Thursday, June 19, 2008

Saving money

I have to admit, I have developed a very strong interest in finances over the last two years, i.e. since I started working for my money. My interest originated in my thrifty upbringing, but lately its become something of a race to save up a down payment by the time the housing market bottoms out. I figure I have 9-12 months at this point, but prices probably won't rebound sharply either..

So I have been exploring possible avenues of savings. The easiest so far have been opening a high yield savings account and finding better credit cards. Since we just use them to buy things we would get anyway, it's a straightforward savings of 1-3%+. My favorite usages are Chase Freedom (3% utilities/restaurants/dept stores) and Citi Dividend Platinum Select (5% gas, groceries and drugstores for 6 mo, 2% after).

I recently discovered a very interesting site by CapitalOne allowing you to design your own card.
You enter your approximate credit rating and then pick from a range of features. Two options in particular seemed notable; With a credit rating of good or excellent you could get 2% cashback on everything for the first 12 months and 0% on purchases for the first 9 or 12 months respectively, for the arbitragers out there. Also, an intriguing alternative of 1% cashback and a flat bonus of $.10 (or 10 points). This is really only worthwhile for purchases of $10 (2% return) or less, but if anyone can think of consistently worthwhile purchases for $1, I'd love to hear it. 11% seems awfully tempting, but its hard to justify a daily trip to the Dollar Store for 11 cents when it only nets $40/year.
In sum, while it's interesting to see what what they're willing to put out there, the 2% option is the only one I have seen that really surpasses any regularly mailed offers.

Monday, June 09, 2008

All the colors of a newspaper

When I was younger, I saw an old black and white picture of zebras and I thought,

"Gosh I'd like to see those in color some day. Just imagine!"

The world can be a cruel, cruel place.