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Farewell and Thank You

by Jim Wang on August 27, 2013

GoodbyeOver eight years ago, I started a little personal finance blog on this domain. It was called Blueprint for Financial Prosperity, because I’m terrible at naming things (Bargaineering would make a return later), and it was my personal finance journal. I would research financial topics, write about it, and then share it with the world. My original goal was just to have a place to put down my thoughts so I could review them while I was at work. I never thought other people would read it!

Years later, it was successful enough that I could pursue it as a full time job and I have you to thank for it.

Without the great community here it would just be one man’s journal and nothing more. We had a lot of fun times here whether it was the Personal Finance Hour, enjoying the hilarity of McDonald’s Monopoly game, arguing on Your Takes and Devil’s Advocate, or celebrating our hatred of U-Haul and our love of Costco – your insightful comments, questions, and occasional trolling made this place a lot of fun as well as educational.

Alas, it’s time for me to go. It’s been a great eight years and I feel sad writing this but it’s time for me to move onto other projects.

For now, I leave Bargaineering in the capable hands of our social media guru Brandon (whom you may remember as my partner in crime on the McDonald’s shenanigans) and I hope you treat him with the same courtesy and kindness you’ve shown me over the years.

If you want to reach me, I’m on Facebook or Linkedin – send me a message and let me know what you’re up to. I’d love to hear from you. :)

Thanks everyone!


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Your Take: Ever Take an Unpaid Internship?

by Jim Wang on August 23, 2013

When I was in college, I had internships nearly every summer of the year. In each of those internships, I was paid a decent salary and never once had to decide whether or not to take an unpaid internship. I remember what I was like back then and if the right opportunity opened up, chances are I’d have worked for free if I could convince my parents to stake me for the summer.

I was fortunate in that I was in college during much of the dot com boom so all my internships were paid. It also helps that the idea of an unpaid internship, for “experience,” isn’t popular in technology. It happens a lot more in other industries where the need for experience trumps all.

In most instances, unpaid internships are illegal. The Department of Labor has really tight criteria for what internships can be unpaid and very few internships apply. There was no chance of my internships would’ve been legitimately unpaid, though there are plenty of illegal unpaid internships!

Have you ever taken an unpaid internship?


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Big Box Retailer Return Policies

by Jim Wang on August 21, 2013

Wal-MartOne of the more popular posts on this site is Costco’s incredible return policy where you can basically return anything non-electronic whenever you want. It can be open and you may have lost the receipt, but they’ll take it back. It’s one of the most liberal policies and one of the reasons why we shop there (in addition to the great prices) – why worry about returns when you know you can return anything. Even the recent change, of limiting electronics to six months, didn’t dissuade us. Six months is forever!

That made us wonder – how does that compare to other retailers? A lot of folks shot at the likes of Wal-Mart, also for their low prices, so how do other big box retailers compare? Their policies weren’t as good and their list of exceptions can often be a mile long.

Check out the nifty table Brandon put together comparing Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Target. There’s 3 tabs that show more detail of each retailer’s policy.

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How to Save Money on Discounted Movie Tickets

by Jim Wang on August 20, 2013

Regal CinemasA few weeks ago, I took advantage of a Gillette promotion that left me with a Fandango code for a free movie ticket. We haven’t been to the movies in several months and so we caught an early showing of Despicable Me 2 (we love those minions!) in a near empty theater. There might have been four other people there (like I said, early showing).

Those empty theaters are why movie companies offer such steep discounts for matinees and early bird showings. Showing the movie costs some negligible amount so any time you can get a paying customer, you’re profiting.

Other than going really early during the day, which isn’t possible most of the time, what other ways can you save at the movies?

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5 Questions with PerkStreet CEO Dan O’Malley

by Jim Wang on August 19, 2013

Dan O'MalleyI had the opportunity to ask the CEO of PerkStreet, Dan O’Malley, a few questions via email near the end of last week, courtesy of their COO Jason Henrichs. As you know, PerkStreet announced they’d be shutting down and would not be paying out any outstanding perks.

People were understandably upset livid. Social media exploded and the poor employees, who would soon be out of the job, were trying to put out raging infernos with spoonfuls of water.

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Your Take: Loans for Daycare?

by Jim Wang on August 16, 2013

DaycareEarlier this week, New York City mayoral candidate Christine Quinn introduced a pilot program that would offer loans to middle class parents to help pay for daycare. If your child is between two and four and if your income is between $80-$200k and you have a credit score over 620, you can qualify for a $11,000 loan at 6%.

I’m always wary of these types of programs because subsidies and loan programs tend to help increase prices. As college gets more expensive, we see more loans and grants, which helps support (and some believe it contributes to) the higher prices. We all benefit from these grants and loans to a select group of college students because it results in more college graduates and a more educated population.

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Plutus Awards Nominations Open

by Jim Wang on August 15, 2013

Plutus AwardsThe Plutus Awards are awards given out in the personal finance community at our annual financial conference, FINCON. It was started a few years ago by my friend Luke Landes of Consumerism Commentary and it’s a fun way for the community to celebrate their own. We throw on a little awards ceremony, Kevin McKee from Thousandaire does a little rap, and it’s a fun time.

Luke and his team do a lot behind the scenes to make this a success and the first (public) step is the nomination for blogs in each of the categories and that’s where we need your help.

Right now nominations are open for a variety of blog categories include Best New Personal Finance Blog, Blog of the Year, and Lifetime Achievement Award. If you’d like to weigh in on your favorite personal finance blogs in each of the categories, you can cast your nominations here. Nominations go until September 30th.

If you’re curious about the origin of the name, it’s the Romanized version of Ploutos, the Greek god of wealth.


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McD Monopoly Game: Mail-In vs. Hash Browns Epic Challenge Part 3

by Jim Wang on August 14, 2013

Hash Brown ChallengeThis is part three of the where we collect game pieces from 500 handwritten SASE letters and two hundred hash browns!

Here’s – we documented the acquisition of the two hundred hash browns while Brandon finished sending out his letters.

It took awhile but Brandon finally got his letters back and I slowly buy surely peeled and entered all my codes.

So what did we get? Here’s a look at the results thus far:

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