Credit Review

Savings and Credit news, tips, offers, etc. Pretty simple, but hopefully really useful.

Friday, February 10, 2006

top 4 internet savings accounts compared

digg this | reddit |

My friends know me as the Yoda of Online Savings. I'm always wondering around muttering things like build emergency fund, you will or pays 4.25%, Emigrant does or perhaps credit card debt leads to fear, fear leads to anger, anger leads to suffering.

Yep, you just can't get around it; I'm a big fan of high yield internet savings accounts. Below you'll find a quick summary of all the major (highest paying) players. All accounts have no fees and no minimums. Simple. Easy. No affiliate links. Just great tools to help you put away cash until you need it.
Bank Interest Rate Review Signup Bonus
HSBC Direct 4.80% until 04/30/2006
Variable thereafter
Signup requires waiting for snail mail.
Good rates and functional interface.
Free ATM card!
$25 with promo code START
ING Direct 4.75% until 04/15/2006
3.80% thereafter
Best interface and support
Easy to use and signup is a breeze
Referral bonuses for Savings and Mortgage
$25 with invite
(see below)
Emigrant Direct 4.25% Highest non-promo rate
Poor support/interface
MasterCard with 1.25% cash back
Capital One 4.00% Name Brand
Easy to use and setup
Second highest non-promo rate.

PayPal Pays well too
PayPal offers pretty good non-FDIC insured returns on their money market accounts (which pays on your PayPal account balance). I've been earning in the 4.3% range. It is pretty simple to signup so I’d suggest checking it out.

ING Direct Invites
You can post invites or find invites here. I also have a few left to give out so feel free to email me at 2e{at} Oh, and FYI, I make $10 off an invite if your do signup through me.

Did I miss something?
Have your own experience or review to share? Did I miss something? Please post to the comments section. I plan to regularly post updates to this list to keep it current.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

the 5 things you need to read before buying a Dell

Deal Hack has some good tips for you here.

  1. Buy one step below the top line model.
  2. Decide your needs before you configure so you don't buy what you don't need.
  3. Use coupon codes.
  4. Buy and install additional memory yourself.
  5. Buy online, not over the phone.

paying taxes on adsense

Here is a great website all about paying taxes on your Google adsense earning.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

4 followups to 7 steps

Wow! I got dugg! And the comments and links went nuts! Thanks for all the kind words everyone. I wanted to pull a few of the things out and respond to them, so this is a followup post.

You can view the original post with 50+ comments here:

7 simple steps to grow your fortune

You can also see the digg post with 60+ comments by clicking here (and 1400+ diggs!)

1. Thanks to all the haters!

Not all the comments I got were good. Some were down right rude. Others weren't even G rated. But thanks anyway for giving me a thicker skin. And thanks to everyone who defended the post for what it was.
  • Some people accused me of spamming digg because I have adsense on my blog. Hello! Millions of people use adsense. Digg uses adsense. By that logic digg itself is generating traffic to make money off of adsense. I have no problem with adsense provided the product or content it is on is worth the while.
  • Some people expected more. Anonymous suggested my ideas were so obvious that I must be writing for 5th and 6th graders. Yet another Anonymous thought the post was worthless. me1.0 and Anonymous and Menlo fought back.
  • Some people, like Anonymous, were mad at me because I suggested that music should be purchased rather than downloaded illegally. So sue me..wait, sue them instead.
  • David C reminded us that the world is about to end.
2. Thanks for the excellent commentary!

This guy (or girl) wrote an article in his comment. This guy figured out that I was talking to younger people just starting life. This guy used it to pound his 401K horse into the ground. This guy was inspired to start looking for a fund that invests solely in consumer debt.

And this guy just went off and stole my post. Hey! If you're reading this you should at least by me a Starbucks card!

3. I didn't forget that you should invest!

This is for all you crazy people out there who gulped, gargled, and sputtered when I didn't include investing in my article: Dudes! Relax! Investing isn't simple so it didn't make it into my simple steps! Besides, I don't want my average reader to crash their car on the way home from a Super Bowl party because their eyes permanently glazed over while I was trying to explain stocks, bonds, and funds. This guy got it right when he told you to invest in yourself.

