Credit, Personal Finance 

Business Gold Rewards Card $100 Credit Expiring Soon

Update: This promotion has expired.

Read the $250 American Express Business Gold Rewards Promotion for more information but it’s identical to this one except for more money.

I’ve received word that the Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express will be losing it’s $100 statement credit offer soon so if you were interested in this card, you should apply ASAP.

The details of this offer are pretty juicy, just apply and spend more than $100 to get a $100 statement credit. It is a business card but you can use your social security number as your employer identification number, that’s what sole proprietorships do and you don’t need to submit any paperwork to form a sole proprietorship so this is totally legitimate. Also, remember that this card has a $125 annual fee that is waived only for the first year.

 Frugal Living, Personal Finance, Shopping 

Always Rent Economy Cars and Avoid Airports

Three weekends ago (luckily not this week!), when my fiancee and I took a trip out to Denver, Colorado (a little more than a hundred bucks from Baltimore, courtesy of my favorite airline, Southwest) we rented an economy car from Enterprise for something in the neighborhood of $18/day plus insane taxes (as always). Instead, we received a full-size car for the price of an economy class. Whenever I travel and need a rental car, I almost always reserve an economy car and almost always get upgraded because by dumb luck (though I’ve read of tips that suggest you pick up your car during the day when most of the cars are out) they don’t have any economy cars left in the lot. Granted, I’m lucky in that I don’t have any kids, I’m not especially tall, and I am not going anywhere that requires four wheel drive so even if I were to get an economy car, it wouldn’t be something terrible.

Outside the main benefit of getting more than what you’re paying for, the smaller the car the more fuel efficient it will be, in general, and so if you’re willing to sacrifice a little bit of torque, going with the cheapest option is usually the way to go especially with the potential upgrade. The reason why these upgrades are so frequent is because rental companies always overbook. An unrented car is like an unstayed room or an empty seat – a revenue loser. So, it’s really easy to score an upgrade with vehicles.

Also, avoid airports because they come with additional taxes (11% airport tax!) and fees because they’re selling to a captive audience. If you need a car, that means you don’t have a car. If you don’t have a car, you can’t get to an off-site location to get a better deal… thus, you have no choice but to pay the higher rates. While this isn’t a helpful tip if you’re flying into a city, if you ever need to rent a car, remember to avoid the airports.

Lastly, I’m really glad we didn’t go to Denver this past weekend because they’re getting pounded with snow!


Carnival of Marketing

Hosting the Carnival of Marketing was a little bit different than your usual hosting of a Carnival, instead of really getting many submissions, the host is expected to go out and find some good bits of marketing knowledge floating out there. Not being used to this paradigm, please accept my apologies for taking a little while in getting this out there.

This Carnival of Marketing will take a more online feel as being one with an online business, the idea of search engine optimization, social media networks, and other inherently “online” models are of greater interest to me.

Without further delay, please enjoy a few choice articles I’ve found helpful this week:

(Click to continue reading…)

 Credit, Personal Finance 

$50 Offered To Stay Citi Protector Cancellation

So my fiancee went to cancel her Citi Protector, we’d both mailed in our $100 gas certificates, and went to follow the script when she was, like several other people, offered $50 in rebates to stick with the program. She, predictably, fell victim to their tactics of “throw money at the problem” and will attempt to cancel in a month. She hopes to succeed in canceling next month, unless they once again decide to throw money at the problem.

Sometimes you’re the statistic and sometimes you’re the one who benefits from the statistics, we hope (you all included) we can stay in that second group as long as possible.

(Incidentally, the $100 gas certificate promotion link still works but all reports have shown that the expiration date on the certificate is the 31st and you can’t save receipts until you are enrolled, so signing up now may not be that great.)

 Personal Finance 

What Is Your Everything Else Fund?

After you’ve funded your 401k, your Roth, and your emergency fund… where do you put the remainder of your savings? Do you just stick it in a high yield savings account where it can earn a respectable 5%+ interest or do you feel that it’s “wasted” there? Do you open up a brokerage account and slip the extra cash into a mutual fund, either actively or passively managed, so that it can get a shot at earning the market return, which is hopefully better than 5%?

