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Archive for June 2009

June 2009: My Net Worth Update and Personal Finance Report

Published 6/29/09  (Modified 3/9/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

A few days ago, the legendary and super talented pop icon, Michael Jackson, suddenly and inexplicably passed away at the age of 50 due to cardiac arrest. After a long and glorious (but controversial) entertainment career that spanned 40 years and included the world's best selling music album of all time - "Thriller", the self anointed King of Pop was finally laid to rest in peace. Perhaps it was his enormous talent or his seemingly gentle nature, but I have always managed to overlook his eccentricities, the oddness of his perpetually changing skin color, and the lurid details of the tabloid controversies that followed him - particularly the allegations of child molestations and quirky behaviors and activities at his infamous Neverland Ranch. For me, I grew up as an adoring fan - enjoying amazing hits like "Black and White", "Billie Jean", "PYT", "Thriller", and "Jam". I will always remember Michael Jackson for his music, his stunning liquid pop locking dance moves, the ground breaking music videos, the moon walking, and his one of a kind "hee hee" falsetto squeals. Inevitably, artists in the future will continue to pay homage to Jackson by attempting to emulate his moves and his songs, but there will never be another one quite like him ever again.

Unfortunately, the story of Michael Jackson is also one of great tragedy. Aside from the eccentricities of his life and the untimeliness of his death, the man was a text book case on how absolutely not to live one's life. Despite building a massive

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How To Win The Lottery: Powerball and Mega Millions

Published 6/27/09  (Modified 6/17/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

Free Monthly Lottery Drawing: The American Dream Card From HSBC (info)

Since I was a little kid, I've always dreamed of hitting it big and winning the lottery. I'm not talking about winning the Texas Holdem poker pot at your buddy's house, or lucking out at grandma's Bingo night, but rather about�  landing one of those mega jackpots - the ones you see on TV that feature the screaming people holding the oversized checks - the Powerball's and the Mega Millions lotteries. Alas - I've yet to experience success in any type of sweepstakes or lottery drawing other than that one time I won my elementary school's carnival raffle as a kid (and even then my "prize" was simply a free lunch and movie date of sorts with my school principle). But certainly one can dream right?

For many people, winning a multi million dollar lottery jackpot is truly the ultimate once-in-a-lifetime fantasy. In light of spiking unemployment rates and the ongoing recession, some people now even see lotteries as their best and only chance to ever gain a personal net worth of a million dollars or more. But unfortunately for them and the millions of people who participate in the daily and weekly lottery drawings, the odds are astronomically stacked against them - so much so that their chances of being struck by lightening or even drowning in their own bathtubs are much higher than that of ever winning. Participants of the popular Powerball lottery currently face an unfathomable 1 in

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How To Stop Receiving Paper Junk Mail and Save Trees

Published 6/19/09  (Modified 3/9/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

After finally returning home from an extended three month overseas trip to spend time with my parents, I was greeted back home by an overweight mail box stuffed to the brim and absolutely overflowing with junk mail. Although I had authorized my mail to be temporarily redirected to my brother's address while I was away, a very great deal of unsolicited junk mailers, expired coupon booklets, and pre-approved credit card offers still mysteriously winded up in my inbox. All in all, the entire paper pile, weighing in excess of many pounds, ultimately found its way straight into my trash can in a matter of minutes - fulfilling its pointless life cycle as not only a complete waste of my personal time, but as a fruitless consumer of precious natural resources.

