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Have you seen the Geico ad in which Kenny Rogers is playing poker while singing “You Gotta Know When To Hold ‘em”? Mi amigo Wayne is the guy who tells The Gambler “I get the gist, yeah.” See the funny ad below.
Wayne and I were talking the other day about whether or not it would be a smart idea to take early retirement from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) pension.
Maybe you find yourself in a similar conundrum at your place of employment. I will use the SAG pension as an example. Hopefully, some of our decisions will be similar to yours.
SAG would pay out 100% of what is waiting for us if we don’t take it until we’re 65. We could take it as early as 55, but we’d only get 70% of what we’d get at age 65. That is because for every month we take it early, the benefit is reduced .25%.
My initial reaction was that the bean counters who pore over the actuarial tables are not going to make it more attractive to pay out money early. But after running the numbers, and conferring with two accountants and three financial planners, it looks like early retirement might be a good move. There are some factors to consider.
In A Nutshell
I realize that lots of folks want a quick answer. Suffice it to say, if I were 55 and never
A couple friends of mine are very committed to conserving utilities. We joke that in the eyes of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, they live on a vacant lot with a leak.
I was truly shocked to see how low their bill is. In the dead of summer, they spent 82 cents/day on electricity and 17 cents/day on water. No solar panels, no windmills – just plain old conservation.
They averaged 5 kilowatts of electricity per day. The guys on Apollo 13 didn’t squeeze the electricity this hard. How do they achieve this? They run a power cord from the back of their neighbor’s garage to their house. Buuuuuut seriously…
They use so little water that they did not qualify for the LADWP residential grass removal rebate program – which pays you to get rid of your lawn!
I have seen them typing on their computers in winter with fingertips cut out of gloves like street urchins. Oh I chuckle, but these guttersnipes laugh all the way to the bank. No word if they have ever heated up a big rock and put it in their bed like Pa did for Laura Ingalls.
Check out their most recent bill from mid-July thru mid-September when it was really hot in LA. Over half of their bill is
My bromance with my Chase Ink Plus has never been stronger. For a limited time, they boosted their sign-up bonus… to 70,000 points!! That is worth $700 in TAX-FREE cash. You could also redeem the points for $875 in travel booked through their travel search engine. See why I am smitten?
Why should you get this one? It’s Rock-tober people. It’s only a handful of weeks until Christmas, Hannukah and Festivus. That means you could probably use some extra cash. And… here’s how you can actually get $700 tax free!
In my post Jock Straps, Bunsen Burners and Passive Income, I talk about different kinds of passive income streams. One such stream from which I drink is residual payments from acting gigs. Yesterday, I got my all-time lowest residual payment: one red cent. That’s right, a penny. This was for some voices I did on the animated pilot “Dan Danger”.
I covered up my address cuz I don’t want y’all knowing I have this kinda cash sitting around.
It seems quite fitting that I am writing this post from eight miles high, on a Delta flight, with a ticket I purchased with 25,000 frequent flyer miles. I received those miles as part of a bonus for meeting the spend on a Delta SkyMiles American Express credit card.
They have increased their sign up bonus to 50,000 miles + a $50 Delta statement credit (usually it is 30,000 miles). The catch: You must apply by Monday, September 8th and then spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of having the card. Click on Chip’s Favorite Credit Card Offers for up-to-date deals, terms, and conditions on these cards and more. Email me if you have any questions.
The same deal applies for the business credit card. If you want to apply for both the personal and business cards at the same time, check out Results of My April “App-Aloosa” for tips on how I did it in the past.
Remember that you can no longer get the sign-up bonus on a Delta SkyMiles
A few years ago, I started loaning money to complete strangers via Lending Club and Prosper. Here are my posts after Year One and Year Two. $25 was the most I lent to any of the 30 people. I spread it around to (clear throat) diversify my portfolio. Of course, I said that with a swagger and deeper than usual voice.
I got returns of 6.72% and 5.78% respectively. Over the three years, only one borrower defaulted. So, I had to eat that, just like a bank does when someone bails on what they owe.
