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Consumerism Commentary



Consumerism Commentary offers daily articles focusing on personal finance and living.



Last Build Date: Thu, 08 Dec 2016 05:16:46 +0000

 



How One Cafe is Changing Financial Wellness for Chicagoans

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 05:15:18 +0000

Last week, I walked into a hip coffee shop nestled between Ann Taylor Loft and Urban Outfitters. Located in a family-friendly Chicago neighborhood on a cheerful, bustling street, the cafe didn’t appear to be anything other than typical. However, I soon learned that Next Door Cafe was offering a lot more than your run-of-the-mill espresso. […]

The post How One Cafe is Changing Financial Wellness for Chicagoans appeared first on Consumerism Commentary.




Year End Reminder: Change Your 401(k) Contribution Level Now

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 14:00:26 +0000

At the end of the year, most people in the United States are thinking about the holidays and the potential credit card bills for gifts and family visits. One good way to control this potentially stressful month is to take some time to breathe and get your own finances in order. There are several actions […]

The post Year End Reminder: Change Your 401(k) Contribution Level Now appeared first on Consumerism Commentary.




Will a Bonus Make You Pay Higher Federal Taxes?

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 15:05:02 +0000

With the holidays approaching, many companies are preparing their bonus checks. However, some employees who are looking forward to their bonuses are also concerned about tax consequences. I gave up this “extra” part of my corporate pay, in exchange for the benefit of working for myself, when I left my day job a few years […]

The post Will a Bonus Make You Pay Higher Federal Taxes? appeared first on Consumerism Commentary.




Will Traditional Retirement Accounts Allow You to Retire Early?

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 14:07:00 +0000

If you plan to retire early, you may be wondering whether it makes sense to invest in traditional retirement accounts, such as employer-sponsored 401(k)s/403(b)s and IRAs/Roth IRAs. The speculation comes into play because there’s an early withdrawal penalty when you take money out of these accounts before age 59 ½. I argue that it’s still […]

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Can You Earn More With a Fidelity CD Ladder?

Fri, 25 Nov 2016 17:40:40 +0000

It’s been a long time since banks offered savings accounts with decent returns. The Fed may raise interest this year, meaning rates could finally rise. In the meantime, what do you do? If you’re looking for a quick way to create an investment vehicle that is FDIC insured, and promises greater returns than online savings, […]

The post Can You Earn More With a Fidelity CD Ladder? appeared first on Consumerism Commentary.




A Penny Saved is $1,000 Earned

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 15:33:46 +0000

Are you the type of person who picks up coins on the street? Even pennies? Well, I’d encourage you to step up the habit — and the rest of you may want to take up this hobby, at least for the next few weeks. Ally Bank has a fun scavenger hunt promotion going on right […]

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Amazon Prime: Is It Worth the Cost?

Mon, 14 Nov 2016 21:36:50 +0000

In 2006, I was receiving about five deliveries a week from online shopping orders. What can I say? I was an online shopaholic. Amazon Prime was only a year old at the time, and I became tired of hoarding filler items in order to qualify for the $25 free shipping minimum. To me, receiving free […]

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Trump’s Childcare Plan: How the DCSA Will Affect You

Sat, 12 Nov 2016 07:22:49 +0000

Whether you’re taking care of multiple children, a disabled spouse, or elderly parents, you’ve likely experienced the high cost of dependent care firsthand. With expenses from babysitters to after school programs, it can be difficult to stay ahead of all your other financial obligations while spending on dependent care. To help make dependent care more […]

The post Trump’s Childcare Plan: How the DCSA Will Affect You appeared first on Consumerism Commentary.




11 Ways to Start Preparing for the Holiday Shopping Pinch

Wed, 09 Nov 2016 23:26:00 +0000

Does your New Year usually start with a resolution to pay off all that debt you racked up during the holiday shopping season? If so, you’re certainly not alone. Holiday retail sales increased 3% in 2015, and many consumers carried that extra spending into the new year in the form of new debt. The key […]

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Today’s Best Bank Deals, Promotions, and Bonuses

Mon, 07 Nov 2016 15:44:29 +0000

When opening a bank account, there are a few things you should be looking for: low (or no) fees, the highest interest rates possible, and promotional bonus offers. With the latter, you can often score free money without doing anything extra, which is a win in my book. After all, promotional bonus cash is better […]

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Personal and Professional Development: 17 Hacks to Help You Keep Up

Fri, 04 Nov 2016 19:31:00 +0000

We all have those times when it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Between juggling work responsibilities, being there for the family, and maintaining relationships with friends, life stretches us thin. Spending time on personal and professional development can feel like a luxury that we simply cannot afford. But in reality, most […]

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401(k) Contribution Limits for 2017

Wed, 02 Nov 2016 06:03:20 +0000

The 401(k) contribution limits and maximums are increasing in 2015, and there are other tax changes to 401(k) to note.

