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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 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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Weird Trick Got Me 3% Cashback Paying My Taxes


topcashbackI hear putting “Weird Trick” in the subject of a post is a great way to get someone to read.  I can only imagine how “Barely Legal Weird Trick” would perform.  That said, this is legit and worth a gander.

Through this Sunday, March 16th, you can use your credit card to buy American Express gift cards when you do so by clicking through TopCashback.  Why the heck would you wanna do that?  Because TopCashback will give you 3% cashback on the Amex gift cards you buy through Sunday.

The cards arrive in a couple days and you can use them anywhere Amex is accepted.  Doing this is a great way to meet a spending requirement on credit card.  As I wrote about in “Is This a Smart Way To Pay Uncle Sam?“, you can use those gift cards to pay your taxes.

It’s a bit late to get a new credit card to take advantage of this offer, but you can chalk up some rewards on your existing card(s) doing this.

Here’s what happened when I clicked through TopCashback to buy an American Express gift card worth $3,000.

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“Phone Flipping” for $200, Alex


Alex TrebekSome people get a new smartphone more frequently than they change their smoke detector batteries. Sprint customers can upgrade their phone every 12 – 22 months at a discounted price.  Being eligible for a Sprint upgrade, I could buy a brand new iPhone 5s for $199.99.  I don’t need a new phone, but I bought it anyway – to sell it.  Yes, I’m dabbling in a little mo’ arbitrage.  The iPhone 5s goes for about $500 on Craigslist and eBay.

Pulling the trigger, I jumped on and used my upgrade offer to buy it.  Although I could have picked it up at a Sprint store, I had them ship it to me for free.  When it arrived, I snapped a few pix and posted it on eBay for a “Buy It Now” price of $497.  5 hours and 22 minutes later, it was sold!  I slapped an eBay mailing label on the box it came in and sent it on to its new owner in Missouri.

Besides my affinity for a deal, there was a bigger reason that I did this. I have an

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Payusatax Logo

Is This a Smart Way To Pay Uncle Sam?


Tax Day is less than six weeks away.  Some will get refunded a portion of the free loan that they gave the government.  Others will be scrambling at the 11th hour to come up with cash to pay The Man, man.  In both cases, the IRS Approved website MAY be a good option for you.  Maybe.

PayUSATax allows you to “Pay personal and business taxes by credit or debit card”.  There is a convenience fee of 1.87% if you use a credit card and $2.79 if you use a debit card.  Generally speaking, both of those are a waste of money.  For every $1,000 paid in taxes with a credit card, they take another $18.70 scoop in convenience fees.

But… here are 5 Ways using a card can be a GOOD idea:

  1. It is not a cash advance.  So if you are tapped out, but know you are going to have money to cover it later, you could slap it on a card that has a 0% introductory interest rate for 12-18 months.  Then pay the card off when you have the cash. 
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Carbonite Backup Plan Sm

What’s Your BackUp Plan?


carbonite_backup_plan_smMy agent instructed me to bring a passport to my audition for a spot that would shoot in Brazil.  At the casting office, I realized that my borderline OCD organization skills failed me.

I forgot it.  Then I realized I had scanned a copy of my passport into my computer at home.  Well played, borderline OCD!  So I whipped out my phone, clicked on my Carbonite app, and selected a file I cleverly called “Passport”.  Calamity avoided.

You can access any files you back up on Carbonite from any computer with internet access or smartphone.  That’s pretty handy.

Carbonite has a 15-Day Free Trial.  If you use this referral link to sign up, and decide to buy the service, you will get a $20 gift card.  You get unlimited backup to The Carbonite Cloud for only $5/month.  I just signed up for another 3 years.  I have over 500GB of photos, videos, music, spreadsheets and documents on Carbonite.

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CarMax Pie Eating Contest After Smaller

$1,800 Pit Stop


CarMax pie eating contest - after - smallerThe girlfriend got a new car last week.  The dealership offered her $2,200 for her 11 year old chariot.  Kelley Blue Book said it was worth $4,832 if sold to a private party.  She considered donating it for the tax write-off.

