EquiFaxExperianTransUnion Combo

The Chickenpox of Your Report


EquiFaxExperianTransUnion_comboAnother entry on my annual To-Do list is to pull my own credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com.  You can get a free credit report from each of the big three bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  It’s actually free, and does not harm your credit in any way.  See video below.

In my 10+ years as a landlord, I have run many an applicant’s credit report.  I found that not all people with bad credit are irresponsible, but most irresponsible people have bad credit.  Which group do you want to be in?

What has infected many in all groups, is a small medical claim that has gone to a collection agency.  It’s the chickenpox of credit reports – a lot of people get it and it’s very frustrating until it’s gone.

One Collection ~ 100 Point Drop
Last month, I was consulting a couple about refinancing their home.  They had virtually the same joint bank accounts and credit cards.  The only difference was the wife had a $93 medical claim that had gone to a collection agency.  Her credit score at the bureaus was lower than her husband’s by 62, 63 and 99 points.

A friend just tried to refinance his home and discovered a brand new $92 medical

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252 Reasons to Do This Now


252WyoHowdy Numbnuts!  This is for folks who are watching their nickels, as well as deal-seekers.  We have a pretty cool 6-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, 2013.  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.

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$25 Restaurant Certificates for $4


restaurantdotcom25for4Everyone eats, right?  February 12-13, you can get a $25 restaurant gift certificate for $4. Certificates do not expire.

Code “LOVE”.  This deal ends when Cupid loads up his quiver and goes Hunger Games all over Valentine’s Day.   Get one now!

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.

You can search by zip code or city.  I just picked up three.  Once I applied the code “LOVE”, the $25 gift certificate, that was priced at $10, dropped to only $4 each.

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Miss the Bowl?


ToiletCoffeeMugAdvertising makes us buy things we don’t need – like the Toilet Coffee Mug, Bacon Bandaids, or Gun-shaped ice-cube trays.  I say turn off the Super Bowl, avoid the commercials, and cook a vegan meal together.  Okay, I’m just messin’ with ya.

When I was in a few Super Bowl ads, my buddies assumed I struck the mutherload!  I wish.  Although the average price advertisers pay for a 30 second spot is almost $4 million, actors’ scale pay for a national network airing is about 50 bucks – be it a low-rated sitcom or Super Bowl.

Here are my Super Bowl ads for: Bud Light, Staples, and Jack In The Box and a preview of many spots you’ll see tomorrow.  Go ‘9ers!

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Shoeboxed (Update) = Inexpensive Cyber-Bookkeeper


If you are staring at a shoebox full of receipts that you must plow through before doing your taxes, NOW might be the time to try shoeboxed.com.  They have a 30 day trial for all of their plans.

You could even send them ALL of your 2012 receipts.  Get them back lickity-split for doing your taxes.  The free trial covers 50 documents.  More than 50 and you’ll have to pay for a plan (see below).  You can drop down to any plan at any time, including “Forever Free” – which is free… forever.

I am weird. For me, entering transactions in my accounting software is like soaking in a hot tub on a chilly, star-filled night. Reconciling a bank statement is like getting a shoulder massage. Assimilating data is a Q-Tip twirling in my ear. Me likie!

Shoeboxed would deprive me of these simple pleasures. Since most of you are not in my camp, you might give their 30-day free trial a whirl. Click “Read More” for the scoop and video demo >>>

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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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