February 2008 Monthly Archive
Posted by Cap in Deals and Discounts
on February 26, 2008 | 8 Comments
Very straightforward sign-on bonus. Open an E*Trade Complete Savings Account, fund it with $1 or more and within 30 days you’ll receive a $25 sign-on bonus.
- No fees and no minimum account.
- $1 minimum to open.
- Currently 3.45% APY (recently changed from 4.10%).
- Bonus offer expires in 3/31/2008.
- Soft credit pull according to forums.
- Write down your account number at end of application process to link account.
- Send in your signature card (when you receive it) within 15 days or account will close.
Reported on various blogs and forums. Bonus seems to appear without issue. If you don’t see your bonus, contact E*Trade customer service via the internal account messaging center before you try the call centers. Will update this post once my own bonus is posted.
I can confirm that the bonus does work. It looks like my transfer of $1,000 into the account triggered the bonus. So you might want to try and initiate a transfer to get the bonus going, if you don’t see your bonus being posted.
Will most likely write a review post eventually, hence the deposit. Easy bonus for less than half an hour of typing and clicking. Check out the two penny interest I earned! Reminds me of my Bank of America savings account. Good times.
Posted by Cap in Credit Related
on February 21, 2008 | 7 Comments
- Number of accounts opened: 8
- Inquiries: 1
- Total revolving balances: $12,000
- Total available credit: $96,450
Woah, what happened in January?
That’s what I was wondering too when I logged into my credit profile page within my WaMu/Providian credit card account.
As some of you know, I have been tracking my FICO credit score for the past few years. The last update was back in April of last year, and things have been pretty steady since. The dip from March ’07 to April ’07 was due to a large balance transfer offer that I took advantage of while opening a new Chase Freedom credit card (also received a $100 cash-back bonus).
Since no major changes have occurred to my credit profile since April of last year, the credit score should still be hovering around the same ranges. So what happened around January? Identity theft? Forgot to pay some obscure bill? Collection attempt that I wasn’t aware of?
A quick check with my free annual TransUnion credit report reveals an interesting update to one of my credit card account (ironically, the very credit card account that provides the credit score service):
My PayPal-branded-Providian-credit-card-turned-WaMu-card has had its credit limit lowered from $3,000 to $250. There is also a remark reading: “Dispute resolved reported by grantor.”
This is most likely due to a $37 fraudulent foreign transaction charge that appeared on this account back in November of 2007. Long story short, I never used the credit card and I was carrying a balance I wasn’t aware of. Except a post detailing WaMu’s horrid fraudulent charges claim process in the near future.
Other factors that may have contributed to the almost 100 point drop:
- Higher credit card balance from big-ticket charges during the month
- Some very short term balance transfers that may have appeared on two accounts at once
It’s a bit unfortunate that I didn’t notice the drop in score earlier, else I could have checked what factors were contributing to the change. Just in case you’re curious, the list below shows some of the factors that can also negatively affect your score.
Factors that Could Affect Your Credit Score Negatively:
- Late payments. Especially 90+ day late payments.
- Collections and other negative items. Stays on your report for 7 to 10 years. Pay your bills kids and all will be peachy.
- High balance. Try your best to keep debt-to-limit ratio under 10%. The higher your ratio, the more your score takes a ding.
- Too many new credits. Affects your overall average credit age and can reduce your credit score.
- Too many one type of account (e.g., credit card accounts aka revolving accounts). A good mixture of credit type ensures a better score.
- Inquiries. Too many hard credit pulls will hurt your score and hard pulls stays on your report for two years.
Posted by Cap in Personal Finance
on February 13, 2008 | 12 Comments
I gotta admit that at times I’m quite the moron.
When asked my best friend what she thought of how I handled money, she pointedly told me that I’m “weird with money.”
“Weird? What do you mean weird. Do you mean I waste money?” I asked her.
“No… it’s just that you’re weird with money.” she told me without trying to hurt my feelings. “Sometimes you’ll make a fuss over a few dollars, but when it comes to some big ticket items, you’ll buy it without a second thought.”
Oh great, I’m a cheap ass, I thought to myself.
But that’s not the point my friend was making. Her point was that at times, I can be penny smart but dollar stupid.
Most of you know that there are a handful of decisions in life that’ll make profound financial impact for the rest of your life: your choice of home loan, auto loan, student loan, career path, and when or if you’ll have kids. These decisions can drastically affect the level of income you take home and the amount of income you’ll have left to save and invest for the future.
When you reach the point in your life to make these decisions, careful research and smart decisions can often yield significant savings.
I’ve often joked throughout the blog about stupid minor things such as the rebates that I forgot to mail in, or how $10 flew out of the window… but you should remember that the big impacts to your financial life are the big financial choices, like those mentioned above.
It’s not that I believe actions we take to cut minor expenses are a waste of time or silly to do; frugality in any sorts of level is all peachy with me. But if you spend the time to save on the minor expenses and neglect to do the full due diligence on the big ticket expenses, then you’ll be doing yourself a major disservice — and don’t forget, you’ll also be labeled as being “weird” with money.
Posted by Cap in Personal Finance
on February 12, 2008 | 9 Comments
Especially when its because of bad cash-flow management.
For those that don’t know, an emergency fund is a stash of moola that you can easily access in the case of emergencies. And by emergencies I mean “Oh crap my car engine blew up” or “Oh crap I just got fired because I kept sleeping on the job.”
How much should you keep in your emergency fund? Well, the answer really depends on your personal financial situation, but the general consensus seems to be between $1,000 to $5,000. Obviously, this number can change significantly for those with a big family, or those that are single with very stable jobs.
For more on emergency fund, you can read this post I wrote awhile back.
As mentioned, due to some major mishap on my arithmetic ability, along with spending like a king on trips and lending money to others (always a bad idea) — I found myself staring at a checking account balance that reminisce my early college years.
Realizing that I couldn’t possibly pay for the month’s credit card balance in full with 28 quarters, I cursed aloud and dipped into my emergency fund of $5,000 (an amount that can take care of my full expenses for about 4 months).
All in all, not a big deal.
But what I soon realized was that I became fairly uncomfortable with the prospect of an emergency fund that’s not fully funded. It’s not as if I was broke or anything, but the fact that my emergency fund was missing $800 made me felt… incredibly insecure, for some strange reason.
As so I’ve learned two things:
- I have a lower tolerance for financial risk than I realized.
- When you dip into your emergency fund because you spent more than you thought, you’ll feel pretty stupid.
Posted by Cap in Sunday Rant
on February 3, 2008 | 13 Comments
Random Sunday afternoon rant.
So when you hand your credit card to the cashier, sometimes they fiddle with it while waiting for the transaction to clear. Tapping it against the counter, flipping it, memorizing your card number, etc.
You know, the usual stuff. No biggie.
But lately my credit cards have been getting some weird fiddling — in the form of pressing the card against their lips — like how people bite or press a pen against their lips while in deep thought.
Dear cashiers: Please just scan my credit card and not make out with it. Thank you.