Saturday, September 16, 2006


"Introducing the MLB™ Extra Bases™ credit card. The only credit card on the planet that earns you points towards autographed memorabilia by past and current players, VIP access, field-level game tickets, travel rewards and even cash rewards that will blow you away!" (Excerpt from the credit card application)

Bank of America / MBNA have launched a new card called the "MLB Extra Bases Credit Card" apply for the card and you get:

  1. Get an official MLB™ licensed jersey - after your first qualifying transaction(s).§
  2. In addition, receive an Apple® iPod nano by making any combination of purchase or cash advance transactions (balance transfers included) totaling $2,000.§
  3. Introductory Annual Percentage Rate (APR) - for Cash Advance Checks and Balance Transfers through your first twelve billing cycles.* (subject to a 3% transaction fee, no less than $10
  4. On top of all these unbelievable rewards, this card offers secure online access, 24/7 fraud protection and no annual fee.†
Fine Print:
To qualify for the first reward (an official MLB™ licensed jersey), respond to this offer and use your new account within 90 days of the date the account is opened by FIA Card Services, N.A., to make any combination of purchase or cash advance transactions (includes balance transfers) totaling at least $75 (excludes transaction fees). Limit one (1) jersey per new account.

In addition, to qualify for the second reward, a 1GB Apple® iPod nano, respond to this offer and use your new account within 90 days of the date the account is opened by FIA Card Services, N.A., to make any combination of purchase or cash advance transactions (includes balance transfers) totaling at least $2,000. Limit one (1) 1GB Apple iPod nano per new account.

Allow 8-12 weeks for delivery after qualifying. Offer sponsored by FIA Card Services, N.A.: we may substitute an item of equal or greater value and we are not responsible for lost, stolen, or undelivered merchandise. U.S. residents must be 18 to apply for a credit card.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Saving for Retirement

Looks like my Roth IRA was finally opened today. I opened a Roth IRA at Citibank online last week. I did a lot of research to find the best deal for the buck.

Why I choose to contribute to a Roth IRA?

I don't earn enough to benefit from contributing into a Traditional IRA. Traditional IRAs in my view are for individuals who are making a lot of money and would benefit by putting money away from pre-tax dollars and thus paying lower taxes when they actually use the money when they retire. Here is a list of benefits of the Roth IRA from Citibank's website:

Tax benefits. Although your contributions are not tax deductible, earnings are tax-deferred and withdrawals are free of federal income tax if you're over age 59½.3
Compounded earnings. Your contributions may earn interest, dividends, and capital gains, which are then reinvested, so your money has the potential to grow even more.
Contributions. Individuals can contribute up to $4,000 for each of the tax years 2005 and 2006. If you're married and filing jointly, the annual cap is $8,000 ($4,000 each) for tax years 2005 and 2006.4
Distributions. There's no required age at which you must start taking distributions.
-You can withdraw your contributions any time without paying a 10% federal tax penalty.
-You can withdraw earnings without paying federal income tax if your Roth IRA has been open at least five years, and (1) you've reached age 59 ½; (2) in the event of death or disability; or (3) you use the money for a first time home purchase ($10,000 lifetime limit).
-In certain circumstances, you can withdraw earnings early without a federal tax penalty.

What was I looking for?
The critieria I used to decide where to open a Roth IRA is as follows: No annual fee, No "custodian" fees, FDIC insured, CD and Money Market accounts, and high interest rates. I researched many banks and found Citibank to be the best deal. Although they do have a $75 fee only if you move the IRA to another bank which I don't plan on doing.

What rates did I get?
I opened with $250 (the minimum amount for a CD) a 6 month CD at 5.50% APY! Their 5 year CD was at the timebeing at 4.60% which is also a great deal. I plan on contributing $250 a month. I can only contribute upto $4000 according to the cap for 2006.

Washington Post's Article on Budgets

Michelle Singletary wrote in the Washington Post about Budgets! In her column "The Color of Money" she discussed budgets and it is an interesting read. She offers a suggestion of using percentages and use math to play the Budget Game. As mentioned before if you want to get your finances on track and need motivation to start savings, set goals and make a budget then work to keep up with it. It is a good read. Click to read the article "It Pays to Do the Math in the Budget Game"

If you have other suggestions or would like to share what your strategy is when it comes to budget please feel free to share it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

$$$ Bank Bonuses $$$

I got some mail from Bank of America offering me money to open an account and then I came across some online. Here are some of the offers that just might be worth your time! Two things to mention if you are looking to bank with BoA, they have online specialists that you can chat with before you open an account and they have only customer service for customers. One negative might be that they have no completely free checking account, except for the Student Checking account which is free for 5 years.

