Finance

Category Archives for Finance.

Manufacturing spend post-Vanilla at CVS

Vanilla Reloads: Gone the way of the dinosaur

Vanilla Reloads: Gone the way of the dinosaur

Man, the news of CVS changing their policy to cash-only for Vanilla Reloads shook my little points manufacturing world upside down. I loved it so much because I essentially turned CVS into my bank; loading Vanilla Reload cards was my deposit transaction. Quite literally, because that’s how I’ve been paying rent up until this month.

So now what?

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Switching credit lines / allocations with American Express

Activation notification via email from American Express

Activation notification via email from American Express

I got my new Amex EveryDay Preferred card the other day. Instead of being really excited about, like usual, I was sorta like, “Hrmph.” My credit limit was not… where I wanted it to be. I wasn’t satisfied by how low it was. Not to worry, I can just switch around lines of credit, right?

Denied again

I have two consumer lines of credit with Amex that are not charge cards: the Delta Skymiles Platinum card and now, the EveryDay Preferred card.

On the Delta card, let’s say I have a $10,000 credit limit, and on the EveryDay, let’s say they gave me $2,000. I have $12,000 in total to switch around however I want, in theory. $6,000 for each, for example. No problem, I thought, I’ll give Amex a call. Read More

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Just booked: A ~$20,000 Dollar Trip to Paris for FREE? You betcha!

See you soon, Paris!

See you soon, Paris!

I am over the moon right now because I just booked an epic trip to Paris in June. I have booked complex, multi-stop and RTW itineraries before, but even still, was amazed at how easily and quickly this trip came together.

The trip

Leaving from EWR.

  • EWR-ORY in business class on British Airways
  • 4 nights at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome
  • 1 night at the Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile on Club floor
  • ORY-LHR-JFK in business class on British Airways
  • 2 incredibly stoked adventurers

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Amex Premier Rewards Gold Vs. EveryDay Preferred

I find myself in the dilemma of whether or not to keep the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card or not now that I have the EveryDay Preferred card.

premier-rewards-gold amex

VS

amex-everyday

Premier Rewards Gold

This one is strong for big spenders, as spending over $30K triggers a bonus 15K Membership Rewards points. The earning structure for this one is:

  • 3x on airfare
  • 2x on gas and groceries
  • 1x everywhere else

And the annual fee is $175.

EveryDay Preferred

This one is good for smaller spenders or those that make a lot of “everyday” transactions. I’m definitely in this category. Living in NYC, it’s easy to acquire the 30 transactions a month needed to trigger the 50% bonus this card gives. The earning structure on this one is:

  • 3x at grocery stores
  • 2x at gas stations
  • 1x everywhere else

And the annual fee is $95.

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My Experience Getting the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card

Also see:

This was my first Amex experience where I was NOT instantly approved. In fact, I was straight up DENIED for the Amex EveryDay Preferred card.

I didn’t take a screen shot of the “denied” decision page because I was kind of shocked and didn’t think to do it. But yes, it said I would receive a letter in the mail… and all that yada yada.

This was to be my sixth Amex card, and the fourth issued directly from Amex (I have the Platinum Card, the Premier Rewards Gold, and Delta Platinum SkyMiles cards). Recently, I’ve been thinking of closing the PRG and/or Delta card because I really don’t use them all that much. I’d need to spend at least $30K on the PRG to make it worthwhile, and you all know how I feel about Delta by now.

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The Climb to Pay Off Debt and Be Financially Independent

I sent a payment today to my student loan company for $100. It felt like throwing a glass of water on a burning building. But that’s the exactly the attitude I’m trying to break.

Yes, right now, $100 toward my $47,584.54 student loan debt felt like taking a drop of water out of the ocean. But it’s $100 that’s out of the running for all that compound interest.

I’m trying to balance wanting to invest for the future, travel like a mofo, and get rid of all this damn debt. My student loan has an APR that will make you wince, so get ready for it: 6.75%. Any investment I could make may or may not have that type of return. But putting $100 in an investment account isn’t going to do me any good until I can wrangle the cost of my previous education.

It’s so weird that I could theoretically pay off this loan for the rest of my life. And I guess some people are OK with that. But I’m not. I want to get this debt off my plate ASAP. Even if I pay off $1000 a month, it’ll take 48 months, AKA 4 years – and that’s assuming no interest! It’s simply got to happen sooner than that.

I’m reading this book, Walden on Wheels, about Ken Ilgunas’ journey with this exact same thing. It’s such an inspiration. I highly encourage you to check it out.

I’m about to get real aggressive with this real fast. I know I’m not the first person to grapple with this crippled system, but until I get this debt outta here, I can’t feasibly invest for my future or buy a house. Once I get into the principal a bit, maybe I can balance my goals a little better. But not now. This is my first priority.

