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Archive for November 2011

4 steps to picking an investment club

Published 11/30/11  (Modified 12/13/11)

4 steps to picking an investment club By Joshua Wong

Before the dot-com bust of the 1990s and way before the recent recession, I was asked by a co-worker if I wanted to join an investment club. I had often heard him and others discussing stocks during lunch breaks, and it was always a lively conversation that was fun to join.

The group of about a dozen people had an opening for a new member--as most investment clubs do when a member leaves--and he thought I'd be a good addition to the club. I wasn't looking for investment tips or for ideas on how to invest online, but for a chance to learn about stocks with people I knew...

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3 tips to optimize your holiday spending

Published 11/28/11  (Modified 12/12/11)

3 tips to optimize your holiday spending By Justin Boyle

Black Friday gets its name from the huge volume of retail sales that takes place on the day after Thanksgiving. That is, retailers can count on a massive influx of business to put their ledgers back into the black. To add even more income to the pile, retailers throw big sales and offer great deals to bring larger numbers of people through the doors.

Some of the deals available on Black Friday sound so good that you might be willing to put yourself in the red to make sure you catch them. This quick guide to managing your money throughout the holiday season can help keep your credit safe from the Black Friday rush, as well as leave you sitting pretty when January rolls around...

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Can you make money off your credit card?

Published 11/22/11  (Modified 12/10/13)

Can you make money off your credit card? By Justin Boyle

Can you make money off of your credit card? For years, I didn't realize that you could.

When I was first introduced to personal banking products such as credit cards and savings accounts decades ago, I spent some idle time wondering if the seemingly tiny percentages called "interest rates" could amount to any kind of real money. I was sort of a math kid, so I worked out that the 1.59 percent APY on the $50 I'd just deposited with my neighborhood bank branch would earn me 79-1/2 cents if I let it sit unspent in my account for a full year. Oh well, I thought, maybe they'll round up that half-penny and I'll get a cool $0.80.

It was a surprise to me to learn, much later, that sharp-eyed, enterprising customers have figured out how to use credit cards to turn earned interest into significant supplemental income...

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Toys with hidden costs

Published 11/15/11  (Modified 11/16/11)

Toys with hidden costs By Joshua Wong

I bought my son a Leapster Explorer last Christmas (actually, Santa delivered it) and while the upfront cost was expected, the ancillary costs of this toy started to add up fast.

We bought two games to go with it from the start, but soon enough our son's interest in those waned, so we agreed to buy him two more. At $25 each, the hidden costs of owning a game system for my son's little hands were increasing. That's where we stopped, but there are many other toys with accessories that can get parents wishing that Santa had left the toy at the North Pole...

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Is your bank's customer service going down the tubes?

Published 11/8/11  (Modified 12/2/11)

Is your bank's customer service going down the tubes? By Justin Boyle

We've all heard "the customer is always right." You might go as far as to say that we live in the age of the customer. Customer service is emphasized as a driver of business success in several industries in the U.S., and companies tend to take that to heart. I spent a few years in the customer service trade, myself, helping put a pleasant face and voice on computer support, sandwiches and Cadillacs.

Nearly every worker in a commercial environment, from butchers to bakers to BLT makers, is trained to consider the customer first. With this being the case, why are members of the online community crying out about poor customer service from the best banks? I got a hold of an expert in the field of customer service, as well as a banking executive, to try and sort it out...

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Does your bank want you off their books?

Published 11/1/11  (Modified 12/2/11)

Does your bank want you off their books? By Justin Boyle

When I moved to Texas, I needed a new checking account. I had previously lived in Phoenix, Arizona, and had almost exclusively used a local credit union to store and borrow money. Wells Fargo was the only option I could find that offered a no-fee account (at the time, in 2004, they did), so I entered the world of the national bank customer.

I harbor no regrets about opening that account, especially since it served to establish in-state residency and made it possible for me to afford to go back to school the following year. Now, though, some Wells Fargo customers might begin to have second thoughts about their choice of banking institution. Let's take a look at why.

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