Mark Centuori: “You occasionally highlight certain shopping opportunities. I don’t recall reading about a site called Mercata. It’s a general merchandise site that will give you $50 in Mercata cash if you register (which is free). You can use it for merchandise, I think up to 50% of the purchase price, until Nov. 30. Shipping is currently free. They have things called Powerbuys which can lower the regular price even lower. I have no idea how their pricing usually runs, but with the free shipping & $50, it may not matter. I have no affiliation with Mercata.”


(Steve’s title, not mine — but it does seem apt)

Steve: “I was signing the receipt for my credit card purchase when the clerk noticed that I had never signed my name on the back of the credit card. She informed me that she could not complete the transaction unless the card was signed. When I asked why, she explained that merchants needed to be able to compare the signature on the credit card with the signature I entered on the receipt. So I nodded and signed the credit card in front of her. She then carefully compared that signature to the one on the receipt. As luck would have it, they matched. And that is why that person works as a cashier.”


As those of you who have registered at Personal Fund already know, we’ve added a new calculator to It helps you figure out whether it’s worth the costs of dumping one mutual fund for another. (Sure, the new one might do better. But what if you incur taxes selling the old one?) We’ve been getting some nice notices for this site — which I should stress redound mainly to the credit of my partner Stefan Sharkansky, who has done the lion’s share of the work and good thinking. An e-mail I particularly enjoyed came yesterday from a former high-ranking S.E.C. official:

I was [title deleted until we get permission to identify him] at the SEC when we wrote our own web site’s cost calculator. We couldn’t devote the kind of resources to our calculator that you obviously have devoted to yours. By including data, comparisons, and tax effects, you have done a terrific job. We thought about this problem for a long time, and wanted to include such things, but it was beyond the scope of our budget.

Ah, if the United States government only had our resources.


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