Archive for 2007
My previous favorite online bank has dropped its rate again. HSBC Direct lowered their savings rate again this morning to 4.25% APY (from 4.50%). It seems like while other banks are able to maintain rates with the Fed drops HSBC keeps slipping. Emigrant Direct also dropped their rate to 4.65% APY this week.
Fortunately as previously discussed I moved all my long term savings money over to Countrywide SavingsLink who is still holding steady at 5.30%. Here is a roundup of some of the popular online savings accounts rates (APY):
- Countrywide SavingsLink – 5.30%
- FNBO Direct – 5.05%
- E*Trade Complete Savings – 5.05%
- WAMU Online Savings – 4.75%
- Emigrant Direct – 4.65%
- HSBC Direct – 4.25%
- ING Direct – 4.10%
Lifehacker has announced their 2007 guide to free software and webapps with a ton of FREE applications for your everyday needs. They broke it down into 20 categories and here are some of my personal favorites:
Mozy (Windows/Mac, online backup, up to 2GB free) – Provides automated backups of your important files online.
Google Desktop (Windows/Mac OS X/Linux, free) – Search through all your files, emails, web history and more.
Virus Killers and Malware Cleaners
AVG Free Edition (Windows, free with paid upgrade) – Free virus protection for your computer.
I have never actually tried any of their apps in the Personal Finance/Money Managers category. I personally am a huge fan of Yodlee Moneycenter which they seem to have overlooked so haven’t explored too much. I may give them a try in the near future.
Check below for the full list:
Microsfot is currently running a campaign where you can get yourself a free copy of the $400 Windows Vista Ultimate Edition, Office 2007, or Microsoft Money Plus.
***UPDATE: This offer has ended.
The catch? You have to join their feedback program where you have to answer a few surveys and install a program on your computer where they can monitor your everyday actions for 3 months before you get your software. I’m sure to some giving up your privacy to big brother will not be worth it, but I decided to give it a shot – hopefully it will not be too bad.
Here are the requirements from Microsoft:
1. The survey feedback program. When you join the survey feedback program, you’ll be invited to take a survey on a regular schedule. If the survey arrives at a time where you are busy, you skip that one and take the next one instead. You will not receive more than a survey every two weeks.
2. The automated feedback program. When you choose to participate, most of the work is done behind the scenes, with no additional effort, time requirement, or inconvenience to you. Occasionally, we might send you an invitation to participate in a survey or another feedback program to get additional information about your use of computers but, in general, you only hear from us if we make significant changes to our data collection method or if we want to offer another feedback program to you that you might be interested in.
Perfect for that holiday gift giving – now through December 16th, 2007 you can get 12% off a single item during your instore purchase at Best Buy. All you need is a free rewards zone membership to get the full 12%, otherwise if you do not have / want a membership you get 10% off.
Here is the fine print:
10% or 12% off any single item1 from the following categories:
TVs & More: TVs $399 and up • DVD players and recorders • TiVo® and DIRECTV® hardware • receivers, shelf systems,
speakers and home theater systems. Also valid at Magnolia Home Theater®.
