Do you have a bank account or credit card that you don’t use much, or at all anymore? The banks may come to the conclusion that you have abandoned your accounts and will close them on you if you don’t play with them once in a while.
If you let your bank account go dormant, then you’ll have to chase down your money in banking’s Lost and Found Department aka the Unclaimed Funds I wrote about here. If you let a credit card go dormant, you will hurt your credit score.
To avoid this, every January I do two things:
- I sign in to all my bank accounts online. I have found this keeps my visitation privileges. Why don’t I just close an account if I don’t use it much? Banks have promotions all the time offering a higher interest rate on new deposits. Since I already have the account open, it is just a matter of a couple clicks to start collecting a higher rate. A few months ago, UFB Direct did that exact thing. I wrote about it here. I moved my money and increased my interest 56%.
- I take my credit cards on a field trip to the gas station. I charge $2 on each card. A couple days later, I sign into each card’s account online and pay it off from my linked bank account. Why TWO BUCKS? Some of my cards are free versions of airline frequent flyer mile cards. They give me one mile for every two dollars I spend. Not only does this put activity on my cards, but it also refreshes my frequent flyer mile expiration dates. Pretty handy!
Instead of the gas station, you could go to the self-checkout at a grocery store and load up on Dinty Moore Mystery Meat Pot Pies. Another option: stay in your PJs and get Amazon eGift cards for yourself. Amazon eGift cards show up in your email moments after you buy them. Use the code on the eGift card to load that money onto your
There are billions of dollars in unclaimed funds in the US. Well, billions minus $59 that my recent annual perusal found waiting for me from Home Depot.
This year I found over $300 waiting for my sisters and brother-in-law. But will they get it? Well, they didn’t get it LAST YEAR WHEN I TOLD THEM ABOUT IT!!! But when you think about it, who has time to fill out a form to get $300 when Game Of Thrones is on?
Because I track like a Navajo bloodhound, in previous years I came across something for my dad, a couple pension payments for my mom, and some dividend from some railroad thingy that was my grandfather’s. Give these free sites a whirl:
- Unclaimed.org – State-by-state unclaimed property listings
- MissingMoney.com – state and provincial
- PBGC.gov – Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (U.S. Government Agency)
- TreasuryDirect.gov – Treasury Hunt
- USA.gov – A slew of various categories of unclaimed government money, from bank failures, unclaimed property, credit unions, benefits, pensions, HUD/FHA mortgage refunds and more.
I hope you find some gold in them thar hills!
I kick off every New Year by grabbing a free credit report. That explains my joie de vivre.
AnnualCreditReport.com is actually free, unlike FreeCreditReport.com which costs almost $200/year. As I say in my video below, what’s next? A Free Lexus for $30,000? An ALL cotton shirt made of 100% polyester? Vegetarian chili…with Chicken!??? It don’t make no sense.
Anywho, AnnualCreditReport.com is the result of 2003 federal legislation. It gives you one completely free credit report annually from each of The Big 3 credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian, and EquiFax. You can pull all three reports at once, or space ‘em out. I pull one every few months to make sure everything’s kosher.
Using annualcreditreport.com does not affect your credit score. Because it’s YOU pulling your own credit report, it does not count as a credit inquiry.
So go ahead, live it up! If you see something hinky on there, read this post to see how to fix it. I strongly suggest you print out each full report to a PDF so you can easily reference it later. If you don’t have that capability already, you can download free PDFCreator here.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get your finances under control, what is your nut? Your “nut” is your financial obligations (how much your bills are).
If you make a lot of money, and don’t have any debt, you may not care what your nut is. Otherwise, you might wanna take a few minutes to figure out your monthly nut. Knowing your nut will give you peace of mind.
When I was a couple years out of college, working at a bank, I told my co-worker that I could not save any money. She suggested stealing from the teller’s drawer. That’s not true. She suggested I start by socking away $25/week. I said, “I don’t even have that!”
Well, I was being a jackass. I never sat down to figure out my nut so I would know how much I could save and splurge. Instead, I simply whipped out my credit card, spent frivolously and then whined about being broke.
You don’t have to suffer through the same foolishness of youth. So… what’s your nut?
Kiplinger has a pretty good online calculator/worksheet to help you figure it out. That info can be downloaded into an Excel spreadsheet if that’s your jam. Mmm… jam. If you prefer to put pencil to paper, I’ll get you started with some monthly expense categories at the bottom of this post.
For expenses that fluctuate monthly (water, electric, gas, heating oil, trash, mobile phone, etc.) I suggest that you access your accounts online or go to your checkbook register. Of course, if you are like me and use Quicken for PC or Mac (see my Quicken review), you can access that info in seconds. Total the past 12 months and then divide by 12 to get the average monthly expense. Don’t forget to get a monthly average of your annual or semi-annual expenses (property taxes, insurances) as well.
