Finance

Category Archives for Finance.

GIVEAWAY: Enter to Win a Basic Pass to FinCon 2018 Next Month (Worth $600+)! 🎁

Join me at FinCon 2018 next month!

For my birthday weekend next week, I’m giving away a Basic Pass to the event which is September 26th through 29th, 2018, in Orlando!

The entries begin today at 5pm Central Time and end on August 22nd, 2018, at midnight Central Time! 🎉

FinCon 2018 giveaway

Wanna go to FinCon 2018? I’m giving away a Basic Pass!

Right now, this pass is selling for $599 + fees. So if you win, you’ll save $600+, plus you’ll have a ticket to the BEST personal finance event around. I went last year in Dallas – and will attend this year, too. So if you win, you’ll see me there! 👋🏻

This pass gives you full access to all the standard events.

See how to enter below!

FinCon 2018 giveaway

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Did Fidelity Just Become the Best Investment Bank? 2 New FREE Funds!

Very cool news from Fidelity today. This Friday, August 3rd, 2018, they’ll introduce 2 new total market funds with ZERO management expenses and NO minimums to start investing.

Plus, they’ve slashed fees and minimums on several other funds, effective immediately. I just logged into my account and already see lower expenses.

I wrote about the best IRA accounts and which banks let you start investing right away with a single $1. What’s cool with Fidelity is you can pair your IRA with the Fidelity Visa, which earns 2% cashback on every purchase. Then sweep the cashback rewards into one of these free index funds. The card is free to have – so it’s literally free money to invest into free funds.

fidelity zero index funds

Fidelity just made a bold move with 2 FREE funds

Everyone should have an IRA account. Here’s more info on Fidelity’s new mutual funds.

Fidelity Zero index funds

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LAST DAY: $499 FinCon Passes – This September in Orlando!

Update 7/31/18: It looks like the $499 price is going strong because of a “Summer Sale”! I’d still say to act ASAP if you’re interested!

Looking for inspiration, truly great networking opportunities, and a ton of personal finance information in one jam-packed 4-day event?

I attended FinCon 2017 in Dallas. As soon as it was done, I immediately registered to attend Orlando 2018, though I didn’t know how I’d fit it in at the time.

Flash forward to now. In 2 short months, I’ll be in Orlando for a week of CardCon, FinCon, and maybe even Disney World (when in Rome, right?). 🏝

Last year’s FinCon was a turning point in my own financial development. Plus, I got to meet some of my favorite bloggers in person (Paula from Afford Anything, Chonce from My Debt Epiphany, and Summer from Mommy Points) – and so many other knowledgable, inspirational peeps.

This year’s conference will be in Orlando at the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel from September 26th through 29th, 2018. Today is the last day to lock in a basic pass for $499. As of tomorrow, the price jumps to $599. So if you’ve been on the fence, now’s the time to get the best deal! 

fincon 2018 orlando

Spend a few days delving deep into finance at FinCon this September

Plus, I’ll be there! 🤑

FinCon 2018 Orlando event information

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6 Ways to Save Big on Dining: Find Faves, Get Points + Cashback With Every Visit

Eating out is probably my biggest weakness. I give myself a couple of things to spend relentlessly on. And beyond that, I save like a madman.

My 2 things are: eating out and travel. I do well stocking up at Costco and cooking at home most nights. But my god if a good happy hour deal doesn’t get me.

I pay pennies on the dollar when I travel. Dining is easy, too. By enrolling my cards once and having a few go-to places, I get discounts close to 20% off in the form of points, miles, and cashback – and the savings add up!

save on dining

I love happy hours at this cantina. Plus, I get points, miles, and cashback every time I visit

It’s not hard. Here’s how to do it.

Dining programs + cashback app + points card = big dining discounts

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This Month: Save 10+% on Shell & Exxon Gas With These Cards

There are a couple of good offers to save at the pump these next few weeks. I’ve been using them to fill up – and found it’s cheaper than buying gas at Costco, where I usually get gas in conjunction with a shopping trip.

You can get 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points with Chase Pay with the Chase Freedom card (compare it here) on up to $1,500 in spending through June 30th, 2018 – and Shell is a Chase Pay merchant. Chase Freedom cardholders also get free Gold Status with Shell Fuel Rewards, which saves 6 cents per gallon through the end of 2018.

And Amex has an offer to get 10% cashback at Exxon through the end of November. Plus, when you pay through their Speedpass app, you can save 10 cents a gallon. And when you add your Amex card in the Dosh app, you’ll get another 2% cashback through July 10th, 2018.

save on gas

Combine apps and offers to save on Shell and Exxon gas

Either offer also gets you savings for most of 2018. And for the next few weeks, you can combine offers to save over 10% at Shell or Exxon.

Here’s how they work!

Stack credit card offers to save on gas

1. Chase Freedom + Chase Pay at Shell

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How I Got Started With Points & Miles 6 Years Ago

TL;DR: Had crappy credit. Used points cards as motivation to improve my credit score. Hooked ever since.