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A Review of the Personal Capital Financial Advisory Dashboard

Tue, 01 Nov 2016 12:00:07 +0000

Looking for a way to simplify how you manage your finances, from your spending to your credit cards to your investments? Personal Capital’s financial dashboard may be just the tool for you. This all-around financial management tool is easy to use, tracks all of your financial information, and offers investment advising, to boot. The free […]

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2017 Federal Income Tax Brackets and Marginal Rates

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 16:20:09 +0000

As tax year 2016 comes to a close, your focus is probably on filing that tax return after the new year (remember that your deadline is April 17, 2017). The IRS may end up confusing some people, though, as they just released the tax brackets, deduction limits, and marginal rates for tax year 2017. Keep […]

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How to Budget for Annual Expenses

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 12:50:00 +0000

Certain expenses can sneak up on you, especially if you don’t run into them too often. For example, a new passport costs $110, but renewal only comes around once every 10 years. Other recurring bills like property taxes, car registration, and insurance payments can also make an unexpected dent in your wallet when they pop […]

The post How to Budget for Annual Expenses appeared first on Consumerism Commentary.




33 Great Work-From-Home Jobs (That Are Legitimate)

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 12:30:00 +0000

A reader recently wrote in asking about part-time, work-from-home jobs. The good news is that these jobs are easier than ever to find. The bad news is that they may also be more competitive than ever! Telecommuting is becoming easier, as technology advances and businesses see the advantages of hiring a remote workforce. In fact, […]

The post 33 Great Work-From-Home Jobs (That Are Legitimate) appeared first on Consumerism Commentary.




Think Only the Rich Have Accounts at Goldman Sachs? Think Again

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 12:35:00 +0000

You’re probably familiar with Goldman Sachs, at some level. The multinational banking firm, best known for investment banking, goes all the way back to 1869. But did you know that they also have a web-based arm known as Goldman Sachs Bank USA, or simply GS Bank? It’s an online bank that pays far higher rates […]

The post Think Only the Rich Have Accounts at Goldman Sachs? Think Again appeared first on Consumerism Commentary.




Can Betterment Portfolios Earn You An Extra 15 Percent?

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 15:40:07 +0000

What if you could increase your after-tax investment returns by 15% over 30 years? Betterment is claiming you can do just that with their Tax-Coordinated Portfolio. What’s more, they claim that it can even work across several accounts at the same time. Interested? Read on… Who is Betterment? Betterment is a robo-advisor. In fact, it […]

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Fidelity Study Finds Millennials are Moving Back Home in Droves

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 14:19:13 +0000

Ah, millennials. They are the first generation to grow up with iPhones, FaceTime, and GPS apps. Most of their banking is done online and, thanks to Amazon, the majority of web purchases arrive at their doorstep within 2 business days. They hit the generational jackpot when it comes to convenience and ease, it would seem. […]

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Ally Celebrates National Online Bank Day with CD Bonus Rate

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 15:50:00 +0000

In case you didn’t know, today is National Online Bank Day! Exciting, huh? (Don’t worry, I didn’t have it marked on my calendar, either). Some online banks are offering promotional discounts and interest rates to celebrate, with Ally being one of them. Ally Bank is one of the more popular online banking institutions, offering a […]

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How to Find the Most Affordable Cell Phone Plans

Mon, 10 Oct 2016 13:46:00 +0000

Over the past few years, cell phone providers have declared an out-and-out war to win over consumers. This spells good things for the consumers, who can now take advantage of more low-cost cell phone plans than ever. These days, even the “big four” cell providers — Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon — are lowering their […]

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How to Get Your Credit Report for Free

Tue, 04 Oct 2016 12:03:00 +0000

Many consumers know that they can get a free annual credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. But this report only shows your credit report, not your actual credit score. When you go to get your free annual credit report, the credit bureau will likely ask if you […]

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An Overview of The CFPB Mortgage Protection Rules

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 12:36:00 +0000

Beginning in January 2014, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, issued new rules to protect mortgage borrowers. The rules deal primarily with what is known as the “servicing” side of the mortgage process. That’s everything that happens after a mortgage closes, from setting up escrows and crediting payments to foreclosures. There are nine rules […]

The post An Overview of The CFPB Mortgage Protection Rules appeared first on Consumerism Commentary.




