Retirement Gamble 200

The Retirement Gamble


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Retirement Gamble 200If you’d like to put away money for your retirement, this 52 minute video by FRONTLINE is a good first step.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this video is from Jack Bogle, the founder of Vanguard.  At 33:15 in, Bogle says it is better to invest in broadly diversified index funds instead of actively managed funds.

You invest in a fund that closely resembles the market, like the S&P 500.  You hold onto it.  You don’t trade.  It costs about 1% a year to own.  You ride the market up and down.  Otherwise, he said maybe you have a 1% chance to beat the market.

At 36:20 – Jason Zweig of Wall Street Journal says the “Ultimate dirty secret” is that a lot of people who run other fund companies own low cost, not actively managed index funds.  Those are the kind of funds Jack Bogle suggests.

Helaine Olen, Author of Pound Foolish chimes in at 37:40 with what makes sense to me.  It’s not that the fund managers are trying to hustle you. She said that active managers selling funds convince themselves that their fund will beat the market.

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Cubs Cash Card

A Baseball Card


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I was watching the All-Star Game last night.  I’m sorry, I meant the “Mid-Summer Classic”.  By the way, when did saying “All-Star Game” turn into something verboten like uttering “MacBeth” in a theatre?  I digress…

Baseball fans, gather ‘round!  I wanna tell ya about a nice cash back credit card that can be customized with any of the 30 Major League Baseball Team colors and logo.

Besides all the visual swankiness, here are some perks:

  • Never an annual fee
  • $100 cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.  Here’s how you can do that easily: 11 Ways To Meet A Spending Requirement
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas up to the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter.

If you’d like to get a card, click on “Chip’s Favorite Credit Card Offer$” at the top right side of this website. Then click the “Sports Team Card” section. The 3rd card is the MLB card. Email me if you have any questions. Full disclosure: I may get a commission if you apply using my link, so… Thanks!  And…

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House Money

How To Lower Your Property Taxes


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When you owe more on something than it’s worth, you are “upside-down”.  If this describes your home, fear not.  There’s an upside to being “upside-down”.

Get the Tax Man to reassess your property’s value and thereby lower your tax bill.

My buddy JT had his home’s value reviewed.  The Assessor came back with an even lower value than what JT hoped.  He saved over $1,000 in property taxes.  Remember, that is after-tax money.  In his case, that was more like what is left after paying taxes on income of $1,500.

I dunno what goes on in your parts, but here is information about the appeal process in Los Angeles, where property owners are allowed to appeal their value between July 2 – Nov. 30.

Contact your local assessor and turn those lemons into a half full glass of lemonade!

Have This Guy Negotiate Your Next Car Purchase


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Honda Civic1My sister called to tell me her 17 year old car was dying.  She said, “I hate the idea of having to shop for another car and do all that negotiating.  I HATE IT!”  Well, it’s a good thing she called.  I’ve got a guy: Jeremy, aka ”Jer The Car Guy”.  Now you do too!

I met Jeremy a few years ago at a friend’s game night here in Los Angeles.  He’s a former car salesman whose hobby is negotiating car purchases for people.

For a few hundred bucks, Jeremy will find you the kind of car you want and negotiate it for you – new or used.  When the deal is locked down, you stroll into the car dealership, check out the car, sign the papers and you’re off!

Jeremy lives in the state of Washington and my sister is in Florida.  They connected a couple Dixie cups with string across the country.  Nay… they used the telephone.

They spoke on a Friday about her budget and what kind of cars might be in her price range.  Two days later, she drove her 2013 Honda Civic off the lot.  It had 37,000 miles and cost a total of $10,300.  My sister was thrilled!

Jeremy said, “A serious shopper who invests weeks into getting a car can generally

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Car 16 Years 176700

2 Cars in 30 Years


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I’ve had two cars in 30 years.  During that time I’ve driven over half a million miles.  10 years of car payments and 20 years without!

I don’t cotton to car payments.  As I said in My Hooptie’s Total Recall, my first car ran for 13 years and 328,536 miles.  My 1999 Infiniti just turned 17 and 184,000 miles.  Although nearly worthless, it looks pretty sweet.  Thankfully, I don’t live where rust never sleeps.

A couple years ago, I cancelled the Collision portion of my insurance coverage.  So, please don’t hit me.

My insurance agent said my car falls in the “classic/antique car arena”.  What tipped him off, my cassette deck?  My Thomas Guide map in the glove box?  A glove box?

He said it would be worth about $1,000 if totaled.  Well, that is my deductible, sooo… This must be what it feels like to stop taking a medication and start greeting every day as a gift.

