One of my favorite quotes is from Seneca. “Our plans miscarry because we have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.”
If the winds of fortune have your financial sailboat tacking back and forth, there’s help. Starting this week in 24 cities around the country, you can get free one-on-one counseling and classroom-style educational presentations from personal finance experts addressing key personal finance topics. These are one-day events.
Best of all, there are no strings attached – volunteer financial planners will not sell products or services, give out business cards or take down names.
Make sure you are heading in the right direction, unlike Viking great Jim Marshall…
Reader Jesse heard the siren song of yellow bikini-clad Annie, and dabbled in a li’l Arbitrage! He wanted to know the best way to get the free money from his Chase Slate into his wallet and ultimately into Everbank where he could sit back and earn 1.25%. He already had a Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card – $100 Cash Back card, so this was simple.
Requesting an overpayment from Citi is the easiest way I have found to do this. I recently overpaid my Citi Dividend card to show you screen captures of how I got back my over-payment (see below). Login to CitiCards.com. Click on the heading “Tools & Services”. Scroll down to “Request a Credit Balance Refund”. I had a $40 credit balance and clicked “Request Refund”. A check arrived a couple weeks later. Done and done.
If Arbitrage is new to you, check out the video. In boring typing, here’s the scoop:
When I bought my house in 1999, I got a 30 year fixed rate mortgage at 7.75%. A few weeks ago, I refinanced at 3.75%. For a $200,000 loan for 30 years fixed, the savings between those rates is over $500/month. Sweet corn! Scroll to the bottom of this post to play around with my mortgage calculator. See what kind of savings you might grab.
I Ran into a Scumbag on My First Refi
When you need a plumber, painter or electrician, you probably ask your friends if there is someone they can happily recommend. I suggest doing the same with your mortgage lender search.
I didn’t do that with my first refi. Rookie mistake. I called the company that already had my mortgage. The week I was supposed to sign my loan documents, the guy told me he had to raise my rate 1/8 of a point. Nah, baby nah. I refused, telling him to cancel my refi. Suddenly, he magically was able to keep it at the rate we agreed upon earlier.
This shyster didn’t give up. When I was asked to sign the loan documents, I noticed that he added $2,700 in fees that weren’t supposed to be there. He said that was a
I am SO clever with the word play. Reader Cary asked me a question related to my Debt Strategy Sessions. Cary wrote:
“I have some friends who swear by the Dave Ramsey Debt Snowball method of paying the smallest debts off first. But most of what I read says that strategy is too costly. Where do you come out on this?”
My hunch is that Ramsey is appealing to the emotional side of emotional spenders. Paying off the smallest balance, regardless of interest rate on that card, gives someone a “win”. “Hey, I was in debt on three credit cards, I paid off the one that was doing the least damage, and now I only have two left! That’s good, right?!” Yeah, yeah, yeah… you IDIOT!
Without question, it makes the most sense to pay off the highest interest rate credit cards first, because those charge you the most interest, or money.
But people do not always do what makes the most sense. They do what is emotional. In most cases, people got in debt by making emotional purchases of stuff that they could not afford, because those purchases made them feel good.
More Spock, less Snooki
Are we not evolved creatures? Are we going to let emotions guide our actions? You
I recently joined the 21st Century with my Amazon purchase of an HDTV. Because there was no sales tax, I saved almost $100.
Of course, like you, I will voluntarily pay that to the State of California when I do my 2012 taxes. We all do that, right?
Back to reality: Because California Sales Tax starts at 7.25% and goes as high as 9.75% – that’s a heckuva nice savings. As of Saturday, that will officially go bye-bye. So if you Californians have something to buy at Amazon, do it before Saturday.
As a joke, a couple years ago he got a subscription for a buddy. He had them pull the payment out of his checking account. This person never looked at his bank statements. When we sat down, we found that he had authorized them to auto-renew by pulling money out of his checking account.
That’s a joke that keeps on giving – and braying.
During another Debt Strategy Session, we came across a long-forgotten auto-withdrawal to Stamps.com. He’d authorized them to take $16/month out of his checking account – so he could print postage at home. He signed up three years ago… and never used it!
We called Stamps.com and pleaded boneheaded-ness, asking for a refund since it was never used. They gave a six month refund. You do the math. Heck, I’ll do the math! 30 months x $16 =$480. Wow! That’s $480 after tax, hard-earned dollars that were wasted. So, this is what I suggest…
This is one of those times that you need to pay attention – if you have a Kroger family of grocery stores near you! As you know from my previous post about Kroger Fuel Points, the Kroger family stores have a great fuel promotion. You can get $2 off per gallon, up to 35 gallons per fill up. All you need is to have 2,000 Kroger Fuel Points on your Kroger Plus card, and swipe that card at the pump before you buy the their gas.
The easiest way to get Fuel Points, is to buy gift cards from their stores. They usually give you 2 points per dollar spent on gift cards. Right now, they have a special promotion thru September 9th, giving you 4 points per dollar spent on gift cards.
There are over 120 gift cards eligible for the 4x Fuel Points promotion. Spend $500 on those gift cards at Kroger and you will reach the 2,000 Fuel Points.
This is not an invitation to waste money. Check out the available merchants and buy gift cards for something you absolutely need, or a business you frequent.
Remember, if you use your Chase Freedom or Discover card to purchase the Kroger gasoline, you’ll get an additional 5% cash back on gasoline purchases through September 2012.
Breakdown For Experts Only:
Reader TB asked: “Which service do you use to back up your computer files?” Answer: Carbonite. Why? Carbonite has unlimited back up space and it’s less expensive than Mozy.
If you use my referral link, you can try Carbonite Home FREE. If you decide to buy, they’ll give you 2 bonus months with your subscription.
I have 500GB of photos, videos, music, spreadsheets and documents on Carbonite. I had Mozy a few years ago, but cancelled when Mozy started charging extra for additional back up space.
Thankfully I have not had to use Carbonite to get my files back in the event of theft, fire, or computer crash. I have used it numerous times that I have accidentally deleted files. I was able to instantly retrieve the backup version from Carbonite, and continue working. It’s worth the $4.92/month for that peace of mind.
Check out your free trial now. Keep those cards and letters coming!
A good friend of mine passed away suddenly last week (see video below). Just like when I flew to see my dying dad, I needed a plane ticket asap. Instead of buying a ticket for $1,102, I used Delta frequent flyer miles that I have been saving. Delta frequent flyer miles never expire.
I suggest that all adults have frequent flyer miles in reserve for such emergencies.
Don’t compound a huge personal loss with a huge financial loss. An airline “bereavement fare” is only a slight discount off the expensive ticket. Bereavement fares are for close family who must be there – not friends. Basically, if you aren’t mentioned in the obituary or married to someone who is, don’t expect to get the discount. Airlines have requirements that must be met and they call the funeral home to confirm. Even if I qualified to get the bereavement fare, Delta told me that it would still cost an even $1,000.
You can quickly earn 30,000 Delta frequent flyer miles (more than enough for a free flight) with a Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex card for Personal as well as one for Business use. You can get BOTH and end up with 60,000 bonus miles. 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’s how to fill out the business application.