How to Afford Healthcare in Retirement

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 15:44:56 +0000

Retirement is a huge financial undertaking, as we all know. It requires plenty of planning to ensure that all of your needs will be met once your career, and working income, ends. It needs to be able to cover your costs of living, some fun money to actually enjoy your years, and expenses such as […]

The post How to Afford Healthcare in Retirement appeared first on Consumerism Commentary.




What Does the New iPhone 7 Cost and How Can You Pay Less?

Sat, 17 Sep 2016 03:09:43 +0000

On September 7, 2016, Apple unveiled the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Trendsetters will have been eagerly awaiting today, the 16th, when the new iPhones start being shipped; preorders started on the 9th. There is no doubt that this launch will be successful. Apple occupies 40% of the smartphone market share — the […]

The post What Does the New iPhone 7 Cost and How Can You Pay Less? appeared first on Consumerism Commentary.




2016 Federal Income Tax Brackets and Marginal Rates

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 15:48:14 +0000

Can you believe we’re already in September? The year has flown by, and IRS Tax Year 2016 will soon be coming to a close. While your filing deadline isn’t until April 17, 2017 (the 15th will fall on a Saturday), now is the perfect time to begin thinking about your taxes, maxing out your retirement […]

The post 2016 Federal Income Tax Brackets and Marginal Rates appeared first on Consumerism Commentary.




Former ITT Tech Students Find Hope in Available Options

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 13:36:00 +0000

After 50 years of providing higher education services, ITT Technical Institute closed its doors abruptly in September, without offering its students a fall semester. With more than 8,000 ITT Tech employees now jobless and all students left without a clear plan, this news comes as a shock to many. Exactly What Happened? In a news […]

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2017 IRS Standard Deductions and Exemptions

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 23:21:18 +0000

Most taxpayers can choose between itemizing tax deductions to reduce taxable income, which requires accurate record-keeping and support, and taking the standard deduction. The standard tax deduction is a fixed amount that reduces the amount of money on which year-end taxes are calculated. Generally, if you can show that you’ve had more deductible expenses than […]

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Wells Fargo Fined for Creating 2 Million Fake Accounts to Collect Fraudulent Fees

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 15:16:38 +0000

Everyone hates bank maintenance fees. (If you don’t, email me – I have a few you’re welcome to take.) So, what would you think if you discovered that your bank had been charging you fees for an account you never opened? In fact, THEY secretly submitted an application and opened that account on your behalf. […]

The post Wells Fargo Fined for Creating 2 Million Fake Accounts to Collect Fraudulent Fees appeared first on Consumerism Commentary.




Why 60,000 Morgan Stanley Employees are Suing Over Their 401(k) Accounts’ Management

Mon, 29 Aug 2016 13:21:06 +0000

If you’re unhappy with your 401(k), rest easy… you’re not alone. In fact, on August 19, over 60,000 employees joined up and filed a class action lawsuit against their employer, Morgan Stanley. Their reason: questionably managed and poorly performing 401(k) plans. It’s one thing to ask workers to stay late or forget to restock the […]

The post Why 60,000 Morgan Stanley Employees are Suing Over Their 401(k) Accounts’ Management appeared first on Consumerism Commentary.




Another Insurance Giant Withdraws from Obamacare — What Does This Mean for You?

Tue, 23 Aug 2016 18:17:48 +0000

This year has been a rough one for health insurance companies of all sizes. With the recent news of Aetna withdrawing from most of its Obamacare exchanges, many Americans are beginning to worry about their shrinking options, skyrocketing premiums, and where they’ll even find services. Scarily enough, Aetna is not alone in its decision, and […]

The post Another Insurance Giant Withdraws from Obamacare — What Does This Mean for You? appeared first on Consumerism Commentary.




