Saturday, December 31, 2011

Keeping Track of Many Accounts in One Place - allows you to keep track of many accounts in one place.

You give them the information related to your accounts and they will organize and aggregate all the information in one place.  You can even set it up so that you get an email a week before any bill is due or any bigger transactions have posted to your accounts.

Worried about security?  From the NYTimes article about

"Intuit’s privacy and security policy, though, suggests the company is serious about protecting your data. Among other things, Intuit encrypts all communications between you and the company, and its internal data-handling policies are intended to minimize the chances that an employee can see your information."

Friday, December 30, 2011

Get Free $10 Credit to Amazon Etextbooks Free

Here is the link - use promo code etxtbook.

The books can be read on your iPad, PC or Mac.  Must be redeemed by January 9th.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Coming to America - $6 DVD

For all those who grew up on Coming to America (which I personally did),  you can now get for $6 on DVD - Coming to America (Special Collector's Edition)

This is Eddie Murphy at his finest and most hilarious (but also inappropriate).

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

PJ Library - Free Monthly Jewish Books for Your Children and Grandchildren

PJ Library gets communities to sponsor subscriptions for monthly mailings of free jewish books.

Both parents and grandparents are eligible to sign up for their children and grandchildren.

If you live in the NY area, most communities are covered, outside of NY there is some coverage but check their map to see if you community is covered.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cuisinart 10 piece ($106.17) and 17 piece set ($125.99) With free 2 Piece Slicing/Pairing Set

I have seen the 10 piece Cuisinart Stainless Steel set advertised on other blogs from Amazon for $105.  With tax, this comes out to $115.37.  If you buy it from newegg, you can get it for $108.99 flat, no tax.

Using Ebates, you can get another 2.6% off so your total comes out to $106.17!

If you don't have ebates, you can sign up for free and you even get a $10 gift card after your first $25 purchase.

Cuisinart 77-10 10-Piece Chef's Classic Cookware Set Cuisinart 77-10 10-Piece Chef's Classic Cookware Set
Type: Cookware Set Quantity: 10-Piece Included: Set includes: (719-16) 1-1/2 Qt. Saucepan w/Cover (7193-20) 3 Qt. Saucepan w/Cover (733-24H) 3-1/2 Qt. Sauté pan w/Helper Handle and Cover (722-20) 8" Open Skillet (722-24) 10" Open Skillet (766-24) 8 Qt. Stockpot w/Cover

Click on Buy (right above) to get it directly from Newegg, but I would get it from Ebates
Amazon deal for Cuisinart 77-17 Chef's Classic Stainless 17-Piece Cookware Set

If you are in one of the states where Amazon must charge you sales tax (NYKS, KY, ND, and WA), you are better off going for the new egg deal.  All others are better off with the Amazon deal.

Put Tuition Payments on your Credit Card

Put your tuition payments on your credit card.  For many, there is no single bill bigger than tuition so why not get free money!  Even if you are getting loans, you should still pay the tuition bill on your credit card.  Then, pay your credit card bill with your loan money.

The credit card you use should have some sort of rewards program (see my other post to see which credit cards are best).

For example, if your tuition is $30,000 a year, if you have the fidelity american express credit card you will get back 2% of the bill, which is $600.  At 1%, you still get $300 back.  If you just used your loan money to pay the school directly, you get back nothing.  It's a no brainer.

Even if your credit limit is not high enough to cover these expenses ,you can normally still pay with your credit card.  Once you have your loan money, prepay your credit card company before you charge the tuition.  Many cards will then add to your limit based on how much you have paid them.  For example, if you have a $1,000 limit, if you paid $30,000 to the credit card company, you will now have a limit of $31,000 until you use your credit!  You are now able to afford paying your tuition on your credit card and have made $600 in the process.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Plasmacar - A Really Fun Toy

My brother and sister in law bought a Plasmacar for their children and I played with it today and I had a great time for about 10 minutes (even though I had a major wipe out - video below).  It is safe for anyone 200 lbs. and below.

I am not suggesting anybody buy this, and I am not buying it myself, but if after watching the video you decide that you need to have it, this is the best price I could find.  It is selling for $60 at Target.

If you wait until January, you can get back 5% on all Amazon orders with your Chase Freedom.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

80% off The Children's Place With Free Shipping Today and Tomorrow

The Children's Place is having an 80% off sale today and tomorrow (12/25 - 12/26) online and in stores.

