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Chase Freedom $200 Cash Back Offer

June 4th, 2015 at 03:51 pm

I received a "Refer-A-Fried" offer from Chase Freedom card where a new cardholder can get $200 cash back for spending $500 in purchases in the first three months. I would get $50 for every referral who applies, is approved, and uses the card by 9/23/15. The offer expires 6/15/15.

Chase Freedom also gives 1% unlimited cash back (well, it's rewards points that you can use for various things, including cash back) on purchases, and has special quarterly categories that give 5% cash back (up to $1,500) -- some generic categories such as gas stations, restaurants, or grocery stores, and then specific retailers such as Kohl's or Starbucks.

You have to receive an email from Chase to qualify for the offer -- they state that they will use your email only for the purpose of sending this offer and will not provide it to any third parties.

If anyone is interested, I would need your first name and email address -- leave the in a comment and I will delete it when I've sent the invite, or if personal messaging works through the forums you can PM me there. They say you will receive the email within seven days.

(If anyone has a Chase card, you might want to check to see if you have the offer, too. It was just a small image on the upper right side of the Accounts screen when I went to Chase online.)

Chase Freedom Rewards

January 15th, 2015 at 05:08 am

The first Chase Freedom Rewards points for 2015 hit. I'm staying with my estimate of about $50 per month in rewards, and this month was slightly over at $53.19.

Since we went on a bit of a movie binge over the holidays (and I have two more tentatively planned), I'm going to set aside another $100 from the rewards for a movie gift card. I haven't decided on the remainder yet!

Starting Balance: $0.00
Ending Balance: $53.19

Movie Card Fund
Goal - $100
Balance - $53.19
Remaining - $46.81

November Look Back / December Look Ahead

December 6th, 2014 at 12:14 am

The look back/look ahead is just my way to try to keep myself on track with my saving and spending. I have an Excel spreadsheet I love for tracking my debt paydown but it doesn't translate well to saving and spending; I find I'm more about words than numbers for those areas.

November
I mentioned last month that we did a debt consolidation, so it's been nice to see all those zeroes on the cards we paid off with the new loan. Plus, since the new loan is in S's name only and most of the cards we paid off were either mine alone or joint, my credit score has skyrocketed -- up around 40 points, according to the score from Barclay. (Discover's update should show up later this month.) S's score hasn't taken too much of a hit, either, because he doesn't have a lot of debt other than the mortgage.

Meanwhile I'd set some money aside for some home repairs; we got the materials needed on a decent sale and ended up with 0% financing until January 2016. I shuffled the full amount over to my ING savings account, although we do have minimum payments to make so by the time the promotional rate expires, we'll only owe half the balance. I didn't think about that until after I did the transfer, but then I figured we can probably cash flow the payment amount anyway and if not, I've given myself permission to take that amount out of ING if I need it. Now I'm trying to decide if I should leave it at ING at 0.75% interest, or open an account at Synchrony for 1% interest. The difference in a year is really going to be minimal, but since ideally I'll only use half the money, the other half may stay in the account for a much longer time period. Just not sure it's worth the effort for a quarter of a percent on really a rather small amount. (Moving it from my regular bank was an easier decision, 0.1% at Chase vs 0.75% at ING.)

Anyway, I ended up paying $3,039 in total debt in November, $768 in interest and paid $141 extra to my avalanche. The avalanche amounts are going to be quite a bit smaller now with the new loan, but again it doesn't affect my final payoff date.

December
Gift giving this month, of course. I have the $500 I set aside from our Chase rewards to hopefully cover our costs. I also have a handful of membership renewals and trophy pledges due this month, but of course those are known and planned.

It does look like we're going to have to do something about the wall furnace in our Florida room -- it's on a separate system from the rest of the house, but the room is right next to the room we spend much of our time in so the cold seeps in if it's not heated. It started making a horrendous noise the other night. Turns out some part needs to be replaced; they had some doubt about whether they could find it but finally did a few states away. Cost to replace is about $1000; cost for a new furnace is about $2500. This is the third or fourth time we've had a major problem with this furnace since it was installed (which I think was in 2009) -- they completely replaced it once, but even the new one has had some big issues. I'm really not sure about spending another $1000 on it. I think we're going to have a couple of other companies come out and give some advice on what they recommend -- it may be that a wall furnace isn't even our best option at this point. Whatever we do, it seems we're looking at a minimum of $1000 and probably at least $1800 for anything other than repairing what's there. *sigh* Oh well -- that's what the emergency fund is for, right? (And I might use the reno money instead, pay it back every month to be sure I have what I need when it comes due, and keep the e-fund intact.)

