June 2005 Monthly Archive
I checked my American Express Membership Rewards Account today and noticed that I now have 8,970 points piled up. 1 point for every $1 spent. I don’t remember spending $8,970… but thats probably why I had a huge debt before.
I don’t really use my Amex Blue cards anymore because I’ve decided I prefer cash back rewards. So I figure I should spend my 8,970 points before I totally forget about it (they dont expire though). While browsing the rewards list, I remembered that they offer the Wall Street Journal as a rewards option.
A subscription for the WSJ cost 1,200 points. The subscription is for 3 months, or 64 issues. That’s not a bad deal in my opinion because subscription to the WSJ cost a butt load. The price ranges from 52 weeks (1 Year) for $215; 26 weeks (1/2 Year) for $107.50; to $17.98 per month. You get a different amount of free weeks, as you can see below. I believe there are better offers out there than on WSJ.com, at least in terms of the amount of free weeks you get.
So base on subscrption cost at WSJ’s website, this reward option is worth at about $35.96 (2 months price, including 1 month free). If I redeem it again, it’ll be worth about $53.94 ($17.98 x 3 months).
American Express Rewards Point’s points-per-dollar-spent ratio is generally around at this range: for every 1,000 points (or $1,000 spent) you get $10 worth of rewards, or $50 reward for 5,000 points. So for 1,200 points, getting a rewards option that’s worth about $35.96 to $53.94 isn’t too shabby at all. Hmm, to redeem or not to redeem.
Update: I went ahead and claimed the reward, let’s see how long it’ll take for the subscription to arrive.
Posted by Cap in Woops, Bought Crap
on June 21, 2005 | No Comments
$1 Chicken Nuggets Tuesday.
McDonald’s: 14, Self-Control: 0
Posted by Cap in Updates
on June 20, 2005 | No Comments
I still read all the blogs I subscribe to daily, I just havent posted anything lately.
Been enjoying summer :)
Here’s something I’m working on — I’m writing a review on a few online credit report/monitoring services from Trilegiant. Those of you that frequent the credit forums will know them as PrivacyGuard.com, myCreditKeeper.com, etc.
Update: Click Here to Read the Review on Privacy Guard and myCreditKeeper.
Blogging definitely takes dedication, and although I don’t want it to become work, a quality blog does seem to take a considerable amount of hard work.
There’s lots of other things I should finish eventually (FICO article, continuing Credit Card article), but I’ve decided to just work on what I feel like at the moment, so at the very least this can be enjoyable for myself.
Posted by Cap in Personal Finance
on June 14, 2005 | 2 Comments
In a futile attempt to organize myself, I was wondering what I should do with 5+ years worth of credit card, bank account, and other accounts monthly statements.For someone that constantly advocate computer online-based banking, I have quite a large amount of monthly paper statements.
These days the companies are always trying to get us to go paper-less. It does save them quite a bit afterall. I still haven’t gone with paper-less statements though. Although I can download each of my monthly statements and save them on my computer, I honestly don’t trust my computer, even though I maintain it quite well (I also mess with it too much). I was thinking I can download and store them onto CDs, but I don’t know about that too.
The minute they let me retrive all my statements online, (not just the previous 6 months), I’ll go paper-less. Until then, the stacking of evenlopes continue.
They probably won’t ever do that though. I once visited Bank of America’s LA County processing center. If I recall correctly, after 6 months they store, compress, and archive the datas. After 15 years, they dump them. It’s not easy nor cheap to keep them available forever online. (Thats why you’ll need to pay to retrieve some statement from years back). Thinking about this now reminded me of those huge rolls of paper, colums of machines to process them, and the guys they were paying to stuff those envelopes. Definitely not cheap.
Just as a good backup, I think I’ll go ahead and start downloading these statements and storing them onto CDs. I’ll probably do a 6 months to 12 months interval for the CDs. Does anyone have any other ideas?
On a completely different subject… to the right you’ll see a picture of Sunset Beach, which you can find on the North Shore of Oahu island. Click on it to see the full picture. Unfortunately for us, a huge patch of cloud soon came and blocked the sunset… (do’h!)
In either case, what a wonderful paper-less beach.
Comments from previous blog format.
Posted by Cap in Updates
on June 13, 2005 | No Comments
According to my May 05 post I was suppose to have Part 3 to Credit Card 101 posted up along with an article on FICO Score… I didn’t specify the timeframe, but in my head it was suppose to be within the month of May.
I also have plans to switch to WordPress, base on the recommendation of others and reading more about it. Wonder when I’ll get around to doing that…
After coming back from the trip, I’m reminded of the fact that I’m very unorganized.
I think some of the problems with my To-Do List are: the lack of one; not finishing the to-do’s in time ; adding more to the list when you’re not done with the old ones; and spending time talking about To-Do List instead of taking care of what’s on the list.
Posted by Cap in Even More Ramblings
on June 9, 2005 | No Comments
It was about 7 AM in Hawaii and I was in my hotel bathroom reading the business section of The Honolulu Advertiser. I came across an interesting piece from a Wall Street Journal writer who was sharing how he educate his kids on money matters.
Although you probably didn’t need to know about my morning bathroom habits, reading that piece made me realize my money managing habit could have been developed sooner. I’m 22 now, and if smart spending habit was developed earlier, I could have avoided lots of wasteful teenage years spending.
What the WSJ writer did was that he gave his 12 years-old son, and 16 years-old daughter a set amount of monthly allowances. I believe it was $100 for the 12 years-old, and $300 for the 16 years-old. He pays for certain big ticket items, like clothing and shoes… but everything else, the kids need to work for it themselves, whether by doing chores, baby-sitting, or other work minors can do.
