Tag Archives: banks

Free Retirement Guides from Forbes and Amazon.com

Forbes, in partnership with Amazon, has some free retirement guides available for download. These guides are only available until the end of February. Head over there to get your copies today! Make sure you save them on your computer so you can access them later. Here are some titles that are available:

The Forbes Investors Guide – A great guide here that goes over plenty of great retirement topics. They include: stocks and bonds, estate planning, mutual funds, current economy (politics), real estate, etc.

Investing in a World Gone Mad – This is an article focused on the company Thrive. Thrive is a company similar to Quicken or Mint. They allow you to download bank and credit card transactions, make a budget, plan for retirement, etc. This article has prompted me to try out the service (it’s FREE). Look for a review coming soon!

Also, many of their personal finance magazines are on sale. Head over and purchase some. I personally subscribe to Money, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and Smart Money.

Get the Best Interest Rate: A Review of MoneyAisle.com

Ever heard of Money Aisle? I didn’t before a reader asked me to check them out. It turns out, Money Aisle lets banks compete for your savings via an online auction. All you do is pick your investment (savings or CD’s), the amount you will invest, the duration of your savings (if choosing a CD), and your state.You then see a screen that lets you know what round of bidding you are on as some banks get eliminated. Once all banks but one have been eliminated, you are shown your results. You can then enter your info to get set up with the bank on the results page. Here are a few examples of my experience on the site:

Savings Accounts

I did two searches for savings account on Money Aisle. The first was for a minimum deposit of $1,000. The results came up with a bank in MA that offered a 3.55% interest rate. It turns out that that interest rate is the same that they offer on their website. So did they really “bid” for my business? I would say no.

The second search for a savings account was for a $10,000 minimum deposit. The results came up with the same bank in MA for the same interest rate. Once again, it does not seem there was any type of bidding.

Certificates of Deposit

I did two sets of searches for CD rates. The first set was for a 12-month CD for $1,000 and $10,000. The $1,000 12-month CD came back with a bank in MI that offered a rate of 3.25%. Turns out, they offer that rate on their website as well. The $10,000 12-month CD yielded the same results at the same bank.

The second set was for a 36 month CD in denominations of $1,000 and $10,000. The $1,000 CD search netted me a bank that was willing to offer me 3.5%. After searching their site, it turns out that they do not offer that rate to customers. I would have to say that they bid on that one! Their rate on their site is for 3%, a half percent difference. The search for a $10,000 CD netted me a rate of 3.21% that happened to be the same on the banks website.

Comparing it to BankRate.com

I personally still like BankRate.com. I did the same searches on their website and came up with better results. The nice thing about BankRate is that they have financial strength ratings. It turns out, most of the banks that Money Aisle recommended were not the best financially. Even though all of the banks offered at MoneyAisle are FDIC insured, unsuspecting customers may sign-up with a bank that is financially unsound.

However, it seemed that for at least one of my searches on MoneyAisle, banks actually bid for my business. I would recommend using MoneyAisle to search for some great rates (hopefully they actually bid) and then check BankRate for the stability of the bank. You can also search onĀ  BankRate to make sure you are getting the highest rate possible.

Do You Still Balance Your Checkbook? I Sure Don’t

The other day I received an interesting question from Bobbi concerning balancing a checkbook. Here it is:

With banking and statements being completely accessible online, do you still balance your checkbook on paper?

Personally, I have never really balanced my checkbook. I know that many of you will think that is outrageous, but it has always worked for me. I don’t even look at my statements online. For the past several years, I have used Quicken on a daily basis. It automatically gets my transactions for me and I don’t have to worry about writing them down. I have never overdrawn my account. I guess I would never know if one of my small transactions were wrong, but at least I keep track of the big ones with receipts. Quicken also helps me stick to a budget as it has a great budget tool in it.

My fiance still religiously balances her checkbook. I always see her doing it every week and it makes me cringe every time. She is always like 1 cent off somewhere and she goes nuts trying to find that penny. I would have easily given up at that point and just added (or subtracted) the penny from my checkbook. I just do not have the patience. Hopefully she will still let me use Quicken when we combine the money!

Have you stopped balancing your checkbook? Why or why not?

10 Things to Do When You Graduate Without a Job

When I graduated in December, I did not have a job. It was one of the worst job markets for me to graduate in. You would think that a master’s degree in financial planning would help, but most firms (ones that I would want to work for) just were not hiring. I guess the losses in the market amounted to losses in their revenue.

Because of not having a job in December, I thought of some ways to help others in my position. These are just some quick tips in order for you to stay in the game. Staying in the game (or hunt) is the best advice I can give you.

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1. Stay Positive

It’s not the end of the world! You need to relax, be positive and focus on the long run. You may not be able to find something right this instant, but if you keep your mind to it and follow some of these tips, something is bound to open up somewhere. Hopefully, it will be the job of your dreams!

2. Get a Part-time Gig

Bills still need to be paid and you cannot just sit at home on the couch. This is especially true if you are supporting someone else. Even if it’s only temporary, you need to get some type of part-time job that keeps you from going insane. If at all possible, find a job in a field that closely relates to the one you graduated in. For example, I am working part-time at H&R Block for the tax season. It’s obviously not the career path I want, but it relates closely.

3. Set Goals and Visualize

This is where you want to firmly state your goals. If your goal is to work at a top 50 ranked hospital, write it down. Visualize yourself working there and you will work even harder at that goal. As for other goals, list them and then start off with the easier ones and work your way down the list until you have reached them all. These goals can deal with your personal life as well as your career.

