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My Money Blog

Personal Finance and Investing Blog

Last Build Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:35:32 +0000


Berkshire Hathaway vs. S&P 500: Shrinking Edge?

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 04:00:34 +0000

It is well-known that the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) is Warren Buffett, and that its long-term performance has crushed the S&P 500. This is usually illustrated with an impressive chart like this one from Business Insider: I’m currently reading A Man for All Markets by Edward Thorp. Among his many impressive accomplishments, Thorp even […]

Big List of Free Consumer Data Reports (2/2): See Your Confidential Rental History, Insurance, & Employment Data

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 06:14:07 +0000

Links updated 2018. Here is the second part of my big list of free consumer reports from over 50 different reporting agencies. The first part included your credit, banking, and subprime lending-related information. This part includes your housing, insurance, and employment history. Request a free copy every 12 months of what these databases have stored […]

Sam’s Club: Free 3-Month Membership Extension (or Full Refund Upon Cancellation)

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 04:25:11 +0000

Sam’s Club is offering all of their members a free 3-month extension if you fill out the linked form by March 31, 2018. This is in response to their sudden closure of 63 Sam’s Club locations (about 10% of all stores). Alternatively, you can cancel your membership and receive a full refund via electronic gift […]

50% of American Households Don’t Own Any Stocks At All

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 19:29:27 +0000

Here’s another stat to add to your knowledge. For roughly half of Americans, the stock market’s record highs don’t help at all, according to a recent Washington Post article. This chart shows that half of US household have no exposure to stocks, either directly or indirectly: Direct vs. indirect. The academic paper by Dr. Wolff […]

Big List of Free Consumer Data Reports (1/2): See Your Confidential Credit, Banking, and Payday Lending Data

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 06:19:17 +0000

Links updated for 2018. Since these are available every 12 months, it is a good idea to check these near or around the same time each year. A lot of companies make their money by collecting and selling data – your personal data. In the past, it was often difficult if not impossible to see […]

Markets Rise and Fall: Is Your Portfolio Ready For Both?

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 05:00:36 +0000

It would be great if you could invest in things with high and reliable returns, going up and up consistently like clockwork and without worry. Unfortunately, that’s usually the sign of a Ponzi scheme. The chart above illustrates what you have to deal with in the real world. It shows how the S&P 500 (1949-2016) […]

What If You Invested $10,000 Every Year For the Last 10 Years? 2008-2017 Edition

Tue, 09 Jan 2018 04:00:51 +0000

Instead of just looking at one year of returns, here’s an annual exercise that helps you look at the bigger picture. You may know the 10-year historical return of the S&P 500, but most of us didn’t just invest a big lump sum of money a decade ago, and most of us don’t just invest […]

Best Interest Rates on Cash – January 2018

Sun, 07 Jan 2018 20:14:08 +0000

Short-term interest rates are rising. Megabanks make billions by pay you nothing for your idle cash. Here is my monthly roundup of the best safe rates available, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. Check out my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to get an idea of how much additional interest you’d earn if you switched over. […]

Navy Federal Credit Union 0% APR No Balance Transfer Fee Promotion

Thu, 04 Jan 2018 20:40:38 +0000

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) has a limited-time promotion where both new and existing NFCU credit cardholders can get 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months. You must transfer a non-Navy Federal credit card balance before February 28, 2018. (All NavyFed cards now have no balance transfer fee, but the APR is usually […]

Citi Simplicity Card Review: 0% for 18 Months (1.5 Years), No Late Fees, No Penalty Rates

Thu, 04 Jan 2018 20:35:31 +0000

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to pay down debt. Rewards-earning credit cards may not be optimal for those carrying balances and thus more impacted by 18% interest rates than a relatively puny 2% back on purchases. Our partner Citi offers the Citi Simplicity® Card, which is uniquely suited for those that want […]

H&R Block Desktop Tax Software 2017: Fed + State $20 (1/4 Flash Sale)

Thu, 04 Jan 2018 17:51:55 +0000

Deal of the Day again 1/4/18. The benefit of “old-school” desktop tax software is that it doesn’t require your Social Security Number and financial details to be stored in the cloud. Here’s a limited-time deal on H&R Block Tax Software 2017 (download or physical CD). Amazon has H&R Block Deluxe Federal + State for $19.99. […]

CIT Bank Review: Premier High Yield Savings 1.55% APY, 11-Month No Penalty CD 1.55% APY

Wed, 03 Jan 2018 19:30:07 +0000

Update: Premier High Yield Savings now up to 1.55% APY, with no minimum balance requirement ($100 minimum to open). CIT Bank (not to be confused with Citi Bank) has become one of the larger online-only banks with a multi-year history of competitive rates. They don’t offer a checking account, so their products are mostly designed […]

