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September 2005 Monthly Archive


Check out the updated review on HSBC Direct.

After all these months, I have finally decided to open new accounts at other no minimum, no fees ING Direct clones. Let’s compare a bit on the account opening process of HSBC Direct, and Emigrant Direct.

HSBC Direct

9/28/05 – Started application around 4 PM EST. They verify your identity by asking credit history related questions. Here’s the cool part, you get to verify your checking account by three different ways. You can do the usual two deposits verification, snail mail verification, OR you can put in your checking account’s online banking login information, which will instantly verify your account ownership. The instant verification choice is probably only available to banks that use the Yodlee online banking system. A handy feature, if only it was functional when I tried it. Eventually I just went with the regular two deposit method.

9/29/05 – Verification amounts deposited. That was fast! I verified the account and they said they’ll fund my account ASAP.

9/30/05 – My $1.00 deposit left my checking account. Got an email from them, informing me that my account will be funded and opened within 3 business day.

10/05/05Update on HSBC opening process.

Emigrant Direct

9/20/05 – Filled out application to open account online at around 5 AM EST. Unlike my previous attempt to open an account with Emigrant, this time the credit-like security questions didn’t stall the process. A new question was introduced that had actual relevance to my identity.

9/22/05 – Verification deposits for my checking account showed up. Finally experienced what I kept reading about, Emigrant actually took those verification deposits back!

9/22/05 – Signed on to ED’s website, verified my account with them, and then I found out the account name I created was just for the account opening process and that it should now be discarded. Was told that I’ll receive further account opening instructions in mail. Pretty standard stuff I guess.

9/30/05 – Still no sign of follow-up snail mail.

10/20/05Update on Emigrant Direct opening process.

So HSBC is winning in terms of speed so far, but I’m not really all that surprised. The instant verification option is a nice touch, if only it worked. You may also have to mail in a signature card, but for whatever reason I didn’t have to.




IWillTeachYoutoBeRich.com has a good post up about the difference between a cheap person and a frugal person.

I think its sort of a subjective issue and I think he recongizes that too; but I think a lot of us knows a cheap person when we see one.

Cheap people are inconsiderate. For example, when getting a meal with other people, if their food costs $7.95, they’ll put in $8.00, knowing very well that tax and tip mean it’s closer to $11.

That seems to nail it to the head a bit.

Back in highschool I was called cheap before by people, but I took their opinions with a grain of salt because they’re morons. *hehe*

Somehow if I don’t order an overpriced beverage while eating out, I’m cheap. At least I pay my share of the meal, you bastards!




I’m sure I won’t be the only one mentioning this today, but the 15th edition of the Carnival of Personal Finance is up and it’s hosted by Free Money Finance.

This edition contains A LOT of post, so prepare yourself for some information overload! Still, it’s not such a bad way to start off a Monday morning.




As I was clearing out my bookmark list, I came across one of my “favorite” website of all time.

I think a lot of us have seen this website or have watched the PBS Frontline special before; but if you haven’t, you really owe it to yourself to check out Frontline’s Secret History of the Credit Card.

The site not only has a wide variety of articles on the topic, but it contains the full program for you to watch via Real Player or Windows Media Player. One of the article, “Eight Things A Credit Card User Should Know” contains basic but very important information for credit card users.

If you want to read more on the subject, you should check out their Explore section, which contains even more imporant information.

The “Snapshot of the Industry Map” was definitely an eye opener for me. Here’s the description from the website:

“This map shows the top ten credit card issuers, their state of charter (except for AmEx and Capital One that are not nationally chartered), and the maximum interest percentage cap for credit cards.

These clusters were largely formed by a 1978 Supreme Court decision (Marquette National Bank v. First of Omaha Service Corp.) that determined national banks only have to obey the interest-rate caps of the state they are chartered in, not that of the state where a bank’s customer lives. This means that when a bank from a state without limits on interest, like Delaware, issues credit cards to people living in states like Minnesota, which caps credit card interest at 18 percent, the customer can be charged any rate of interest.”

No cap on interest rates.
There is no federal limit on the interest rate a credit card company can charge.

 

Heh. I was always wondering why my credit card statements are coming from Delware.




Just thought I’ll share if anyone else didn’t come across this bonus yet. Found it over at Fatwallet.com

Get $25 from HSBC for free when you open and fund an account before 9/30/05. Click here to go to the account opening process with further details on the bonus. I believe if you close the account before 45 days, there’s a $25 closing fee. Although it shouldn’t be an issue keeping a $1 in the account if the bonus is all you want.

HSBC current has a rate of 3.75% APY, although Emigrant-Direct current leads the pack in ING Direct clones with the rate of 4.0% APY.

I think I’ll take advantage of HSBC’s offer and open an account now. Their bonus offer comes and go and isn’t very consistent. I’m also biting the bullet and opening an account at Emigrant-Direct. The process is actually A LOT smoother this time, so I’ll write a new review on that experience.

If you’re considering an account at Emigrant-Direct… there’s a potential $10 bonus for you over at MyMoneyBlog.com, head over there to read about the details!

Ah, competitions.. don’t we all love it? On a side note… there will eventually be more competition for cable TV too. Verizon, SBC, and other networks are entering selective markets in 2006-2008. Imagine that, “cable TV” from your telephone company.




Today’s Wall Street Journal contains a very interesting Journal Report on Business Schools. For those that don’t subscribe, the Journal Report from the WSJ are basically a series of articles focused on a particular topic.

One of the article that caught my attention is also available to read on WSJ.com’s free content section. Entitled: “The Full-Time Adavantage” with the description of “Students increasingly are purusing part-time, online, and executive MBAs. But recruiters have their doubts.”

