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On The Money, the personal finance show on CNBC hosted by Carmen Wong Ulrich, recently had a little web extra spotlighting Consumer Report’s list of best brokers. In their brief piece, they talked about the top three: USAA Brokerage Services, Vanguard, and Edward Jones.

USAA Brokerage Services

Unfortunately, USAA Brokerage Services is available only to USAA members, who are military personnel and their families. I know several people with USAA auto insurance and they absolutely love it (in fact, my car was totaled by

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someone covered by USAA and they took very good care of me!), so it’s not surprising to see them on this list. The commission on stock trades is $11.95, $5.95 if you some qualifications (25+ trades in 90 days or 16+ trades in 90 and have $50k in assets).


Vanguard, on the other hand, is available to anyone and they’re one of my favorite brokers. With vanguard, you have to select an investment type and you have two options: Vanguard mutual funds or “Stocks, bonds, ETFs, and non-Vanguard mutual funds.” With the Vanguard mutual fund account type, you get access to all their funds and you can trade them freely and for free (with some exceptions). You can’t buy stocks, bonds, ETFs, or non-Vanguard funds in the Vanguard mutual fund account type. With the stocks, bonds, ETFs, and non-Vanguard mutual fund account, you can buy anything you want but the fees are high compared to discount brokers.

Commissions: The standard Vanguard commission rate is $25 a trade, compared to $4.95 for a discount broker like TradeKing. A broker assisted trade is $40-$45, compared to $4.95 at TradeKing. The cheapest commission rate is Voyager Select, which requires $500,000 to $1M deposited, at $12 a trade.

I’m still a huge fan of Vanguard if you want access to their mutual funds, but for other brokerage options I always go with a discount broker.

Edward Jones

I’m familiar Edward Jones but I’ve never done any business with them. I dug around the site trying to find their commission structure but gave up after ten minutes of fruitless searching. I’m sure they have it listed somewhere and unfortunately my incompetence outlasted my patience.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find the Consumer Report’s piece (the only one I uncovered was from 2007) or I’d dig up some of the other names to see how they fared. Here’s the On The Money video piece:

This post is originally from

Consumer Reports America’s Best Brokers

Breakfast can be a very frugal meal, if you have time to prepare it. Unfortunately, time is a big problem when it comes to breakfast. My kids get up at 6:15 every morning, so they can catch the school bus at 7:15. If I were to get up to make them breakfast every day, I’d have to get up at 5:45. And that idea doesn’t appeal to me at all.
When I found myself turning to expensive breakfast cereals day after day, I started looking for a better solution. I began making my own convenience breakfast foods. They’re much more nutritious, and frugal, than their store bought counterparts. Iâ€
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™ll start you off with a couple of ideas, but the possibilities are endless.

Pancakes and Waffles
My children love pancakes and waffles for breakfast. Fortunately both freeze well, and they’re easy to reheat in the mornings.
To make ahead, whip up your favorite pancake or waffle recipe. I like the Whole Wheat Pancake recipe from Nutrition Fitness Life. Triple (or more!) the recipe, so you can make several meals at once.
Place your cooked pancakes or waffles in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze. When they’re frozen, move them to a freezer bag. For a quick breakfast, pull out the amount of pancakes or waffles that you need, and heat them up in the microwave or toaster.
Breakfast Burritos
I like breakfast burritos, because they’re so versatile, and they freeze really well. They’re easy to make, too.
To start, you’ll need tortillas, eggs, cheese, and any other fillers you like. You can use bacon, salsa, ham, green chilies, veggies, or anything else that appeals to you. You can easily make more than one kind of breakfast wrap in a single cooking session too. Figure on two eggs per burrito.
Set up an assembly line on your kitchen counter. Lay out the tortillas, cheese, and all your other fillers in a line. End your assembly line with a box of plastic wrap and some freezer bags.
Scramble your eggs. Place some in the center of a tortilla, like you would if you were making a burrito. Add some cheese and other fillers. Then turn in the top and bottom of the tortilla and roll it up, totally encasing the eggs and toppings in the tortilla.
Wrap the breakfast burritos in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag in the freezer. When you need a quick breakfast, pull out as many burritos as you need, remove the plastic wrap, and heat in the microwave 1-2 minutes per burrito.
By making breakfast ahead of time, I get to catch a few more minutes of sleep in the mornings, and I know my family is eating a healthy, yet inexpensive, breakfast each morning to start the day off right.
Do you have any quick, yet frugal breakfast ideas? I’d love to hear them!
(Photo: Waffles by dasqfamily, Burrito by edkohler)
This post is originally from

