Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lowe’s gift cards for Chase Freedom 5x 2nd quarter

Tomorrow April 1st, the new Chase Freedom 5% cash back (up to $1,500 spend) quarter.  This time the 5x categories include restaurants, movie theaters, and Lowe’s.
We love eating out and watching movies, so getting 5x Ultimate Rewards points from these purchases will be great. 

Today I will be discussing the points earning possibilities at Lowe’s.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

ClearCheckbook money management review

ClearCheckbook is a free online personal finance program.  Don’t be mislead by the word “checkbook” because this web based application has the ability to help manage every aspect of your financial accounts including your savings, cash, loans, retirement, and investments. 

You can access ClearCheckbook any time you have an Internet connection at  To start, you simply register and then manually input your accounts and balances. 

I can categorize all my different types of spending including: bills, food, entertainment, fuel, shopping, etc.   This helps me monitor which areas I spend the most money on over time. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Write checks with Bluebird (and other BB updates)

As I’ve written before, I am a big fan of the American Express Bluebird prepaid card program.  

By purchasing Vanilla Reload cards at CVS stores with my credit card, I have been able to consistently pay all my bills with a credit card, even those that originally required payment by debit card or check.  This has been great for large purchases such as my monthly mortgage payment.   

I’m not the only one who likes the Bluebird program.  According to the Washington Post, in the 6 months since Bluebird debuted, more than 575,000 customers have signed up, placing more than $275 million into their accounts

There have been a couple of fantastic changes with the Bluebird account.

Friday, March 22, 2013

If it’s broken, can you fix it?

Last week, our dryer no longer produced heat.  It would run, spin and make noise – but just didn’t produce any heat.  This dryer came with my home purchase.  I always figured that the previous owner either didn’t want to keep it or maybe they forgot about it. 

For the last 3 years, this dryer has worked perfectly without fail.  It dried my wet clothes, what more could I ask for? 

Here's a picture of our dryer:
When we discovered that our dryer no longer worked, my first thought was: great, now we can upgrade to one of those fancy new dryers.  My second thought was: how can I get the most credit card points from making the purchase?

Monday, March 18, 2013

My 5x Ultimate Rewards points day!

As you know, I am all about the points.  My favorite credit card rewards are still from the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.  And today was a great day of 5x Ultimate Rewards points earning.

I started off the day getting 2 bill pay emails.  One bill was for my AT&T cell phone bill for $101.17 (reimbursed by my company):

The other bill was for my wife and sister’s Verizon family cell phone plan for $162.34:
Both bills were set to autopay on my Chase Ink business credit card.  
The Chase Ink card gives me 5x points on cell phone bills paid with the card.  If you're wondering whether a business credit card can apply to you, anyone can be a “sole proprietor” and be eligible for a business credit card.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pay your bills as soon as you receive them!

I used to wait until a bill’s final due date before paying that bill.  Whenever I received bills in the mail, I would open them to look at the balance and due date, then set the bill aside to pay later. 
I remember a time when paying bills used to always stress me out.  Not paying my bills immediately led to several issues and big headaches:
  • Sometimes my utility / cell phone / credit card company would receive a late payment and would stick me with a late fee.
  • Sometimes I would forget to pay a bill.  Then I’d stress out trying to get the payment in last minute: whether it was rushing out to the post office to drop off a bill, or calling my credit card company to pay a bill over the phone.  If the bill didn’t get paid on time, I’d get stuck with a late fee or increase in interest rate.
  • Whenever I got my paycheck, I would think that I had tons of extra spending money.  I would buy the things that I wanted first.  I couldn't wait until I received a paycheck so I could go out and spend, spend spend.  Then later in the month, I found myself scrambling to find a way to pay my statement balances as the due dates approached.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Negotiating with contractors

Our homeowner’s association recently informed us that we needed to repaint the trim for our house.  After much research, I was able to find a contractor who could paint our home at the price point that I wanted to pay.
Whenever possible, always be negotiating
I believe in paying a fair price for quality service.   When dealing with contractors, most of them have flexible pricing and will be happy to work with you at a reasonable price point, especially if you ask nicely.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Update on my Roth IRA

The stock market is continuing to do well.  In fact, last week the DOW closed at record highs.  If you're invested in your IRA, 401(k), 403(b), or any stocks, index funds, or ETFs - your portfolio has probably made some significant increases lately.  

Here’s a progress report on my Roth IRA:

Friday, March 8, 2013

Free flight to Portland on Southwest

We are flying out to Portland (PDX) this afternoon to visit my wife’s family.

Using our Southwest Rapid Rewards points, we were able to fly for free*!  We simply transferred some Chase Ultimate Rewards points into my Southwest Rapid Rewards account at a 1:1 transfer ratio
*Each one-way ticket was 10,980 Rapid Rewards points, plus $2.50 each in fees.

Buying each ticket individually would have cost us over $200 each ticket. 

It’s a great feeling to know that we have enough rewards points to travel almost anywhere at anytime and not worry about paying excessive prices to airlines.  

Always maximize your points!

Around The World Flights - Promo Code WORLD15

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Chase Freedom 5x bonus x 2

Did you know that you can own more than one Chase Freedom credit card?

The Chase Freedom credit card  is one of my favorite credit cards.  I think it belongs in everyone's wallet, from big spenders to little spenders.

The 5x bonus categories can help you earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points at an accelerated rate.  Current 5x categories include:  Gas Stations, Drugstores, and Starbucks.  

Other upcoming categories include Restaurants, Movie Theatres, Lowes, gas stations, theme parks, Kohls,, and select department stores.  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Amazon Instant Video: pay per view

Do you pay for cable or satellite television?  How much is your bill each month?  How much television do you actually watch?  How many channels do you watch? 
I believe in a pay per view approach when watching television or movies.  
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