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A few weeks ago, I opened an HSBC Direct Savings account, which at the time was offering a very attractive 5.05% APY. Then recently, it dropped to 4.50%!! Why the heck did they do that for? What a coincidence it was that they chose to reduce the rate right after I opened an account. So then I looked around at the other banks offering high yield online savings accounts and saw that many of the other banks also reduced their rates ( ING Direct: 4.30%, Emigrant Direct: 4.75%).

Though the 0.55% drop was a hard blow, I decided to stick with it. It is still a great place to save my money.

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Guest Post by: W. Liang

BALLY TOTAL FITNESS: A SCAM???

I am writing to all of you concerning a possible “scam” running by a corporation by the name of Bally Total Fitness. If you don’t know what that is, this corporation runs a nationwide chain of fitness centers and gyms. On August of 2007, this corporation filed for bankruptcy protection, yet many members and consumers seem to be unaware of this. Bally Total Fitness sees that while their corporation is going down the hole, they will make almost anyone and everyone a target for their unlawful business practices. They will do everything in their power to lure you with their empty promises so you can sign three-year contracts that are almost impossible to get out of. There are three ways:

1 ) YOU DIE.
2) You move 25 miles away from any Bally’s facility.
3) Injure yourself… or fake an injury for a doctor’s note.

My Story: I walked into a Bally Total Fitness facility nearby my home with a friend. A sales person immediately sat us down, gave us a clipboard and told us to sign some release forms before they told us about their plans. We figured it was pretty much harmless because we thought we were in control. Another note: Bally’s do not offer any pamphlets or flyers on membership plans and prices. We were led into an office and a friendly salesperson, who I shall not name, began to ask us about our commitments. We told them we were looking for a month-to-month plan for two months and that was it. He told us that for a month-to-month, we were only limited to workout on three specific days of the week. It would be $60 a month. We thought it was too expensive and got up to go. He stopped us and gave us another suggestion: $38 dollars a month for each person if we put a down payment of $57. We still though it was too expensive for our budget and told him we would go home and think about it. Desperate for us to stay, he said he would cut us a special deal: $5 down payment and $38 each person for each month. We thought it was too good to be true, but had us convinced when he said he was the manager and had the power to do cut deals like that. As long as we go 17 times for within 60 days, we can cancel without any fees. He told us to give an ID card and credit card and gave us an eight page contract. Note that he never told us it was a contract nor did he say it was for 36 months.

Two months went by; we abided to the rules, went 17 times and went for a cancellation. When I got there, I was denied because the number of times I attended magically turned to 12. The salesperson who signed me up gave me another alternative. If I was going back to college, send in a proof of residence and address and give a fee of $50 along with a notice of cancellation MAILED to their headquarters in California. I was denied again because I was told I must be at least 25 miles away from any facility. My salesperson knew very well where my university was being a college student himself. Also, I found out he was in fact not the manager of the club. The manager of the club was actually a woman. Right then and there, I knew that there was something really fishy with this company. So it’s been 5 months and I am still locked in this contract and haven’t found a way out.

READ CONTRACTS BEFORE SIGNING…

DON’T GET SCREWED!!!

I did some research online and was shocked and appalled by the number of websites, forums and personal stories about how this major corporation has screwed them over. It has been the subject of federal investigations across America, involving the New York State Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau. Former Attorney State General Eliot Spitzer had some agreements of reform for the company. However, Bally’s just isn’t living to their end of the agreement. So, I decided to share some of the stories I found on forums on the internet:

- 17-year old girl walked into her local Bally Total Fitness and informs staff she is a minor. Staff member assures her that he will take care of everything and ends up taking all her information and changes her birthday on the contract so she can be born one year earlier.
- U.S. Military person was denied of cancellation even after sending in papers for proof of his deployment to Iraq. Years later, was harassed by Bally’s Collection Agency. Credit report ruined. Bally claimed they have never received such letter at their headquarters.

- 20-year old college student was promised a student plan, but finds out his membership was never cancelled because supposedly, his card was found active in another state far away from him. Harassed by collection agency; credit report ruined.

- Half of the stories on the internet involving cancellation denial were that Bally claims they never received any documents or cancellation notices. However, the ones who fax them or mail them notices along with the threat to sue were not denied of cancellation.

- Many victims of this “scam” were involved because of fraud, forged signatures on contracts and pressure.

Many people who fall victim to this corporation is more or less our age. Now, I understand some of you might be members and are completely satisfied with the services; and some of you might be a current/former employee who enjoys working for Bally’s. I’m not saying every salesperson out there is deceptive. However, I do feel that one must take a closer look at what is happening with this company and why are there so many consumers out there who are completely dissatisfied with this corporation. If it is nothing but a few complaints, then maybe it is the consumers who are to blame, but if there are thousands upon thousands of complaints out there, it does not take a genius to figure out that this corporation is hiding something.