Other than that, hopefully things will be on a more even keel this month. I'm just getting my new Excel worksheet set up for 2015 bill tracking, which is actually a bit therapeutic, especially since I can delete so many payments from last year (for the couple of cards we totally paid off and the others we consolidated).

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!

New Citi Double Cash Back Card

October 31st, 2014 at 01:55 pm

I saw a commercial last night for Citi's newest rewards card, called "Double Cash Back". You get 1% cash back with every purchase, unlimited. You also get 1% cash back for every payment you make to the card, again unlimited. (So essentially an unlimited 2% cash back card, if you pay it off every month.)

I'm not in a position to open another credit card at the moment, but thought some of you might be interested. Smile

Text is http://tinyurl.com/k7y52z5 and Link is http://tinyurl.com/k7y52z5
http://tinyurl.com/k7y52z5


Medical Billing Tomfoolery

October 22nd, 2014 at 07:57 pm

S had some medical issues earlier in the year, and the bills from one place are still coming through. Frustratingly, they age the bills by the service date rather than the date they sent us the bill, which means that even though it takes them three months to submit to our insurance and get paid and then figure out what we owe, the first time they send us the bill it shows as 90 days past due. Then they weren't crediting some of our payments, or some of the insurance company's payments, and so of course soon we got the "we're going to send you to collections if you don't pay right away" bill.

I really didn't want to stretch to pay the full bill at once, so I called and worked out a payment plan of $255 per month. The first payment came due, I (and I know this was my big mistake) filled out the billing slip with my credit card info (it's the Freedom card we pay off every month), wrote $255.00 in the "Amount Paid" box (and even wrote "as agreed" next to the box), signed and mailed it in.

They charged my card $586.16.

I sent an online communication to them noting the discrepancy and requesting a refund of $331.16 within 10 days. It has now been 15 days and no refund.

I'm trying to decide if it's worth it to dispute the charge with Chase, or if I should just let it go. I can afford the payment (the total bill was higher, the $586 must have been one of their weird aging things), really. It's a legitimate medical bill so I'll have to pay it at some point regardless. I'm just irked because I only authorized $255 -- it's the principle of the thing. I don't know if charging more is illegal, but it does appear to be a violation of their agreement with Visa.

What do you think? Let it go as a lesson learned never to give credit card info to a medical biller, or dispute it and make them abide by the terms of their agreements, with me and the Visa people?

Chase Freedom Rewards

October 15th, 2014 at 02:50 am

Chase Freedom Rewards points came in today. I've estimated about $50 per month in rewards, and this month was a little over at $63.98. The 5% category through September was gas, and I had another 450-miles-in-three-days weekend at the end of the month, which boosted up gas spending.

Starting Balance: $692.78
Ending Balance: $756.76

Gift Fund
Goal - $500
Balance - $500.00
Remaining - $0.00

Movie Card Fund
Goal - $100
Balance - $100.00
Remaining - $0.00

Excess
Beginning Balance: $92.78
Current Rewards: $63.98
Ending Balance: $156.76

At this point I'm just going to let the excess build up, and then see where/if I need it at the end of the year (gifts, 52 Week Challenge, etc.)

Impatient!

September 11th, 2014 at 05:06 pm

I have recently begun to completely understand the value of "snowballing" debt payoff vs. "avalanching" it. While I know the avalanche makes more financial sense and that's the plan I have set up, I'm smack in the middle of a five-year plan and am just itching for those payoffs to start!

I did pay off one card in July, a few months early, but it was a low-interest, low-balance, low payment card, so while paying it off felt good, it didn't really pack much punch. A smiley face, rather than a gold star, I guess.

Looking at my payoff schedule, though, I have my first avalanched balance due to be paid off in February 2015. (And that balance should only be around $90 so I will probably just pay the whole thing off in January.) I also have one of my hardship repayments that will be paid off in February, just by doing the minimums. Then I have cards getting paid off in March, April, June, August, and October.

