January 2009 Monthly Archive
Posted by Cap in Credit Related
on January 30, 2009 | 22 Comments
You may recall that just about a month ago, I applied for a Schwab 2% cash back Visa card.
Every time I apply for a financial product that requires credit approval, a little bit of anxiety builds up. Will I be approved? Will I get rejected? The horrendous waiting-for-an-answer just like when I tried to ask this one girl to the co-ed dance back in high school… maybe if I had shown her my credit report, she would have said yes…
After weeks of waiting and the occasional checking of the application status, I received an approval message from the online application query tool:
A few days later, I received the card and account related literature in the mail:
A credit line of $5,000 was enough to get me the Visa Signature benefits, which is nothing too special as a Signature card has its pro and cons — but I was a bit surprised by the semi-low credit limit granted to me. Though I rarely spend more than $5,000 per month, there are occasions where I may need to spend over that amount (e.g., buying plane tickets for group of family or friends for a trip).
Hopefully FIA will find it in their grace to increase my credit limit in the future, or I’ll be testing out the no pre-set spending limit “feature” of a Visa Signature card.
All in all, the process was just like applying at any major credit card issuers. FIA Card Service (formerly MBNA) made the process fairly seamless, and integrated their system for the Schwab brand well enough.
After receiving the Schwab Invest First Visa, I promptly opened a Schwab One brokerage account (another inquiry to the credit history), and soon enough linked the Schwab One account to the Invest First Visa card, for future cash-back accumulation (you can do this in the credit card’s online account access).
Because the Invest First Visa card is issued and administered by FIA Card Service, some people may get slightly confused as they’re required to use a different website (schwabbankcreditcard.com) to access their card’s online account services.
Look for a possible full review on the Schwab Invest First Visa in the future where I’ll go over all the nooks and crannies of this cash back credit card.
If you have any question about this particular credit card, feel free to ask. Great wise Cap will steal other people’s answer and copy/paste it in for you.
Related Links & Resources:
Posted by Cap in Personal Finance
on January 27, 2009 | 9 Comments
Not to brag or anything, but my discretionary income is rather healthy. How so? Well, the main reason is because I live (and look) like a bum. Hah. But regardless of how stable my financial life is, I always plan any purchases over $500 ahead of time.
Calling it “lazy budgeting” is sort of misleading, as I don’t really budget — the entire act is more of a reminder for myself. For example, for the month of November (or whenever), if I’ll be spending an extra X amount on so and so… I make a mental note or jot the dollar amount and the planned purchase date on a sticky note, notepad, or a text document on my desktop.
Holiday gift for the family? Mental note. Jewelry for the mistress? Sticky note. Monthly payment to the loan shark? Sharpie-written note on forearm.
What are some of the benefits of making a note on these purchases?
- No surprises when the bill comes the following months.
- Know exactly how much I need to transfer to checking to cover expenses.
- No freak-outs when credit card company calls to verify large purchases.
- Accountability: can’t pretend I didn’t spent the money.
If you’re lazy and you don’t budget like me, you should at the very least consider making a mental or visual note whenever you have a large upcoming expense. A visual cue to the actual spending can actually be pretty powerful, as I’ve found myself at times changing my mind on a large purchase simply because I got sick of staring at the sticky note on top of the monitor.
“Birthday present for sister? Pff. Forget it.” *tears off sticky note*
Posted by Cap in Deals and Discounts
on January 18, 2009 | 14 Comments
Unfortunately all the 50% off promo code are expired. You can still get Equifax Score Watch
for $12.95, cheaper than myFICO’s $14.95 per month rate.
Pretty darn good deal. 50% off all myFICO products. If you’ve been considering checking your credit score for whatever reason, this will be as good of a time as any because the usual myfico discounts are only about 10% to 25% off (with the max I’ve seen at 30% off). This 50% off discount will expire soon so take advantage of it before it goes the way of dodo birds.
FICO Score Watch – $89.95 $44.95 – 50% off discount
FICO Credit Complete – $47.85 $23.91 – 50% off discount
FICO Quarterly Monitoring – $49.95 $24.97 – 50% off discount
Suze Orman’s FICO Kit – $49.95 $24.97 – 50% off discount
Posted by Cap in Updates
on January 16, 2009 | 8 Comments
If you haven’t heard the news already, Circuit City has decided to go into liquidation after failing to find a buyer and secure financing from creditors and lenders. Circuit City will be closing its remaining 567 U.S. stores.
If you’re a Circuit City customer, holder of Circuit City gift cards, credit cards, or have store credit — here’s a quick FAQ that will hopefully address some of your questions:
If you have a gift card or store credit:
Use the gift cards, gift certificates, coupons, and store credits as soon as possible. Circuit City should honor them during the going out-of-business sale, which is expected to last through March.