People who are looking to borrow money will say the reason they need the money. I tend to go with those who want the loan to pay off a high interest credit card or start a new business.
Are you more inclined to borrow than lend? You can do that too. It’s anonymous for all parties. Use Lending Club and Prosper to borrow money from regular people at a rate cheaper than your high interest credit card or a personal bank loan.
If you have extra cash, this might be a good way to help folks dig out of debt or fund other projects, while getting a better return than in a CD or savings account. Lending Club and Prosper do all the work for you. You just sign up to lend or borrow.
Donating to charity is a great way to help meet a credit card spending requirement. That’s how I paid off my ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Donation. There are TWO fantastic 50,000 mile sign-up bonus offers right now. You must apply for United’s by Tuesday (September 2nd). You have a week to apply for Delta’s (September 8th). Both offers are usually 30,000 miles, so 50,000 is mucho better!! Apply while you can!
You’re not a maroon. You see a sweet sign-up bonus for a credit card. The bonus is yours if you get the new card and spend a thousand dollars or so in the next few months. AWESOME! But, $1,000?!! You realize it doesn’t make sense to waste $1,000 on stuff you don’t need, just to get a free plane ticket or points worth $500. What do you do?
Use your new card for purchases where you’d normally use cash. Then pay off the new card with the cash you would have used in the first place. If you are afraid that you will use a card to spend money that you don’t have, I suggest signing in to your card account online and paying off the card balance as frequently as you wish – even daily!
$1,000 divided by three is only $333.33 per month or $11 per day. You can probably reach that spending requirement using your new card only paying the bills for your telephone, internet, cable and groceries.
I use my credit card everywhere for everything – instead of cash. I use a card for any purchase I make online or in stores. Heck, I just used a card to buy a banana at 7-11. I use it EVERYWHERE possible. I don’t write checks. I don’t use a debit card. A credit card puts a firewall between my money and other people. The only things I have not been able to pay with a credit card, without being charge a fee, are my mortgage, property tax and natural gas bills.
2) One Fell Swoop
Maybe you are like me. You’d rather not upset your system by involving another card. You already pay for everything with a credit card, and then pay the card off in full. Some of the bills are automatically charged to your credit card. Instead of getting 10
For a limited time, Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card has increased its sign up bonus to 50,000 miles after you spend $2,000 in the first three months. But you must apply by September 2nd.
You will get an extra 5,000 miles if you add an authorized user in the first three months. Instead of adding your cat Mr. Tibbers or The President, this may be a good emergency credit card for a college student.
The sign up bonus is usually 30,000 miles, so this is a sweet deal. If you are like me and got this card a couple months ago, call the number on the back of your card and ask if they will honor the 50,000 mile offer. They did for me!
This card comes with many perks:
- Free checked bag (up to $100)
– Priority boarding
– No foreign transaction fees
– TWO United Club lounge passes per year
– The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.
– Any Seat, Any Time. Cardholders have access to award seats that non-cardholder riff-raff scum does not!
50,000 miles can get you two round trip coach tickets!
If you are concerned about meeting the $2,000 spending requirement, there are many ways to achieve that, frugally. I use a credit card to pay for everything possible, then
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Here are a few ways you can get it free:
A) You could steal it. But, it’s probably best to not spend the 7th day resting while simultaneously shattering one of The Commandments.
B) You can get it free if you are a new customer to DirecTV, and sign a two-year contract with the “Choice” package or higher. If you are going to be a new customer to DirecTV, you can also get $100 off if you are referred by someone who has it. The referrer also gets $100 in statement credits. Order online at directv.com/refer or by calling 1-800-507-4045. Please give them my account number 15929124 when asked who referred you – so we can both get rich. Rich, I tell you. RICH!
C) If you are already a DirecTV subscriber and eschew thievery, here’s one way I got it free. I called DirecTV. I told the robot that I wanted “Customer Retention”. This got me a human. If you aren’t going to utter the words “Customer Retention” – just hang up the phone. You are wasting your time.
In 2013, I politely asked MJ in Customer Retention if there was any way I could get NFL