Cheap Flight Day: Now’s the Time to Plan Those Last-Minute Getaways

Fri, 19 Aug 2016 21:09:00 +0000

A few weeks ago, Rick Seany of FareCompare published an article about the upcoming Cheap Flight Day. This certainly piqued my interest. While I have heard of National PB&J Day (April 2) and Men Make Dinner Day (the 1st Thursday in November — mark your calendars, ladies), I hadn’t ever heard of an airfare discount […]

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9 ways to reduce student loan debt before you owe

Tue, 17 May 2016 08:00:58 +0000

It’s late May, and a new crop of students is preparing to go on to college. One of my less pleasant memories was the agonizing process of securing financing so I could pursue my degree. Though it’s many years later, I’d like to share what I learned that can make paying student loans more manageable […]

The post 9 ways to reduce student loan debt before you owe appeared first on Consumerism Commentary.




How Much to Save for Retirement in Your 30s, 40s and 50s

Thu, 05 May 2016 03:32:57 +0000

Saving for retirement is a long game, but the idea of preparing for something decades away is counterintuitive for many of us. However, consistent saving is crucial for retirement planning. Here’s expert advice for how to prepare in your 30s, 40s and 50s. Your 30s Saving for retirement really should begin in earnest during your […]

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Travel reward credit cards — more vacation for your money

Fri, 25 Mar 2016 08:00:36 +0000

If travel is in your plans, you may want to know about this offer from American Express. It’s the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card, and it offers 25,000 bonus points when you make $3,000 in purchases in the first three months after opening your account. You can redeem those points for free nights when it […]

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2015 Federal Income Tax Brackets and Marginal Rates

Tue, 22 Mar 2016 21:05:19 +0000

Tax Day 2016 for IRS Tax Year 2015, also known as your return filing deadline, is April 18. If you haven’t yet filed, here are the IRS tax rates for your 2015 earnings with background and commentary. These change from year to year to protect against something the Tax Foundation calls “bracket creep” or when […]

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The Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2016

Tue, 22 Mar 2016 13:00:57 +0000

Cash back credit cards can help consumers practice responsible spending while earning a little extra for their efforts when used properly. The days of earning 5 percent cash back for all credit card purchases may be just a memory, but the smart use of credit cards can still be profitable for diligent consumers. You may […]

The post The Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2016 appeared first on Consumerism Commentary.




Best Time to Buy a House

Tue, 15 Mar 2016 08:00:42 +0000

In chemistry, a catalyst is something that triggers a reaction — but the nature of the reaction itself depends on having the right elements in place to respond to the catalyst. What brought to mind that tattered remnant of high school chemistry was thinking back on buying my first house. I’ll explain how I got […]

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Why Lending Rates Can’t Stay Low Forever

Sat, 20 Feb 2016 09:00:07 +0000

The Federal Reserve sure gets a lot of media attention. And yes, the discussion of when and if the Fed is going to raise interest rates can get a little tedious, but it still probably deserves some of your attention because interest rates are woven so deeply into the fabric of household finances. The Fed […]

The post Why Lending Rates Can’t Stay Low Forever appeared first on Consumerism Commentary.




Balance Transfer Cards for Fair, Average or Excellent Credit

Tue, 05 Jan 2016 09:00:53 +0000

[Editorial note: This offer was last updated on July 13, 2016.] Are you still wrestling down holiday debt? Zero-interest balance transfer credit card offers can help you meet this challenge, but only if you know what to look for. Otherwise, you will end up paying interest anyway, which is exactly what the credit card companies […]

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Financial Upgrades You Need After Becoming Parents

Fri, 25 Dec 2015 09:00:28 +0000

New baby? No doubt this new arrival has turned every aspect of your life upside down in the best possible way. Now is the time to make sure your financial house is in order. Here’s a 10-step account and financial checklist to lay the groundwork for your little one’s successful future. New account checklist for […]

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Best Online Savings Accounts for December 2016

Wed, 16 Dec 2015 00:15:31 +0000

The best high-yield online savings accounts offer strong interest rates and great customer service, making them a popular option for savers. Studies also show online savings accounts often come with lower fees. Read More “High-yield” is unfortunately a bit of a misnomer these days; a decade ago, interest rates were 4% and 5% among select […]

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Command and Control: From Baseball Pitches to Your Money

Mon, 27 Apr 2015 16:40:43 +0000

When your life is out of control, nothing seems to go right. You have the worst luck, and you can’t seem to get ahead with anything, whether a project, a goal, or even simple things like taking care of daily tasks. Regaining control of your life is imperative. For your finances, you can do that […]

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