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December 10, 2007


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I stopped reading this article when I saw it a few days ago when I read that it suggested you pay off auto loans and credit cards with home equity. At least there's actually some helpful stuff in there!

Hmmmm, I live in Wisconsin, but usually end up in or through Chicago at least once or twice every year. How often would you say you'd have to go to Illinois to make it worth getting an I-Pass? Does it expire or do you have to use the money up within a certain period of time? Thanks for the ideas!

Becky --

You "rent" a unit (you get your money back when you return it) and pre-fund your account (I think I put in $40). Then you use the I-PASS (I use ours on two trips a year -- 4 times total including back and forth) until it gets below a certain value and then it refunds using your credit card. It does not expire.

You can get the details here:,1392734&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

Thanks for writing this. When you mentioned that you'd be funding your IRA early in the year, my first reaction was, "But what about dollar cost averaging?" I ended up making a little Excel model comparing returns from lump-sum investing versus DCA and found, surprisingly, that in many market scenarios DCA has worse returns. This prompted a little digging, and I found a wealth of research and previous blog articles underlining that exact fact. Thanks to you, I learned something today that will definitely help my own retirement planning in the future. :)

Great post about saving money. It’s definitely tough to save during the holidays (but a bit easier since you can't buy the nintendo Wii) but the time off allows us to stop and think for a moment. I work as a financial advisor for young professionals, and the end of the year is a good time to re-evaluate finances.

The holidays are filled with so many things to be happy about that it’s hard to think about unexpected expenses and potential pitfalls – like what happened to a friend of mine. All of his Christmas presents were stolen out of his car (who steals Christmas presents!) He had packed them the night before his road trip home. Someone had smashed his window during the night and made off with some pretty good stuff. (Even better for the theif, all the wrapping was already done.) The point is this. He didn’t own a home so homeowner’s insurance couldn’t help him here. But renter’s insurance would have. Renters insurance covers your valuables wherever they are. So one way to save money is to protect yourself against losing it. People know this, but they do always forget about renter's insurance. It's easy to over look.

So during this time of year I like to remind people to think about protecting themselves - especially when they're out spending much of their hard-earned money. Renters insurance policies are cheap (like about cost about the price of a pizza per month). You can search online for one, and a cool website to start at is because you can get a quote without putting in any personal information. Hope this helps. Happy Holidays!


The wife and I live in Appleton and have an I-Pass. We visit SW Chicagoland three-four times a year (have a niece & her husband down there) and we find the I-Pass to be well worth it. A couple of times we shook our heads in pity at the people stuck at the border toll booth waiting to pay tolls, both coming and going.

You part with $50 at first, $10 deposit, and $40 in tolls. You register your car/I-pass/credit card info with the Illinois tollway and then about one hour after that you are good to go. When the amount on the I-Pass gets to a certain amount it will automatically fill up again. You specify at registration how much you want the auto-refils to be.

How many booths do you drive through when you go to Illinois? Our niece used to live just south of downtown and the number of booths we had to deal with were not many, but we have to go through a lot more now they moved.

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