The Boston Globe

The US government is more than halfway through the
mailing of millions of the so-called quick rebate
checks this week, and businesses just can't wait to
get their hands on your money.

There's Alpha Omega, the Boston-area watch and diamond
merchant, with its newspaper ad featuring the
headline, "Watch Your Tax Rebate Grow." How does it
work? You sign your rebate check over - with proper
identification, of course - and you'll be able to get
that amount, plus an extra 20 percent, applied to a
purchase. So that means a $300 check is worth $360 in

Watches and diamonds don't come cheaply, of course.
You may need to charge the rest and accrue interest on
the purchase, if you don't pay the credit card bill
off in full the next month.

Then there are the likes of Home Depot and Sears.
Their television ads suggest you "save" money by using
your check to buy energy- efficient appliances at
their outlets. Appliances aren't as sexy as watches
and diamonds, but to each their own.

How about a suggestion for your money that's even less
sexy than appliances and, some might say, unpatriotic
in an economy that's two- thirds built on consumer
spending? How about saving or investing it?

That $300 or $600 might not seem like much, but
invested over the long-term, it can grow

The Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America, which
advocates for more retirement savings through 401(k)s
and similar plans, wants you to put the equivalent of
the tax rebate toward a better retirement. It's come
up with an analysis of how much it would amount to by
the time you're 65 as part of its "401(k) Day"
celebration on Tuesday.

If you're looking for other investment ideas, how
about one of the 200 domestic stock mutual funds that
have initial purchase minimums of $500 or less,
according to Or one of the 248 stock
purchase plans being offered directly by US companies,
with a minimum initial purchase of $500 or less,
according to

Web insurers fail test

Shopping for term life insurance on the Internet?
Well, not all Web sites are created equal, and some
are downright misleading, according to a new study.

In fact, the report released last month by the
Consumer Federation of America found that 40 percent
of the 25 sites analyzed are so inadequate and
potentially misleading that the group calls them "Not
Recommended." The sites failing to meet CFA's
standards:, Intelli,,,,,,,

"We chose term life insurance to test the reliability
of the Internet as a shopping tool because of the
straightforward and comparative nature of the
product," said J. Robert Hunter, CFA's director of
insurance and coauthor of the report. "Clearly,
shopping around can pay off, but the best deal is very
much dependent on where you land on the Web."

The good news is that CFA, a nonprofit association of
more than 280 groups, found four sites in particular
that it could recommend highly, because of their
comprehensive list of insurers, ease of use, and
inclusion of low-load or no-load insurance companies:,,, and

Each of the Web sites in the study was asked to come
up with a quote and other information for a $500,000,
10-year term policy, for a hypothetical 40-year-old
male in excellent health. Some of the sites simply
provided general information about term life, while
others sold insurance directly on commission, and yet
others just generated leads for agents.

For the complete report, go to