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Monday, January 30, 2006

HSBC Online Savings at 4.80%!

It looks like HSBC has finally responded to the recent rate increases at Emigrant and ING direct! HSBC Online Savings is now at 4.80%!!

Apparently not moving my money over to ING has paid off. While the HSBC main site has not been updated yet, it should be soon. If you haven't opened an account yet, the $25 sign up bonus I posted about here is still valid (til 2/28/06).

EDIT: HSBC has updated their page and it looks like the 4.80% only lasts through 4/30. Looks like a direct response to ING's winter sale.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

"Link Love"

After reading Boston Gal's post about link love, I decided to do the same.

So, if you want me to exchange links, please shoot me an email! (justanotherblogger AT gmail)

Also, Happy Chinese New Year for those who celebrate it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Eating out.

I live in New York City and I eat out often. There are so many restaurants within a few blocks of where I live that I would never be able to try them all. While eating out/ordering in isn't cheap, the cost difference after factoring in my horrible cooking skills, my time, and the ridiculous prices Food Emporium charges just isn't that great.

There are a few sites that I frequently visit to help me decide where to eat and how to eat there cheaply. I want to share them with you.

Restaurant.com - Helps me save $20 if the restaurant participates (less than $5 for a $25 gift cert with discount codes and fatcash). See my previous post here for more information.

Opentable.com - For making reservations. I've used this site countless of times and I highly recommend it. On top of saving your time, there is a reward points program that allows you to save extra money (sometimes $10) if you show up to your reservations.

Menupages.com - Great site for taking a glimpse at the menu before you dine. Also great for ordering delivery from places you have never been to! Most restaurants in NYC seem to be listed here, and they recently just expanded to cover San Francisco and Boston. Has helpful reviews too.

Citysearch.com and Gayot.com - both review sites that help me decide if a restaurant is worth trying out or not. On top of that, they both integrate with Opentable.com.

I hope that helps. While some of those sites only apply to Manhattan, restaurant.com and opentable.com both work nationwide. I highly recommend them both. I was even able to use opentable.com when I was traveling over the winter holidays in Vancouver!

Are there any other sites that you would recommend?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Thinking about saving money at ING direct?

Well good news, ING direct just announced their Winter Save Up Sale, an oddly named program that will give you 4.75% APY on any NEW funds you deposit. Only new money from outside sources qualify for this higher interest rate, and here is how they will keep track of that:
To determine what portion of your Orange Savings Account balance will earn the 4.75% APY, during the Sale Period we add up all of your new deposits from an external source and then subtract all withdrawals from the account (whether internal or external) from that total. If that amount is greater than zero, it is eligible for the 4.75% APY.
However, before you move all your money over to ING to capture this 3 month period of higher interest rates, take a moment to calculate just exactly how much more you will be earning by moving your money. It may surprise you that keeping your money in your current account may actually earn you more!

To consider your net gain, you would need to subtract any lost interest (the time it takes you to transfer your money does not earn interest) from any extra interest gained. Let's do an example:
Your original rate is 4.25%, the new rate is 4.75%, the promotional period for the higher rate is 83 days (1/20 til 4/15, minus 3 days for transfer), days of lost interest is 6 days (3 days each way), the amount is $10,000.

Net gain = amount * (extra interest earned - interest lost in transfer)

Net gain = amount * ((Int. rate gain * (# of promotional days / 365 days in year)) - (original Int. rate * (# days lost / 365 days in year)))

Net gain = $10000 * (((4.75% - 4.25%) * 83/365) - (4.25% * 6/365))

Net gain = $10000 * (0.001136986 - 0.00069863) = $4.38356

So for our example, we would earn an extra $4.38 from moving our imaginary $10,000 to ING and then moving it out again afterwards. I wish I knew how to make an online calculator where you can plug in your own numbers, but I don't have the technical skills. Feel free to plug in your own numbers to see if the net gain is worth your time to move your money over!

