Money Roundup: Blackberry Edition

by Michael on May 12, 2014 · 1 comment

No, the title above isn’t alluding to the decreasingly popular BlackBerry smartphone. Rather, it’s referring to this story from a long-time blogging pal of mine. I couldn’t help but smile as I read it. I’m hoping that it has the effect on you.

Click to continue reading >>>

Insuring a Vacant Home

by Michael on May 8, 2014

Photo of No Vacancy Sign

I’ve noted in the past that my parents are getting older and have experienced some health problems. Unfortunately, this has resulted in them having to move out of their house (my childhood home) and into assisted living.

And guess what? Insurance companies don’t like empty houses. Sure, we’ve kept the utilities on, we have a lawn service maintaining the yard, we’ve notified trusted neighbors (as well as the local police), and we check in on it from time to time. But that doesn’t make them more comfortable.

Vacant (or unoccupied) houses are at increased risk of loss due to leaky pipes, fire, vandalism, squatters, theft of copper pipes, etc. Not surprisingly, insurers are thus reticent to maintain coverage without special arrangements.

Click to continue reading >>>

Money Roundup: Crazy Days Edition

by Michael on May 6, 2014 · 2 comments

In case you couldn’t tell based on the (in)frequency and (ir)regularity of my posting schedule, it has been a crazy couple of months around here. I had a couple of huge, work-related deadlines, two of our four kids suffered sports-related broken bones, and we had some medical drama on the home front with my elderly parents.

And probably some other things that I’m forgetting…

The good news is that I met my deadlines, one of the bones has healed and the other is on the way, and the situation with my parents has settled down — for now, at least. And so I will hopefully have a bit more time to devote to writing. Unless something else catastrophic happens, that is.

Click to continue reading >>>

Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard. With a huge signup bonus that’s worth up to $444, free access to your FICO credit score, and 2x cash back rewards, it’s hard not to love this card.

While they don’t have rotating bonus reward categories (this is a good thing; 2% rewards on everything is far better the rotating 5% rewards in my book), they do have special promos from time to time. For example…

Click to continue reading >>>

Photo of Old Bond Certificate

I’m a day late with this info, but… The Treasury has announced the new Series I Savings Bond rates, effective May 1st, 2014.

As a reminder, I-Bond rates are pegged to inflation estimates, though there is also a fixed component set by the Treasury. Rates are updated twice a year on May 1st and Nov 1st.

The inflation component is variable and reflects recent changes in the CPI-U, whereas the fixed component is a premium to inflation, and thus represents your “real” return (ignoring taxes).

Click to continue reading >>>

Do the Math and Save Money

by Michael on Apr 16, 2014 · 5 comments

Photo of a Student Doing Math on a Chalkboard

Well, those sneaky marketers are at it again…

As you may recall, we recently bought a new car. Included amongst the many bells and whistles was a Sirius/XM satellite radio system.

To entice us to use their service, the system was pre-activated with a free, three month trial subscription. Thankfully, it didn’t auto-renew, but Sirius/XM has certainly been working to convert us into paying customers.

Click to continue reading >>>

Remember when I first wrote about getting the runaround from Simmons customer service on a Beautyrest warranty claim? Well, at long last, that’s been settled, and we ultimately wound up with a new mattress. But not without a fight.

Click to continue reading >>>

In her book “The Myths of Happiness,” Sonja Lyubomirsky argues (among other things) that renters are happier than homeowners. Why? Because homeowners “derive more pain from ownership of their homes, and spend more time on housework and less time interacting with their friends and neighbors.”

Another interesting point: two-thirds of the benefits of a raise are gone within a year. Why? Because spending tends to increase in lockstep with your earnings. As such, your “needs” increase, and you might also start associating with those in a higher income bracket. Keeping up with the Joneses…

Click to continue reading >>>