S&P 500 Monthly Total Returns 1990-2017: First 14-Month Win Streak

Wed, 03 Jan 2018 19:24:45 +0000

I mentioned in my 2017 asset class roundup that the S&P 500 went up every single month in 2017 and how that was the first time that had ever happened. According to the WSJ Daily Shot, the S&P 500 is actually on a 14-month positive streak. Here’s a chart showing the monthly total returns of […]

Discounted Apple iPhone $29 Battery Replacement: Available Now

Wed, 03 Jan 2018 06:50:21 +0000

In case you missed it, Apple disclosed that their operating system slows down the phone in some cases if the battery gets too old. As part of their official explanation and apology, Apple has reduced the price of a OEM battery replacement to $29, cheaper than even most third-party repair shops. Apple is reducing the […]

Healthywage Review: Bet on Yourself, Get Paid To Lose Weight

Tue, 02 Jan 2018 19:35:16 +0000

It’s that time of year, and since I eventually lost 50 pounds with the help of this and other weight-loss betting sites (and have kept it off since), and I wanted to share my experiences including both positive and negative aspects. After reading academic studies which found that financial incentives were effective in helping people […]

DietBet Review: Using Money To Motivate You To Lose Weight

Tue, 02 Jan 2018 19:32:50 +0000

It’s that time of year, and since I eventually lost 50 pounds with the help of this and other weight-loss betting sites (and have kept it off since), and I wanted to share my experiences including both positive and negative aspects. runs weight-loss challenges where I bet my own hard-earned cash that I could […]

Investment Returns By Asset Class, 2017 Year-End Review

Mon, 01 Jan 2018 20:58:06 +0000

Happy New Year! As the markets have closed for the last time in 2017, it’s time for a year-end review. While I do rebalance my portfolio quarterly, I only dig into performance numbers once a year. That’s a big change from a decade ago, when I would calculate my net worth down to the dollar […]

New Tax Bill: Pay State and Property Taxes By End of 2017

Thu, 28 Dec 2017 19:14:08 +0000

The new tax bill that takes effect in 2018 raises the standard deduction and caps certain itemized deductions. Therefore, if you will itemize your deduction in 2017, you may want to grab whatever you can this year to get the full value of those deductions. (This assumes you are not subject to AMT.) Here’s a […]

My Money Blog Portfolio Asset Allocation, 2017 Year-End Update

Wed, 27 Dec 2017 21:47:29 +0000

Here is a year-end update on my investment portfolio holdings for 2017. This is my last-minute checkup in case I need to rebalance to make another other tax-related moves. This includes tax-deferred 401k/403b/IRAs and taxable brokerage holdings, but excludes things like our primary home, cash reserves, and a few other side investments. The goal of […]

529 Plans Will Allow Private School K-12 Tax-Free Withdrawals

Tue, 26 Dec 2017 20:41:38 +0000

Starting in 2018, qualified educational expenses for 529 plans will include up to $10,000 a year in tuition and expenses for primary and secondary school expenses (public, private, or religious). Previously, you could only use it towards qualified college expenses. There were also some related changes to ABLE accounts for individuals with special needs – […]

Blue Cash Preferred from American Express Review: 6% Cash Back on Groceries

Fri, 22 Dec 2017 04:08:18 +0000

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is a cash back rewards card with a unique feature that still hasn’t been copied by competitors: 6% cash back at US stand-alone supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases. If you spend $500 average per month on supermarkets, that alone will earn you $360 […]

Healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts: Last-Minute FSA Eligible Ideas

Wed, 20 Dec 2017 19:08:42 +0000

Updated. Here’s my annual reminder to get back all the money you put into your Healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts (and other such accounts) before the end of the year. First, here are some possible exceptions: Some plans allow a grace period until March 15th of the following year as opposed to a December 31st deadline […]

Ally Bank 11-Month No Penalty CD Review: 1.60% APY for $25k+

Tue, 19 Dec 2017 17:55:10 +0000

(Update: As of 1/4/18, Ally has dropped some of the rates below. Please refer to their website for the most current rates.) Updated. As of 12/19/17, Ally Bank raised the rate on their 11-month No Penalty CD and their 12-month traditional CD. Here are the new interest rates for the No Penalty CD under their […]

Infographic: 529 State Tax Deduction Value Comparison Map 2017

Tue, 19 Dec 2017 04:00:27 +0000

Amongst the many things to consider at years-end is a contribution to a 529 college savings account. (I just made my contribution for kid #3.) In addition to the federal tax-free growth towards qualified college expenses, more than 30 out of 50 states offer some level of tax deductions for 529 contributions. Some require you […]

5% Cash Back Credit Cards: Rotating Categories Update 2018 Q1

Sun, 17 Dec 2017 19:48:01 +0000

Activation for 1st Quarter 2018 is now open. Last chance for Q4 2017 bonuses. The credit cards below offer a hefty 5% cash back on categories that rotate each quarter. It takes a little extra attention, but I also rack up over a hundred dollars in additional rewards per year without changing my spending habits. […]