Personal Finance 

Thank You For Making Us A Top PFBlog

This week, Will and Greg at Wise Bread announced that they’ve upgraded their Top 100 Personal Finance blogs rankings to include a variety of metrics and offer incredible sorting capabilities. I’m a firm believer that hard work should be rewarded and in the currency of the web, that reward should be in links.

I’m a little biased though… because by many metrics, Bargaineering is recognized as one of the top personal finance blogs. It’s one of the top sites because of you. Thank you. Thank you for visiting every day. Thank you for printing out articles and emailing them to your friends. Thank you for subscribing to the feed so you get posts piped directly to your email for free. When this site started four years ago, there were only five personal finance blogs – today there are hundreds of thousands. It’s grown by leaps and bounds, far more than I ever imagines, and I am honored that this site is one that you all come back to every day.

At the end of the day, we’re in this together. I’m glad to have been able to provide the platform for this burgeoning community on the web but I’m even happier that so many of you have joined me and bought into it. I’ve been very happy seeing the Bargaineering Forums grow as quickly as they have. I wanted it to be a place where communication would be a lot easier than in blog comments and you haven’t disappointed. Over a hundred members in the short time it’s been up, thank you so much! If you haven’t joined yet, please do, you get the expertise of a hundred people rather than the limited expertise of one. 🙂

Before this lovefest gets too carried away, I wanted to wish you all a happy weekend. I think I’m just sappy because my wife and I are celebrating our one year anniversary in Disney (those following on Twitter, you should join Twitter!, were getting some Tweets about it but normally I stick with breaking news or more useful financial information).

Have a great weekend!

 Frugal Living 

Ever Go Dumpster Diving?

Dumpster Diving CatCory Doctorow published a story last year about his friend, Darren Atkinson, an accomplished corporate dumpster diver who has funded his musical career through the waste of corporations. “When he travels overseas, he is always sure to carry over a suitcase with a thousand or so British power cables (server manufacturers include both U.S. and U.K. cables with their products, so every data center regularly throws away the foreign leads). He sells them in London for a pound each, financing his round-trip airfare and hotel with his e-waste arbitrage.”

Back in college, after reading about dumpster diving, I joined a few friends of mine in scouring some of the dumpsters at Carnegie Mellon. Carnegie Mellon is known for computer science and engineering, so there was always a lot of technology being tossed into the trash. We only went out a few times, to some dumpsters in a loading area of Wean Hall, and most of the time we came back empty handed (none of us were willing to go into a dumpsters). However, one time we brought back some huge spools of Cat-5 ethernet cable and baluns, turning that trip into a hugely (for college kids) profitable trip. Back then, all the buildings were wired for high speed internet and to interface with the system you needed a balun. You could buy it from the bookstore for $25, or you could buy it from us for $10 or $15 a pop on (the bboard used to buy and sell stuff on campus). One of my friends, over the summers, would do subcontracting work on new office buildings and he borrowed some tools so we could crimp and attach RJ-45 connectors. We would sell ethernet cable on the cheap and then the baluns that would help you connect them to the network. I still have one of those baluns in a box… though it’s probably worth nothing now. It wasn’t a bad racket for some weekend beer money.

This isn’t a true dumpster diving story in that no dumpster were involved but we used to scour the dorms after finals week for discards. People would just leave perfectly good stuff outside their doors for people to take. My friend made a habit of finding all the dorm fridges and storing them in his room for the summer, he could sell them for $100 a pop come the fall semester. There were pots and pans, furniture, and all sorts of electronic equipment; all sitting in piles for you to take. The reason why there was so much quality stuff was because CMU had a lot of international students who, if they were moving back abroad, weren’t going to be taking their stuff with them. Man those were the days…

Have you ever gone dumpster diving?

(Photo: nicasaurusrex)


Busting Cashback Tiers with Mint’s $1 Coin Direct Ship Program

My wife’s first credit card was Blue Cash by American Express because it offered 5% cashback on many of the things she bought. For those who went as far as to read the fine print, you’ll recognize that you can earn up to 5% cashback. The card works off the tier system where you don’t get the highest 5% cashback reward rate until you’ve reached a certain amount of spending each year. For some, the tiers are trivial. For others, the tiers are onerus. Here’s a great way to bust through them and make them almost irrelevant.

