3 Diamonds and a Dog #11

Sep 21, 2012 by

In each post of the Money Counselor “Diamonds & Dogs” series, I pick three items—could be an article, a website, a video, an image—that in my humble opinion would be especially valuable—the Diamonds—in helping Money Counselor readers make better money choices. And to balance the three Diamonds, I pick just one lame item—the Dog.

money idea gems3 Diamonds

  • As we all know, banks pay squat these days in interest on CDs and savings accounts. John at My Family Finances recommends I-Bonds instead of bank accounts. He says interest rates on I-Bonds today are more than double the best CD/savings account rates. As John explains:

I-Bonds are a government-backed security that can be purchased online in various denominations. Interest rates are pegged to the current rate of inflation so that you never risk losing savings to rising prices. Better still, since interest is paid by the federal government, it’s not subject to state income taxes. Federal taxes owed on your bonds can either be deferred until you exercise the bond or paid annually on your tax return.

  • If you’ve not yet discovered financial advisor Danielle Park, author of the book Juggling Dynamite (also the name of her blog), you really should check her out. She’s one of my favorites because she’s so willing to point out that the Emperor—in this case the money management establishment—has no clothes. She’s smart and honest and has no fear. In her post “The Madness of Money ‘Professionals’ and Benchmarking“, she takes apart Jason Trennert, Chief Investment Strategist at Strategas Research Partners. Her post includes a video of Trennert on Bloomberg toeing the usual party line, which always incenses Ms. Park because it’s the individual investor who’s being robbed to enrich Wall Street types like Trennert.
  • Over at the blog Enemy of Debt I found an excellent post by Suzanne Cramer. She outlines the “7 Habits of Debt-Free People“. Some of the commenters take issue with a few of Ms. Cramer’s suggestions, which makes for an interesting dialogue. As for me, if you aim to be debt-free, I think adopting these seven habits can only help you reach your goal faster and with less pain.

lame money adviceA Dog

This edition’s Dog: MasterCard’s “Next Step” Prepaid credit card, targeting the—get this—recovering addicts niche. According to CreditCards.com:

The card comes with customizable controls that block transactions at ATMs, liquor stores, bars, casinos, escort services, tattoo parlors, piercing salons and other dens of temptation. Co-signers on the card, typically a parent, family member or rehab sponsor, can set daily spending limits and maximum monthly transactions, as well as monitor the card’s use online. Its founders say the card will be available at nextstepcard.com by the end of September 2012.

Personally, with all those transaction blocks, I’d see little point in even having a credit card (kidding!).

Have MasterCard marketers gone all soft-in-the-head and altruistic about helping the poor, unfortunate consumers addicted to tatoos and escorts? Hardly. Rather Next Step is merely the most recent symptom of MasterCard’s addiction to transferring cash from your pocket to its. The card costs $9.95 up-front, and for the service of forcing you to pay cash for your vices MasterCard charges a $14.95 per month “maintenance fee.”

Nominations Please

Do you have a nomination for a Diamond or Dog? Send it to me please using the Free Advice link at the top of the page. I’ll give you credit if I use it in a “3 Diamonds and a Dog” post.

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