There is free shipping on 12/25

If you apply for their credit card, you will get another 20% off and free shipping through the end of December.  You normally get 5% off with their credit card.

Free Bluetooth Headset After Rebate - Samsung WEP460

I just got my Samsung 490 and I've sent away for the rebate.  The bluetooth works great.  You can buy it until the end of the year.

Here is the link for the headset

Here is the $20 rebate

There is a limit of 3 per household. Each rebate needs to be sent in separately.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Target RED (Credit) Card - An Important Second Tier Card for Everyone

For other credit cards, take a look here

I just recently got a Target Card, although it doesn't have a Visa symbol so it can't be used outside of Target (you can get one with a Visa symbol).  I think EVERYONE should get a target card and here is why.


1) Free Shipping at with no minimums - I can't tell you how many times I  bought this pack of pencils at Amazon in order to qualify for Super Free Shipping.  With the Target Card, as long as the price is the same, you never have to think about that anymore.

2) Start your shopping at Ebates and get another 3% off online

3) 5% off at Target stores and - This is not 5% back in miles or points, you just spend 5% less to begin with.

4) An extra 5% off on Pharmacies (10% total) when you fill 5 prescriptions

5) 1% of your order (in addition to the 5%) goes to a school of your choice -  Please pick Jewish Heritage Day School, our local day school, if you don't care who gets it.  Once you connect your card to a school, there is nothing you need to do anymore.

6) No Annual Fee - of course, I wouldn't recommend the card if it had one.  (there are few exceptoins)

7) If you have bad credit, cards from Retailers are a good place to start

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Brooks Brothers Non Iron Dress Shirts for $28.36 Each on December 26th

I just got a promotion in the mail that Brooks Brothers Outlet Stores will be 50% off on December 26th and 40% from now until January 3rd.

The shirts are normally $69.50 each at the outlets

The shirts are $28.36 each with the 15% off promototion from VIP Premium Outlets (free to sign up) after spending $100 and 4% back for using your Brooks Brothers credit card,.

If you don't have their credit card, they will be $29.54 each after the extra 15% off

Chase Freedom $300 Bonus No Longer Available

Unfortunately, the Chase Freedom $300 bonus is no longer available, but you can still get the $200 bonus here.

Update 12/21/12 - Bonus is back down to $100
Update 1/3/12 - The $250 link seems to be down, so here is a link for a $200 bonus.  sorry :(
Update 1/4/12 - $250 link is back - both links will get you the $250 bonus.
Update 3/14/2012 - $200 link works, but not the $300 one.

All you have to do is spend $500 in three months and you get the bonus.

Hurry before this goes too!

The card itself is a great credit card - Here are some of the benefits
- 5% back on gas for 6 months of year
-5% back on Amazon and Best Buy for 3 months of the year
-5% back on groceries for 3 months of the year
-1% back on everything else.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Shopping in an Outlet Store like Woodbury Common or Niagara Outlets? Here is How to Save Even More

If you are shopping in an Outlet Store (which I highly recommend for big shopping days), you should always check out these sites before you shop (links at the end of the post).

The outlets put together websites where you can print coupons that can save you a whole bunch of monies. Signing up is free.  Almost every store has some sort of coupon.

I went to the Banana Republic stores in Waterloo Premium Outlets (I went to Woodbury Common on Black Friday and after 20 minutes I couldn't even find a parking spot) the Sunday after Black Friday (There was almost no one in Waterloo, I don't think there is ever anyone there - a great place to shop) and I was able to print out a 15% off coupon for my order if I spend $100 or more.  I needed new pants (my old pants wouldn't fit anymore - vahamaivin yavin) and I was able to get four pairs of Banana Republic pants for $88 - including tax (I also signed up for a credit card, but that's for a different post).

They also usually have 15% off Brooks Brothers too, if you spend $100.  Many times they will have great Carter's and The Children's Place coupons as well.

Make sure to look at individual stores and also print out the one at the top for the whole place.  You print it out, bring that one to the office and they will give you a booklet of coupons in addition to any other coupons you have already printed out.

Also, make sure to google for different coupons.  There are plenty of printable coupons available that work in outlet stores if you just search for them.  Right now you can get a 30% off coupon from Banana Republic Factory Story.  This is just one example

Here is the link for Woodbury Common and other Premium Outlets

Here is the link for Niagara Fashion outlets.


