Monday, May 10, 2010

PSA: I Caved and Joined Tumblr

Because Blogger's platform makes me feel old. Perhaps Tumblr will help me feel young, until some other hip platform with a name that's missing a vowel comes along.

I'll be updating at and eventually will have all set up there like a grown up who has mastered the Internets. For now, go to the Tumblr for latest links, updates, etc.and know it's very much under construction. Still tweeting as usual.

Advance apologies for being an online mess for the next few weeks! XOXO! -MP

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Three Completely Unrelated Stories

1) In Saturday's Weekend Investor, we learn about something that slipped through the cracks of both financial-aid and health-care reform: student health plans. (And how you can fight back.) Obsessive and potentially creepy followers of this journalist will note that my first-ever WSJ story was about the young and uninsured. Neatly enough, the issue of graduates getting the boot from parent policies is addressed in the health care bill, so yay for media.

2) I review the NAO Symphony, a wireless speaker dock. Yes, there's video and yes it's embarrassing. And no, my dwelling isn't that bleak all the time, I just moved in. Sheesh.

3) We launched a rad new Greater New York section! This is my first blog post, and it's all about scandal! Congrats to the WSJ New York crew!

PS -- I'm rereading Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" for the gazillionth time, partially inspired by hearing Stephen Colbert talk about Harper Lee's re-readability last week, and MAN does that text still blow my mind. If you haven't read it, do so. And "Mockingbird," of course. Belated happy 84th, Harper Lee!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

President Obama Comes to NYC, Wall Street Reacts

Joe Bel Bruno and I report from the front lines of President Obama's visit to Lower Manhattan.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

More on the Case of the 400 Pounds of Student-Loan Data

As previously reported, officials are looking into what's believed to be the largest-ever compromise of student loan borrower data. More details have emerged, but questions still remain.

If you were impacted or have any questions, drop me a line.

Reader comment of choice: WSJ blog seems to be the only place where anybody really knows what the hell is going on.

Always happy to help!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Who Says You Can't Be Immortalized in the Age of the iPad?

From an ad in Tuesday's Personal Journal for the WSJ iPad app:

OMG! The lower right-hand corner! It's my story! (Hat tip to an observant Amir!)

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Bank of Mom and Dad Closes

Downwardly mobile families: another product of this recession.

We explore the changes in family finances on today's front page. The decrease in household wealth comes at a time when a younger generation faces an increasingly steep price tag for higher education.

I know I say this all the time, but this story would never have happened without reader input. Thanks to all those who took the time to be interviewed, weigh in.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Fridays with

For years, consumer journalists have screamed at the top of our collective lungs: is the place to get your free credit report. Period.

In recent years, a host of "free" sites have popped up. The Federal Trade Commission fired back, and today you can read my newsy take about what the new rules are for sites like Weaves in the law, recent industry chatter and happenings on the Hill.

But don't turn that dial just yet! I also chatted with Eric Violette, the star of the now-famous controversial advertisements. We learn he has good credit and a French-Canadian accent.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Banana Museum and its Enduring Appeal

On Tuesday's WSJ front page, my profile of Ken Bannister and the International Banana Club and Museum. Got some cash? The 17,000 banana-themed articles could be yours if you bid quickly!

Be sure not to miss the slideshow! Here's to peel-shaped collars.

Previous hard-hitting journalism on page one: yo-yos, Monopoly, comics, square dancin'.

Tax Season and Proof that New York Isn't #1 for Everything

A taxtastic high five to Houston, Texas, the city with the worst tax procrastination last year.

That 1040 don't get any easier when you wait to file it at the last minute...(Plus, your accountant will hate you.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Just Checking

In this weekend's Weekend Investor, I take a look at online-based checking accounts.

The thing is, most folks who deal with banks have checking accounts. Yet they're not that sexy of a topic.

But we're nickeled and dimed out of a gazillion dollars every year over all those little fees. Drives me crazy, since we work hard for our moolah and there are better ways to get what you want out of a bank. I get asked about this stuff by friends and family all the time. Read, and bank happy.

PS -- Over on the Juggle, we discuss whether it's worth the hassle to switch.

Monday, March 08, 2010

A Dubious Honor for the Cell Industry

Congrats to cellphone companies and banks, which once again top the list for most-complained about industries of 2009, ousting competition from the accordion and shoelace industries.

Completely consistent with my basket of angry reader emails. Keep em coming!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

One Borrower: $555,000 in Student Loans

In today's paper, I write about Michelle Bisutti, a doctor with $555,000 in student loans.

This story at times felt like an unintenional follow up to this story about student loans I wrote back in 2008.

Thanks to all of those who took the time to write in and talk with me about their experiences. With this story, like so many others, I would be completely lost without readers, experts who answer our calls.

Also, the personal finance team last week launched a brand spankin-new section in Saturday's paper, the Weekend Investor. (That's where this story ran.) You can see it updated online here every Sat morn. Or follow the personal finance groups tweets @wsjpersfinance.

Update: I blog over at the Juggle about the ripple effects of student debt. (Also, see recent devaluing a degree story.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

How the Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth (and Save You Money)

Anytime technology and finance intersect, I get nervous/excited.

So should consumers, because there's a silver lining. We've had recessions before, but never ones where it was so easy to get the internet to make sense of the fine print. That could mean skimming the fat off billions of dollars we collectively pay in fees to financial institutions every year.

Read about the sites, their founders and how they work over on the WSJ's tech blog, Digits.

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Shame of Texting

I humbly submit my WSJ reporter quote of the day:

"We once got a picture of a naked old woman." -Lauren Leto, co-founder of

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

How Much Is Your College Degree Really Worth?

In today's WSJ, we examine all the fuzzy math behind those expected lifetime earnings estimates.