For it’s 17th birthday, I upgraded to a new radio with built-in Bluetooth, iHeart Radio, Pandora, USB ports and a bunch of other things that didn’t exist when I rolled it off the lot last century.

Lots of folks assume any 17 year old car must always be in the shop.  In the four

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AngerManagement Stillcropped

My Identity Has Been Stolen!


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AngerManagement - StillcroppedWho am I?!  Don’t ya know me, Bert?

For only the 3rd time in my life, there was a fraudulent charge on one of my credit cards.  My credit report says I’ve had 61 cards over the past 25 years.  So, I feel pretty lucky.  Yes, this is considered having one’s identity stolen.

This was a pretty easy one to spot since I rarely use that card and even more rarely shop at Forever 21.  I’m more of a Lane Bryant gal.

The day after the charge hit my card, the transaction popped up in my Quicken.  Because I have Quicken download any new transactions in all my financial accounts, I knew about it the day after it happened.  No waiting for a statement in the mail.  Check out my Quicken review: I Feel Like Quicken Tonight.

I called the number on the back of the violated card.  They credited the amount back to my card.  I owed nothing.

The next step is that they send out a new card.  Because this was a card that was about to charge an annual fee (which is no bueno), I stopped them.

I asked them to transfer my credit line to another card that I had at their bank.  They were able to move over all but $500.  Then I canceled the card that had the fraudulent charge.  This way, I keep all but $500 of my credit line, thereby having very little impact on my credit score.

The still was taken from my appearance on ANGER MANAGEMENT. See it here.

EquiFax 819 1

How To Get The 3rd Bureau’s Free FICO Score


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EquiFax - 819My previous post A Real FICO Score That’s Really Free! showed you how to get a free FICO score from Experian and TransUnion.  There is one more score in the credit bureau triumvirate: EquiFax. You can get that free FICO score if you have Quicken.

These aren’t just one-shot opportunities.  You can refresh your Experian and TransUnion score monthly.  The EquiFax score renews quarterly.

I’ve been using Quicken for years to easily track and organize all my finances.  Check out my review: I Feel Like Quicken Tonight.

Without paying anything, I have constant access to my “Excellent/Exceptional” FICO scores.

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Discover Credit Scorecard 200

A Real FICO Score That’s Really Free!


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Discover Credit Scorecard-200You can get an actual FICO credit score for zip, zilch, nada.  There is NO catch!  This is NOT a free trial that charges you $10/month if you forget to cancel.  You do NOT have to have a Discover card.

Register for Discover’s “Credit Scorecard”.  Give them some basic info and answer some things that only you would know – to verify you’re you.  Then Voila!  You have your free FICO score.  You can come back to refresh it every 30 days.

There are other credit scores out there, but FICO is the one that matters.  That’s the one that lenders check when you want to borrow money for a big ticket item.

There are three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and EquiFax.  The Discover Credit Scorecard is from Experian. Here’s my score:

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I Text On The Toilet Tshirt

Get Free Mobile Phone Insurance ($600 Per Phone x 4)


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i_text_on_the_toilet_tshirtA rash of people in my life have dropped their cell phones in public toilets.  How many people in a “rash”?  Three.

My buddy’s wife gave her device a swirly TWICE last year.

This money tip is very simple: If you pay your monthly mobile telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Visa Signature or Wells Fargo Propel American Express personal credit card, you’ll get up to $600 protection (subject to a $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft at no cost. This applies to your primary phone and three additional lines.

You can do this twice a year.  If you need it more frequently than that, what’s wrong with you?

I got this card specifically for the phone insurance.  In fact, the only thing I charge on this card is my Sprint bill.  I set it up to automatically pay my Sprint bill monthly and my checking account automatically pays my credit card bill.  I don’t have to think about it AND I get insurance.

If you’d like to get this card (and the phone coverage), Click on “Chip’s Favorite Credit Card Offers” at the top right side of this website.  Then click the “Hotel Motel, Holiday Inn…” section (Wells Fargo thinks of this as a travel credit card).  Scroll down to the 11th card (Wells Fargo Propel American Express). Email me if you have any questions.  Full disclosure: I may get a commission if you apply using my link, so… Thanks!

Thinking of gaming the system?  Terms and conditions specifically address phones that are lost or “mysteriously disappear.”  There’s more on Page 6 of the Visa’s benefits.

What if you break your phone, take it swimming, or drop it in a Port-A-Let?  Your provider doesn’t let you out of your contract.  You have to buy a new phone unless you have insurance.

iPhone users: AppleCare is $79-129 per year.  I used to pay Sprint $8/month for insurance before realizing it was a bad plan.  If I used the Sprint insurance, I’d still

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