(I may even do some debt consolidation to a lower interest rate, so some of those may be technically paid off even sooner, but I want to make sure I'm doing the logical thing and not the emotional thing, there.)

From there I have a couple more cards and a P2P loan, which will all be done by June 2016. (And then of course I have 401(k) loans and personal loans and real estate loans....)

So I'm far from being anywhere near debt-free, but I am so, so ready to be credit card debt free!!
I can't even explain -- and probably don't need to, really, for most people here -- how exciting it is to see the end of credit card debt in sight, after having it hanging over my head for the last 20 years. I find myself obsessively checking my bank account and Mint to be sure I've credited every penny correctly and the payments are on the right schedule, etc. I'm sure subconsciously I'm hoping I'll check and the balance will miraculously be zero!

Off to sing myself a little Carly Simon song and maybe have a little ketchup.... Wink

August Look Back / September Look Ahead

September 7th, 2014 at 06:51 pm

Slightly behind on this, what else is new?

The look back/look head is just my way to try to keep myself on track with my saving and spending. I have an Excel spreadsheet I love for tracking my debt paydown but it doesn't translate well to saving and spending; I find I'm more about words than numbers for those areas.

August
August is property tax month for our home, which means the bank account takes a pretty big hit. It's a known and planned-for expense, but it still twinges a little bit not to see that nice big savings balance!

The garden is limping along -- other people have said this year is even worse than last year for gardening (and last year they said it was the worst ever), so I guess we're not doing too badly. The tomatoes are finally starting to take off, and we're actually looking like we may have more than we can consume before they go bad -- something we didn't at all have to worry about last year! None of us is really interested in canning, so we're going to look into possible ways to freeze them.

I passed my second licensing exam at the end of the month, so I guess in about 30 days I'll be officially licensed. At some point that's supposed to translate to a financial benefit, but I'm not sure exactly when that will happen.

On the debt front, I paid off $2,532 in debt in August, paid out $777 in interest, and put $291 extra to my current avalanche debt.

September
Rental property taxes are due at the end of September; that's another bite out of the savings account, but only about half as much as our home taxes. There's really not much going else on for September, as far as I can foresee. I may spend a chunk more than planned on yard maintenance.

We have a 'landscape' area behind our fenced yard that has run wild the last several years; we cleared it out last year but of course it all came back again. At this point it's beyond what we could do in a weekend, so I'm going to get a few quotes to have it a) cleared out and b) weed-blocked and either mulched or (better) filled in with rock, and the one area that's visible to the neighborhood given some design other than 'big pine tree and whatever weeds grow around it'. (The big pine tree needs to come down, actually.) I doubt I'll be willing to pay for it all, but I might at least shell out to have it cleared. (I have some money leftover from the rental a/c that didn't end up needing replacement, and a plan to save back up for replacing it in 2015.) The backup plan is to let the bulk of it die off over the winter, and do the cleanup/fill in the spring.

Good Credit Card Day

August 28th, 2014 at 04:10 pm

Well, I know credit card debt can never really be "good", but I logged into my bank today and found that the balances on my two in-repayment credit cards with them are both below $1000. Yay! (These two are actually on the bottom of my avalanche plan, because they're at a low "hardship" rate, and will actually be paid off in the next six months just with the minimum payments. Still, it's nice to get down to three digits!)

And, they raised the limit on my paid-off-each-month card (by a few thousand dollars) -- which I know in the grand scheme of things just means I have more available credit, but it also lowers my utilization ratio. (We generally have a balance on it that at times gets somewhat near the limit; the new limit means our typical balance will be at around 50% utilization, still a little higher than ideal but much better than 90%.)

I'm also seeing it as meaning they have faith in me, that since I've been good at paying my card they're rewarding me with more credit. Smile (I know the reality is that they're hoping I'll use the additional credit and then be unable to pay it back in full, thus having to pay interest, so that they'll make money -- but I choose to believe otherwise!)

Based on my past habits, of course, that's exactly what would have happened -- I wouldn't be as strict about paying on the card every week, I'd let the balance creep up, and then "suddenly" I'd be unable to pay off the statement balance each month. Which means I need to be extra-vigilant for the next several months -- but recognizing the danger is half way toward avoiding it, right?