4. Thanks for letting me know the article was valuable!

All too often I read things that I find unbelievable useful and insightful and yet I fail to let the author know. Well the kind words from people like Douglas Cooty and Antagonist and posted to digg have made me want to be better at acknowledging people's hard work. Good show everyone!

A choice selection of comments for my ego's sake:

  • "Good advice. The way the author talks is more motivational than anything. Puts it into perspective, while still getting to the point, without lengthy lecturing. Digg."
  • "Basic, but good tips."
  • "Great tips indeed, some nice siple common sense ways to help put you in a better financial position than you're in now."
  • "digg - reminders of what seems obvious is actually good (my opinion)"
  • "Tech or not, this was an awesome article. Thx OP."
  • "everyone should read this."
  • "Don't listen to all the blowhards that put the post down. They're probably in some serious debt because they thought a credit card was free money in college. It's good advice but not everything. Good start though."
  • "Fantastic article. Lots of good sense. "
  • "The information is thoughtful and helpful to people. "
  • "Very well written... I practice several of those steps.. :)"
and last but not least, from a guy who appears to have signed up on digg just to post and digg my article:
  • "Great article. I needed it."

Saturday, February 04, 2006

7 simple steps to grow your fortune

digg | reddit

1400+ digs? Over 100 comments? Read the post and the click here for my follow-up response.

Who doesn't want to have more money? Most everyone it seems! Just look at their spending and borrowing habits. Clearly these people want to be poor. They think poor. They act poor. They're comfortable being poor. They've made the decision to value their lifestyle over and above their financial and personal well being. And who can blame them? Saving and growing money is hard.

That's right. I just told you that adding to your personal fortune is HARD! That's the truth. Too many people are out there giving others positive reinforcement and pats on the back for making bad financial decisions. I'm not going to do that here. I want to tell you the truth.

Obviously the following 7 tips are not universal, but most people will be able to leverage at least a few of them in their day to day life. If you do follow them, I can promise you that you will cut the amount of money flowing out of your personal empire and be able to build a better and more secure life. These tips are hard, but they are also simple.

1. Cut the Starbucks.

Starbucks started in 1971 and, within just a couple of decades, grew to become an international phenomenon. That's great! Good for them. Bad for you.

In order for them to plant their nearly 6000 stores they had to addict you to a $5 a day cup of overpriced caffeine. Some may call it evil, others might call it good marketing, but the reality is that it kills your ability to save and invest money. How much damage does it do?

Lets suppose that you were able to save the $5 you spend a day on Starbucks or some equivalent product and invest it in a savings account with a conservative return of 4%. Lets say you just do this for the first six months of the year and then go back to your normal habit after that. How much money would you have in your account at the end of the year?

Over $950! That's right. In just a year, with 6 months of sacrifice, you'd have close to $1000 and have earned about $30 in interest. Neat, huh? Think of what giving it up all together could do!

2. Follow the 5% rule.

I'm going to assume you have some personal debt (most people, do you know). Maybe some student loans, couple of credit cards, mortgage, 2nd mortgage, 3rd mortgage, car loan, yacht get the idea. The 5% rule says you should put into savings 5% of the funds you use to pay your recurring loan payments. How's that? Well lets say you pay $700 a month on loans (including money going to principle), following the 5% rule you would need to put $35 into savings. Why? Because not having money in savings is why you took out loans in the first place! Don't want that to happen again, do we?

Notice that, over 10 years, that $35 a month could turn into over $5000 in savings.

3. Don't be fooled by "deals."

A while back I nearly signed up for a preferred membership with Barns and Noble. It offered me 10% off all my book buys and only cost $25 a year. Only costs $25 a year! What am I, an idiot? I'd have to buy $250 worth of books to even cover the cost. If I really plan on buying that many books in a year I should darn will prepare ahead of time and buy them online, getting free shipping and up to 35% of the cover price at places like and

Remember the golden rule that companies follow when they offer you a deal: do unto your customers that which makes you more money. Don't buy memberships. Don't buy stuff simply because its "on sale." Don't buy anything off of TV. And, more importantly, don't buy anything unnecessary at the time its being sold to you. If you need it now you'll need it in two weeks. If you don't need it in two weeks (or don't remember to go back and buy it) you've just saved yourself some money.

