Posts Tagged ‘financial

Discover Checking Account

Posted in Reviewson Jun 21, 2018

While Discover is mostly known as a credit card company, they also offer some basic banking products (and you don’t have to have their credit card to use them).   One of their best products is their Cashback Checking accounts.  The highlight of this account is that you get 1% cash back on all debit card transactions.  This is a good way to get cash back if you can’t qualify for a cashback credit card, or don’t want a credit card, or shop frequently at stores (Winco Grocery) that only accept debit cards.

Some other highlights of this account:

  • No monthly fee
  • No minimum balance
  • Free ATM access to many ATMs, but you’ll need to figure out which ones are in their network (mostly ATMs at 7-Eleven stores and select small credit unions or local banks)
  • Free Paper Checks
  • Deposit checks into your account by taking pictures of your check with their Mobile App

Accounts can only be opened by those 18 years or older.

A drawback is that there are no local branches, so if you’re the type of person who wants to walk into a bank frequently, this may not be for you.  But you can easily link this account to external accounts so that you can transfer money around as needed.

As with all of my recommendations, I recommend you do your own research and understand the full terms before opening an account.

Financial Products

Posted in Reviewson Jun 20, 2018

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting about several financial products that may be of interest.  I’m primarily doing this because I want to be able to help my friends and readers make extra money each year.  I don’t want to be pushy about this, which is why I’m posting this information in a take-it-or-leave-it way on a blog.

I’ll be posting reviews about banking accounts, credit cards, investment services, and coupon and rebate programs.

If there are any products where I might earn a referral fee, I’ll clearly state that.

Now let me say a few words about credit cards in general:

  • Make the decision to never carry a balance from one month to the next on your credit cards.  Then you can pick credit cards based on the rewards, not on the rates.
  • Know your credit score, and unless it is excellent, make a plan to improve it.
  • Having no credit cards or loans does NOT mean you have good credit.  It means you have no credit, which is often treated similarly to having bad credit.
  • Credit card issuers have been creating new credit cards with better benefits for people with better credit.  If you’ve recently improved your credit score, or if you haven’t shopped for a new card in a while, you may find that more rewarding cards are available since that last time you’ve looked.
  • Be very careful about cards that require a membership or a annual fee.  At some point you may wish to not pay for the membership or annual fee, and closing that card can negatively effect your credit score.  You can avoid most negative impacts when closing any card if you have other cards with a good long history and credit limit.

If there has been one reliable trend for the stock and bond markets, it is that over long periods of time, things generally go up.  For someone who doesn’t know much about investing, this one, reliable trend can be utilized by these three rules:

  1. Invest regularly and periodically.  The rule, “buy low sell high” is a dumb rule, because how do you know when stocks are low or high?  Instead of trying to time the market, add additional money into your investment accounts as regular intervals, like once per month.  Sometimes you will invest when the stocks are higher, and sometimes you will invest when the stocks are lower.  Overall, that averages out and you avoid the risk of buying high.
  2. Invest in everything.  Trying to pick just a handful of stocks to invest in in risky.  The chance of picking a stock that will crash is too great.  So instead, invest in lots of different stocks.  Stocks that do great will offset stocks that do poorly.  Overall, things average and you avoid the risk of buying a bad stock.  Mutual funds (or ETFs) are a great way to invest in lots  and lots of stocks, but many funds focus too much on a single market segment.  Choose a handful of different funds that cover different market segments: different sizes of companies, domestic and international, different ages of companies.
  3. Choose a stock/bond ratio for your timespan of investing.  Stocks are more volatile.  They have more potential of going up, but they can also go way down.  Over a long long term, they generally go up.  Bonds are more stable.  Funds containing bonds still go up and down, but not as much as stocks.  Generally, bond funds go up over shorter periods of time.  If you want bigger gains over longer periods of time, you should invest in stocks.  If you are ok with smaller gains because you need to withdraw sooner, then you should invest in bonds.

I know of a couple of good platforms that can get you started investing quickly and without a lot of money.  But I don’t want to discredit this post as a shill for a particular service.  If you are interested, leave a comment and I’ll email you directly.

