A Solution for Tenants & Landlords


SquareCMTcardupFriends, Renters & Landlords, lend me your ears:  Here’s a way for tenants to pay rent on time, thereby avoiding huge late-rent fees.  It’s great for folks with unpredictable income, who like sleeping indoors.

“I don’t sell street meat!  Why would I need Square?”  That’s what I said about Square’s mobile credit card reader that plugs into one’s phone.  Then I realized it can work like a charm for renters and rentees.  Here’s how:

My tenant was going to be late, so I stopped by.  Instead of breaking his thumbs, he paid me using his new Discover it card.  The transaction is NOT a cash advance.  He was paying for a Good/Service.  I swiped his card, he signed with his finger, and a receipt was emailed to him.

Discover it, American Express Blue Cash & Citi Dividend Platinum Visa are no annual fee cards that pay at least 1% cash back and 12 – 15 months of 0% interest.  That’s over a year of flexibility!  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.

A Win-Win
It’s good for the tenant because Square’s 2.75% swipe fee is probably less than the late-rent fee. Using a 1% cash back card (above) reduces the hit to 1.75% after all is  done.  It’s good for the landlord because the money is automatically deposited in his bank account the next business day.  The 2.75% per swipe fee is Square’s ONLY charge for either party — ever.

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Barrel Broke Poor

The Latte Factor Calculator


barrel-broke-poorMy buddy Eric said he doesn’t wanna know how much money he would have if he didn’t buy a shmancy coffee every day.  Being a good friend, I ignored his request.

Here’s a hot cup of reality.  $5/day for only 5 years at only 1.25% is $9,405.98.

Forgetting about compounding interest, put $5/day under your mattress for 5 years and you’d have $9,120!

Click the “Read More” button to play around with the Latte Factor calculator.  See what kind of round stick you can build for dollars a day!

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StateFarm TurboTax

Ernie & The Steam-Powered Abacus (Free TurboTax)


StateFarm-TurboTaxI don’t “do” taxes.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not pulling a Snipes.  I pay them, but hire my bean counter Ernie and his steam-powered abacus to do them for me.  “Ernie & The Steam-Powered Abacus” is also the name of a children’s book I am writing.  I digress.

Because it is possible to get free access to TurboTax 2012 tax preparation software, I am going to give it a whirl this year to see how I do.  Fear not Ernie, we’ll file your version.  I’m too pretty for the clink.

All I had to do for the freebie was open a State Farm Bank “Free Checking” account with $25.  No fees.  No minimums.  I did it online.  I opened the account on a Friday and was cleared to use TurboTax the next Thursday.

If that is a hassle, you can always do these: TurboTax US or TurboTax Canada.

If you go the free State Farm Bank route, here’s what you do:

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RoncoShowtimeRotisserieRonPopeil Flippedsmaller

Claiming the Unclaimed


RoncoShowtimeRotisserieRonPopeil-flippedsmallerFollow my jibber-jabber on Facebook and Twitter!

Every January, my annual “To Do” list pops up in my calendar.  I simply set it and forget it, like on the Ron Popeil Showtime Rotisserie infomercial.

First up: Check for unclaimed funds.  There are billions of dollars in unclaimed funds in the US.  Well, billions minus $59.  My annual clicking just found $59 waiting for me from Home Depot.

As you may have gleaned from this site, I am an organization freak who occasionally dips his big toe in the pool of OCD.  This $59 was a surprise to me.  All I can figure is that I got a rebate from a 2009 rehab project of my rental properties and Home Depot didn’t know how to contact me.  To quote Lord Jerry Maguire Tennyson, “Ours is not to reason why. Show me the money!”

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 thing that was my grandfather’s. Give these free sites a whirl:

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Free Papa John’s Pizza Pie(s)


papajohnssuperbowlpizzabannerThe only thing better than pizza, is FREE pizza.  It’s one of my favorite things – right after raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.

Pop over PapaJohnsCoinToss.com and call the Super Bowl coin toss heads or tails.  If you are right, you’ll get a free large 1-topping pizza (an $11 value).  You are allowed four entrants per household.  All must be at least 13 years old and have unique email addresses.  If you and another in your household split your votes, you are guaranteed one winner.  4 peeps = 2 pies.

