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18 November 2008

Stop abusive credit card companies!

LINK: http://creditcardreform.org/

In this economy, we don't need the big financial institutions looking to our credit cards to make up for their losses. But right now, the credit card companies hold all the "cards," and they can hike interest rates on our balances or charge us higher fees for no reason whatsoever.

The Senate may vote on a bill that will rein in these abuses. The House has already passed its bill, so real reform is within reach. I just sent my Senators an email in support of this bill. Would you take a moment to do the same?

Among other things, the bill would prohibit credit card companies from arbitrarily hiking interest rates on your card balances, and stop 'bait and switch' clauses that let them charge fees and change interest rates for any reason whatsoever.

The bill will help level the playing field for consumers and help ensure that a deal is a deal when it comes to your credit card company. The more consumers the Senate hears from, the better chance we have at putting Main Street, not just Wall Street, first.

Take action at: http://creditcardreform.org/

 Thank you!

Posted by rickroot at 8:30 AM | Link | 0 comments
10 April 2008

Smart Investing - Smart401k.com

Okay, so as you know, I work at Duke University.  This means I have a ridiculously nice 403b retirement plan (that's 401k for you for-profit folks!).  Regardless of my contribution (as long as it is 5%, I think), Duke puts in something like 7.3% of the first $45,000 of my salary, and 13.3% of everything above that.  For me that works out to about 10% of my salary.  Since I'm currently contributing 10% myself, that means I'm getting approximately $1 of Duke's money for every $1 of my money.  That's a good match.

By comparison, Adrienne gets a 50% match up to 6% of her salary, so even though she's putting 15% into her 401k, she's only getting 3% from Wyeth - meaning she gets 20 cents for every dollar of her money.

Well, we'll take it anyway.

But the fact is, we're not investors.  I don't have the time to investigate the 70 different Fidelity funds that I can choose to invest in.  I think the vast majority of 401k and 403b investors are not knowledgeable investors.  I mean, I know I'm 30 years from retirement and I'm able to be somewhat risky with my investments, and I know how to look at historical returns and such but I really just don't have the time to be a fully-informed invester.

Enter www.Smart401k.com.

Smart401k.com is a company founded by Adam Bold (and others).  Adam Bold also founded "The Mutual Fund Store" and has a nationally syndicated radio show dedicated to mutual fund investing.  Anyway, the idea is that you sign up - either quarterly or annually - answer a survey about your investment objectives, how willingly you accept risk, etc, and then you tell them how much is in your 401k and what your investment options are.

Once a quarter (or more), Smart401k.com provides you with recommendations for investment allocation.  They notify me via email that new recommendations are available, I log into the web site, review the recommendations, then head over to the Fidelity @ Work web site and reallocate my 403b according to their recommendations.  It's that easy.

Now I've only been in the service for a month, so I can't tell you how well things are going.  Ask me in 5 or 10 years.  All I know is that their recommendations are almost certainly better than anything I would come up with.

Check 'em out.




Posted by rickroot at 6:45 PM | Link | 0 comments