Computer Accessories: DVD-RW drives • flash and external hard drives • notebook accessories • printers $149 & up •
scanners $99 & up • computer networking • computer speakers, mice and keyboards • PC cameras • PC gaming controllers •
digital recorders $99 & up • surge protectors • computer flash memory • computer cables • graphic and sound cards •
computer software • blank digital media and blank video media • ink cartridges • printer docks • paper
Cameras & Accessories: digital cameras $279 & up • digital camcorders $279 & up • digital camera accessories •
blank mini-DVD media • blank video media • camcorder accessories • camcorder batteries • blank camcorder media •
premium photo services
Music Players & Accessories: MP3 players and accessories • car audio • satellite radio hardware • musical instruments •
Phones & Accessories: phone cards • cordless phones • answering machines • landline phone accessories • 2-way radios •
cellular phone accessories • pay-as-you-go phones
Appliances & More: major and small appliances • shavers • vacuums • microwaves • batteries • toys • mobile electronics •
Excludes Zune® devices; Bose®; JBL and Shure MP3 player accessories;
DIRECTV® service; Blu-ray and HD DVD players; digital SLR cameras; Apple® products; the Dyson DC18; video game
hardware and accessories; satellite radio service; Cinema Systems; HP ink; high-definition camcorders; pay-as-yougo-
phone cards; cellular phones; Roland, Boss and Edirol musical instruments; digital music services and download
cards; special order, clearance, demo and open-box items; Gift Cards; taxes; Magnolia Home Theater products: Bose®,
SpeakerCraft®, Sonos, Vienna Acoustics, Tivoli Audio, MartinLogan, BDI furniture, installation services, Magnolia
Guaranteed Performance Agreement and special order merchandise
$2,331.07 – Liquid Savings – 4.50% APY HSBC Savings Account
$25,128.31 – Savings – 5.30% APY Countrywide Savings Accounts
$15,731.53 – Stocks – Misc. Direct Investments
$5,861.64 – Stocks – Ameritrade Izone
$2,657.18 – Stocks – Zecco
$2,647.58 – Bonds – TreasuryDirect
$17,555.93 – ROTH IRA – Vanguard
$1,115.42 – ROTH IRA – Scottrade
$55,011.88 – 401K – T. Rowe Price
$3,052.81 – Student Loan – AES (3.625%)
$4,308.00 – Credit Card BT – Chase(0%)
$17,816.28 – Credit Card BT – BOA NEA (0%)
$7,346.18 – Credit Card BT – Juniper (0%)
$19,793.00 – Credit Card BT – Upgromise (0%)
Housing / Automobiles
$265,943.83 – Mortgage – Countrywide
$339,900.00 – Approximate Home Value
$9,988 – Approximate Car Value – Edmunds.com
$83,694.29 – TOTAL (Approximate Equity)
I have been trying somewhat unsuccessfully to earn a bit of extra cash through side projects. I have a pretty decent computer background so freelancing seems like my best bet.
I have done some work for local businesses but have not received any new work in quite a while. I’ve been tying sites like rentacoder.com and guru.com, but it seems like I am getting bid against by South American programming outfits whose prices make it not worth my time.
On Friday I saw a part time position on Monster doing something I specialize in – telecommuting and a very nice hourly rate. I would venture to guess only maybe 50 people in the world have as much experience with this as myself and can’t imagine them at least not calling me about it. I am anxiously awaiting this company contacting me, but trying not to get too optimistic.
I’m not really desperate for money but hey everyone could use more right? Plus its nice to keep up on skill sets I don’t get use use as my regular job.
Sears is having their 10% off just about anything in the store VIP sale this weekend – on Sunday November 11th from 6pm-9pm.
To sweeten this deal even more, Sears also currently is running 20% off any Kenmore appliance which is stackable with the 10% off, making an effective 28% off! Could be a good time to buy if you are in need of a new appliance. They are also going to be offering some of the Black Friday deals during this time (unfortunately not the early bird doorbuster sales though).
The 99th edition of the Festival of Frugailty is up over at Learning to be Frugal. There are some great posts over there including my cheapo eyeglasses experience so if you have the time you should check it out.
Well after just switching from HSBC Direct to Countrywide, Countrywide has lowered their APY from 5.50% to 5.35% on the heels of the latest federal reserve interest rate announcement.
Its slightly disheartening but compared to most of the other online banks its still a good rate. ING Direct is 4.2%, HSBC is 4.50% (for now), GMAC is 4.50%. I will be sticking with Countrywide for now but as always will keep my eye out for something better.
I came across a most excellent tutorial today How To Actually Search Craigslist via Lifehacker. I am a huge fan of Craigslist for those who didn’t know, and I often find it difficult to manage searches on their poor engine.
Craigslist does offer RSS feeds (which I am also a huge fan of via Google Reader) however you can only have 1 search term per feed. So if you are looking for 20 different items you have to have 20 feeds in your RSS reader which can become quite messy. The tutorial shows you how to use Yahoo Pipes to create customized searches from these multiple RSS feeds and combine them into one search. It may sound a little complicated at first but its really pretty easy and very helpful.
The tutorial provides an example of it in use, and here is one I made to search for snowblowers (with the terms snow, snowblower, and snowthrower). So if you crave more command over your Craigslist addiction then this may help you out tremendously.