It’s a good read, regardless if you agree with the recruiters view or not. So check it out before its gone! In the paper edition, they also provide lots of interesting data in pie-charts format. I’m going to see if I can get those pie-charts posted up. I duno why, but I love ’em charts and diagrams. (Update: Got one set of the pie charts up).

Othe related articles can be found here.

I know a lot of us are pursuing alternative MBA programs. I hope it’s okay to mention names because I’m not trying to put anyone on stage here. But if I remember right, Jim from Blueprint for Financial Prosperity is pursuing a part-time MBA program, while Flexo at Consumerism Commentary is purusing an online MBA program.

If I can ever finish my bachelor degree, I may eventually join their rank and enroll myself in a MBA program too. Although at this point, I’m not sure if business school is the right choice for me. Mainly, I’m still unsure of my career path. How the heck do people choose what they want to do for a good part of their life!?

Anyhow, ranting aside.. I’ve replicated one set of the pie-chart from the article for you to look at. Online MBA program receive the most unfavorable view from recruiters. Remember though that these are the recruiter’s view on the programs, NOT of the students.


Assessing the Alternatives
How recruiters in the WSJ/Harris survey evaluated different types of M.B.A degrees when they were asked how effective they are in building students’ skill compared with full-time programs.



 

Want more statistics from the survey? Yeah I know you do. Here’s another:

Ranking the Attributes
Recruiters in the Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive survey rated each business school on these 20 student and school attributes. Here is the percentage of recruiters who ranked each attribute “very important.”
88% – Communication and interpersonal skills
87% – Ability to work well within a team
85% – Personal ethics and integrity
83% – Analytical and problem-solving skills
74% – Success with past hires
73% – Fit with the corporate culture
72% – Leadership potential
67% – Strategic thinking
63% – Likelihood of recruiting stars
54% – Well-rounded
52% – Willingness of the school’s students to relocate to the job location
46% – Student chemistry
36% – Students’ average number of years of work experienced
36% – Content of the core curriculum
31% – Overall value for the money invested in the recruiting effort
31% – School chemistry
27% – Faculty expertise
25% – Career Service Office
22% – Awareness of corporate-citizenship issues
21% – Student’s international knowledge and experience

 




Earlier last week, my grandmother’s house had some minor snafu.. appearantly her room somehow got flooded with water (some pipes broke), so she stayed for awhile at my uncle’s and soon after, a few days at my house with me and my mother.

During all of this, the issue of what’s best for my grandmother came up, and a series of arguement ensued from aunts and uncles that unfortunately never liked each other very much. They had a vast difference in opinions on how to take care of my grandmother, most of which are financially based.

My grandmother’s 91 years old now and she lives in a 3 bedroom 2 bath townhouse with my Aunt B and Uncle B. The townhouse is owned by Aunt A. She charges my grandmother, Aunt & Uncle B $1100 per month for rent. I don’t think it’s too terrible of a price for a house like that in Southern California. (Can’t remember the exact sq.ft) I believe she ends up paying more out of her own pocket to cove the tax & other expenses associated with the property.

Problem is, Uncle C (another uncle), thinks that Aunt A is charging my grandmother, Aunt & Uncle B too much. He also thinks that the place is too dirty (previous tenant never took care of it well) and that my Aunt A should take care of the property better. Thus the broken water pipe resurface many differences.

So yeah. Well, um… there really isn’t an ending to this story, as it’s still an ongoing issue. But bare with me as I try to get to what I’m writing about.

My grandmother doesn’t have many choices in where she lives and who takes care of her. At this age, most of the choices are done by her children, my aunts and uncles (and my mom of course). I’m not really sure what my mom wants when she hits a certain age, so it was a good opportunity for me to open up some dialogue with her about the whole retirement issue.

Awhile back I was reading an interesting article from the WSJ, entitled “The Parent Trap” it talked about many issues that children faces with their aging parents. Many times the aging parent fears losing control over their own lives, while at other times, the children can get too controling. The article made lots of suggestions on how to prevent getting in the trap, one of which was to open up discussion as soon as possible. (I actually saved the article for future reference, but I seem to have misplaced it. Do’h!)

Anyway, I talked a bit with my mother (who’s now in her mid 50) about what her retirement plans were. This was probably one of the first few serious (although short) conversations we have as two adults (I’m 22, btw). I find that as I get older, my parents do divulge a bit more about their own financial information. Maybe it’s because I’m not really a kid anymore (sorta).

Although the talk never really went anywhere solid, I’m glad that I at least have some glimpse of what her plans and wishes are. I still haven’t talked to my dad yet (who lives oversea), but he does read my blog occasionally… (haha) so if you’re reading this dad and I still haven’t somehow brought it up yet in my emails.. I apologize for the indirect approach.

I really wish I was typing up this whole thing so I can offer some insight and suggestion.. but to be honest, I really don’t have a clue on what to do. That doesn’t mean I’ll just sit back and ignore it though. One thing I do know for sure is that if you ignore this issue and let it drag on, it will only become more difficult and complicated to handle later on.




I mentioned in my last post about Dreamhost’s blog (it’s a webhost company). I usually like to read blogs like this becase it gives an interesting inside look (even if it’s just a wee bit) of how a company and its employee tick.

Here’s a good post from them about how 20% of their daily sign-up are done with stolen credit cards.

This reminds me of an article from the WSJ a few weeks back. The article talked about how small and mid size business has to deal with an increasing number of online fraud. The particular online jewlery store mentioned sold and shipped out a $30,000 watch, only to realize too late that the CC numbers are fake! This was after an extensive research and check up. Ouch!

Remember, consumer’s aren’t the only ones plauged with identity theft problems!



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