Free USB 4GB from Staples after Staples Rewards

You actually have to go into Staples to get this deal but you can get a FREE USB 4GB in Staples.  It costs $16.99, there is $11.00 of instant savings and they will give you $5.99 back on your Staples Rewards.

Sign up for free for Staples Rewards

Here is the coupon to bring with you

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Free Obama (Pro and NObama) and Newt Gingrich Bumper Stickers

I thought this would be fun

Here is the Pro Obama Link

Here is the NObama Link

Keep in mind that the GOP can't send text messages to home phones.

From Hey It's Free

20% off Keurig OfficePro B40 - as low as $90

Disclaimer - The Discover offers are no longer valid.

Here is the link. coupon code is 15178486 or 83738268 (I tried to do both but they wouldn't work together)

If you have always wanted a single serve Keurig coffee maker, right now is the time to buy.  Normally $119  in officedepot and $122 from Amazon, it will come out to $94 and with extra savings, it can be as low as $89.30

If you have a Discover it™ or Chase Card, you should buy it through their online portals.  Discover will give you 5% off and Chase will give you 3%.  If you do not have either of these, you can buy it through ebates and they will give you 1% back.

This one makes 7 1/4oz cups and 9 1/4oz cups.  If you want 6 oz cups, you should go for the B145, which is a little more expense.  It will come out to $104.  Normally $129

I personally am not a fan of the coffee maker simply because it is significantly more expensive to buy the maker and more expensive for each cup of coffee but many people swear by them.

From slickdeals

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Credit Cards for Individual Retailers

For the best credit cards, click Here

When I walk into a store, unlike most people, I always look into their credit card.  Their cards are almost never the best for regular usage, but you can get some real savings in their store.

Also, if you don't have a credit history, they are usually a good way to start building your credit because it is easier to get a store credit card than a bank credit card.

Another great thing, is that many of these card will give you free coupons and gift cards just for being a member

Here is a list of my favorite store credit cards.  As always, these cards have no annual fee:

Target Red Card5% back on every purchase, plus free shipping from, plus get an additional 5% off any pharmacy items from Target.
        - If you enroll in their Taking Charge of Education program, a school of your choice will get 1% of your purchase (you don't lose anything).  Please pick Jewish Heritage Day School, our local day school, if you don't care who gets it.

Banana Republic - 15% off your first purchase.  5% back on every purchase towards a Gap Inc. store (banana, gap, old navy etc.)  - plus get a $15 gift card for your birthday every year and $40 after first purchase not at Banana Republic.  Plus, you can get up to 2,000 bonus point ($20) for signing up for paperless statements, emails, voice mails, atheleta news.
    -You get $60 back right away, in addition to all other savings!

Brooks Brothers - 15% off your first purchase.  4% back at Brooks Brothers- plus get another $20 gift card for your birthday every year.
          -At this point, I pretty much go to Brooks Brothers once a year, buy 5 pairs of socks and spend     $1-$2.  I'm never sure what emotions I am feeling as I walk out.

Toys R Us/Babies R Us - 10% off your first purchase.  4% back on every purchase + you can get another 1% with the keyring rewards card.

Lowe's - 5% off purchases at Lowe's

As always, if you have any cards that you like, please let us all know which card you like and why.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Birthday Freebies

Baskin Robbins - Free scoop of Ice Cream
     - Thank you MW

Barnes N' Noble - Free Cupcake for your kids

Ben and Jerry's - Free Scoop of Ice Cream and $3 off an ice cream cake

Cold Stone - their website says they give a "special treat".
       - I got an email saying that they will give you buy one get one free for one creation

Tasty D-Lite - Free Medium Tasti Cup

Abigail's - free entree (need to go with two people) - I believe you need to sign up for it at the store, not online.

Chuck E Cheese - 20 free coupons on your half and full birthdays.  Works every day for a week leading up to the birthday.  Also, you can buy a cup for them for $3 that gives you free refills on soda every time you come.  You can wash it and bring it back again the next time for free.
     - Thank you YW

Krispy Kreme - Free donut and free small coffee or fountain drink

Starbucks - Free Drink Creation 

Dunkin' Donuts - Free Medium Beverage

Baltimore Orioles - Free ticket to non-prime games (

Brooks Brothers - $20 gift card during your birthday month
Update 6/2013 - I did not get a coupon this year :(
Update 6/2012 - they have changed the rules.  You know have to make a purchase during your birthday month with a coupon they send you and then you will get your $20 off at the next purchase.  Basically, you will get $20 off of two purchases instead of one so try to buy the cheapest item in the store to qualify for the $20.