I left the title of this article or whatever it a question because I want you to decide for yourself whether or not Bally Total Fitness is actually scamming people. For me, I cannot find myself supporting such a crooked company that makes their money by lying and stealing. So please, tell a friend; and tell a friend to tell another friend and let this be one step closer to the shut-down of this bully of a corporation… or at least some reforms to their policy. Let’s be truthful now, I am sure most of you have considered joining a gym at one point or another in your life. So now, I am sharing my story with you all in hopes of preventing more unsuspecting consumers from being scammed.

FOR MANY MORE INTERESTING STORIES AND INFORMATION, YOU MAY GO TO ANY SEARCH ENGINE AND TYPE IN SEARCH: “BALLY TOTAL FITNESS SCAM

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Everyone has their own formula for the number of accounts and the amount of money they put in them. I figured. Depending on their lifestyle and budget, people divide accordingly. Keeping to the setup of my finances is very important to financial stability. The general accounts that many people consider are:

  • Savings
  • Checking
  • Credit Card
  • Emergency Fund
  • Brokerage
  • Individual Retirement
Currently my financial accounts percentage setup is:



At my stage in life, I have no need for an emergency fund nor do I have or want to use a credit card until I feel the need for a good-standing credit score.

So, here is what I hope my finance allotment would look like by the time I accomplish my short-term goal:



A person's personality and age often determines how he/she uses and disperses their money.
  • Big spender/Teens and young adults - Allocate more in checking and credit card accounts.
  • Risk Taker/Young adults - Allocate more in brokerage and emergency fund accounts.
  • Conservative/Mature adults and elders - Allocate more in savings and retirement accounts.
I'm the conservative type but I'm young and curious, particularly in business and the stock market, so I allow myself to entertain my interests. BUT I will be working to reach my ideal setup.

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Blogging is a very productive activity whether the blog is for personal, informational, educational, or entertainment purposes. Many people blog, primarily, to let others to view and never think that they can make a little spare change from it. Looking at side bars of my blog, you can see plenty of advertisements that pertain to the field of my blog. These ads have the potential to bring in cash, depending on the amount of traffic.

Lets say you like to blog about video games. On that blog, you give reviews of a certain game or system, notify others of discount prices, and provide upcoming news of the gaming industry. Now what ads would seem appropriate?

Google Adsense - Pretty much a given. They provide relevant ads to the blog content. People make hundreds from the program.

Commission Junction

They are at the center of hundreds of companies that wish to provide affiliate marketing. From here, you'll find many ads concerning your topic. From just a little searching I found these appropriate advertisers for a video game site:

  • eBay
  • Buy.com
  • GameFly
  • Best Buy
  • Newegg.com
LinkShare

Similar to Commission Junction providing affiliate marketing for other companies. And here I found:
  • EBgames
  • Gamestop
  • Bidz
  • J & R
  • Toy R Us
  • Walmart
Putting up these ads are simple and quick. Just copy the provided scripts and html codes and the ads will appear fully functional. Once the visits become plentiful, you'll see substantial income.

Next, here is a site that PAYS you to blog. Basically, they have companies who want others to write a post about a certain topic. If there is a new video game and they want someone write a review of the game and post in on a blog, you'd qualify. They pay $25 for your first post! Afterwards, compensation varies depending on the requests.

PayPerPost





These are only a FEW of the many ways you can use your blog to make a little spare change. Many other programs out there exist and it is up to you to take advantage of them. Blogging provides a person with not only possible income but you become more productive. This blog definitely improved my writing, allowed expression of my thoughts and experiences, and gave me the opportunity to learn and use computer coding. It would probably do the same for anyone else who has a blog. Put this beneficial activity into your list of hobbies!

So... GET TO BLOGGIN'!!

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WHEWWWWWW!!!!!!

Syntax-Brillian (BRLC) shot up today by 25.69% up to $4.99. This was an odd occasion since there was no news that could have sent the stock price rising. What do I care right? As long as it goes up, I'm happy. And, it is still climbing during after-market trading to $5.04.

Possible upcoming rumors:

  • Secretive collaboration with China's government
  • Olevia will be the official brand of TVs for the Beijing 2008 Olympics
  • Best Buy got a deal with the company
  • Company buyout
Whatever it is, it's gonna be goooooooooooooood for me.

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Last month's net worth = $1856
This month's net worth = $1535
Difference = -$321

All thanks to BRLC! Well, work starts today and my income will become more steady. Gosh, this is depressing but I am still OPTIMISTIC. Can't let it stop my progress.