Sunday, October 27, 2013

I fought my traffic ticket and won!

This post applies to anyone receiving a traffic citation in the state of California, where we live.
A few months ago, I was driving home and I passed through a construction zone. There were some orange cones and signs put out on the side of the road to indicate that construction work was going on. No construction workers were on duty and I was driving at a reasonable speed with the flow of traffic.

Next thing I know, a police officer stops me and gives me a traffic citation for “unsafe speed for prevailing conditions.”

I couldn’t believe it. I haven’t had a traffic ticket in over 8 years! Up until this moment, my driving record was completely clean. I always strive to drive at reasonable speeds without heavy acceleration. This makes sure that I am not only safe on the road, but I save money on gas (we only spend around $105 a month for fuel).

A month passed and I received my citation in the mail. I was blown away by the bail amount(s):
If I chose to attend Traffic School, I had to pay a fine of $579.00

If I chose to pay my citation instead of attending Traffic School, I had to pay a fine of $525.00

Both options seemed terrible. Ugh.

99% of all people receiving a traffic ticket simply just frown, shrug their shoulders, and then reluctantly pay the full bail amount. If eligible, they can also pay ~$50 extra for the privilege of attending traffic school, then pay the traffic school of their choice $10-20, and finally then spend 400 minutes completing the traffic school requirement. 

Chumps (Hey I was one of them the last time I received and paid for my ticket).

If you’ve already attended traffic school within 18 months, then you are no longer eligible to attend traffic school again. If you get points on your record, your auto insurance company may increase your rates or even cancel your policy.

If you are living paycheck to paycheck, a traffic violation will definitely give you that “oh shit” feeling when it comes to your finances. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, a traffic ticket can be one of those minor emergencies that you pay for with your credit card (causing you to build up debt).


Saturday, October 19, 2013

AMEX Personal Savings review

Most people have heard of American Express credit cards and charge cards, however not everyone knows that American Express also offers a high yield online savings account. I have several friends who currently choose to have their online savings account at American Express, and have highly recommended that I check it out myself.
As I've mentioned previously, we currently keep most of our money in Capital One 360 accounts, and use Chase as our primary big bank checking account.
I just checked with Chase and noticed that a Basic Chase Savings interest rate is 0.01%. Pathetic. If you have over $250,000 in a Chase Plus Savings account, your interest rate only goes up to 0.15%. Pathetic. 

There is absolutely no reason for you to keep the bulk of your savings in a regular bank savings account. While Chase has an excellent checking account that I highly recommend, we don't have any money sitting in a Chase savings account at this time. 

We have just moved the bulk of our emergency fund to our new AMEX Personal Savings account.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Another Saveup prize win!

I woke up this morning, logged into my account, and was greeted with a nice surprise:

I won another Saveup raffle prize! This time I won a $100 Amazon gift card. I'll be sure to put this nice little bonus to good use. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Life is long, plan accordingly

Live for the moment!”

Life is short!”

You only live once!”

I'm sure you've heard phrases such as this before, often sprouted by the youth from teenagers to young adults in their early thirties. These are statements usually used to justify doing things for instant gratification or behaving recklessly. Such actions include spending money in irresponsible ways or doing drugs.

While life expectancy depends on many factors such as lifestyle, current health, and genetics, the actual fact is that more people are now living longer than ever

In the United States, women have an average life expectancy of 81 years and men have an average life expectancy of 76 years. The average life expectancy of Americans is 78.7 years.
A 21 year old screaming “you only live once!” at the club may realistically be looking at over 55 long years ahead.

Every now and then it's nice to be reminded why it's important to stay on the right financial track.

If you haven't done any planning for retirement, here is your wake up call.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Free flights to Portland for the holidays

I received an email from Southwest Airlines a few days ago that advertised some great low fares starting at $49 for a one way ticket.  With the holiday season quickly approaching, I decided that it was a sign for me to look into our holiday travel plans.

As I've shared before, my wife's family is from Portland, Oregon and we try to visit her family at least once or twice a year.   Unfortunately, there were no discounted flights from our airport (SNA) to Portland (PDX) this time.
Pricing out our December flights in cash, it looks like two round trip tickets would have cost us a total of $809.20. Wow, pretty pricy if you ask me. Thank goodness we never pay full price for our flights.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

myVegas and our Vegas trip

We just returned from a short getaway weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was there for a business conference and I brought my wife along for the trip.  Here are some details from our trip.  

You have probably seen some of your friends on Facebook play the myVegas app.  MyVegas is an app that rewards its users for playing casino games like blackjack or slots for real Las Vegas rewards. This app is affiliated with MGM Properties and their loyalty program, Mlife.  Many of the big properties in Las Vegas are actually owned by MGM, including: Bellagio, Aria, Vdara, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York – New York, Luxor, and Excalibur.

While the myVegas app was launched on July 17, 2012, me and my wife did not start playing the game until after January 2013.  With some regular playing here and there, we were able to redeem these pretty awesome free rewards by July 2013 for our recent trip:

- 2 free tickets to Zarkana, the cirque du soleil show at Aria ($143 value)
- 2 free tickets to KA, the cirque du soleil show at MGM Grand ($143 value)
- 2 free lunch buffet passes to the Bellagio buffet ($43.98 value)
- 2 free entrance tickets to the Shark Reef exhibit at Mandalay Bay Hotel ($36 value)
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