Banana Republic - $15

If you want a very comprehensive list, see here.  I put on the ones that give something free, not just a coupon and restaurants/food that have a kosher site.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

6 pack of Skippy Peanut Butter - $12.83 for a 6 Pack of 15ozs

Skippy Peanut Butter - $12.83 for a 6 Pack of 15ozs and free shipping

You get this price when you sign up for "subscribe and save" which will save you an extra 15%. Just cancel the subscribe and save after you are done and there is no penalty.  They tell you that there is no obligation.  Just click on the Link

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

5-6.25% Cash Back on Gas for 6 Months of the Year

Disclaimer - The Discover offers are no longer valid.

Update: bonus is now $100

Get $300 back when you spend $500 in the first 3 months on Chase Freedom.

Get 5% Cash Back on up to $1,500 spent in each quarter on gas for 6 months of the year (Jan-March and July-Sep). 
      - Remember to sign up for the categories before every quarter.

The 2012 5% Cash Back quarterly categories have come out for Chase Freedom and Discover it™.  

For Discover, your 5% can turn into 6.25% when you use your rewards for gift cards.  With many companies (my family gets Bed Bath and Beyond cards), you can redeem $20 of rewards for a $25 card.  This effectively adds 25% to your rewards.

Splenda Essentials 2 Free Samples

Splenda Essentials Free Samples - You can order 2 per household.

You do not need to give your email, just your address so no annoying spam emails.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Chase Freedom - $300 Sign up Bonus

Update: dead!  Bonus is now $100

Chase Freedom is a great secondary card to use for its 5% categories and they are now offering $300 if you spend $500 in the first 3 months.

Chase Freedom is 5% Back on Charitable Contributions Until the End of the Year

Now through the end of the year you can get 5% back on charitable donations on up to $1,500 of charitable donations with your Chase Freedom Card.  Keep in mind that you need to sign up every quarter for the 5% bonues.

Most charities allow you to donate via credit cards and now is the best time of the year to maximize your donations via Chase Freedom .

Yad Eliezer is one charity that makes it easy to donate with a credit card.

I am normally not a fan of putting charitable donations on credit cards because of the percentage the credit card company takes from the charity but if you just add the 5% you get onto your donation, the charity makes out and you have maximized your donation.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Samsung Bluetooth Headset - $0.99 after Mail in Rebate (Good through Dec 31st)

The headset is $20.99 and it becomes $0.99 after the $20 mail in rebate.

Update - Price has now been changed to $29.99 so it will now cost $9.99 after the rebate.

You can buy 3 per household but each rebate must be mailed in separately.  Rebate must be postmarked within 30 days of purchase

Here is the link for the Headset

Here is the link for the rebate

Free Hershey's Chocolate Bar at Thorton's

All you have to do is like them on Facebook and then you can print out a coupon for a free Hershey's chocolate bar.

Free Malax Laxative Sample from Target

Kind of random but it's free.  Here is the link

Friday, November 25, 2011

Missed out on Black Friday and Cyber Monday Electronics? No Problem According to uses computer algorithms to decide whether the price on electronics will continue to go down or if it is a good time now to buy.

According to the NY predicts that the best time to get good quality electronics is the beginning of December, not Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

So, if you still want electronics, put your wish in their website and see whether it is the right time to buy!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Free $2 in MP3 Credit from Amazon

Here is the link.

Use coupon code studybrk

It expires November 28th so you need to use it soon.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Perk Street Financial Review- 2% Debit Card but Only for 3 Months

Updated 11/24/2011:

PerkStreet Financial 2% cash back debit card

If you read a lot of finance articles online, you are bound to see an ad from PerkStreet Financial.  They have appeared on this blog many times.  This is what it looks like:

Here is a Review of the Perkstreet Financial 2% cash back debit card:


1) 2% back on everything -
         - Beware, 2% only lasts for 3 months.  Then you go down to 1%
         - Update - You can still get 2% back if you keep a balance of $5,000Thank you for the comment, this makes the deal far more attractive.

2) 5% on rotating categories
         - The categories for November are movie theaters, local bakeries, netflix, hulu and Blockbuster


1)  There is a $4.50 monthly inactivity fee If you don't use your account that month, you will be charged.  If you use the card or cash a check, etc. you won't be charged.