I listed some stuff on eBay, I’m selling my books, and I work part-time for a courier service which nets me about $1000 a month, in addition to my salary of $50,000 a year. But now that I’m in super payoff mode, I want to find a way to generate even more money. I’ve been wanting to get my CFP certification, which costs only about $5000. But that’s now five months of loan payments… and thinking in terms of loan payments is the mindset I have to be in for the next couple of years.

I can’t stop traveling. That’s why I have so many cards that generate points and let me go places for free. In fact, I’m off to Alaska next week (on American in economy, but except thoughts/trip report nonetheless!). There is marginal cost, even for free travel, but I have to seek new experiences or I’ll wither away inside.

I want to chronicle, as so many others have done, my climb up the mountain of raging student loan debt. This blog will hold me accountable, motivate me, and hopefully allow me to learn some nuggets of wisdom that I can pass along.

I’ll post regular “Financial Snapshots.” In a decade, I want my net worth to go from $-50,000 to $+500,000. Let’s do this.

Thanks for reading!

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Why I Want to Work for LearnVest

LearnVest-logo

 

I’ve recently gotten hugely into turning my finances around. It’s been a part of taking control of my own life, dreaming out loud, and beginning to think about the future. The long-term future.

I’ve been reading a bunch of points and miles blogs for a while now, and recently added a new slew of financial advice blogs to my feedly account. One of them was LearnVest. Their articles are great, and I highly recommend them to anyone. The breadth and scope of financial advice was/is exactly what I’m looking for at this point in my life. They also help you to budget, keep track of financial accounts, and have a bunch of handy calculators.

I’m taking what I’m learning to heart. So much so that I want to go back to college to get my certification in financial planning so that I can help others by applying what I’ve learned. I typed “CFP jobs” into Google to see what the prospects were and got some results from… LearnVest. I audibly gasped. All of the CFP positions were in Phoenix, and besides, I’m not even certified yet. I went to close the browser window when I saw a few other positions… in New York. Including one I’m totally qualified for. This one: Operations Associate. It’s the perfect blend of my previous experience and future goals. Plus, it’s a woman-owned and operated company. And a tech startup. Headquartered in New York. And hiring! It couldn’t have been more perfect. I sent my resume in within five minutes, then tweeted them.

Maybe I’m putting the cart before the horse here, but I really want to work for this company. Along with getting my own finances in order and starting to think about getting my CFP license, this position seems like dream job material.

I saw the founder had a talk in New York a couple of nights ago. I couldn’t go because I had a lot going on at my current position and it fell on a Wednesday evening. The timing wasn’t right. Still, I hope I hear back from them. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

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Financial Snapshot 8/10/13

Screen shot 2013-08-10 at 9.04.48 PM

 

 

I use mint.com to keep track of my credit card accounts, IRAs, and student loans. My student loans are by far the bulk of my debt – about $50,000.

I currently have IRAs with two companies, Fidelity and USAA, and a brokerage account with Fidelity (the one my Fidelity Investment Rewards card plugs into). There’s about $4,000 among them.

My immediate goals are to pay down student loan debt, save up for a down payment on a house, and put the rest into an IRA until I max it out. This will definitely be a “slow and steady wins the race” kind of proposition.

My current salary is about $60,000 ($50,000 base + yearly bonus + reimbursements for healthcare).

My first Financial Snapshot. Really putting it all out there. Here goes nothin’…

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Direction

I’ve decided to take this blog in an ever-so-slightly different direction.

Over the past few months, I’ve done a lot of soul-searching about what I want to be doing as far as a career path. I’m obviously hugely interested in travel, and to some extent travel writing, and that’s certainly one side of it. The other side is that I love to mine the terrain of points and miles. I’ve been getting more and and more into improving my finances – beyond just credit score.

I started investing. Slowly, at first. Now I have about $4,000 saved in IRAs and want to continue on a path that makes me financially independent. My goal is to save up $500,000 for my eventual retirement – while also paying off my student loan debt and saving up enough to buy a house in Vermont.

I’m just getting started on this new journey and want to share my thoughts here as they evolve. It’s been wonderful to document my travels and interest in points/miles, and hopefully writing about my finances will be a natural extension of that. It’s way more convoluted that any airline loyalty program, but I’ve found the best course of action is to keep it simple. And writing here will help to keep me accountable to my goals. It will involve a lot of purging, cutting out what’s unnecessary, and keeping an even close eye on my monthly budget. But I’m up for it.

Of course the travel stuff is going to stay, too. Thanks to all the supporters I’ve received so far here on Out and Out. Looking forward to interacting more with all of you.

 

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