborhood Shell station or 7-Eleven it might come true in a decade or so.  Praying might even come in for some.  We should have gotten off this addiction to oil years ago but we are still craving for crude oil and that’s what we are getting.

Watch out for thieves as gas prices soar.  Crooks are cutting into gas lines in neighborhood malls and shopping centers and even stealing catalytic converters out of trucks and cars parked at residences.  People may even start killing for fuel as these prices continue to rise to keep a closer eye on things when you get out and about.

Cheers to the good inventive people who are coming up with creative ways to keep gas mileage down!

Free Budgeting Software

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

There are a number of choices in budgeting software. The good news is that they all work and work well. On the whole, any budgeting plan works as long as you implement it and stick to it. How should you choose budgeting software? Well, many people start by looking at the software most easily integrated with their bank and other financial resources. Many banks now allow you to download your statements directly into Quicken or Microsoft Money, as you prefer. You might also consider a virtual version of old fashioned envelope budgeting with a product like My Spending Plan at Http:// You can also find a number of free or shareware budgeting software options on-line if you’d like to get started at a lower cost. Finally, if you already own or have access to a basic database program similar to Microsoft Excel, this is an excellent and easy to use budgeting tool.

Which of these options should you choose? First, consider how much you can afford to spend. There are a number of great free budgeting tools, particularly if you do not need to manage and supervise investment accounts or other more complex financial matters. My Spending Plan works on the envelope system, but you will find that there are a number of other free budgeting software options on-line as well, and one may meet your needs and preferences. Buddi is an open source program that will run on any machine with Java installed and is available at 

Buddi offers a traditional way to track your spending and budget your money. GnuCash allows for common financial file downloads and access at no charge GnuCash offers substantially more accounting tools than the other free options listed, and will also work well for small businesses needing to keep track of their money.

If you are willing to spend on your budgeting software, the two big names in the business are Quicken and Microsoft Money. Microsoft Money is easy to learn and use, particularly if you are already accustomed to using Microsoft products. It has a number of convenient on-line access features as well, including integrated access with MSN Money.

Quicken is available both as Quicken On-line and as a standard piece of software. If you do nearly all your budgeting at home or the office, the traditional software may be a good choice, but if you use multiple computers or are often on the go, the newer on-line option may be an excellent budgeting tool.

Which of these two should you choose? That answer depends upon your bank, investments and other financial matters. Choose whichever is the most compatible with your needs for the most convenient and easiest home money management.