TDAmer 100 100 Square

Updated 5% Cash Back Categories (+$100 Bonus on TWO Cards)


If you’re going to purchase something you need, and someone is willing to pay you tax-free cash for doing so – I say let them!

Check out these cash back cards. Right now, Chase and Citi sweetened the deal with $100 bonuses!

Here’s the scoop: Chase, Citi and Discover have credit cards that never have an annual fee and always give 5% cash back in certain categories.  The categories change every three months.  We can use these cards to get up to $900 cash back every year – without changing our spending habits.  That cash back money is tax free.  It adds up!

Instead of using cash, use these cards, get 5% cash back, and then pay off your bill with the cash you were going to spend in the first place.

Click on “Chip’s Favorite Credit Card Offers” at the top right side of this website for up-to-date deals, terms, and conditions on these cards and more.  Email me if you have any questions about which card might be right for your situation.

Here are the new categories:

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$25-$50 from StarKist


Starkist-logo$25-$50smSome canned tuna aficionado sued StarKist because he believed they under-filled their 5 ounce tuna cans by 2/100 – 3/100ths of an ounce, thereby breaking tuna law.

Instead of fighting it, StarKist decided to cut bait and agreed to settle the class action lawsuit.  I assume they will also re-calibrate their scales.

You can get $25 cash or $50 in StarKist tuna products if you are a U.S. resident who purchased any of the following StarKist products between Feb. 19, 2009 and Oct., 2014:  5 oz. Chunk Light in Water, Chunk Light in Oil, Solid White in Water, or Solid White in Oil.

StarKist is going on the honor system.  No proof of purchase, but you must submit this claim form to collect.


Limited Time: Starwood Bonus is Back!



It’s that time of year again. Starwood Amex has increased the sign-up bonus 5,000 points to 30,000 on both the personal and business cards until 9/14/15. The cards have no foreign transaction fees. You’ll also get unlimited free Boingo WiFi. Annual fee ($95) waived first year. The points are still yours, even if you cancel the cards.

A trip across the country is now affordable – assuming free is in your price range. Here’s how to get flights and multiple nights in a swanky hotel for zip, zilch, nada.

2 Cards = 5 Night Vacation + Airfare For 2 (Click to Tweet!)

Seriously!  How about two round trip tickets + 5 nights in Disneyland?  You can pull this off with Starpoints. I love Starpoints as much as a man can love any reward!

Click on “Chip’s Favorite Credit Card Offers” at the top right side of this website and then “Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn…” for up-to-date deals, terms, and conditions on these cards and more.  Email me if you have any questions about which card might be right for your situation.


If you and your significant other, gal-pal or homeslice each get a card and meet the spending requirement – you’ll have enough Starpoints for two round trip flights and multiple hotel nights. I type from experience.  I’ve done it!  People living at the same address can combine their Starpoints. This is ideal if one is an organization freak and the other keeps misplacing his toothbrush. So, if a husband and wife got their own cards… do the math!

Starwood “Nights & Flights”

This is a fantastic use of your Starpoints for a

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Are Student Loans “Child Abuse”?


woolsweater-smEveryone knows college isn’t cheap.  Students can get loans, but should you advise your child to get one?  The average student loan debt is about $30,000.  Enjoy digging out of that mess, junior!

If your master plan is to declare bankruptcy to get out of paying it back, nah baby, nah.  Barring an undue hardship exemption, you are on the hook for student loans.

I ask if student loans are child abuse because most college students aren’t prepared to make the decision to take on that debt.  I wasn’t.  I was legally an adult, but had much to learn about the real world.  Heck, my freshman year at college, I washed my wool sweater and then tossed it in the dryer. Like the dude in the photo, I didn’t even know how laundry worked.  What did I understand about repaying an installment loan every month for 5-10 years so I could attend this awesome party called “college”?

Be honest, if your child got a student loan you probably didn’t co-sign it did you? 