No doubt inspired by my tour-de-force performance as Pie Eating Contestant #4 in the CarMax “Slow Clap” spot from The Big Game, she pulled in to CarMax.

They gave her a firm offer of $4,000, in writing.  Their offer was good for a week.  That trip to CarMax was worth an extra $1,800 in her pocket!  Nice work.  See screenshots below.

By the way, when did saying “Super Bowl” turn into something verboten like uttering “MacBeth” in a theatre?

I don’t get anything for this, but you might actually want to check out CarMax if you are unloading your old car.  Tell them Blueberry Bart sent you.

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40% Off Quicken (Thru Sunday)


Quicken40offNow thru Sunday, February 23rd, Quicken is 40% off.  That’s on any version of Quicken.  There is a 60 day money back guarantee.  I’ve use it for years.

If you are serious about getting your finances in order, and want tax time to go smoothly, you should start here.  The “Starter” version is only $23.99.  If you already use Quicken, upgrade at these lower prices.  See how simple it is to use and how it simplifies your finances.  Use it for two months.  If you no likie, they’ll give you your money back.  They even have a Quicken Essentials for Mac.

See my review of Quicken 2014 here.  For convenience, here is that post “I Feel Like Quicken Tonight (2014)”:

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$300K Tax Exemption Deadline


HollywoodSignPlease tell your friends: Free email subscription, Facebook and Twitter!

Hundreds of the “early adopters” of Chip’s Money Tips are show-folk.  You know the triple-threats and hyphenates of which I speak.  This is my annual shout-out to the buskers, minstrels and long-hairs; the thespians, scribes and head-honchos who live and/or work in Los Angeles.

This is a reminder that if you received money via 1099 (not W2 income), the City of Los Angeles wants a taste. You can have up to $300K in 1099 earnings and have all of that money avoid the tax via the Creative Artist Exemption. Here’s the catch: You have to sign up for it every year to get it every year. Otherwise, you owe this tax!! Some people choose to fly under the radar and hope not to get caught.  You have through February 28th to register.

Click here to read more about the $300K Creative Artist Exemption. Talk to your accountant and watch my video about it from 2011 (below).  Also check out my posts on How I Found $3,200 MIA (Missing in Acting) and How to Move Money to Qualify for SAG Health Insurance.

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Sheckels In The Citi


ShekelBills2Yesterday’s post $252 Tax Free in Two Hours told you how you can get up to $300 tax free via drugstore purchases through March 31. 2014.  You can get that $300 by spending a grand total of $47.40.  That is exactly what I did last month.  It’s all legal and above board.  Here’s how it is done:

First you will need a Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card.  Click on Chip’s Favorite Credit Card Offers for up-to-date deals, terms, and conditions on this card and more.  If you don’t already have that card, right now, you will be able to pick up another $100 when you spend $500 on it in the first 90 days you have it.

Secondly, you will need a free Bluebird account which you can get by clicking here.

Once you have the Citi Dividend card, you must register for the 5% cash back categories.  Log in to your online account to do so.  Drugstores (including CVS) are in

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$252 Tax Free in Two Hours


252WyoHowdy Numbnuts! This is for folks who are watching their nickels, as well as deal-seekers. We have a pretty cool 7-week window of opportunity here for you to clear $252-$300 tax free. Plus $100 if this is new to you.

The Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card (boy that’s a lot of ®s for a name) is a card that pays 5% cash back in categories that change quarterly. What separates this card from other 5% cash back cards, is that you are only limited to $300 cash back in the 5% categories per calendar year. The others are $75 per quarter.

I love to use my Citi Dividend card for opportunities like this. It has “Drugstores” as one of its 5% cash back categories through March 31, 2014. CVS is a drugstore. Heck, I could earn $300 cash back at CVS in one stop!

Of course, I don’t need $6,000 in bunion pads, wart remover and unmentionables – which I won’t mention. Alas, CVS is more than opiates and Whitman Samplers. Here’s how you can easily get $300 without actually buying $6K in stuff.

Before I forget, you can click on Chip’s Favorite Credit Card Offers for up-to-date deals, terms, and conditions on this card and more.  Email me if you have any questions about which card might be right for your situation.

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