Online deals

Posted in Businesson Jan 19, 2011

You may have heard of the recent popularity boom of online deal sites like Groupon or LivingSocial that offer one day deals good.  Typically they offer a deal for a local merchant where you buy a gift certificate to that merchant for something like half of the price.

These are often temptingly good deals.  This is good for the business because they get a bunch of customers that they wouldn’t normally get.  This is good for some customers because they get a good deal.  It is bad for people who are suckers for a bargain because they will spend a whole bunch on “deals” that they wouldn’t normally consider.

So normally I ignore these deals, but today (Wednesday) I found a deal that I couldn’t pass up.  It is a $20 gift certificate to Amazon.com for only $10.  I was just telling Sandy this morning that we buy a lot from Amazon.com, so when I saw this deal, I went ahead and did it.

At the end of the day, it looks like they sold 1.3 million of these gift cards. I’m sure that cost someone a pretty penny, but it did end up getting a lot of publicity.

Deficit verses Debt

Posted in Politicson Jan 26, 2010

Some people confuse the terms  Deficit and Debt when talking about our nation’s finances.  I thought I would spend a second to describe the difference.

When we talk about the National Debt, we are talking about the amount of money that our government owes people, companies, and even foreign nations. This is comparable to a person having a home loan, several car loans, lots of credit card debt, and IOU notes written out to everyone in the neighborhood.

The National Budget Deficit is the amount of money the government spends more than the amount of money the government collects. A person having a budget deficit would likely be putting more debt onto a credit card than payments to pay it off. Every year the government works out the budget, that is, they decide how much money they are going to throw at what. When they’ve spent more money than is collected through taxes, they say, “Oh well, we’ll just take out more loans.” The National budget deficit is the amount by which our National debt increases.

When there is talk about “reducing the deficit,” they aren’t talking about reducing the national debt. They are just reducing the rate at which the government takes out new loans. “Cutting the deficit in half” is saying, “We are only going to take out half as many new loans this year.”

Couponing

Posted in Adventureson Nov 3, 2009

Recently, Sandy and I have been doing a little bit of couponing.  We’re not aiming at taking 80% off our monthly grocery bill, or to get all sorts of random products for free.  It is more like a game that we like winning.  It is kind of a thrill to get products for free or to see “You Saved 85% Off Your Order Today!” printed on the bottom of the receipt.  We are getting kind of good at finding coupons on the Internet to print or combining coupons we find with sales we find in stores.

One of our favorite stores to shop at is King Soopers, which is a Kroger store.  King Soopers generally has reasonable prices on products, and they will often have some good sales.  Additionally, they will double coupons up to 50 cents, and coupons between 50 cents  and a dollar they will increase to a dollar.  They also accept eCoupons from shortcuts.com or CellFire, which are loaded onto the King Sooper loyalty card and applied automatically when checking out.

One of my favorite King Soopers promotions is $5 off 10 qualifying items.  I think they choose a couple of items on each aisle of the store that quality, causing you to walk up and down all the aisles searching out 10 items which qualify.  This promotion is currently underway at our King Soopers, and when you combine the promotion with coupons, we’ve found some good deals.  For example, our 10 items might be:
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Flickr Stock Photo

Flickr Stock Photo

Occasionally I get asked how much a particular used computer is worth.  Because computer technology continues to increase at a steady rate, computers loose their value quite quickly.

My general rule is that a computer looses about 30-50% of its value every year.  A computer which was purchased at the store for $1000 might be worth somewhere around $300 two years later.  Particular brands and technologies may loose value faster or slower, but generally, all computers loose their value quite quickly.

For this reason I recommend that no one ever buy a computer with the intent to sell it to someone else later.

I also recommend to most people that they do not buy more computer than they need right now.  This means that you shouldn’t buy excessively more memory, speed, or storage because you intend on needing that extra capacity in a year or two.  Ignoring this advice, people could buy too much computer that would be worth half as much when they actually need to use it all.

(photo credit)


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