One more thing, consider the possibility that HSBC, or whichever bank you use, may raise rates soon to match this ING promotion. There is also a fed meeting coming up, and the market expects another 25 basis points increase.

As always, leave a comment if you notice any errors or have any questions.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Carnivals

I didn't submit anything this week, but here they are:

The Carnival of Personal Finance is over at savvy saver.

The Carnival of Investing is over at The Real Returns.

The Carnival of Debt Reduction is over at Frugal for Life.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Why save when you can win the lottery?

Read this Reuters article and it's easy to see why so many Americans are drowning in debt and having trouble saving for their own retirement. It's astonishing to me that over 20% think winning the lottery is the best way to get rich.

Upon further digging, I found the actual press release that the Reuters article was based on. Some other interesting numbers include the fact that almost half of those surveyed didn't know what net worth consists of, and the fact that another 48% don't know what their own individual net worth is.

If you don't know, or can't calculate your own net worth, there is no way you can work towards increasing it! I personally use Quicken, but that costs money to purchase the software. An alternative, suggested here by Jonathan of MyMoneyBlog, is Yodlee OnCenter. I don't have much experience with it, but if you have any questions (about Yodlee, Quicken, or anything else), feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wall Street bonuses this year.

Here's a follow up article to my post in November about Goldman's bonuses this year.

The numbers in the CNNMoney article don't add up with the New York Magazine numbers though - I find it hard to believe that Goldman, with $11 billion in bonuses, will account for more than half of all of Wall Street's bonuses.

Friday, January 06, 2006

10 financial strategies for the new year

CNN Money has a guide listing 10 strategies that will help you achieve your financial goals. Although this guide is not new, since it is the beginning of a new year, I thought it would be appropriate to touch on and emphasize some of the points important for us recent graduates.

However, don't follow the list in the order provided, the list wasn't written with recent grads in mind. Instead consider my reranking, starting with the most important:

1. Get out of debt.
Take the advice in that page and come up with a plan to eliminate your credit card debt. Don't worry about your student loans just yet, the interest rates on those are extremely low, that is unless you haven't consolidated and locked in a low rate (which you should do asap, refer to my earlier post).

2. Save more money.
Start not by maxing out your 401(k), but instead by creating an emergency fund. Try to save at least 3-6 months worth of expenses in an interest bearing, liquid, and easy to access account (HSBC Online Savings for example). Remember the emergency fund is for emergencies only (unemployment, medical, etc.), don't dip into it for any other reason! Only after your emergency account is fully funded should you proceed with the rest of the article's suggestions, such as maximizing your employer's 401(k) match.

3. Jump start your career.
Since most of us will be at our first job, we may not fully understand how the corporate world works. There are a lot of tips here that will not only help you impress your boss and your coworkers, but also teach you how to network and build professional relationships.

4 & 5. Create a long-term investing plan and Invest smarter.
Again, this only begins after you have fully funded your emergency plan. I will touch on this in a future follow up post.

The remaining points, while helpful, don't really apply to recent graduates. However, they do make for good reading, so feel free to skim through them.

Why did I rank them in that order? I firmly believe that paying off your debts, establishing a routine of saving, and performing well at work will pay huge dividends later on.

As always, feel free to leave comments. How would you rank them?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Happy New Year

Happy new year everyone! I hope you have enjoyed my site so far. I will be working hard to improve this site as the year progresses.

One of the changes that I've made to the site so far is the new "popular posts" section on the right hand side. I will also be keeping an updated restaurant.com promotion code there for your convienience, so check back if you need the latest promotion code!

And of course, if you have been enjoying my site, add me to your bookmarks on del.icio.us, or refer me to your friends! I hope this upcoming year will be a great year for everyone.

EDIT : I also have a new email address for this blog. It is justanotherblogger AT gmail DOT com. Feel free to email me comments, questions and suggestions!