4. Network, Network, Network

This is a big one. Networking is a major part of finding your dream job. Knowing people who know the right people will help you get ahead in this world. I know that sounds bad and unfair but it’s the truth. I imagine many of you can agree with that. A great way to network is to join an organization in your community. Rotary is a great place to start as many business owners in your community attend these meetings. Not that great of a speaker? Start attending a local Toastmaster’s meeting. There you can work on your public speaking skills as well as meet local entrepreneurs.

5. Go a Knocking

I will be honest with you in saying that I do not trust web-related job searches. There is something about submitting my resume online that makes me feel like I lost control of my destiny. I know many companies have now gone solely to online submissions but they are just the big companies. Most of the small businesses (where most new jobs come from) still look for people the old fashioned way. I recommend you search around for the company that you would best want to work for, even if they are not hiring. Then, you should just pop in the business and introduce yourself. Bring along your resume as well! This will surely make a great impression on the business owner and if you are qualified enough, they may even make a position for you!

6. Be Willing to Make the Move

Chances are you will not find your dream job in Localtown, USA. You need to be able to say that you are willing to go anywhere. If there is a job open in a neighboring state, go for it! I know you want to stay close to family, but believe me, your future is much more important. Your family cannot support you forever.

7. Do Something Involving Your Field of Study

Another great way to stay involved in your field of study is to volunteer. Many of you may not have that option. It depends on your career choice. For example, I doubt I am going to be able to volunteer my time at the local financial planning office. However, if you are in the medical field you can visit the local nursing home or hospital. Not only will you be around the career that you love, you will also be able to NETWORK!

8. Continue Educating Yourself

I know you just probably graduated and you thought you were done with school. WRONG! In these times, you need to be constantly educating yourself. Things change in an instant now and you should always be at the top of your game. I did this when I decided to attend graduate school. Even if you have reached your peak in terms of education, start reading things in your field of expertise. Go to your local library for a list of good books. You can also search for journals that may be of interest to you. There is no better way to read about your career choice than from the individuals that are already doing it. Those are the people who contribute to journals.

9. Find Alternative Ways to Make Money In Your Field

Have you ever had an idea about something in your field that has not been done before? I sure have. This would make a great opportunity to start a small business. If your idea is great, it could turn into something amazing. Even if you do not have financial ability to start a business, if the idea is good enough you can find some financial backers. You may even want to start a blog about it. When I started this blog I had no idea that you could make money doing it. I just wanted to do it to share my knowledge to the world. Of course my blog is to new to make money but I still love doing it. It also keeps me up-to-date with my profession as I am constantly writing and reading about things in financial planning.

10. Be Frugal

Learning to become frugal is very important when one does not have a job. My fiance and I are working very hard at that right now. Without a steady income, some things are just going to have to wait until you get the right career. Now is not the time to be buying a car, renting that big condo, getting the sports package on TV, etc. You need to learn to buckle down and only live on the necessities. You will find that it will help you later on in your life as well. You will be want to be debt free and you will ultimately have a lot of money in the bank!

What Color Is Your Parachute? 2009: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers is a great book if you are searching for a job. It’s good for new job seekers as well as the seasoned ones.

Make the Most of Your FDIC Insurance Limits

On October 3, 2008, Congress passed a bill that temporarily increases the FDIC insurance limits. An updated post can be seen here.

With the recent collapse of IndyMac, a bank based in California, I think now is a good time to explain how FDIC insurance works and how much you are covered for.

The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) insures deposits for most banks and savings institutions. In the event that you bank should fail, the FDIC will step in and insure your deposits up to a set limit. The limit for deposits is still set at $100,000 per insured per institution. So if you have a money market account at ABC bank, that account will be covered for $100,000. In other words, if ABC bank goes belly up, you only $100,000 of your deposits will be insured. If you hold several accounts in only your name at ABC bank, you will still only get $100,000 in coverage. For example, if you have 3 savings accounts with $500,000 each in them (a total of $1.5 million) you only have FDIC insurance of $100,000. If you have accounts that are titled with someone else, that account gets additional FDIC coverage. For example, if you have $100,000 in a single account (only in your name) and $100,000 in a joint account with your spouse, you will have $100,000 in FDIC insurance for each account. Here are some more examples that may be easier to understand.

1st Example

Sergio

$25,000 in a checking account owned by him
$40,000 in a savings account owned by him
$75,000 in a money market account owned by him

Total of $140,000 at this particular bank.

Even though he has three separate accounts, he still only has $100,000 worth of FDIC insurance and $40,000 is uninsured.

2nd Example

Sergio

$40,000 in a checking account owned by him
$50,000 in a checking account owned by him and his wife
$30,000 in a money market account owned by him
$45,000 in a savings account owned by him and his wife

Total of $165,000 at this bank.

Since the accounts are titled differently than the 1st example, Sergio will get some additional coverage. His single accounts will get coverage of $100,000 and his joint accounts will get $100,000 in coverage. Since the single accounts add up to $70,000 they are fully covered. His joint accounts total up to $95,000 and the are fully covered as well.

As I mentioned earlier, the FDIC insurance coverage is also on a per institution basis. What I mean by this is that you can have $100,000 in a checking account at 400 differed banks (for a total of $40 million) and it will all be covered by FDIC insurance. I know, it is an extreme example, but wouldn’t we all like to have that much money?!?

I imagine there are some of you out there that are say “I am in a credit union, does that mean the FDIC won’t cover me”?

The short answer to that is yes, but you do still have coverage by another organization.

Credit unions (which I am a member on one) provide the same type of insurance coverage through the NCUA (National Credit Union Administration). This coverage has the same limits and limitations as the FDIC. Both the FDIC and the NCUA are backed by the Federal Government.

I did not write this post to scare anyone! I just wanted you to be aware of the limitations of the FDIC insurance and to position yourself correctly in case something did happen to your bank. The IndyMac failure was completely unexpected as it was not on the FDIC’s watch list.