Friday, July 24, 2009

Money Markets and a Free HDTV

In last month's update, I mentioned a "new" bank called Ally Bank, which offered the highest money market rate of 2.05% APY. Ally has dropped out of the lead, and now ShoreBank Direct is on top. Like I said, there is no telling how long a particular rate will last. Anyway, it is worthwhile to consider moving your money into banks at the top of the list, especially if you are willing to open a new account.

Without further ado, here are the latest interest rates. Note that the rates are sorted by APY, and represent institutions that I have accounts at, or have otherwise mentioned in my blog:

2.05% Shorebank Direct Online High-Yield Savings
1.85% Ally Bank Online Savings
1.55% HSBCDirect Online Savings
1.40% Bank of America SavingsLink**
1.40% ING Direct Orange Savings
1.35% Umbrellabank Pot O' Gold Money Market
1.30% Citibank Ultimate Money
1.30% Citibank Ultimate Savings
1.00% Guaranty Bank Gold Rewards Money Market
0.95% E*TRADE Complete Savings
0.75% Chase (formerly WaMu) Online Savings
0.65% Western FCU Money Market
0.08% 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 7/23/09. 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 was surprised to come across a bank offering a free 22" HD LCD TV or a Flip MinoHD Mini Camcorder to open a new bank account. This offer is from Irwin Union Bank to customers who open an 11-month CD with a minimum deposit of $20,000. The offer is also available to depositors who open certain business checking and business money market accounts. For reference, a 22" HDTV retails for about $250-300, and the Flip MinoHD sells for a bit less than that, so it is quite a generous gift considering how stingy banks are with interest rates these days.

The CD rate is dependent on your particular area, but where I am it is a respectable 1.72% (APY) interest. Indeed, that is better than what most banks offer on CD terms of less than one year. There appear to be a couple of downsides to the offer. The penalty for early withdrawal is substantial -- $500 plus 91 days of interest. That works out to about $600 if you need get your money out early. The other negative is that the bank states that it will report the value of the free gift to the IRS (on a 1099 form), so the free TV or camcorder could end up costing around $100 depending on your tax bracket.

I thought that the days banks offering a TV set to new customers was definitely a thing of the past. I don't know much about Irwin Union Bank except that they are FDIC insured, and based in Indiana. If anybody has any dealings with Irwin Bank, could you share your experiences here?


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Free Stock Market Analysis

A while back I signed up for a useful stock analysis service called MarketClub. It is part of a website called, where you can research stocks, futures, or forex products.

I recently asked for an instant analysis of INTC (Intel Corporation), and got this graph from MarketClub:

Their analysis is called a Trade Triangle. It shows that Intel is now in a strong uptrend, and it is an ideal time to buy. This analysis is great for traders who like the "red-light, green-light" simplicity of investing.

For investors who are following a large number of stock symbols, MarketClub sends a daily Email for every symbol in your portfolio. But staying on top of the changes and momentum shifts often becomes overwhelming, especially if you’re watching a large number of symbols and open positions, like me.

Another free tool that I utilize to help me keep on top of my portfolio is called Trend Analysis. Trend Analysis is a daily email analysis tool that gives me insight into exactly what my portfolio is doing.

The link above takes you to a screen where you can get your first stock (future or option) symbol analyzed at no cost to you. After you sign up, you can easily add more symbols to get a daily update, which I find very helpful.

PF Stock

Disclaimer: This material is for general information only. It is not intended as an offer to sell or buy, or as an endorsement, recommendation or sponsorship of any security or fund.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Coke Rewards Code

I bought some 12-packs of Coca-Cola, and have collected the My Coke Rewards codes from these packages. Since I don't think that I will redeem the My Coke Rewards codes, I have decided to post the codes here as a service to my readers. Feel free to claim the codes (hidden in my blog posts). Please post a comment (or send me an Email) after you have claimed the code, so that I can post the next code.

If you have any unused codes that you want to donate, please feel free to post them in the comments.

Update: This didn't exactly work out the way that I had planned. It seems that whenever I post a new code, it is found almost immediately. However, the person who redeems the code usually does not Email me or post a comment here. Instead, I find out from other readers that the code is already RNBM (Redeemed Not By Me).

Instead of posting new My Coke Rewards codes here, I've decided that I will hide the codes in some of my old posts. The codes will be harder to find, but rules are the same: please Email me, or post a comment saying that you've redeemed the code. Then I will erase the old code, and hide a new code somewhere else on my blog.

NEW Hint: I've hidden some unredeemed codes on links outside of this blog. So, leave no LINK unclicked! Happy hunting!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Microsoft Money to be Discontinued

Microsoft has recently announced that it will discontinue its Money Software. In late 2007 (at the same time that bought my tax preparation software), I bought a copy of Microsoft Money Plus (2008). And in January of this year, I wrote that Microsoft decided not to release a 2009 version of Money. It turns out that Money Plus will be the last version of MS Money to be produced. The following notice was posted on the Microsoft Money website:

Important notice: Microsoft Money Plus will not be available for purchase after June 30, 2009. All purchased Money Plus products must be activated prior to Jan. 31, 2011.

With banks, brokerage firms and Web sites now providing a range of options for managing personal finances, the consumer need for Microsoft Money Plus has changed. After suspending annual updates of Money Plus in 2008, Microsoft is announcing today that we will no longer offer Microsoft Money Plus for purchase after June 30, 2009.

We would like to thank the many dedicated users who have been enthusiastic supporters of Microsoft Money over the years, as well as our partner financial institutions who helped pioneer a digital vision of financial management.

Microsoft remains committed to helping customers chart a course to financial well-being. The MSN Money Web site will continue to provide personal finance information and advice plus comprehensive market news and quotes. We will continue to evolve and enhance the online MSN offering in the coming months.

Microsoft also posted an FAQ on the topic.

To tell the truth, I never installed installed MS Money Plus on my computer, and am still running Money 2007. The Money FAQ has some interesting recommendations to people in my situation. Here are a couple of questions and answers from the FAQ:

Q: I am Money 2007 user. Should I upgrade to Money Plus before sales end?
A: If you are still using Money 2007, it is not recommended that you upgrade to Money Plus at this time.

Q: I am a Money 2006 or earlier user. What should I do?
A: If you are still using Money 2006, it is not recommended that you upgrade to Money Plus at this time.

So, Microsoft is not even recommending that people upgrade to the last and final version of MS Money. I have an unused and unactivated copy of Microsoft Money Plus that Microsoft does not recommend I upgrade to. Maybe I ought to sell my copy of Money Plus on eBay.

What do I do now? There is a new version of Quicken 2009, and I might consider buying that or a 2010 version when it is available. Also, an anonymous commenter on my last post suggested that I ought to consider GnuCash. According to the reader, GnuCash is 100% free and very powerful. I have downloaded this software, and I won't dispute these claims. However, I will say that GnuCash is not as intuitive as either MS Money or Intuit's Quicken.

Interested readers can read more about GnuCash at:
You will also find links to download a free copy of the software for Windows (63MB). The source code is also free and available if you want to compile it for Linux, UNIX, or Macintosh.