2) 1% is a standard rate you can get with almost any card, but if you keep a $5,000 balance, it will stay at 2%.
     - It is a debit card so you need to pay from this account.  So you will need to keep significantly more than $5,000 in that account.
     - You aren't getting interest on any money in there.  You could be getting as much as 1.30% interest on that money so you have to deduct the 1.30% from any money saved.

3) The 5% rotating categories aren't as cyclicly relevant as Discover's and Chase 

4) Debit cards do not help build your credit history, only credit cards do that.

5) This only works when you hit the "credit" button as you swipe.  If you have to put in a pin, you aren't getting your 2%.  

The bottom line, should I get this card?

Get it, if you will use it every month and you can maintain a $5,000 balance (you probably will need a lot more than that in the account) and you aren't doing anything with that money anyway.  If you don't want to have to think about it, I understand. 

I don't personally think it is worth it.  You could be doing a lot of good with the money that needs to sit in that account.  Go for the 2% Fidelity American Express Credit Card instead

I would also check out these cards for times when you can get more than 2%.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dove - Free Sample

I am a sucker for free stuff, even when I don't need it.

Click Here for a Free Sample:


Trading Stocks

Lowest Fees

Just 2 Trade - $2.50 a trade.  I've never used it so I can't tell you anything about it. - $3.95 a trade.  Probably as good as you will find.  Difficult to use and navigate but if all you want to do is trade, they can save you a lot of money.  Plus you get a bonus for signing up!  Also, if you move your brokerage account to them from someone else they will cover up to $100 of the transfer fee your old brokerage house will charge.  Most other brokerage houses will give you some sort of bonus as well.

Zecco - $4.95 a trade.  A little less difficult to use than optionshouse but still not great.

Scottrade - $7 a trade.  Never used it.

Charles Schwab - $8.95 a trade.  Very simple navigation.  In addition, you can get their ATM card and never pay an ATM fee again.  They will reimburse you no matter how high the fee is and no matter how many times you use it.

If you have a whole bunch of money that you don't mind sitting around in a low interest savings account ($25,000 or more), you should use Merrill Lynch.  They will give you 30 free trades a month if you have $25,000 in a Bank of America non-investment account or a $25,000 cash balance in your investment account.

One thing to keep in mind with the smaller brokerage companies:  Many do not participate in DRIPs (Dividend ReInvestment Program) the way the larger brokerage companies.  For instance, let's say you have 5 shares of a company that is $200 a share ($1,000) and it is paying a 2% quarterly dividend and you have signed up for the DRIP program.  If this is invested with Charles Schwab, you will get $20 reinvested back into the stock for free and you will end up with 5.1 shares after one quarter.  If it is invested with optionshouse, however, they will not reinvest the money unless it is equal to a full share.  In our example you would end up with 5 shares and $20 dollars after one quarter.

Best Checking Accounts

Charles Schwab Checking Account


1)  No ATM fees - You never have to think about planning your ATM runs.  Schwab has almost no ATMs so they refund any ATM fees you may incur at other ATMs.  It doesn't matter how close you are to a Schwab branch or how many ATM withdrawals you have a month.

2) You can get some interest on the money in the checking account, albeit a very small percentage (0.2%).

3) Unlimited Checks for free.

4)  If you have a smart phone, you can take a picture of your checks and deposit them electronically.

5) No fees, no minimums for the checking account (there is a minimum for Schwab Brokerage account - keep reading).


1)  You have no physical bank to go to.  If you have a problem you have to go online or call them up.  I personally think this is an advantage.  You can just mail all your deposits (or email them with a smartphone).  I have never had a problem that I couldn't solve quickly over the phone.

2)  Their savings account is not as competitive as Discover bank (1.1%).

3) You need a Schwab Brokerage Account which has a $1,000 minimum.  If you are someone who ends up paying ATM fees, this is a no brainer. I read online that they wave the $1,000 minimum if you have the checking account.  I don't know if this is true but it is worth a try.

My Recommendation:

Open both a Schwab Checking account and a Discover savings account.  Keep enough money in the checking account for any emergencies and any left over money keep in the Discover account so that you can take advantage of the higher rate.  You can transfer the money electronically between the two of them but it may take a few business days so you have to make sure there is enough in your Schwab for any possible expenses.

