Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Bank Offers Highest Money Market Rate

Savings account interest rates have dropped again. However, there is some good news. Since my last update, I have added a couple of new banks to my list that are offering 2.05% APY on a money market account. These banks are Ally Bank and ShoreBank Direct. These were the highest money market yields that I could find. There is no telling how long these offers will last, but I think that it is worthwhile to consider these options if you are willing to open a new account.

It has been difficult to keep track of which financial institution has the best interest rates on deposits. So periodically, I will post a list of the annual percentage yields (APYs) for institutions that I have accounts at, or have otherwise mentioned in my blog. These rates are sorted by APY:

2.05% Ally Bank Online Savings
2.05% Shorebank Direct Online High-Yield Savings
1.80% Umbrellabank Pot O' Gold Money Market
1.55% HSBCDirect Online Savings
1.50% Citibank Ultimate Money
1.50% Bank of America SavingsLink**
1.50% ING Direct Orange Savings
1.40% Citibank Ultimate Savings
1.00% Guaranty Bank Gold Rewards Money Market
0.95% E*TRADE Complete Savings
0.75% Chase (formerly WaMu) Online Savings
0.75% Western FCU Money Market
0.14% PayPal Money Market*

*Note that the PayPal Money Market fund is NOT FDIC insured.
**SavingsLink account is no longer offered to new customers.
Rates are believed to be accurate as of 6/15/09. I did not include banks that had special, or introductory rates in the list because they are not ongoing interest rates. I am also not including non-liquid accounts such as CD's in the list.

I think that the big news is that there are banks that still offer higher interest rates, but you really have to seek out these banks. A note about Ally Bank is that it not exactly a new bank, but it is actually the reincarnation of GMAC Bank (originally General Motors Acceptance Corporation). With the former parent company (GM) in bankruptcy, they have made an effort to shed any remaining association with the original GM. The SavingsLink account (originally from Countrywide Bank) has fallen considerably from the top of the list, and Bank of America no longer offers this account to new customers.

Historically, money market funds (offered through brokerages) have paid a higher interest rate than their counterparts at commercial banks. However, this situation has reversed itself, and the money market funds are now at the bottom of the list. Money market funds are NOT insured by the FDIC. However, money market accounts offered through banks are.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Rescan Your DTV tuner

Did any of your local TV stations disappear last night? Officially, all regular television stations in the United States stopped broadcasting analog TV signals and switched exclusively to digital broadcasting as of yesterday, June 12th. Because some digital stations have moved to different channel numbers, everybody should re-scan their DTV tuners to ensure that you will receive all of the digital stations broadcasting in your area. This is usually a straightforward procedure.

My DTV converter box is an Insignia NS-DXA1-APT, but it is very similar to the Insignia NS-DXA1 as well as the Zenith DTT901 and DTT900 models. On these models, I push the Menu button on the remote control to get into the setup menu. From there I would select either Auto Tuning, or EZ Add, and follow the on-screen directions to scan for new channels. If you have any difficulty doing this on your DTV converter, then you should consult the manual that came with your DTV box.

For some background information, the switch to digital TV is not as simple as just turning off analog TV broadcasts. Until June 12, 2009, TV broadcasts were received on channels 2-69. After the digital transition is complete channels 52-69 will be reallocated for other uses. In Silicon Valley, where I live, the digital TV station KTEH is on channel 54-1. KTEH is really broadcast on digital channel 50, but shows up as 54-1 through a process known as virtual channel numbering. The analog channel 54 will disappear after the DTV transition.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, KGO broadcasts analog TV on channel 7, and digital TV on channel 24. After switching off the analog channel, they will return the digital broadcast to channel 7. More complex is the case of KTVU which broadcasts analog on Channel 2, and digital on channel 56. After the switch off, they will broadcast on channel 44. However until June 12th, Channel 44 was used by KBCW (the old KBHK). For obvious reasons KBCW needs to shutdown their analog transmitter before KTVU can take over this channel. Is this confusing enough for you?

In addition to my DTV converter box, I also bought a DVD/VCR recorder with a built-in digital tuner. If I use an antenna with this device, I will also have to rescan the channels to receive over-the-air (OTA) TV broadcasts.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New Government Acronyms

Super Saver over at My Wealth Builder has just published a very funny list of new acronyms used for government bailout programs. On his list are the "Special Creative Accounting Methods" (SCAM) and "President Obama's Oversight Program" (POOP).

To see the whole list, read the whole post. Let me know if you can think of any more creative acronyms that the government ought to be using.