What he basically set out to do with this system was to get his kids to question their own spending. Because he’s firm on the monthly amount, the kids will have to learn to ask themselves if a certain item is worth the purchase or not. They often have to teach themselves to say “no” to a particular purchase. If they spend all their monthly allowances and want to buy something else, the dad has to be firm and not hand out more money.
It sounds simple, but now that I think back… I’m not sure if my parents ever did that. I did have some sort of allowance, but it was never a set amount, nor was it given during a set timeframe. I never had the mentality that money may run out. I wasn’t naive to the point where I thought money grew on tree, but I also didn’t have a sound picture of how you need to earn and work for your money.
Another approach the WSJ writer did was that he sat both his kids down one day, and explained to them what they can expect from their father financially. He told them that he will make sure they graduate without student loan/debt, that he will give $20,000 to each of them to help with their first house down payment, and that upon graduation, he will give them each $5,000. His 12 years-old son thought that $5,000 was pretty cool, till his father explained to him how much an apartment in New York cost. (Of course, he’ll adjust the figures accordingly with inflation and increase cost of education, etc.)
Although my parents did let us know that we’ll be taken care of while we pursuit our bachelor degrees, they never did made clear on how much they’ll help us financially. Will they help with 50% of the tuition? Or will they provide 100% support? Not to sound greedy, ungrateful or anything like that, but a set clear amount would have been helpful. Even letting us know that they will not be able to provide any financial support for school would have been nice to just know. That way, we know exactly what to expect. If something goes astray, we’ll know that our parents won’t be able to help us out financially, not because they choose not to… but because they can’t.
If an exact clear expectation were set in the beginning, I believe you’ll have a kid with a better financial knowledge. You’ll have a kid who understands that money isn’t an infinite commodity that magically appears out of dad’s wallet. You’ll have a kid that realize he needs to work for his money, and that he can’t buy everything he wants without consequences. Best of all, you’ll have a kid that will become independent, who won’t have a mentality that he can rely on his parents financially forever.
Looking at some of my friend’s family, I always wonder how their parents teach them about money matters. I have friends that are great with money management, they work hard, save and spend wisely. But they also have a sister or brother that ran up thousands of dollars of credit card debts and ended up forcing their parents to bail them out. Why the big difference, especially if they’ve been brought up by the same parents in the same household? I’m going to have to guess that a person’s personality and their friends have a lot of impact on a person’s financial mentality.
Albeit my parents did not taught me much on money matters, they did teach me about responsibility and accountability; and I believe that’s one of the reason why I didn’t get into major financial hardship.
I’m not really sure how my financial mindset was developed, but I’ll have to say that my first hourly part-time job really humbled me in the sense of how much everything cost. When you have to work an hour just to get $6.75 (and then getting the taxed paycheck), your eyes open up a bit. There was a time where instead of seeing everything in dollar amounts, I saw them in hours of work required.
I don’t know exactly how I’ll teach my kids about money matter, but I think as long as I remember how I feel when I was their age, I should be able to at least convey to them the importance of wise financial decision, no matter how small it is. One thing is for sure, they shouldn’t need a part-time job experience at the age of 18 to open their eyes on the value of money, that should have been established much earlier on in the game.
Posted by Cap in Miscellaneous
on June 9, 2005 | No Comments
Well, let’s find out how much money I blew for this 7 day, 8 night trip to Honolulu, Hawaii.
I brought $360 in cash with me along with my credit cards. My goal was to spend only $1,350 in total during this trip. Here’s what I can sort out. (Red onesare credit card charges)
- $4.32 – “Breakfast” at Burger King at LAX (argh)
- $2.40 – Two 1.5 liter water bottles at ABC Store
- $6.65 – “Breakfast” for two at McDonald’s next to hotel.
- $10.00 – Tried a “loco moco” for lunch. It’s so-so.
- <$26.46 – Curry House in Honolulu, dinner for four
- $20.00 – Shrimp cocktail & garlic shrimp from shrimp farm
- $21.89 – Wal-Mart, groceries (snacks/sandwich) to save moola.
- $19.85 – Gas for rental Car ($2.40/gallon for 87 octane)
- $80.04 – Cheesecake Factory, dinner for four
- $13.49 – Pick an oyster/pearl, gift
- $22.00 – Kayak rental for a double-seat kayak, split for two
- $56.79 – Duke’s Canoe Club, lunch buffet for four
- $10.00 – M’s Korean BBQ, dinner for one (pretty darn good)
- $36.00 – Horizons, show at Polynesian Cultural Center
- $57.10 – Car rental for four days, split between 4 people
- $55.72 – Misc hotel charges, in-room safe and 4 day parking
I came back with $169 in cash, so I’ve spent $191 in cash. Total charge on credit card is $238.61 while flight + hotel was $867.87.
Total spent: $1297.48
Not too bad. At least it’s below my set limit. Lots of other expenses aren’t listed above, they’re mostly on food and activities that I don’t have a receip for. I really should have wrote down daily expenses, but I was busy being on vacation. I was given cash for many of the credit card charges listed above,so I’ve actually spent more cash than $191, but for simplicity I calculated expenses this way.
Setting a vacation budget is definitely tricky. I didn’t want to blow my entire savings account, but I was also on vacation and wanted to enjoy myself. I think I did okay overall, but I’m pretty sure there were lots of things I didn’t need to buy or spend money on. I’ll write more about vacation spending another time, I think that’s enough of that for now :)