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Credit card reward cap got me!

September 3rd, 2007 at 03:29 pm

I have a $300 cap on credit card rewards on my main credit card. I usually do a good job of switching to another credit card when I hit the cap, but I got caught. I was still charging to the same credit card even though I hit the annual cap sometime in July. I'm ticked off.. that was about $30 in wasted rewards!!!

It doesn't help that the monthly bill doesn't mention anything about how much in rewards points you've accumulated for the year... Just how much you've spent. An ethical CC company (I know -- there is no such thing.) would make it clearer that you're not accumulating any more points this year.

Declining customer service

August 29th, 2007 at 11:36 am

I recently criticized Bank of America's customer service for being very rude and sarcastic. But they're not the only company that has poor customer service. Usually the problem isn't so much that the CSRs are rude, just that they're clueless.

I tried to register at Walmart's online photo department so I could get some digital photos printed. Their registration page was messed up... it kept displaying "Servlet error" which as an IT geek I know is a problem on their end. So I called the 800 number and the CSR said it's a problem with my computer. That I should reboot my computer and/or install a new browser. I tried to explain that I think there is a real problem with their site, but instead he put me on hold and then hung up on me. WOW. So I just went with Target's photos (first 20 photos free, by the way) and had no problems.

Also since I'm still looking around at new banks (since BoA was so disappointing), I thought I'd send an email to Citibank asking them whether I am in area that qualifies me for ATM reimbursements. (If you look at the fine print on their e-checking account, you can get ATM reimbursements if you live in an area outside of their branch locations -- but it doesn't specify those locations.) The response from Citibank was one of those generic responses that tell me how I can search for branches in the area by clicking "Locations" or something like that. It's like these places are running a program that looks for a keyword like "branches" and then sends you Generic Email Response #37. That is really really annoying.

Reverse budgeting... not so easy.

August 21st, 2007 at 02:33 pm

So I've stripped my budget about as much as I can get (unless I go into true emergency mode -- we'll deal with that if God forbid that were to happen).

Anyway, now the tricky part is taking that and figuring out how much I need to gross in order to meet that budget.

One problem is not knowing in advance what benefits another company will provide and how much these benefits will cost. Another problem is figuring out the tax rate: You can't just plug in a number like 20% effective tax rate because it varies based on your earnings.

This is important because if I don't get laid off in this restructuring, I'm going to look at quitting anyway and finding a job closer to home. I need to know what the minimum is our family can earn and still be above water.

Do I detect a bit of sarcasm?

August 21st, 2007 at 06:27 am

Funny MSN Money article...

Text is Why save? 6 ways to waste money now! and Link is http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/LearnToBudget/WhySave6WaysToWasteMoneyNow.aspx
Why save? 6 ways to waste money now!

Ch-ching! (In a bad way)

August 20th, 2007 at 06:47 am

Mailed in the second half of my property taxes today. OUCH.

I wonder if it doesn't register with most people how much they're paying in property taxes because they pay by escrow. I just don't see how people can be alright with paying this much money.

Students in the area should be getting picked up by limousine for this much.

BoA's customer service really is that bad

August 18th, 2007 at 11:02 am

I'd seen all the comments on the forums about how bad Bank of America's customer service is but I thought, nah, people are overreacting.

Anyway, I opened a checking account with them because they're nearby and I'd get a bonus for opening the account. Well there were problems from the get-go so I had to call them a couple of times. WOW. First of all the hold times were ridiculous. Second, both times I called I had to be transferred to 5 different people and re-explain my situation each time. Third and most importantly, the customer service people were not friendly and some downright rude.

So I figured if a new customer is treated like this, how do they treat other customers?! I canceled the account. They're response? "Ok." as if they were saying "Your loss." How does this bank stay in business???

Duh, why didn't I think of that...

August 17th, 2007 at 08:34 am

Text is Video games in the movie theater and Link is http://money.cnn.com/2007/08/15/magazines/business2/videogames_theaters.biz2/index.htm
Video games in the movie theater

How to prepare for a layoff

August 16th, 2007 at 09:02 am

I'm getting some good suggestions in the

Text is forums and Link is http://www.savingadvice.com/forums/personal-finance/30082-layoff-preparation.html
forums for how to prepare for a layoff.

I think the key ones are:
1. Get your finances in order. Build up the emergency fund and start cutting fat from the budget.
2. Get your career prospects in order. Polish up the resume, start talking to your friends and contacts, maybe freshen up on your skills that would be desirable to employers.
3. Don't panic or feel bad. This is business and you can't take it personally. Take it as an opportunity to find something better that you wouldn't have otherwise taken the risk to find.
4. Find out in advance about resources available to displaced workers: unemployment benefits, outplacement services, social programs, etc.
5. Leave on a good note! You may need to get back in touch with your old coworkers in the near future.

Ants-in-the-pants investing

August 15th, 2007 at 12:35 pm

It's hard to sit still with all that's been going on in the financial markets. Volatility is up, and it seems that the stock market's going to do something big, I just don't know what.