Consumers Credit Union

Update: rewards checking seems to be a thing of the past :(

Consumers Credit Union is offering one of the best rates available on their Rewards Checking.  They are currently offering 4.09% on their rewards checking on up to balancing of up to $10,000.  Also, if you qualify for the great rate they will also refund any ATM fees

There are some drawbacks:  Read all the rules on this page before you apply for it.

1)  You need to use your debit card 12 times a month (works like a credit card - you don't need to use a pin).  If you pay for most of your bills with a credit card this is usually very possible to do.  The problem is that you can't use your regular credit card for those purchases so won't get your regular rewards but even if you are normally getting 2% back, this is still a better deal unless you are spending $20,000 a year or more on your credit card.

2) You need to have direct deposit into that account.  If you can't have direct deposit, you can still have automatic bill pay from the account every month or make an online transfer once a month and that will qualify.

3) You need to log on to their online banking once a month.

4) You need to enroll in e-statements.

5) It costs $5 to join (comes with a savings Account)- not a big deal if you are getting a good rate.

6) Not FDIC Insured because it is a credit union.  Instead they are insured by National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund which is also backed up by the US government so it is the same thing as FDIC insurance.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Savings Account with 1.3% Interest Rate!

UFB direct is offering a savings account for 1.3% on up to $25,000 that is available for anyone to open.


1) 1.3% interest - hard to beat.


1) More difficult to get to your money without ATM fees -
Here is a way around it but it is annoying.  Don't put in any money you need for the next 2 months.  You can transfer money back and forth electronically between your regular bank and this one.  Before you need money, transfer it back to your regular bank and withdraw your money for free the way you do now.

Thank you for the tip

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Best Credit Cards for the Holidays Shopping

Disclaimer - The Discover offers are no longer valid.

Here are my favorite credit cards, in order, for the specific type of shopping people usuallydo during the holidays:

1) Citi Dividend - 5% on every major category of spending for the holidays.  Department Stores (like Macy's), clothing stores, toy stores and electronics.
            - Keep in mind that you can only get $300 of rewards a year
            - You also get $200 back after spending $500 in the first 3 months.

2)  Discover it™- 5% back on restaurants, department stores and clothing stores for this quarter.
            - You only get 5% on $300 of spending in these categories
            - Turn your 5% into 6.25% back with gift cards

3) Chase Freedom - 5% at restaurants, department stores, movie theaters and charities (not clothing stores) for this quarter.
            - You can get 5% on up to $1,500 of purchases
            - $100 sign up offer when you spend $500 in the first 3 months.

4) Target Red Card - 5% off target all year round, not just the holidays, and free shipping.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

American Express Small Business Saturday - $25 Off Any Small Business American Express Purchase on 11/26

American Express is offering a $25 credit when you spend $25 or more at anmy small business on November 26th.

All you need to do is register you Amex card with them.  When you like them on facebook you can put in your zip code and they will give you a list of small businesses in your area by category.  Usually, any store that isn't a chain store will qualify but you want to check with their list to make sure you will get your $25 credit.  Restaurants that aren't chains are an easy way to not spend too much over $25 but still get your credit.

You can also donate that money to certain charities.  My niece and nephew's school in Washington Heights (Breurer's) is accepting donations

Keep in mind that this worked last year with every amex card you own.  Even if they are the same card in your spouse's name with the same number, you should register both.

Thank you AH for the tip.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Miles/Points vs. Cash back - Which one is better?

Cash back - For the majority of people and the majority of situations, I personally believe that you are better off with cash back than with miles or points.

Here is why:

1) With Miles, you get less money back -

If you have the right credit cards, you will almost always get a higher percentage back with a cash back credit card for standard purchases.  With cash back credit cards, you are able to get at least 2% back on every purchase and sometimes up to 6.25% back in certain categories (look for the Discover card).

When it comes to miles cards, if you do the math you usually will get 1% back or maybe 1.25% back.  You will be very hard pressed to find anything close to 2% without an annual fee.  Here is an example from one random website.  They have one card (Capital One) that gives 2 miles per dollar but it has an $59 annual fee, the rest pretty much give you one mile per dollar spent.

2) With Miles, you have to spend your money on specific items (for most cards)

When you get miles or points, you are usually required to buy plane tickets, book hotels or buy ipods with the rewards you have built up.  Why box yourself in for a lower percentage?  You could take the 2% back you get from your 2% Fidelity card and use that money for the same flight but it will end up costing you less!  If you get cash back, you can spend your money on what you really want/need to and you are not forced to do anything.

