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Anything and everything… goofy to serious… I’ll share it with you

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Why I don’t follow PF blogs anymore

Posted by Lau on July 27, 2009

I became an avid reader PF (Personal Finance) blogs a while ago.  Jim from Blueprint for Financial Prosperity was one of my favorites.  Others were Five Cent Nickel, The Simple Dollar.

I have lost the enthusiasm that I once had to follow them.  Why? Well, first of all, there is so many ways you can tell people:

  • They have to diversify their portfolio
  • The difference between a Roth IRA, 401(k), etc.
  • How to budget
  • Which online savings bank is best
  • What credit card is best

The second, and most important reason is the annoying habit the authors have taken of embedding the little telltale url postfix ?tag=bloggersblogname in links when they write “reviews”, and I use that term loosely.

If you don’t know what I am taking about, just try it. Find reviews of your favorite PF blog with a title such as “Best 0% Credit Card”, or “Best Online Saving Accounts”.

For instance, let’s look at Jim from Bargaineering.com (formerly Blueprint for Financial Prosperity) recent post about “Your Take: What Is Your Total Credit Limit?“.  (No offense, Jim)
Throughout the post, you will find links to the bank or other financial institutions. And if you hover your mouse on the link and look closely at the bottom left of your browser, you will see something like: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/cards/citi-mtvu.php?tag=ytCreditLimit.

You click on the link (which redirects you to the Citi credit card website in this case) and the author’s made a buck.

I don’t have a problem with the fact that they’re making money from their blog.  Good for them actually!  What I have a problem with is that I simply don’t trust their opinion anymore.  Am I giving a link because it’s good for me, or because they will make money out of it?

Moreover, for a personal finance blog, I think it’s the worst thing to do.  In my mind, it’s like a dieter’s blog making money from redirecting their readers to a fast food chain website.

A good protion of people who come to personal finance blog are in debt and are looking for ways to get out of it.  Making them click on links that will  direct them to credit cards companies is just very wrong.

Posted in My Take On... | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

No longer a Bank of America credit card customer

Posted by Lau on April 22, 2009

Following the change in terms letter I received (and wrote about earlier), I proceeded to call them to reject the new terms.
The process is quick and painless. I called the number mentioned in the letter. It is fully automated. All I needed was my account number and to press 1 to confirm the rejection. Voila!

Posted in Credit Card | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Bank of America increasing my APR… So long BofA

Posted by Lau on April 10, 2009

bofaI received a “Changes to your Credit Card Agreement” letter 2 days ago from Bank of America.  I always read them.  They include terms in these that they hope you won’t find out about until it’s too late.

What is in store from BofA?

Annual Percentage Rate: We are raising APR on your account.  We will use the Variable Rate formula with a margin of 12.95%.  The index being used is 4%.

What it means for me: my APR is jumping from 7.90% to 16.95%. Ouch!

Transaction Fee: We are adding or increasing certain transaction fees.  New fee will be 4% on the following: Balance transfers, cash advances and equivalent, etc.

What it means for me: These fees used to be (as for the majority of credit card companies) at 3%, with a cap anywhere between $50 and $100.  No mention of a maximum is made, so I have to assume there is none.  For me, it doesn’t mean much since I’ve never done any of them with that card.  But if I was thinking about doing any balance transfers, I now know I won’t be doing it.

Foreign Transaction Fee: The definition of what constitute a “Foreign Transaction” is expanded to include transactions in US dollars if they are made or processed outside of the United States.

What it means for me: again, not much.  I don’t use this card outside of the US.

Bottom line

Big mistake on my part: I have a (quite considerable) revolving balance on my BofA card.  My finance charges for the past few months has been around $50.  The APR increase means I would see the finance charge more than double.  Thank you, but no, thank you!

First step is to convert all the points I can to cash.  Then,  I go hunting for the “How to reject these changes” section.  And I find it.  I can call (877) 432-9925 or write to FIA Card Services, NA, PO Box 15088, Wilmington, DE 19850.  The deadline is May 1, 2009.

Next step: pay this off!

Conclusion

I have been trying with a passion to avoind Bank of America.  I don’t have anything against it particularly, but it’s just too big a financial institution for me.  MBNA was bought by BofA within a few years of me getting this card.  Now Countrywide (my mortgage company) is being bought by them as well…  I guess next is my list will be to get rid of that loan.  This just never ends

Posted in Credit Card, Personal Finance, Repaying Debt | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Update and Boston EITC Campaign

Posted by Lau on January 15, 2009

I won’t even try to apologize for not keeping this blog up-to-date. I would spend my time apologizing.

I wanted to write a quick note about Boston Earner Income Tax Credit Campaign (EITC) for which I am volunteering this year. The EITC campaign is design to help low income family preparing and filing taxes.

As a volunteer, I had to go through an 8-hour training at Suffolk University, and pass the IRS VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistant) Basic certification, which I did.

I also promised 20 hours of my time during tax filing season.

If you are interested in learning more and volunteering, go to: http://www.cityofboston.gov/bra/eitc. There are still training sessions going on until the end of February.

If you are interested in learning more about the IRS VITA program and getting certified, go to: http://www.irs.gov/app/vita/index.jsp.

Posted in About my very exciting life | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Physicians are too busy…

Posted by Lau on August 22, 2008

I am trying to find a family doctor.

First, because I have been denied life insurance coverage due to elevated levels of white and red blood cells in my urine and I need this cleared up soon to get that coverage.

Second, because I just need a family doctor/primary care physician, period.

No big deal, right?

Wrong…

I called about a half dozen practices today. The first thing that irritated me is that no one is there to pick up the phone between noon and 1pm. They are all gone to lunch (or maybe golf?).

When I finally got someone on the phone and explained my situation, they first asked what insurance I had. What? Not: what is your name? Or, how are you today? Or, where are you hurting?

None of that. Just “what is your insurance?” Is that really all they care about?… Scratch that. Rhetorical question.

I tried to call a few more later in the afternoon. What was I thinking? Off course their offices is closed past 4pm…

I should have been a doctor…

Posted in About my very exciting life | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Simple Syrup

Posted by Lau on July 12, 2008

This is a little handy-dandy thing to make in advance.  You can use simple syrup for a varieties of things.  From sweetening cold drinks (iced tea for instance).  Some recipes also call for it.  It’s a super simple and quick time and money saver.

Simple syrup is just water and sugar.  It doesn’t make caramel because the concentration in sugar is much less than it calls for in caramel.  I use 1 part sugar and 1 1/2 part water.  Now for the hard directions :-)

  1. Bring the sugar and water to a boil.  Boil for about 5 minutes.
  2. Let it cool off and bottle up for later use

There you have it folks!  Enjoy

Posted in Baking | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Why I’m thinking about dumping my Facebook account

Posted by Lau on June 18, 2008

I signed up to Facebook sometime last year. I’m not big on that whole social media trend, but it seems that nowadays, you have to have at least one Facebook or MySpace account. So there I am, opening my account.

Cool! I look for people I know, send a few friend requests. Hey, haven’t seen that guys since I left elementary school. And her, we went to junior high together. Sweet.

I browse through the groups and networks (the stupidest, the better). Find a bunch of fun applications. I get the ball going. “Yeah!” I say to myself. “This is neat”.

I log in every day. See who’s there and what they’re up too. One of my “friend” is getting mildly annoying already: he keeps leaving big hints that he’s the best of the best, makes all the money in the world, lives in a community where people own very expensive cars (so he must too *wink*wink*). “Ok, relax… Not such a big deal.” That’s what Facebook is for: bragging!

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Random Bits | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

 
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