But if I sit back and breathe into a paper bag for a little while, I know my investments are well-diversified. And regardless what happens, I'm in for the long, long run so this roller coaster ride is meaningless turbulence.

Still, it would be fun one of these days to put some money into commodities (gold or silver or oil perhaps), just for the excitement.

Cost of phone, TV, internet

August 15th, 2007 at 11:16 am

So anyway I'm a Comcast customer. A few months back I signed up for their "Triple Play" package which includes TV, phone and internet. They quote $99 as the price, but what they don't tell you is the tall stack of fees and taxes you have to pay on top of that. It's an extra $10 to get a reasonable selection of channels, $14 for HD DVR, $6 for the equipment that lets you get phone service, $3 for the equipment that lets you get phone service, $.50 for a remote (?!), and lots of other fees and taxes.

I know, I could go without... I could get basic vanilla cable (or just scrap TV altogether and read books at the library), or I could use my cell phone for my main phone, etc. but let's face it -- a home phone is convenient and I'm a hopeless TV and internet junkie. I'm looking at my options to see what I can do to trim these costs. Right now, it's bearable, but when my 1-year trial ends and the Comcast bill goes up $40, I'm going to have to switch to something else.

Red beans and rice didn't miss me

August 14th, 2007 at 05:47 pm

Actually they did.

Text is MSN Money and Link is http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/SaveMoney/GoVegetarianToSaveMoney.aspx
MSN Money has an interesting article about switching to a diet of rice, corn and beans -- not just for health but also to save money.

I'm not sure I could convince my family to switch to a vegetarian diet. Or a pescetarian diet.

The meaning of life... We're a video game

August 14th, 2007 at 06:42 am

This is fascinating stuff. But you have to question your life's meaning when you might not just be in someone's simulation, you could be in the simulation of a simulation.

Text is Our Lives, Controlled From Some Guy’s Couch and Link is http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/14/science/14tier.html
Our Lives, Controlled From Some Guy’s Couch

10 Ways to Socially Manage Your Money

August 13th, 2007 at 02:23 pm

Interesting blog entry from Web Worker Daily:

Text is 10 Ways to Socially Manage Your Money and Link is http://webworkerdaily.com/2007/08/13/9-ways-to-socially-manage-your-money/
10 Ways to Socially Manage Your Money

I think I want to check out Expensr in particular.

10 days of no eating out!

August 13th, 2007 at 12:34 pm

I've officially gone 10 days without eating out at all -- not even for lunch. Not even a bag of chips out of the vending machine.

I've easily saved at least $50, probably $100.

Missed the end of Big Brother

August 13th, 2007 at 07:43 am

The mindless reality TV show Big Brother is one of my guilty pleasures. I always look forward to summer because Big Brother is on.

Unfortunately my DVR cut off the last 10 minutes because some other show on CBS ran long (I'm guessing a preseason football game, but I'm not sure.) This used to happen to me all the time when The Amazing Race was on Sunday nights. (TAR is another one of my favorite shows -- at least this one is not totally mindless, you learn geography. Smile ) I had to set my DVR to record an additional hour every week to make sure I didn't miss any of TAR.

So anyway I went to the Big Brother blogs to read what happened and I ended up getting the next episode's spoiler too, argh! (CBS offers a 24-hour feed -- for a charge -- that people watch and find out what happens well before the episodes air. Then some blog about it.)

I know... as far as world problems go, this probably ranks a bit down the list. But this is my blog, and I can vent if I want to.

Gas prices keep dropping! Woohoo!

August 13th, 2007 at 07:01 am

Gas prices have been on their way down, thankfully. I noticed a gas station I often pass was at $2.92/gallon. That's down quite a bit from a month ago.

Keep going!

EDIT: It's pretty scary when $2.92 a gallon seems cheap! But I'll take it. Smile

Interesting cartograms

August 13th, 2007 at 06:54 am

Text is This site and Link is http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/worldnews.html?in_article_id=439315&in_page_id=1811
This site shows world maps where the countries are sized based on different factors. Very interesting.

Target credit card

August 12th, 2007 at 03:20 pm

About half the time I go to Target (which is about once a week since I do my grocery shopping there), I'm asked if I want to sign up for the Target credit card.

The promotion is 10% off the day you sign up. Then you get a 10% off coupon for every $1,000 you put on the card. Well, let's say I buy $100 worth of stuff each week. After 10 weeks I will have accumulated $1,000. On the 11th week, I will get $10 off. (But only $90 will be applied to the credit card that week, which is a slight bummer.)

So we're roughly talking about a 1% reward. (Yes, you could tweak that a little bit by delaying a bigger-than-average purchase until a 10% off day, but the effect is small overall.)

For now I'll stick with my regular credit card for now which gives me 1% rewards -- in cash, no fuzzy math involved.

Does anyone ever win these survey contests?

August 12th, 2007 at 10:56 am

Just got another survey on my Super Target grocery receipt. Supposedly someone will win 4 Schwinn bikes and a $500 gift certificate. Does anyone really win these things?

At least I feel like I can express my opinion to the management. My biggest beef... Offer more coupons!!!