How many times have you heard stories of people who built up thousands of miles with no real way to use them for years!

Two good reasons to like miles cards

1) I like the feeling of free stuff

I can't argue with emotions.  Some people really like the feeling that they aren't paying for their flights or anything else they get from their rewards.

Here is my suggestion for you.  Take the money you get from your rewards credit card and put it in a separate account.  Let it build up until you have enough to buy the airplane ticket.  You will get the same ticket, but you will get there faster.

Some will say, "but then I won't spend the money on it."  My response: If you aren't spending the money on the items because you can't afford to or you don't think the item is really worth the money, so then why would you box yourself in with your credit card. Get a rewards card and use your money for groceries instead of vacations.  If you can afford the vacations but you just want to have the feeling of it being free, please continue using your rewards card in good health and enjoy your vacations.

2) If you are a very frequent traveler, there are a few great miles cards

I hope to be able to highlight some of these cards in the near future.  Some cards will give you free nights, others will give you free upgrades and others will allow extra luggage for you. which can save a lot of money.  Stay tuned!

As always, if anyone has any credit card that they like, please leave a comment with the card and I will try to look into it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Redbox Coupon Codes That Always Work

I don't rent movies that frequently, but I can't remember the last time I paid for a movie rental from Redbox.  They are lots of promo codes online and each code works once for every credit card you own, even when you connect the cards to the same email address.  This is one of the advantages of having too many credit cards ;)

The following codes were at every location:
REDBOX - This one is for new costumers only.  I checked a few sites and it seems that this code might not be working anymore.

Like them on Facebook and get a free rental.

Redbox Machines at Specific Locations only:
DVDATWAG - Walgreens

If any of these codes don't work for you, please let me know in the comments.

You can also google "redbox promo codes" to get updated codes as they come out.  Often, they will have codes that will only work one day or will give you discount.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stock Market Investing for Beginners

Disclaimer: I receive a referral commission for the following link(s):  E*trade and OptionsHouse

Here are some tips I use when investing:

1) Don't invest money you need in the short term (1-2 years).

  • My feeling is that if you are trying to make money in stocks short term you are most gambling or a professional and then you probably aren't looking to me for tips.  I read a lot about stocks, but I still have no clue what will or won't go up short term.

This is a quote from Warren Buffet in an article in the NY Times during the 2008 Financial crisis

Let me be clear on one point: I can’t predict the short-term movements of the stock market. I haven’t the faintest idea as to whether stocks will be higher or lower a month — or a year — from now. What is likely, however, is that the market will move higher, perhaps substantially so, well before either sentiment or the economy turns up. So if you wait for the robins, spring will be over

2) Get a broker with low commission fees.  

  • When you are a small time investor, commissions make a big difference.  
    • A $500 investment with a commission fee of $9.99 a trade means that after buying and selling the stock you have already paid $20, which is 4% of your initial investment.  You would need the stock to go up 4% before you break even.  If you invested $1,000 in the same stock, your commissions would only be 2% of the initial investment, etc.  As you invest more money in each stock commissions are less important.
  • Let's take the same scenario if you got a more discounted brokerage firm like Their rate is $4.75 per trade.  Instead of paying $20 for buying and selling, you are paying $8, which is 1.6% of a $500 investment.  This will make a big difference if you plan on doing a lot of trading.  You also get 100 free trades to start off! 
  • If you like ETFs, there are brokerages that have commission free ETFs  Examples are Charles Schwab and Fidelity.
  • If you have a whole bunch of money that you don't mind sitting around in a low interest savings account ($25,000 or more), you should use Merrill Lynch.  They will give you 30 free trades a month if you have $25,000 in a Bank of America non-investment account or a $25,000 cash balance (not invested) in your Merrill Lynch account

3) Diversify or buy Diversified Stocks/Funds/ETFs 

  • ETFs (exchange traded funded) are funds that invest in a category of stocks (ie - kol is coal mining stocks, uyg is finance stocks) or entire indexes (ie IVV follows the S&P 500).  Some ETFs can be very risky. 
    • For example, the proshares ultra category tries to achieve returns that are double whatever the category they invest in