The secret phrase for the $200 Home Depot gift card giveaway is "Ulli doesn't care about anything. He's a Nihilist."
Frugal and Convenient Breakfast Recipes

One can only hope that as the light shines on this group, the corruption will be fully revealed. Obama heads for the high grass. Only one of the five television networks that interviewed Obama for their Sunday shows bothered to ask him about Acorn, the left-wing community organizing group whose federal funding was cut off last week by an overwhelming vote in Congress. This article will show a few things, First:  The Media is not doing their job.  There are a few in th
Filed under: Today's estate is the secluded retreat of Hollywood lawyer Peter Nelson. The LA Times Hot Property column reports that the dealmaker bought the home in 1997 for $2.1 million and spent more than $1 million in improvements. The traditional home sits on nearly 1.75 acres with ocean and city views. The four-bedroom home h
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as a relaxed style that the listing likens to a Hamptons vacation home. Key features include a large family room, brick-accented country kitchen and a formal dining room. This home is listed at $5.995 million.Gallery: A Hollywood Lawyer in Bel AirA Hollywood Lawyer in Bel Air, Estate of the Day originally appeared on Luxist on Sat, 09 May 2009 13:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feedsRead | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

by Thomas Erikson
Today there are so many dealing with bills and many of the bills that they end up having to pay each month are loan payments. If you have a lot of different lines of credit, and other types of loans, you can end up having a huge amount of debt causing you to stress out each month.
There can appear to be no answer to the amount of money you have to pay out every month but you obviously haven’t considered using a low interest
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onsolidation/">debt consolidation loan to lower your monthly costs and take control of your debt.
When you continue to spend a lot of money paying your debt each month, you may be getting nowhere and only putting a lot of stress on yourself. When you get a debt consolidation loan, you can quickly get rid of all this stress. After you take your debts and combine them into a debt consolidation loan with low interest, you’ll begin to see the benefits right away. You won’t have to spend as much paying your debt and you will have more money left over to take care of other expenses you may have.
Not only does high debt cause you to stress out over all the high payments, but the phone calls and the letters that get sent to you when you pay late can also be very stressful. Sometimes this can lead you into bankruptcy or all the stress may actually cause you to have problems in your personal relationships as well.
A debt consolidation loan is a readily available solution that can free up more of your income every month for other things. There are many debt consolidation loan options such as a home equity loan if you have equity in your home (usually the lowest cost, and will therefore save you the most money), an unsecured personal loan or a low cost credit card.
It’s a great idea to get some help from a professional debt consultant when you are trying to make these decisions. This way you can have some help when you are trying to pick out the debt consolidation loan.
Once you have made the decision and obtained your debt consolidation loan, learn not to use your credit cards and lines of credit or cancel them outright so you will not be tempted to use them. The last thing you want is any more debt.
Creating a reasonable budget is definitely going to be helpful as well. If you stick with it, it can definitely help you to become more financially stable. When you do this, then the money you make can go towards supporting the family and can help you achieve financial success and freedom.

About the Author:
Are you ready to get your finances under control? Before you jump in, read more about how a debt consolidation loan will help you and your finances. provides you with the information and solutions you need to make smart decisions and turn your finances around.
The daily media chaos with Obama still in campaign mood for Health reform, and other issues, in my opinion, is just a frenzy to cover up other significant changes in policy which will further directly affect...

Your credit score is increasingly becoming one of the most important numbers in your life. I’ve written about what’s in your FICO credit score as well as how to get FICO credit score estimates, but never how to get the actual three-digit FICO score calculated by one of the bureaus.

While the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) did wonders to shed light on the credit reporting industry and the data they are collecting on all of us, the light wasn’t bright enough. There is no way for you to get a free FICO credit

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score unless you sign up for a trial with one of the bureaus or with Fair Isaac Corporation directly.

Free FICO Credit Scores

There’s no true way to get a free FICO credit score, the bureaus aren’t in the business of giving that information away, but they will give you your score if you sign up for one of their credit related services. Fortunately, they offer trials so you can sign up for a program, see your score, then cancel the trial. If you just want your credit report, see the instructions below.

  1. - They offer a 7 day trial of their service and you can get a free credit report from Experian as well as an Experian credit score. You are signing up to their Triple Advantage Credit Monitoring program which monitors for changes in your Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion credit report. If you don’t cancel within the 7 day trial, you will be charged $14.95 a month. is owned by Experian.

  2. Privacy Matters 1-2-3 - Similar to Credit Check Total, this program has a 7 day trial membership and you get access to all three bureaus reports and scores. If you don’t cancel within the 7 day trial period, the service is $19.95 a month. Privacy Matters 1-2-3 is owned by TransUnion.