If you have a Circuit City credit card:
The Circuit City credit card is issued and administered by Chase, so don’t expect it to magically disappear. Most likely your Circuit City credit card will be rebranded to a generic Chase card in a future date. Continue to make payments if you have a balance!
If you want to return an item:
You have only about 14 days left, until January 30th, to return items purchased prior to the going-out-of-business sale. All sales are final on anything bought after January 16.
If you have a pending mail-in-rebate:
This depends on if the rebate was from the product manufacture or Circuit City. If the rebate is from a manufacture, you’ll be okay. Although Circuit City uses a third party to handle its rebate offerings, the rebate processor won’t be able to pay you if Circuit City haven’t paid them. If you’ve kept your rebate submission form, there should be a phone number or a page online for you to check the status of your rebate.
If you have an extended warranty:
The warranty is serviced by a third party and should still be in full effect to the terms and condition of the warranty purchase.
If you need to contact Circuit City:
Please do it immediately as Circuit City’s website and call centers will cease to operate after January 18, 2009 (Circuit City’s website is current down and it is unknown if it will reopen before January 18).
If you’re interested in going to the liquidation sale:
The going-out-of-business sale will start tomorrow on January 17, and is expected to last until the end of March. Please be aware that liquidation sales are not exactly a great place to go look for bargain. Liquidators often mark up prices significantly before marking it “down” to give appearances of steep discount.
Posted by Cap in Personal Finance
on January 15, 2009 | 17 Comments
Whew. Good riddance to 2008 eh? What a craptacular year.
Without going into too much details, lets just say yours truly made a series of serious mistakes in 2008, almost on the same level of my previous stupidity of amassing around $10,000 in credit card debt back in 2002.
Yeah, parts of ’08 was that crappy. Even though they were not exactly financial mistakes, they were costly mistakes.
Having said that, this brings me to the point of this post: dealing with the debt you’ve created from poor spending decisions.
As a very much imperfect person (my parents will attest to this) that’s slowly realizing he’s the harbinger of mistakes, I’ve learned a few things about dealing with poor choices in life.
Whether they are financial mistakes or something else, there are about two choices you have when you’ve made a mistake: 1) Suck it up, learn from your mistake. 2) Continue the fun fest of being stupid.
The Excuses We Make
Geez. Cap is being so negative. He must have gotten rejected by the local bowling team again.
Be that as it may, the truth of the matter is that we will often try to habitually justify our own ill-conceived actions through excuses and poor reasoning. If you’ve ever made a stupid mistake that you’ve regretted before, you’ll probably know what I’m talking about.
“Its not my fault I spent so much. Work is stressful and I need some occasional relief.”
“Its not my fault I didn’t pass that test. Chelsy was in a bad situation and she needed me to be there for her.”
“Its not my fault my body weight went uncontrolled. I’m too busy with work/school/etc. to get a proper meal.”
If any of these sounds familiar — worry not, you’re not the only one that has thought of them.
Understanding the Mistake
When I woke up that one faithful morning six years ago and realized the asshat decisions I’ve made to get myself in the position of owing so much money — all the excuses I’ve been giving to myself suddenly disappeared. For months, the excuses kept the realization at bay, but at that one brief moment, I had a moment of true clarity and realized that I didn’t want to continue to live a debt-ridden life.
What I’ve just described may sound a bit dramatic, but that morning was a definite eye-opener for me (being scared sh*tless by debt helped too, of course). And from that eye-opener, I made the frequently mentioned mental attitude change. I decided to spend less than I earn, save money, budget, yada yada — you’ve most likely read it all before (if not on this blog, then on another).
Fixing the Mistake
If you have amassed debt from excessive consumerism (or some equally stupid reason), you should know that combating that particular debt doesn’t require some magic formula or a requirement of being a super genius. You’ve probably noticed this already, but I’m not exactly a rocket scientist (again, my parents can also attest to this) — if I could paid off debt with an attitude adjustment, you can too.
Thus, suck it up. Realize that you’ve made a mistake and make a plan on how you can fix it. There are hundreds, if not thousands of articles online with methods and steps you can take to pay off your debt.
Here’s a simple guideline:
- Earn more money or spend less money.
- Use excess from earnings/savings to pay off debt.
It’s a New Year. Make it a better one!
Posted by Cap in Deals and Discounts
on January 8, 2009 | 17 Comments
Suze Orman is on Oprah again this week (today, in fact) — and she’s giving away another copy of her book in eBook format. This year, they’re giving away a copy of Suze Orman’s 2009 Action Plan.
You can download the eBook by visiting Oprah.com or use the link below to view or download the eBook (right click, save as).
Download Suze Orman’s 2009 Action Plan
The book is in PDF format, 1.2 MB, and at only about 200 pages, it’s a quick enough of a read. The free download offer along with the link will expire on Thursday, January 15th.
Update: The book is no longer available for free download, but you can still read the first chapter of the book on Oprah.com.