  • Mutual Funds - mutual funds are like ETFs but they have some different rules:
    • For an ETF, you decide what price you will buy and sell at (as long as someone is willing to sell and buy).  For a mutual fund, you can only buy or sell at the end of the day.  For example, if you want to buy a mutual fund and you put in a buy order on monday afternoon before the end of the trading day (4pm), you will buy the mutual fund at the price it closes at the end of trading on Tuesday.  You do not get to choose your price.
    • Mutual funds also usually have minimum investments that can go as high as $5,000 or more, although many are $2,500 or even $1,000.  They also will often impose a penalty if you sell before 60 days.
    • The nice advantage to Mutual Funds is that you can invest with a specific fund manager who is a good history and you don't have to think about what stocks to invest in, that's what you are paying the manager for.
    • Mutual funds work out deals with different brokerage firms.  The same mutual fund might have a $50 commission in one brokerage firm, 2% of the transaction in another, be free in a third and not be available through a fourth.  
      • Once you figure out the mutual fund you want, look it up in Yahoo Finance.  They do a very good job of telling you where the mutual fund is available for buying.  Here is what you would find under the Mutual Fund ticker HIINX.  You want to look for where it says no load and no transaction fee and that will give you best deal on that mutual fund.

4) Don't pay attention to what you paid for the stock

  • If your stock goes up it doesn't mean it is time to sell.  It could be that it was a good buy at $35 a share but not so good at $45 a share or it may still be a good buy until $75 a share.  It is the same if the stock goes down.  Don't be afraid to sell at a loss if you think it will go down further.

5) Don't try to time the market 

  • It's just about impossible to know when to buy or sell an individual stock.  When you have decided to buy a stock, I recommend buying on a schedule.  For example, buy a few shares every couple months.  This way you won't get burned by buying when the stock was too high.

6) Google/Yahoo Finance -

  • I like to use Google finance.  You put in all of your transactions from any accounts and they will calculate your all time gains and losses.  They also have realtime streaming prices.  On many websites, there is a 15 or 20 minute delay on prices that aren't streaming unless you have an account.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Online Savings Accounts

1) UFB direct - 1.3% on up to $25,000.  $100 minimum

2)  Discover Bank (1.00%) - $500 minimum

3) American Express (0.90%)

Disadvantages to Online Savings accounts:
1) It can take a while to get your money.  There is no way to get your money except by an online transfer which can take a few days.  You don't get an ATM card or checks.

My suggestion:

Have two accounts:

Put any money you will need within the next couple of months into your regular low yielding savings/checking account that gives you immediate access to your money.

Put any money that you don't need in the next couple of months into the higher yielding UFB Direct, American Express or Discover savings account

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Credit Cards for Groceries

Bank of America Cash Rewards - 2% back on groceries, 3% on gas, and 1% on everything else.  $100 bonus for spending $500 in first 90 days.

American Express Blue Preferred 6% on groceries, 3% on gas, 1% on everything else.  Has a $75 annual fee

American Express Blue
- 3% on groceries, 2% on gas, 1% on everything else. 

Credit Cards for Gas

Penfed credit card - 1% back on everything and 5% back on all gas purchases.

Bank of America Cash Rewards - 3.3% back on gas, 2.2% on groceries, and 1.1% on everything else after 10% bonus for redeeming into a Bank of America account.  $100 bonus for spending $500 in first 90 days.

American Express Blue Preferred - 3% on gas, 6% on groceries, 1% on everything else.  Has a $75 annual fee

American Express Blue
- 2% on gas, 3% on groceries, 1% on everything else. 

General Usage Credit Card

Disclaimer - The Discover offers are no longer valid.

Fidelity American Express - 2% back on everything

Discover it™- 5% back on rotating categories.  0.25% on everything else until $3,000 and 1% above $3,000.  Your 5% can turn into 6.25% when you use your rewards for gift cards.  With many companies (my family get Bed Bath and Beyond cards), you can redeem $20 of rewards for a $25 card.  This effectively multiplies your rewards by 1.25 .
       - You need to sign up quarterly to be eligible for the 5% extra bonus.

Chase Freedom - 5% back on rotating categories.  1% on everything else.
       - You need to sign up quarterly to be eligible for the 5% extra bonus

Fidelity Visa Card/Capital One Cash Rewards - both give you 1.5% back for every purchase.

Perkstreet Financial Debit Card - 2% Visa Debit card on everything. Here is a review of the card.