  3. MyFICO ScoreWatch - MyFICO ScoreWatch has a thirty day (30) trial period where you can get a free Equifax credit report and Equifax credit score. If you don’t cancel within the first thirty days, you will be billed $89.95 annually and you get access to a credit monitoring program that’s fairly robust. You can read my MyFICO ScoreWatch review if you’re interested in learning more. MyFICO is owned by Fair Isaac Corporation, the creator of the FICO credit score system.

  4. Equifax Credit Watch Gold with 3-in-1 Monitoring - The list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include a service offered by Equifax. You sign up for a thirty day (30) trial and you get a free FICO credit score from Equifax as well as a 3-in-1 consolidated credit report from all three bureaus. If you don’t cancel within the 30 day period, the monthly fee is $14.95.

Free Credit Report

If you just want your credit report, you can get a copy from each of the bureaus from, the website setup by the government. FACTA, passed signed into law in 2003, required that bureaus provide you a copy of your credit report each year upon request. FACTA wasn’t perfect but it did make improvements on FCRA.

It’s more important for you to check your credit report regularly than it is to check your score. Your score will be determined based on each bureau’s proprietary equation but the data they use, your report, is the critical piece of the puzzle. Reviewing your report regularly is the best way to ensure that whatever score you have is accurate. Millions of reports have errors and chances are good that you have one if you haven’t checked your report lately.

Reviewing your report is also important because you can spot identity theft fairly easily because you’ll see accounts or addresses that you don’t recognize. I reviewed my report a few years ago and discovered an address I didn’t recognize (along with a phone account). It took a few weeks but I had the matter cleared up. It didn’t affect my score but it’s important to keep your report as accurate as possible.

You will not be able to get your actual FICO credit score through the government website, you will need to use one of the options above.

(Photo: andresrueda)

This post is originally from

How To Get A Free FICO Credit Score

You don't need to be Warren Buffett to understand and follow this simple 3 step plan that has proven to put the short-term odds of success in your corner. Here are 3 companies fulfilling each of these 3 steps right now.
Representative Kurt Schrader, Democrat from Oregon, and Representative Steve Driehaus, Democrat from Ohio, have co-sponsored a bill, H.R. 3842, that would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend the first time homebuyer tax credit.
The current first time homebuyer credit is set to expire on December 1st, 2009. Schrader’s bill would do two crucial things:

  • The program would be extended to October 1st, 2010,

  • Homes purchased “after
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    2008,” rather than “in 2009″ would be elivible.

There is also one other change, you could treat the purchase of a home after December 31st, 2009 and before October 1st, 2010 as occurring on December 31st, 2009 for tax purposes. In other words, if you bought the house in 2010, you could take the credit on your 2009 tax return.
Don’t get too excited just yet, the bill was introduced on the 15th and was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means. Several bills just like this one have been introduced over the last few months and died in the Committee on Ways and Means (HR 1993, HR 2606, HR 2655, HR 2905… the list keeps going).
First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Extension (HR 3842) from personal finance blog

by Steve Turner

Utah Auto Insurance coverage has many options built into it. While state law requires certain limits and types of coverage, there are other options that you can add to your policy to give yourself further peace of mind in the event of an accident.

You will save money on your premium by increasing your deductible amount. Lower premiums are given to policies that have high deductibles. This is associated to the fact that you will not need to file as many claims because more of your accident expenses could fall under your deductible amount.


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e who chose to purchase low deductible policies do so thinking that they will have coverage under all circumstances. But generally having coverage for a $400 accident is more expensive in the long run than just paying for the lower cost damages yourself.

Furthermore if you have a low deductible you will be filing more claims. That means that your insurance company will give you a higher risk rating because of the number of claim they have to process for you, and therefore will raise your premiums.

Shopping around for better prices for your coverage is an easy way to determine if you are receiving the best price for your policy. Make sure and get quotes from at least three different companies.

One way to protect yourself is that if you are looking for a new policy, do not cancel your current policy until the new one is in place. If you do have a lapse of time in between then you are uninsured and if you are in an accident you could be financially devastated.

Following these tips will allow you to save considerable amounts of money on your auto insurance policy. Do not be tempted to use these savings to go out and go on a vacation. Instead save it for a rainy day.

About the Author:
Steve Turner is a wonderful asset to use when you are trying to buy Utah Auto Insurance policies. Utah Auto Insurance Facts Steve Turner works with a number of different providers and can therefore help you to find the cheapest rates for your Utah Auto Insurance coverage. Utah Auto Insurance Info
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