We have Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and now Giving Tuesday.
Being charitable is a good thing – especially if it will get the guy next to the red kettle to stop testing your eardrums with his bell.
Some people “tithe” – which is giving 10% of one’s income. It’s like God is their agent and that is his commission. I can hear Him now, “I put you in America, how about a little something for the effort? Thank you. Me Bless.”
We hit the lottery just by being born in the good ole US of A. Everything else is gravy. Still, some folks here have legitimate needs.
It’s great to do things for charities. If you were looking for ways to be able to give more to charities, I have a few suggestions that have worked for me.
- I have a savings account at my bank that I call my “Donation Fund”. Every month I have an automatic transfer from my checking to that fund. If your bank won’t give you a free interest bearing account, set one up at Capital One 360 Savings (.75%). That pays interest, has no minimums and no monthly fees. EverBank (1.40% the first 6 months, 1.01% for the first year) requires $1,500 to open the account. It’s amazing how fast those funds will grow!
- Now that I have my Donation Fund, when I get a request to Save The Tatas, Bike
I’m a late-adopter of Restaurant.com because it sounded too good to be true. Then I received $25 and $50 gift certificates from friends. Even though the gift certificate said that alcohol was not included, when I called to make a reservation, the restaurant/bar said alcohol could be included – so ask.
A few months ago, I picked up three. I decided not to use two of them. Both were credited back to my Restaurant.com account as two $25 credits. I can use those credits to buy a combination of $10, $15, or $25 gift certificates to ANY Restaurants.com restaurant.
So, buy certificates now at the $3 special offer. Enjoy the restaurants you chose, or use that work-around to go to different places that they offer.
You can search by zip code or city. Certificates do not expire. This deal ends when “Cyber Monday” turns into “Regular Ole Tuesday”. Click to get some now!
American Express’ VERY GENEROUS Small Business Saturday promotion is happening right now – November 29th. If you have already registered your cards, remember, they have juiced the prize! You can get up to three $10 statement credits per registered card.
I really like this promotion because it is a win-win for small businesses and consumers. Basically, Amex is buying you something at your local businesses.
Check out the map of participating shops at ShopSmall.com. Get all the nitty-gritty here. Spend $10 or more in a single, in-store transaction at a qualifying small business location on Saturday, November 29, 2014. Do that three times per card for three $10 credits.
If you don’t have time to shop the Mom & Pops
Do what I do. Walk into your favorite participating restaurant that has gift cards. Have them charge each of your registered Amex cards three times for $10 per transaction. Total up the transactions and have them throw it on one gift card for future use.
You give business to the businesses – AND YOU GET FREE STUFF. It’s a win-win!
Now through Monday night ONLY, Capital One 360 will give you a $100 BONUS if you open a 360 Checking account and a $100 BONUS if you open a 360 Savings account. Click on the links to learn more and open your accounts.
I have both of these accounts. Once you meet the requirements (below) for the bonuses, there are No Minimums. No fees. No tricks. No brainer.
Black Friday is about deals. Where else can you actually earn $200 in ten minutes today?
When you get back from the jungle of credit card wielding, sleep-deprived bargain hunters, reload your bankroll!
Let me know if you have questions. Details here:
Uber’s $30 sign up bonus for newbies ends this Saturday night. If you have not signed up yet, click here to sign-up for Uber. Then you will get $30 off your next ride. I will too, but his isn’t about me. It’s about you, right? The $30 bonus will drop to $20 when your chariot turns into a pumpkin Saturday night at midnight. Sign up now and use the free ride later!
As I said in my review of Uber, there may be times when you should leave your car and grab a cab. Grabacab is also the name of my favorite Genesis song. That’s GOLD! What, I can’t repeat my jokes? C’mon, the Rolling Stones still play Satisfaction every show.
Go on now, git! Here’s that fancy link that will get you $30 off your next ride.
Oh, it’s on. As of now, you can register your American Express credit cardsssssss (that’s the super-plural) for Small Business Saturday. Do it at ShopSmall.com. You can get $30 in statement credits per card. Read my post $240 for Hooters and Me for more info and how I do it – quickly.
This is a great win-win. Basically, Amex is buying you stuff at small businesses on November 29th. If you don’t have an Amex card but want in on some of this hot, free-money action, you still have time.
Which Cards Work?
- Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card
- Amex EveryDay Credit Card
- Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card
- Blue Cash Everyday® Card
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card
- Platinum Card® from American Express
- Premier Rewards Gold Card
- TrueEarnings® Card from Costco