Personal Finance Roundup

Using Your Health Savings Account as a “Super Roth” Investment Vehicle [Free Money Finance] “If you can afford to delay using your HSA funds and instead leave them invested, your payoff in retirement will be substantial.”

Winning the Battle Against Low Quality Generics While Still Saving Money [The Simple Dollar] “The next time you go to the grocery store, actively replace all of your regular purchases with the low-end generics.”

7 Nasty Airline Fees and How to Avoid Them [Smart Money] “Here are seven instances when fees are assessed and how to avoid them.”

10 ways to spot 401(k) abuse [Bankrate] “Warning signs to help employees discover if their 401(k) contributions are being misused.”

9 Things You Should Not Buy New [Crosswalk] “Here are the top 9 things you
will be better off buying used.”

(Photo: Kevin Dean )


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  1. Myotheralt says:

    I was at Anime Iowa this weekend, and I saw several vendors had signs posted saying that you had to have a minimum of $15 – $20 to use a credit card. I thought I had read here several times that that practice was against the merchant agreement. Whats up?

  2. Orv says:

    @myotheralt: Just because it’s against the agreement doesn’t mean that the card companies are proactive about enforcing it. You could report it, or you could just pay cash, recognizing that for small businesses credit card fees on small purchases can nearly wipe out profit margins.

  3. B says:

    I have one tip about buying used jewelry: If you’re going to buy your engagement ring from a pawn shop, just make sure it’s not the same pawn shop where she pawned off the ring from her first marriage.

  4. synergy says:

    I was a little surprised by the popup that got past my blocker on that page about what not to buy new. It was selling those cheap rubber bracelets that say “Pray for China.” Yikes.

  5. starbreiz says:

    The HSA article is misleading. My HSA is “use it or lose it” at the end of each year. I’m not sure what kind of HSA the author has, but I’ve never had one that allowed rollovers.

    That said, it *is* a worthwhile investment for me, but I have medical issues that cause me to spend over a thousand dollars a year on deductibles.

  6. starbreiz says:

    Edit to my above post: I have an FSA, which I think is the most common type. That’s why the author’s plan is different.

  7. SadSam says:

    HSA (health savings account) go along with a High Deductible Health Plan. The HSA is owned by the employee and is funded with pre-tax dollars. You put money into your HSA and if you have a health expense you pay for it with your HSA dollars. If you don’t use all the money the funds roll over. If you have a major health problem you still have coverage after you satisfy your high deductible. Works best for younger healthier people. Idea is that you will shop around and be a better health consumer since you are spending your own money.

    HSAs are kind of like 401ks (in the sense that you are responsible for funding and you are in charge). Some people think HSA/HDHP are the wave of the future and will be replace traditional employer sponsored insurance just like 401ks have replaced pensions.

  8. rachmaninov1 says:

    From the Don’t Buy New article:

    Want to know what happens the second you drive that new car off the dealers lot? says it loses about 12 percent of its value.

    But John Lott looked at actual prices paid, and found that this drive-off price-drop is largely a myth:

    Last year I analyzed the prices of used cars-all 2006 models-in the Philadelphia area, comparing the manufacturers’ suggested retail price (MSRP) when new with the certified used price and the Kelly Bluebook price. The Kelly Bluebook price “reflects a vehicle’s actual selling price and is based on tens of thousands of recent real sales transactions from auto dealers across the United States.”

    I looked at used cars that were less than a year old, all with about 15,000 miles. These were chosen to define what used cars sell for when they are about a year old. Additional used cars were looked at that had less than 5,000 miles on them, averaging 3,340 miles.

    One thing immediately became clear: used cars with only a few thousand miles on them sell for almost the same price as when new. The certified used car price was on average just three percent less than the new car MSRP, and actually three percent higher than the new car Bluebook prices. [Emphasis Added]

  9. ugly says:

    @rachmaninov1: Wow, that’s actually very interesting!

    I wonder what the consumer got for the car on the trade-in though, or if it’s just the dealers than can charge just as much for a used car as a new one. Still, it does seem to jibe with what I’ve seen on the lots.

  10. rworne says:

    Wow. You can get used XBOX and Playstation games used for 50% off? What retail store does this?

    Someone should tell the local Gamestop, where ratty old titles was sold used for $5 off of MSRP. Depending on MSRP, that’s about 10-12% off.

  11. harlock_JDS says:

    @rworne: I was going say yhe exact same thing. Unless a game is really bad you might get 5$ off of it within the first year by buying used.

  12. rachmaninov1 says:

    @ugly: Lott probably should have compared new prices to private-party resale prices…

    That would have given us a better idea for the first-year loss of value, from the perspective of the new car buyer.