I’ve taken a server job a few nights a week to get out of the house, stay active, and be social. I see people using credit cards more than ever. I’m shocked by how many people still throw down debit cards. Most of them are millennials.

getting started with points

Google has the tea on millennials and CCs

My generation is a complicated story of student loan debt, job-hopping, delaying children, unable to afford or save to buy homes, living longer than ever – and definitely NOT wanting to get sucked into credit cards.

I see cool metal cards here and there – but most millennials are using well-worn debit cards from local banks.

If you can use credit responsibly and pay the balance in full every month, then you’re leaving money on the table by using debit cards. Even a 2% cashback card with no annual fee is free to use and earns literally free money.

I started college in rural Vermont – and promptly got into credit card debt

I remember the sting of credit cards: opened a student credit card when I was 18, charged textbooks I couldn’t afford, and fell into the soul-crushing cycle of debt. Such a slippery slope.

Then I did the unthinkable: defaulted on a student loan. I was so poor, making $120 a week working overtime at retail jobs. And they wanted $500 a month? I ripped up the bills and threw them in the trash. I didn’t have extra money. How was I going to come up with $500 more every month? And that was the “financially burdened” plan. 😑

Getting into rewards credit cards

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15 Cashback Shopping Portals Compared: Payments, Bonuses, & How They Work

Cashback Monitor is far and away the best site to check the highest payouts (be it points, miles, or cashback) for online shopping. And there are a lot of shopping portals out there.

Each has its “quirks” – from slow payouts to minimum thresholds and different ways of paying. And most of them even give you a little reward just for signing up and shopping – some as much as $10 on top of your cashback bonus.

Cash Back Shopping Portals Comparison

Always click through a shopping portal when you shop online – but which one should you use?

There are many to choose from – and of course you can earn points or miles from airline or bank portals. Here’s an overview of the 15 most popular cashback portals. And how to pick which one to click through!

15 Cash Back Shopping Portals Comparison

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I Bought the Wrong Gift Card – Then Broke Even With Points & Raise

My little brother came to visit recently. We went to the mall because he wanted to buy a new pair of shoes – in cash. He’s one of those “sneakerheads” so his purchase was likely going to be around $100.

My little mind started wondering how to get some points out of the whole deal. Then I remembered MileagePlus X!

sell gift card raise

An app you really need to download

And because I have the Chase United Explorer card (see it here), I knew I could get a 20% mileage bonus on any gift card I purchased through the app – even if I didn’t pay with that card.

We went into a dozen stores – Nike, Finish Line, Journeys, Foot Locker, and a couple of department stores. I’m not much of a mall shopper, so my head was spinning. When he finally decided on a pair of Nikes at Finish Line, I licked my chops and bought a Nike gift card on the MPX app. But realized the second the transaction processed I was in the wrong store. Guh!

My brother paid cash and I… had a Nike gift card I couldn’t use. “It wasn’t that much,” I told myself. But then remembered… I could sell it online. Maybe that would make it OK – and at least break me even – with the points I’d earn in the mix.

I ended up selling the gift card on Raise. Here’s how it went!

My experience selling a gift card on Raise

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Turn Your Credit Card Into a Debit Card (And Earn Rewards!) With This Website and App

Debitize has been on my radar for a long time. It’s a website (and iOS app) where you plug in your credit card and bank account information. As you make purchases on your credit card, money is moved automatically every time you swipe – as if you were using your debit card.

For peeps who have trouble with the idea of managing credit, or afraid to overspend, you can still see money leaving your account every time you use your card. And Debitize will pay your card off in full each month.

debitize review

Debitize lets you earn credit card rewards with a debit card mentality

In essence, you can treat your credit card like a debit card. But the big plus is, you can still rack up valuable credit card rewards!

Here’s more about the service.

What’s Debitize?

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Bottom of the Barrel: Have I Gotten All the Points & Miles Cards I Possibly Can?

I wanna type out loud for a sec to assess which card offers I can still earn. Before I begin, I know there aren’t many.

After all, I currently have about 30 cards and have rotated through many others since I started the points & miles game in 2012 (and heavily in 2013).

which cards are left

My first award trip was to Hawaii in 2013, with Delta miles and Hilton points

So what’s left for me? I know it’s not much.

Let’s take a deep dive.

Which cards are left that I can even get?

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Why I Bought a New Car (With a Car Note!) Despite FIRE

Also see: 

I wrote how I bought a car with credit cards in early 2016. It was a used 2004 Subaru Forester. And it fit my needs at the time.

I swore I’d never buy a new car. It’s a badge of honor within the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) community to have an old car with tons of miles on it. It means you’re frugal. And saving. And “doing it right.” A quick search on Reddit returns more opinions than you can ever filter through.

There’s even a rap song called “No Car Note.” (“I love my ’98 Honda!”)

But after running the numbers, I broke my own rule. And bought a 2017 Nissan Versa Note. With a car note.

New or used car? Why I went new

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