Voting ends a minute before Sunday, February 3rd. Winners will receive an email with their code before Tuesday, February 5th which will be expire on March 10th.

Don’t forget to order their “garlic sauce”.  It’s TOTALLY fine to dip your pizza in garlic butter before eating it.

Plastic Jungle

Mr. Bojangles & The Plastic Jungle


plastic_jungleThat gift card from your aunt has been sitting on your dresser for a few weeks now.   It’s to that restaurant you loved when you visited her in South Carolina as a kid.  Unfortunately, she didn’t know that:

a) There isn’t a Bojangles’ Fried Chicken & Biscuits within 500 miles, and… b) You’re a vegan.

Hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?  Well, you’re not stuck.  There are sites like Plastic Jungle that will give you cash for your gift cards.  They also sell gift cards at a discount.  It’s a profit deal!  As you know, that takes off all the pressure.

BONUS: Until 3:00am EST on Saturday the 19th.  If you sell Plastic Jungle at least $200 worth of Gift Cards in a single transaction they will give you a $20 credit off of your next Gift Card Purchase.

Nothing to sell? Buy cheap! Plastic Jungle currently has 77 brand name gift cards for sale at significant discounts.  If you are going to buy something at one of these stores, pop on, get the card and use it. Many cards come via email for speeditude. For example, Barnes & Noble (18% off), Macy’s (10% off), Best Buy (6% off)…

To make sure you are getting the most bang for your gift card buck, check out other similar sites: CardCash,  Raise, GiftCards.com, GiftCardRescue.com, CardPool.com, and ABCGiftCards.com also lurk.

Stupid Tax Tip #1


CletusAccording to my mailbox, it’s tax time.  “The Running of the 1099s”, if you will.  I got a note from ING DIRECT saying that I was not going to get a 1099.  That’s right.  They sent me something saying they weren’t going to send me something.  They run a tight ship and I’m onboard!  I betcha if ING does something that isn’t on their “To Do” list, they go back, write it on the list, then cross it off.

Why no 1099?  I had my dough elsewhere in 2012.  I didn’t earn $10 in interest at ING.  That is the cut-off point.  Banks don’t have to report less than $10 interest.  If you made less than a sawbuck and the banks didn’t send you a 1099 – you don’t have to report it.

Stupid Tax Tip #1: Open 1,000 accounts. Put $100 in each. Don’t report interest.

Artwork: LeeRobert (I added the “$” icing – pretty sweet, huh?)

AmazonPrepardDumpToGiftCardRedeemEmail Better 47 Best

3 Easy Ways to Use Up Small Gift Card Balances


AmazonPrepardDumpToGiftCardRedeemEmail-better-47-bestI’ve been known to give Ulysses S. Grant certificates as gifts.  Go to the bank.  Get a crisp bill.  Pop it in the bank’s official “I didn’t know what to get you, but use this to buy it” envelope.  Scribble “Merry Christmas! From Uncle Chip” on the outside.  Then enjoy some figgy pudding.

You can use it like cash, because it IS cash!  Alas, I’m old school.  Nowadays, people give prepaid Visa, MasterCard and American Express gift cards.

If you got one of these gift cards, and the small remaining balance is now starting to nag you, here are three easy ways to use it up:

  1. Gas Stations – I had 11 cents remaining on an American Express gift card.  Yes, ELEVEN cents.  I’m thrifty, but even I was thinking I could toss it.  Nope!  I pulled up to the pump and wrung almost half a cup of petrol out of that piece of plastic.
  2. Amazon.com gift cards – You can get a get a gift card for any amount (at least 15 cents).  I did it with 47 cents.  Put yourself as the recipient.  You’ll get the email immediately.  Enter the gift Claim Code and have that amount credited to your Amazon account for future purchases.  It never expires.  See screen captures below.
  3. Split Tender transactions – If you know how much is on your gift card, tell the cashier that you’d like to pay that amount first.  I did this once at my grocery with three American Express gift cards on one purchase.  Thankfully no one was behind me or I’m not sure I could have withstood the eye-rolling and disdain.  So, split tenders are my least favorite way.  This is not to be confused with chicken tenders – my favorite poultry presentation.  Mmm…transactions.


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