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Affording Private High School


PromYou can’t tell by looking at me, but I was fortunate enough to graduate from one of the best high schools in my hometown.  It was an all-boys Catholic school run the Jesuits.  We had religion class every day.  The school was so highly regarded that the daily Catholic religion class wasn’t a deal-breaker for my two Jewish classmates Scott and Joel.  I’m sure their folks told them, “Jesus was a Jew.  He was a great guy.  Maybe not ‘Son of God’ great, but… do your best”

Fast forward over 30 years.  My nephew is heading to my old high school this week for his freshman year.  When I was a freshman during the Carter administration, the price tag was $1,150/ year.  Using this calculator to factor in inflation, that is $4,209 in today’s dollars.  But the tuition has jumped to $13,320 for my nephew.  That is more than triple what one might expect!

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$23,000 for Kindergarten


Cy Twombly, Untitled VIII [Bacchus]

A handful of my friends paid $23,000 a year, per child, to send their youngins to Kindergarten.

The school has perks. While watching the band at the annual FUNdraiser, a couple of other parents jumped out of the audience to play along. Those folks were Joan Jett and Dave Grohl. Pretty cool. You gotta love LA.  Rock ‘n Grohl !!!

I’ll tell you where that school isn’t spending the money: art classes. I’ve seen some of the scribbles my neighbors’ kids brought home. Then again, maybe they’re the next Cy Twombly.

I don’t have a child.  There is no ChipsMoneyTips, Jr.  I realize every decent parent wants the best for their mini-me.  But $23K seems like a lot to pay for schooling that, if the kid is like me, they’ll barely remember.  And I’m one of those people who remembers everything.  Am I nuts?

According to this, Dave Grohl is worth $260 million.  $23,000 is .0000884 % of his net

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Nfl Sunday Ticket Box

Get NFL Sunday Ticket for FREE


(UPDATED 8/18/15) I’ve gotten NFL Sunday Ticket for free – FOUR years in a row!  That’s a nice little run.

Here are a few ways you can get it free (Tweet it):

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 apply via this link, I get a taste from them.  It’s the same deal for you, but I get a li’l sumthin’, and isn’t that what life’s all about?

DirecTV_Refer_Friend-smOr… 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 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 the first step I took to getting it free. I called DirecTV. I told the robot that I wanted to “disconnect service”. This got me a human in “Customer Retention”.  If you aren’t going to utter the words…

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Social Security Week… Woo-Hoo!


socialsecurity_IdaMayFullerAs you know, last week was the 2nd annual “National My Social Security” week.  Who’d you go as?  As always, I dressed up as Ida May Fuller: the very first recipient of Social Security.

Back in 1935, Social Security was enacted to provide a little sumthin’ sumthin’ for the elderly and poor.  Contrary to what many think, it is not meant to fund your retirement.  It is only meant to help you get by.

Go to to see what you could have coming.  When you check out your stash, keep in mind that your estimated benefit is a future-dollar that will not stretch as far as today’s dollar.

For example, let’s say that in 20 years, you were going to collect $2,000 a month at

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My Latest $590.14 Windfall

CapOneMoneyBox-Only_smRemember that frivolous World Series of Poker tourney I played in last month? As I wrote in A Colossus Breakdown, WSOP-style it cost $565 to enter. I splurged 565 BUCKS on a long-shot. How did I justify doing that?  Would you like that kind of MAD MONEY? With a little planning, here’s how you can get that much tax-free money to blow with a clear conscience.

Right now, get 2% cash back on everything when you use Capital One’s Spark Cash for Business credit card.  Its current promotion gives 50,000 Bonus No Hassle Rewards points if one spends $4,500 in the first three months the card is open.  That’s a lot of dough, but I knew I had some big bills coming up.  I got the card and spent $4,507.21.  When my statement dropped, I received 2% cash back on those purchases ($90.14) PLUS the 50,000 bonus points ($500).

That’s a grand total of $590.14 for using a credit card to pay for things that I otherwise could have paid for with cash or a check.  Click to Tweet this! Read my 11 Ways To Meet A Spending Requirement.

If you’d like your own windfall, click on “Chip’s Favorite Credit Card Offers” at the top right side of this website then “Business Cards” to get all the info and to apply. Email me if you have any questions. You may already be a “business”.  Check out How To Fill Out A Business Card Application.  Here’s my card’s screenshot:


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House Money

How To Lower Your Property Taxes


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!

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