$3,806.66 – Liquid Savings – 5.05% APY HSBC Savings Account
$25,021.28 – Savings – 5.50% APY Countrywide Savings Accounts
$16,393.20 – Stocks – Misc. Direct Investments
$6,105.13 – Stocks – Ameritrade Izone
$3,089.63 – Stocks – Zecco
$2,647.58 – Bonds – TreasuryDirect
$18,111.93 – ROTH IRA – Vanguard
$1,306.73 – ROTH IRA – Scottrade
$56,051.88 – 401K – T. Rowe Price
$3,094.84 – Student Loan – AES (3.625%)
$4,395.00 – Credit Card BT – Chase(0%)
$17,995.28 – Credit Card BT – BOA NEA (0%)
$7,420.18 – Credit Card BT – Juniper (0%)
$20,094.00 – Credit Card BT – Upgromise (0%)
Housing / Automobiles
$266,406.71 – Mortgage – Countrywide
$339,900.00 – Approximate Home Value
$10,201.00 – Approximate Car Value – Edmunds.com
$83,694.29 – TOTAL (Approximate Equity)
Here in the US, the day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday. Its when retailers gear up for the holiday season to move from the red to black (financial wise) and have huge sales to attract customers. Its a great time to do some holiday shopping there are many door buster specials where you will see products at their lowest prices ever.
Rather than wait till Thanksgiving day to get your newspaper with the sales ads, you can usually find the flyers online as much as a month in advance. This year is no exception. My favorite site for this is BFAds.net which has adscans of all the advertisements as well as an RSS feed which allows me to stay up to date on the activity there without having to visit the site all the time. So far this year they already have Macy’s, Sears, Ace Hardware, Harbor Freight, and FYE with more coming.
After doing quite a bit of squinting lately I decided it might be time to update my eyeglass prescription. My insurance only provides for an eye exam and either eyeglasses or contacts every 2 years so I went to the local Empire Vision and had an eye exam and ordered some contacts which I use for sports since those are more expensive than the glasses I had in mind. I asked them for a copy of my prescription and was on my way.
I had been following this Slickdeals thread for a while on cheap prescription glasses and finally decided to take the plunge. I decided on this $8 style at Zenni Optical which seemed pretty much like my old glasses. I figured hey for $8 if they are terrible it won’t be a big deal.
The website is pretty easy to navigate, and for the most part you just fill in the drop boxes on your selected frame with your prescription information. The only part was the Pupillary Distance was not on my prescription which I guess is pretty common, so I had to measure this myself with a ruler.
So I placed my order and also got the Clip On Polarized 80% Sunshade for $3.95 which I regret. I had a nice magnetic clip on for my old glasses which was easy to put on while I was driving, however these clips are like a paper clip style and you have to take your glasses off and fiddle with them for a minute to get them on which isn’t always practical. My total with these and shipping ($4.95) was $16.90.
After The Order
About 2 weeks after I placed the order my new glasses arrived at my house via USPS mail in a bubble envelope and hard case. The feel of the glasses is very good, they don’t feel flimsy or cheap and I have been wearing them for about a month now with no problems. Overall I was very pleased with my purchase and barring the glasses falling apart in a month most likely will be ordering from Zenni again in the future.
Lowes is currently offering a $10 off $25 coupon through their fan website to kick off you fall project. I signed up and used this coupon today at my local Lowes so can verify it scans and works! Thats up to 40% off your next purchase so if you need something this coupon would certainly sweeten the deal.
Some of you have been wondering why I have not been posting as frequently as of late. Unfortunately over the last few months I’ve been having some health problems that needed to be addressed. I was having constant stomach problems and weight loss over the last year or so which was progressively getting worse. I was finally diagnosed with Celiac disease about a month ago and have had to make some lifestyle changes to accommodate this.
What Is Celiac Disease?
Basically Celiac is an allergy to Gluten which causes damage to the small intestines and in turn creates stomach problems. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, and rye.
Many foods contain gluten including pasta, bread, cereals, and pastries among numerous other products.
How Has It Affected Me?
I am feeling better since switching my diet to gluten free which is obviously the most important thing. Financially it has increased our grocery bills quite a bit. Gluten free products I have found to generally be about 3x as expensive as their gluten equivalent. Things like rice pasta cost about $2.50 a pound versus 88 cents for regular pasta. Bread is about the same, and does not taste as good as regular bread.
It has cut back our eating out though, as it can be difficult to find gluten free items on many menus. Fast food is generally out as is pizza, sandwiches, most soups, fried foods… you get pretty sick of salad quick.
It’s been a tough adjustment but you gotta do what you gotta do for your health.
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