Lufthansa Miles & More? More Like Miles & Less

by Odysseas Papadimitriou on April 15, 2011

miles-and-moreI have been traveling with Lufthansa for over 15 years, and until very recently had nothing but good experiences with the company. My latest experience with the Star Alliance affiliate, however, made me aware of a few company policies that are extremely unfavorable to consumers.

To give you some context, I typically fly back and forth between Washington, D.C. and my native Greece a few times a year. As a result, I have racked up literally hundreds of thousands of rewards miles, which until recently made me a Star Alliance Silver Status customer. Before losing this status, I noticed that miles I should have earned for a number of flights had not been credited to my account even though I had presented my Miles and More card at check-in.

Carnival of Personal Finance: 2011 New Year's Resolution Edition

by John Kiernan on January 10, 2011

new-year-resolutionsWe’ve counted down.  We’ve toasted the champagne.  We’ve kissed our sweethearts.  The New Year is upon us, and with this turn of the calendar comes a chance for a fresh start, a cleaning of the slate.  While your goals for making 2011 better than its predecessor most likely pervade all aspects of your life, financial New Year’s Resolutions are particularly popular, especially considering the current financial climate.  Perhaps you want to finally get out of debt.  Maybe all of the ads on TV have psyched you up to improve your credit score.  Or you might want to increase small business profitability or invest more wisely.  Hopefully, whatever your goal may be, this financial resolution will fare better than previous pledges that have fallen by the wayside.  Commit to making this year different, to helping your personal finance objectives outlast the “honeymoon period” after which so many New Years Resolutions die.  The first step in doing so?  Reading the New Year’s Resolution Edition of the Carnival of Personal Finance.  Look, you’re already on your way!

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How to Save Money on Life Insurance

by Lynn B. Johnson on May 27, 2010

InsuranceIf you have kids or someone in your life who will need to be supported in the event of your untimely demise, you should have some life insurance. But how much is enough, and how can you make sure you’re getting the right rate? Here are some important facets that I recently had to consider.

When my husband and I had our first child, we went to talk to a life-insurance agent. Our agent suggested that term-life insurance would be the most affordable option for us. We were new parents, and therefore paranoid, so we covered my husband for $600,000 and me for $500,000. This would be enough to support us in a manner in which the survivor would like to become accustomed, while also saving enough for Babykins to head to an Ivy-League school in 2018. Good plan.

How to Save Money on Childcare

by Lynn B. Johnson on May 13, 2010

save-money-on-child-careIf you’ve had a kid recently, you’re probably torn between delight in your babykins and astonishment at the astronomical costs of childcare. Yeah, me too. Here are some tips for keeping at least part of your salary in your own pocket.

1) Neighborhood co-operative: If you have neighbors who are in the same boat, get everyone together to discuss ways you might be able to share the childcare burden. Taking one day off a week in exchange for two or three days of childcare can be a good deal. If you have even one neighbor who stays home with his/her kids, talk about whether they might be willing to accept a pittance in exchange for a morning/day/days of watching your own little one.

The Best Way to 'Shop' Your Closet

by Lynn B. Johnson on April 27, 2010

shop-your-closetWith the onset of spring blossoms comes the yearly fervor to transition one’s wardrobe from winter to summery looks. Here’s the best possible process for taking care of your closet.

Empty it. No cheating here. Take every single thing out of your closet. This is best accomplished with a not-too-complimentary friend. As you are taking things out, divide them into three piles: Keep, Donate, Throw Away. The Donate and Throw Away items should be placed in black plastic lawn-and-leaf bags, which are taken immediately to the porch once filled so as to minimize what I call “stuff-divesting remorse.” I love Peter Walsh’s tip: The garbage bags are hungry. Feed them often.

Google's 'Unbiased' Search Results

by Odysseas Papadimitriou on April 12, 2010

net-neutralityGoogle supports net neutrality when it comes to Internet Service Providers, staunchly insisting that ISPs should not be allowed to preference their own content. In an article concerning net neutrality, Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Google, argued that regulation is needed to prevent abuses of the availability of internet content by ISPs and “to combat incentives for carriers to pick winners and losers online.”

It would make sense for Google to adopt a similar stance towards its own actions. Instead Google straddles the fence, nodding in support of net neutrality and regulation for ISPs, while employing sneaky business strategies that preference its own content over anyone else’s.

