Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Investing with Vanguard

Disclaimer: I am NOT a financial advisor.  All investments are subject to risk and are not insured by the FDIC.  I hold no responsibility with any investment decisions you make based on any of my articles. 

I first made a post about starting your retirement fund on January 26, 2012.  The take home message from my previous article:  If you’re working right now, you need to be thinking about retirement. 

Have you opened your Roth IRA yet?  

Monday, February 27, 2012

It doesn’t hurt to ask

If you spend just a few minutes making a few phone calls, you can save hundreds of dollars with very little effort.  It’s surprisingly easy.  Did you know that many of your bills can be negotiated?  All you have to do is ask.  Companies want to keep you as a customer.  It costs companies much more money to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing customer.  Often times, they will be willing to “bend the rules” to keep their existing customers happy.

When you call to negotiate a bill reduction, you’re speaking to a faceless person hundreds of miles away from you on your phone.  There’s nothing to be nervous about.  It puts you in the least uncomfortable position to negotiate.  What’s the worst that can happen?   

Friday, February 24, 2012

Money problems are usually just the tip of the iceberg

This post is based on a summary of a sermon given by Pastor Michael Lee at our church in November 2011.

Floating icebergs have a significant proportion of their mass below the surface of the water.  
 This is a picture our church presented a few months ago

Our money problems are often superficial symptoms of a much deeper issue of greed, materialism or pride.  While the visible symptom may be financial hardship, the invisible symptom is much deeper, below the surface. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ultimate Dining

I know I briefly touched upon Rapid Rewards Dining in a previous post. TodayI want to focus completely on maximizing benefits when eating out.

Rapid Rewards Dining offers a ridiculously fast way of earning Southwest Rapid Rewards points.  You simply link your credit card to this Rapid Rewards Dining program.  Then you spend money on your credit card as you normally would when you go out to restaurants or bars to quickly earn Rapid Rewards points

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Chase Freedom 10 and 10 Exclusives

Edit: Chase is changing its current Freedom 10 and 10 program.  You will no longer earn 10% extra points per $1 spent, nor will you earn a 10 bonus points on every purchase you make with your Freedom card.  You will now earn a 10% annual points bonus on all points earned.  
As I’ve already mentioned before, I love Chase national bank

The best way to maximize your earnings and rewards involves the perfect threesome:
  1. Chase Checking account (hint: search ebay for free $200 coupon for opening account) 
  2. Chase Freedom credit card 
  3. Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Economic Outpatient Care / Other People’s Money

Sometimes the things people own don’t correlate with their expected household income:

  • How can a secretary drive a brand new BMW? 
  • How can an office manager live in a big home in an expensive part of town? 
  • How can a non-working grad school student afford to always eat at the most expensive restaurants? 
The answers:  

Economic Outpatient Care (EOC) and Other People’s Money (OPM).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Southwest Rapid Rewards Program

There are many ways to earn points for free flights.  Today, I will detail the Southwest Rapid Rewards program.

The Rapid Rewards Membership is a program from Southwest that makes it easy to earn free flights and other benefits.  There are many different ways to earn and redeem Rapid Rewards points.  These points never expire and have no blackout dates

First, you sign up to be a Rapid Rewards member here.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Library is an incredible place

When was the last time you went to the library?

Recently I was sharing with a good friend of mine how much I enjoy reading.  I was buying books from Amazon and iTunes.  The first thing my friend said to me was: 

“Yo have you checked out your local library?  You can check out books for free there.  Your tax dollars are already supporting the neighborhood library, you need to take advantage of it.”

The next chance I got, I went to check out the local library.  I was blown away.  The library had so much to offer.  They had pretty much every book that I wanted to read in stock.  As for the books that they did not have in stock, you can easily make a request to have them make the book available.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

J.P. Morgan Chase is my new favorite big bank

I've become a big fan of JP Morgan Chase bank lately.  They've really stepped up their game:
  • There are more and more bank branches and ATMs popping up everywhere
  • They have an incredible iphone app that allows you to do remote check deposit! I truly never need to go make a deposit in person at a bank anymore. It's all done from home through the iphone app.  I just take a picture of the front and back of the check, hit submit, and then it's done
  • They have some of the best credit cards with huge promotions going on
  • Plus they have a cool looking bank logo. 

Recently they gave me $1000.  For free. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Multiple savings accounts for multiple goals

How many of you have one savings account?   Do you also only have one savings goal?

Let’s face it: if you keep all of your money in one savings account, you may not be efficiently saving towards your goals.   Your savings should be a place where you have different goals to save up for.   With multiple accounts, you can set aside specific goals that are clearly defined.   These individual accounts will then help you efficiently save more. 

Your savings money should be separated from the money you use for everyday purchases and bill payments.  If you keep all of your money lumped together, you will inadvertently spend your savings along with your regular spending.   If all of your money is in one place, then you can easily forget how much money you’re saving for each goal.  Your savings accounts should be regularly funded, not raided for impulsive spending you can’t afford.

I recommend an online savings account to set up your multiple savings accounts. There are several to choose from but I recommend CIT Bank.  
Banking with CIT offers a higher interest rate than traditional big banks and comes with a lot less fees and stipulations.  Traditional big bank savings accounts may require a minimum amount in the account or else they’ll charge you bank fees.  With CIT Bank, you truly have no minimum balances that you need to maintain.  You can open an online savings account with a $100 minimum deposit and the process only takes a few minutes. 

The most important reason I recommend an online bank is that it will set a barrier between you from your savings.  You transfer money from your online bank to your regular bank, but the process takes 2-3 business days.  Hopefully the separation of you from your savings will make you think twice about immediately wasting your savings on something frivolous.  Also, it’s nice to see you fill up and reach your multiple savings goals.

These are the nicknames of the accounts that I have with CIT Bank:
  • Emergency Fund
  • Property Tax 
  • General savings
  • Entertainment Fund
Here is one example of how I optimize a personalized online savings account.  I owe $6648 worth of property taxes a year.   This requires me to save $6648/12 = $554 a month.  I put this money into my “property tax” account specifically designed for this savings purpose.  When it’s time to pay my property tax, I don’t hesitate and need to scramble together this large sum of money.  It’s already been purposefully saved up regularly throughout the year.  Without a separate online savings account, I could fool myself into thinking I have an extra $6648 in my savings account.

Now, I know exactly how much I have saved up for my different savings goals.

Opening your online savings account will take you less than 10 minutes.  Simply go to CIT Bank and then open a new online savings account.  Once you open your account, you can easily open additional savings accounts in less than 10 seconds.  

You may have different savings goal from myself, such as: house down payment, car fund, wedding fund, Christmas gifts, home remodeling, new furniture, new big screen TV, etc.  The point is: these individual accounts will give your savings both direction and inspiration.  After you’ve saved up for your goal, don’t forget to  always pay with credit.
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