Save The Environment and De-clutter Your Life By Reducing Junk Mail Trash

According to online statistics from sources such as the Center for a New American Dream (CNAD), a non profit organization based in Maryland whose stated mission is to protect the environment by helping Americans develop sustainable consumption habits - simply by eliminating the amount of junk mail you receive every day can significantly reduce the amount of energy and natural resources you consume, as well as greatly reduce the landfill space usage and carbon footprint that you leave behind. For example, according to numbers provided by CNAD, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and various sources, did you know that:

  • The average American household receives unsolicited junk mail equivalent to 1.5 trees every year, which comes out
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List Of The Best Online Brokers By Smart Money 2010

Published 6/12/09  (Modified 3/9/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

Review of SmartMoney Magazine's Top Discount Brokerages Below

While I have written about the best online discount brokers in the past - reviewing what I believe to be the top brokerage companies out there for new stock and fund investors - it's always good to check out what the financial experts have to say on the subject. For almost two decades now, the editors at SmartMoney Magazine have been reviewing and releasing their annual list of the best stock brokerage companies, thoroughly researching and comparing the candidates based on a variety of key competitive factors. For customers and broker firms alike, their award wining list is always a popular read.

In this year's 18th annual broker survey, SmartMoney updated its ranked list of the best and worst brokers after conducting a variety of performance based tests and undercover research as well as reviewing the responses to surveys by the online brokerages themselves. As the folks at Smart Money remarked in this year's review - "no detail was too small" - as they poked and prodded the various available trading tools and features, even going so far as to go incognito - calling customer support lines and posing as prospective brokerage customers, while jotting down comments in regards to the quality of the phone service they received. For new and seasoned investors, this list serves as an excellent jumping off point for those on the fence and not sure which investment broker to go with or to switch to. While the exact sequencing order of the rankings

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Current FDIC and NCUA Insurance Limits For Banks and Credit Unions

Published 6/9/09  (Modified 3/9/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

Update: New FDIC and NCUA Insured Limits Extended Until January 1, 2014

After months of bank failures and gloomy economic news, we finally have some good tidings from our federal government. No, it's not another round of stimulus checks for those of you who have been hoping and waiting with bated breath, but rather, it pertains to the FDIC insurance that guarantees the safety and security of bank deposits.

The current increased FDIC insurance limits of $250,000 were scheduled to be rolled back to the previous $100,000 limits on the last day of 2009. However just recently, Congress voted to extend the deadline for four more years - through December 31, 2013. Those of us who have significant amounts of money in the bank or sizable funds invested into long term certificates of deposit (CD rates) undoubtedly have been nervously eyeing the impending December 31 expiration date of the $250,000 threshold. Thus this news ought to come as a tremendous welcomed relief. Those of us who have been considering renewing our certificates of deposit can now consider maturities with a longer time horizon without fear of falling outside of federally protected limits.

Avoid Banks That Are Not FDIC Insured, Or Credit Unions That Are Not NCUA Protected

As many of you may know, if you have money in a bank account, your bank deposits are generally insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to the maximum current limit of $250,000. Similarly, if you have money saved in a credit union account, your deposits are

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Ally Bank Review: Savings Account and No Penalty CD Rates

Published 6/5/09  (Modified 2/19/14)

By MoneyBlueBook

Review Of Ally Bank.com's High Yield Money Markets, Savings, and CD Offers

After a rather bumpy ride over the last few years, the financial institution formerly known as GMAC Bank is now Ally Bank. In mid-May 2009, the former financial lending and banking arm of General Motors took the first of what it hopes to be a series of reinvigorating steps towards distancing itself from the much criticized and tainted image of the now bankrupt auto maker.

Since then, many of you may haven noticed their recent aggressive purple-themed advertising blitz on TV spots and online ads. With the launch of Ally Bank, the company is undertaking a massive promotional effort to differentiate itself from the collectively damaged reputations of other struggling online banks in the hopes of positioning itself as a commercial advocate of honesty, transparency, and accountability. Though the former bank has been struggling mightily in the midst of the worst economic recession and subprime mortgage crisis in decades, now that it's flush with bailout funds courtesy of the federal government's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the new Ally Bank is now sufficiently stabilized to concentrate on growing its depositor base and rebuilding its image.

Currently, Ally Bank's interest rate offers are extraordinarily competitive and have been consistently dominating the high end of the bank rate spectrum. If you are willing to accept the view and belief (as you perhaps ought to) that the government's FDIC insurance protections are more than adequate to guarantee the safety and security of your banking

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