What should you do if you cannot pay your taxes in full?

by Guest on April 7, 2010

irs-installment-agreementThis guest post was written by Manny Davis. Manny is President of Back Taxes Help, LLC, a tax resolution firm that helps businesses and taxpayers pay back taxes. Visit BackTaxesHelp.com for more information on various IRS tax settlement solutions.

Every year millions of Americans find themselves with back taxes or tax bills they cannot afford to pay all at once. Whatever the cause, the IRS is willing to work with taxpayers and offers a variety of Installment Agreements (IRS Payment Plans), depending on the total amount they owe. An IRS Installment Agreement (IA) will allow you as a taxpayer to pay off your taxes through monthly payments that can last anywhere from three to five years depending on the amount you owe.

Are Eco-Friendly Funerals More Cost-Effective?

by Lynn B. Johnson on April 1, 2010

green-funeralThe only two sure things in life are death and taxes. We all know that April 15th is looming, so I thought I’d look at the other side of my opening truism. We’re all going to die, sure, but how can we encourage our survivors to make our own post-life existence as eco-friendly and “green” as possible? Will greener choices save money? And, let’s be real: what is the “ick” factor?

The only thing I knew about green funerals was what I saw on the last-season episode of “Six Feet Under.” One of the men who ran a family funeral home died, and his brother pushed the family to follow a greener, more eco-conscious funeral plan. The scene was awkward and a little more hands-on than appealed to me.

Anti-Scam Advice from the ConsumerMan

by Lynn B. Johnson on February 2, 2010

scamI had a fascinating conversation with Mr. Herb Weisbaum, AKA the MSNBC.com ConsumerMan, about the scams we should all be aware of. It was an eye-opening conversation, one that I hope will save you a lot of pain and anguish.

Surprisingly, your credit card account is not on the scammers’ most-wanted list. “Con artists are trying not to use credit cards [in their scams] because the charges can be reversed,” Weisbaum said.

The Economics of Obesity

by Lynn B. Johnson on January 19, 2010

dollar-weightIs your fat costing you money? Suze Orman thinks so. On this season of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” weight-loss competition reality show, Orman quizzed the participants. Turns out that yes, an unhealthy waistline can contribute to poor fiscal health. This is bad news for the 34% of Americans who are obese.

Obese employees earn less money than their co-workers: Research shows that an obese worker earns $7,000 less than fellow employees. Orman attributes this in part to more sick days taken by obese people. Additionally, workers with above-normal body weight have an increased risk of short-term disability: from 7.3% for normal-weight workers to 14.9% for obese workers.

Deceptive bloggers watch out!

by Brian Johnson on October 26, 2009

ftc-blogsThe Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has responded to the lack of transparency in product endorsements on Internet forums and blogs by amending the guidelines it requires advertisers to follow.  Under new rules which will go into effect on December 1st of this year, bloggers will have to disclose any material relationship they have with their advertisers when offering reviews. In other words, if they receive money or products for free when they write reviews, they will have to disclose that information to their readers, or face a fine of up to $11,000.

These new guidelines promote transparency between advertisers and endorsers, which will make the Internet a more trustworthy source of relevant and neutral information.  Given the scope of the online world, it is necessary to curb the activities of scammers and hucksters and to promote a public forum where a reader can trust the material they see. The FTC’s new guidelines are a step in that direction.

The Economics of Clutter

by Lynn B. Johnson on October 24, 2009

ClutterMy clutter is costing me money. I figured this out a few days ago when, struck by the mad desire to clean my apartment, I found not one, not two, but three unopened packages of swim diapers. At about $8 apiece, that’s $24 wasted dollars.

Enough was enough. So far I’ve decluttered my office, the nursery, and half of my bedroom, and as a result I’ve taken 11 tall kitchen garbage bags worth of stuff to my local Goodwill. (Yes, I could have had a garage sale, but I wanted this stuff out of my place pronto.)

Is Layaway the Big Deal it's Cracked up to Be?

by Lynn B. Johnson on October 18, 2009

Layaway ProgramLast year around holiday-time, we heard a lot about layaway: “It’s coming back!” “Helloooo, 1980s, your purchase-plan just called.” In particular, Kmart earned buzz with its layaway program last year, and now offers layaway items on Sears’ purchases as well.

But is layaway really a big deal?

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