4. Use Credit Cards as a form of Payment, not Credit.

Last year I got a DiscoverCard and used it throughout the year on every-month purchases such as gas, food, and various types of entertainment. I faithfully paid the full amount each time I got a bill, and do you know what happened? By Christmas I'd earned enough of a dividend (1% on all purchases, 5% on certain types of purchases) to pay for nearly all the presents I purchased.

You don't have to go with Discover. Chase offers a rewards Visa and Citi offers a rewards Mastercard.

Remember, the worst thing you can possibly do for yourself is to dip your hand in super heated melted plastic. Especially if it's pink. Ugh! The second worst thing you can do is carry a balance on your credit cards!

5. Open a high yield online savings account.

My bank pays me just less than 1% interest on my savings account. Nice of them huh? This is up considerably from a few years ago when finding money in parking lots brought in a lot more income than savings accounts. Now days there are a number of competitive online savings accounts (still FDIC insured) that offer rates as high as 4.25%. If you don't have one of these accounts you should get one. ING offers a good one at 4.75% (for a limited time, 3.8% normally). Emigrant Direct as one that pays 4.25%. And HSBC has one paying 4.25% with $25 sign up bonus (use promo code: start) and an ATM card. All are free and simple to use with your existing checking account.

Update: You can view even more details about these savings accounts in my post here.

6. Save before you pay your bills.

I don't care how much money you save, just start saving. Make saving the first thing you do after pay day. The more money "out of your hands," the better. If you don't have an extra $20 to spend on movie night, so much the better! Try going for a walk or watching the sunset instead. Hollywood won't be the worse for wear and you'll be in better financial shape for it. Do whatever you can to not tempt yourself to spend money when you don't need to. And "need to" is defined as pre-ordained in the budget.

7. Choose a less consumer-centric lifestyle.

You know you've done it. You know you've laughed at a friend when they got all caught up in the latest reality TV show, clothing style, music artist, or "Warcrack" video game. But did you stop to think that you get played by the same big money cycle of consumerism everyday? Why not stop? Then you can laugh at all your friends as they mindlessly return to Walmart again and again. Ho! Ho!

Ok, so laughing may be kind of cruel. How about leading them? Listen when I tell you that the George Foreman Grill, the subscription to Esquire, the flat screen TV, the Herbal Essences Shampoo, the entire collection of McDonald's Beanie Babies, and the latest and greatest in trash bag technology is never going to make you happy or attractive. Look at the people you know who have them. Are they happy? Or do they just want more stuff?

Ask yourself one question right now, do you want an IPOD with 5000 of your favorite (legal!) music tracks or would you rather be able to pay for treatment to help a loved one suffering from severe back pain? Well I can tell you this much, you're not going to get closer to either goal with that pack of Bubblicious gum in your hand. So put it back on the shelf, pay for the stuff you need, and run! Run for your life. Run for your health. Run for your happiness. And run for your fortune!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Most Expensive Cities - 2006

I don't live in one, and I can't say I'd want to. Still, even if it is the most expense the likely hood is that it is creating enough industry and jobs that as long as you don't work at McDonald's you can probably make a go of it. I know it would sure be nice to take my salary and live like a King in Montana, but what can you do?

Here is a question though, since some of the cheapest places to live are in Asia, would you consider moving there to be able to live for a lot less or do you think the risk of not having a viable job is too high? I have a friend who's moving to China where he can still work as a high-paid DBA but the value of his money will be a lot more.


Would you buy stock in you?

Yahoo has a news story up suggesting that perhaps you should apply the same financial ratios that investors use when looking at companies to look at your own financial situation. One of these is the one used by mortgage lenders to measure how badly they want to give you a loan. Typically they look at your total debt payments with the hope that they are below 36% of your income and that less than 28% of your income will have to go to housing.

I did a some quick math (I own a Condo so there are a few other expenses beyond just the mortgage payment) and figured out that housing costs amount to about 21% of my monthly budget. All debt payments are about 25%. As it stands right now I'd like to have those numbers down to 18% and 20% in the next five years.

What about you? How do you match up?

From the article:

As people age, they should reduce their debt-to-income ratio by paying down their mortgage and aggressively cutting auto and credit card debt. At age 45, debts should equal your annual salary. By retirement at age 65, those debts should be zero