That’s the situation I’m in right now. My fiancée and I currently have our emergency fund fattened up and sitting an FNBO Direct account, both of our Roth’s are fully funded for 2006, our 401k’s contributions are at least the minimum match, and we’re currently using a Vanguard account as our wedding savings fund with the funds invested in one of Vanguard’s target retirement funds. The question is, what do we do next? Just keep putting the rest into the brokerage account until we need it?

 Personal Finance 

I’ve Done Been Tagged: Five Things You Didn’t Know About Me

Mapgirl tagged me to tell five things you all probably don’t know about me and so here it goes:

1. In high school, I was a foil fencer and through the expert instruction of Jeff Salmon, I went to a couple sectionals and had a pretty good time at it. Unfortunately, once I hit college, I couldn’t handle the 8AM competition start times and it sort of dropped off. Besides fencing, basketball and football are the other sports I really enjoy playing. Oh yeah, and kickball… but that could be because of the drinking involved.

2. My fiancée says I probably have some sort of attention disorder, I think she just wants more attention. I’m also fairly certain I’ll get in trouble for writing that.

3. My favorite movie is Shawshank Redemption and the first I saw it was on a trip to China on the People to People Student Ambassador program when I was sixteen.

4. Eventually I want to get a dog. Preferably one with lots of wrinkles.

5. When I started college, I didn’t even consider joining a fraternity. On the first day of orientation, one of my good friends suggested we check out the fraternity quad and so we did. A few years later, he became President and I became Treasurer of Delta Tau Delta and it was one of the things I really enjoyed at college.

Now I have to tag five people but I won’t, because most of them have already done this… except
Cap at Stop Buying Crap.

 Personal Finance, Philanthropy, Taxes 

My Six Biggest Tax Deductions for 2006: Charitable Donations

I’ve taken a look at the IRS rules regarding deduction charitable donations in the past and they’re pretty straight forward. The only real change to what was written in the past was the keeping of receipts for cash donations. With the passage of the Pension Protection Act, which mostly governed pensions and ensuring they were adequately funded, came new charitable donation rules for the 2007 tax year.

Big Change for 2007
Starting in January of 2007, you can only deduct cash donations if you have proof: canceled check, credit card statement, or a written receipt from the charity itself. For the written receipt, it must have the name of the charity, the date, and the donation amount written on the receipt. Without one of those, you cannot deduct the donation from your income. So, throwing a few dollars into the Salvation Army bucket is no longer deductible. Everything else is the same with the charitable donation rules.

Cash donations are pretty vanilla, what about all those other work related donation efforts you may be involved in? What it boils down to is that if you donate anything (for cash, you deduct cash; for property, you deduct fair market value), unless it is to an eligible organization, it is not deductible.

Real Life Example
For example, if you “Adopt a Family” and purchase gifts for them, then you are not permitted to deduct the value of the gifts you purchase. If, however, you donate toys to Toys for Tots, you are permitted to deduct the value of the gifts you purchased because Toys for Tots, in your city, is likely an eligible organization. The family, however, is not an eligible organization so you can’t.

So, next year, when it comes time to support your favorite organization (or organizations), try to use a check instead of cash so that you can take at least a little edge off the tax bite come April 15th.

 Personal Finance 

Five Personal Finance Teaching Gifts for Kids

One second I’m reading a post in the MBN Forums asking what money related gifts are good for kids and the next I’m reading an article by David Bach suggesting five good gifts that teach kids about money, the stars must be aligned tonight or something.

Without going too much into the story behind each gift, here is a quick hit list of good gift ideas to teach kids about money, segmented by age:

  1. Piggybanks (ages 3-11)
  2. Storybooks about money (ages 3-8)
  3. Monopoly (ages 8 +)
  4. Beginning Personal Finance Organizer (ages 13-19)
  5. Stock (all ages)

If someone gave me a “Beginning Personal Finance Organizer” when I was a teenager, I probably wouldn’t be all that into it… 🙂

Source: CNN Money

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