Buy money.
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Best Used Cars for College Students

Beater Used CarI never had a car in college and I never really wanted one because our student IDs doubled as free bus passes (the cost was rolled into our student fees). In fact, there were only a handful of occasions where I really wanted a car and those were cases where the bus ride would take an hour and a half (from CMU to Monroeville, which is really just a 20 minute care ride away!). I was fortunate to live in a city where public transportation was pretty good, but what about colleges where the public transportation isn’t as good or where you need a car just to get to class? You need a reliable used car.

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FAFSA State Grant Deadlines

FAFSA FormI was amazed to learn that 25% of families don’t submit a FAFSA, which is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, because they’re leaving free money on the table for no good reason. For those that do fill it out, be careful to submit it before your state’s deadline for state grants! The FAFSA deadline is June 30th but many states have earlier deadlines for state specific grants.

Best part about grants? It’s money you don’t have to repay!

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 Personal Finance 

True Story About Disposable Income

From time to time people email me all sorts of things from news stories to questions to funny pictures to something they heard on the street (you can reach me via email, Twitter, or bargainr on AIM, I love interacting with you all on a personal basis). This morning, a friend of mine sent me a story that I thought he read off the internet. Except he didn’t, it actually happened. At first I didn’t believe him and if I didn’t know him in real life, I probably wouldn’t have posted it… you’ll see what I mean:

A manager in my group, Jim, is on the board of his local swim team. The board wanted to raise all the coaches salaries by 5% this year. Jim replied back and said, “I’m not sure if this is a good year to raise salaries. We don’t know if there will be drop off in attendance this year or if the monies made from the snack bar will be as high as in the past. I fear that people won’t have the disposable income this year.”

To which a woman responded….”Why would people be throwing out their money this year?”


(Photo: nsharper)

 Frugal Living 

The Fine Art of Line Drying Laundry

When it comes to energy hogs, did you know that your electric dryer, when on, consumes the most electricity compared to every other appliance in your home? It’s true, it easily beats your refrigerator and your water heater (those in total energy consumption, those appliances use more because they are always on). So, if you’ve ever considered line drying your clothes to cut down on your electricity usage, you picked the right appliance to target. Not only will it save you big bucks on your electricity bill, line drying your laundry will make your clothing last longer, saving you money on clothing expenses too.

Many people don’t like to line dry their laundry though. They cite too much work, too many wrinkles, and “still” clothing as some of the top reasons for not line drying laundry. Fortunately there are some techniques to make line drying clothing a little easier and more practical, so you can keep money in your pocket.

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Everbank Priority Club Points Promotion

Are you a Priority Club member? If so, Priority Club and EverBank are running a promotion where you can get up to 10,000 points by opening accounts at EverBank. EverBank is probably one of the best banks out there because they have four stars from BankRate’s Safe & Sound ratings system, are FDIC insured, and offer a very good interest rate. The current interest rate offering is 3.51% 3-month Bonus Rate followed by a 2.73% 1st year APY up to balances of $50k – among the best of online banks. A great rate plus a 10,000 point bonus offer equals a solid promotion.

You can earn the maximum 10,000 points by opening all three accounts, here’s how it breaks down:

  • Yield PledgeSM Money Market Account – 5,000 points
  • FreeNet® Checking Account – 2,500 points
  • Yield Pledge Certificate of Deposit – 2,500 points

Read the terms and conditions carefully because you need to meet some conditions before you get the points. With the Money Market Account, you need to open with a minimum of $1500 and then maintain an average monthly balance above $5,000 for at least one statement period during the first three statement periods after the account opening. The conditions are very straight forward and very easy to accomplish, just be sure to check them out.

Curious what 10,000 points can get you? It varies from locale but you can look it up on the Priority Club Redeem points page.

Thanks Matt, for clueing me onto this promotion in the first place!

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