10 Best Roundup for the Week of August 24, 2009

Welcome to this week’s Best of Money Roundup, which was founded by FMF over at FreeMoneyFinance. I had around 70 submissions to sort throught this week. After weeding out the spam and other off-topic posts, I came up with my 10 best posts for this week. Enjoy!

1. 13 Simple Tips To Make Tent Camping Easier And More Fun

2. Beyond The Latte Factor

3. Certificate of Deposit Basics: How Do Bank CDs Work?

4. Depression and Debt a Dangerous Combination

5. How to Take Advantage of Free Extended Warranty from your Credit Card

6. What College Doesn’t Teach You about the Real World

7. 403(b) Rollover to a Traditional IRA

8. Delaying Gratification-5 Tips on How to Delay Gratification

9. Is Your Attitude Impacting Your Finances?

10. 29 stocks with sustainable dividends

To be considered for next week’s roundup, submit your post here.

First Day of School!

I thought I’d share a few pictures with you.

This one is of my oldest son’s first day of Kindergarten back in 2001:

First Day of Kindergarten 2001
First Day of School 2001

The next year was my youngest son’s turn:

First Day of School 2002
First Day of School 2002

This year was my daughter’s turn:

First Day of School 2009 (Notice the Excitement in the Boys' Faces)
First Day of School 2009
(Notice the Excitement in the Boys' Faces)

First Day of Kindergarten 2009
First Day of Kindergarten 2009

It is so hard to believe that the baby in my family is going to Kindergarten. I’m stunned at how fast the last 5 years have gone. I’m also stunned at how fast the last 8 years have gone!

I need a moment…

Money’s Tips For Raising Your FICO Credit Score

Here’s a couple pointers from the latest issue of Money Magazine on how to improve your credit score:

Remember your credit card utilization rate, which is your total card balances compared to your total credit limits. To calculate this, divide your credit card balances by the total available credit. Money recommends trying to keep it at 10% but says this will be harder to accomplish with credit card companies slashing available credit and closing accounts.

Keep your oldest cards in play. The length of your credit history plays a role in calculating your FICO Score so it’s a good idea to keep your oldest credit cards active. This could be something as simple as putting a monthly charge on your card and paying it off monthly.

One last thing, the article included a graphic that showed what goes into a FICO Score. They had a pretty graphic but I’ll break it down for you in percentages:

35% How timely you’ve been with payments.

30% How much you owe compared with your total available credit.

15% How long a credit history you have.

10% Whether you’ve recently taken on new credit/debt.

10% What mix of credit types you have.

As you can see, the first two are EXTREMELY important. DON’T BE LATE and DON’T CHARGE TOO MUCH!


My FICO Score is 794. What’s Your Credit Score?

The 2009 Personal Finance How-to Roundup

Bureaus Roll Out New Credit Score Formula for 2009

How Long Will It Take to Improve a FICO Score?

My FICO Score is 794. What’s Your Credit Score?

After reading an article in the latest Money magazine about credit scores, I decided to check my wife’s and my score. I used myFICO.com found out my score was 794. Pretty good. It said that the only thing hurting my score was that I had 4 accounts with balances. One of those is our Visa Rewards Card and another is a Best Buy Card for a TV purchase we made at 0%, which will pay off in October. No big deal. Another account is a car loan that will pay off next May.

I then ran my wife’s number and found out it’s 802! GEEZ…

My wife has two accounts with balances, which helped her score. The only thing hurting her score was that she has 35 accounts. I’m going to look into this one. They don’t give much information on how to fix this one.

So, what’s your score?

John Mackey’s Prescription for Fixing Health Care

As I said earlier this week, I’m behind on my reading. I just now got around to reading Whole Foods’ CEO, John Mackey’s op-ed piece in last week’s Wall Street on health care. He broke it down into eight steps:

• Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).

• Equalize the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but individual health insurance is not. This is unfair.

• Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines.

• Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover.

• Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

• Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost.

• Enact Medicare reform. We need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and enact reforms that create greater patient empowerment, choice and responsibility.

• Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Thinking about it, I would rather the government do some sort of plan where they gave people responsibility for their own health accounts rather than giving them insurance. I just think insurance is not the answer because there is no incentive to reduce costs.


Reader Comment Regarding My Automatic Gratuity Post

I hate to beat a dead horse but comments like this crack me up. I’m sharing this with you because comments on old posts tend to get buried and AFM readers don’t get to see them. This comment was left on my post regarding automatic gratuities.


BECAUSE They depend on their tips…Yeah 15 percent was acceptable maybe 10 years ago. Let’s face it the economy has changed and if you can afford to tip the appropriate 18-20 percent you should not go out to eat. AND DO NOT assume that because you are the only table in the place and that the server is only waiting on you therefore they deserve less tip because they aren’t busy.

Also, a server has to pay taxes every year just like you do, because their hourly wage isn’t enough to cover their taxes!!! I am assuming that because of you are in IGNORANT, RUDE OBLIVION to what it’s like putting up with people like you, you have NEVER waited tables in your life. This makes me sad that assumptions that you have about servers. They probably work way harder then you for a fraction of what you make and give up their nights and social lives doing it…

Okay, here we go…

1. I’m not sure if this person is referring to me or one of the comments. If she’s talking to me, then she doesn’t know me. I’m not ignorant or rude. I take excellent care of those who take care of me and my family when we eat out.

2. If being a server is so bad then WHY do people do it?

3. When I go out with my family to a local Mexican restaurant, our typical bill is a little less than $50. I leave a $10 tip, which is over 20%. I leave this tip because I like the restaurant and I like the service we receive. They are friendly, polite, and take care of us. We are there for maybe 45 minutes and the server makes $10 from our table. Not too bad if you ask me.

4. You are forgetting that the cost of eating out has increased over the years, which means the 15% tip has increased too.

5. Despite the reasoning behind the automatic gratuity, it does takes away some of the incentive for the server to offer good service. They have to offer stellar service for me to give more than the automatic gratuity. Sorry…if you tell me how much my tip is, then it ceases to be a tip. It’s insulting to me.

She is right…I have never waited tables. I wrote my post from MY point of view.