Offer # 1:
Get up to $125 for opening a checking account and savings account. This offer seems to be for people who already have some sort of account with Bank of America. I signed up last month with this offer and confirmed with the Customer Service online that my offer is valid. Be sure to use the offer code to get your bonus. Offer expires 12/31/2006
To see offer details click OFFER # 1

Offer # 2
Get $100 to open a My Access Checking account which is free with direct deposit. Anyone can apply. Offer expires 12/31/2006
To see offer details click OFFER # 2

Note: I asked the CSR's and they informed me that there is hard pull on your credit when you first open an account. But if you are an existing customer, there is no hard pull rather a soft pull that does not affect your credit. Please ask a CSR to confirm this.

**Picture of cash found online.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Check your Credit Reports!

I can not stress this enough but check your credit reports! And report any errors immediately! I had a friend of mine pull her credit reports a few days ago after she was complaining of getting extremely high interest rates. Guess what we found? There were two credit cards, one past due that she does not have and a lien after some court decision against her. The best part it was placed on her account when she was only 15! What happened? Errors happen! But that has plagued her credit history since then and she is finding this out now, in her twenties! You can imagine how adversely that has affected her so far. She is working on removing the erroneous information from her credit reports but please take her example and do a yearly credit check. You are entitled to a free credit report from the 3 credit bureaus so use them!

Here is their website: Annual Credit Report

Feel free to share any advice or stories.

Online Savings Account Mini Review

If you are reading this blog chances are you are already aware of many online savings accounts but here is my personal mini review of a few that I use. I am rating them from 1 star to 5 stars, where 5 stars is the best deal for the buck.

This was my first online savings account. Their website is very user friendly ans easy to access. Their current yield is 4.40% that is low compared to other online banks. You need cancelled checks to link external accounts. They currently have a refer a friend program where you get $10 and the person who opens the account with a minimum of $250 gets $25. Apart from their lack of competitiveness in interest rates their customer service and website is great.

Citi e-Savings (***)
Offers 5% APY with no minimum balance requirement but requires a checking account with citibank. The best checking account is the EZ Checking account that is free if you maintain $1500, pay 2 bills online a month or have direct deposit. One good thing about citibank is that they offer good rates on CD's like their 6 month CD is at 5.50% (6% in Texas). They also offer Thank You points that add up and you can get gift cards etc. They also have free online bill pay.

GMAC Bank (*****)
For me this was the best deal! Right now they are offering 5.00% APY. They offer a check card, and checking writing (first 50 checks free!). I find this very appealing as I use Bank of America to pay bills online as they deduct money on the day funds are delivered to the person rather than taking them out 3 - 5 days in advance. So I schedule a payment say for 9/12 in the amount of $500, on 9/12 I go to the bank and deposit my check from GMAC for $500 this way I earn the most interest as it takes time for the check to actually go through plus I put it in the day the payment is deducted (Do not try this if you get holds on your accounts or it is for a larger amount, what works for me might not work for you). You can link many external accounts, they verify using the trial deposit method.

HSBC Direct (****)

The current yield is 5.05% APY apart from their slow funds transfer to and from external accounts it is pretty good. I have their checking account as well so I transfer into the checking and write checks. They have been very competitive with their rates.

Which account is the best for you? That is your pick on what you are looking for. If you have more specific questions feel free to email me and I will be happy to answer any of your questions.

Earn some extra bucks in your free time

During these initial days I have been focusing on making a few extra bucks here and there. So I will continue with that and move towards making returns on your savings and all other good stuff.

Have you heard of Mystery Shoppers or Secret Shoppers?
Why not become one! If you have spare time maybe in the evenings or a free summer then you can earn some cash, free food and depending on where you shop you might also get to keep the merchandise. There are many agencies that offer this service and you can do it on your own time.

How does it work?
I can't say for every agency but the one agency that I have worked for is pretty simple. You log on to the website and search for assignments pick one and if you are selected (usually first come first serve) they will email you a confirmation. You then log in to the website and download the instructions and perform the shop. It might be as simple as ordering pizza from your house and rating their customer service and looking for key things like type of greetings, offers etc or go to a store and purchase something. After the shop you submit a report online which is very simple. Usually Yes and No questions with a few comment fields where you can write briefly about your experience.

Is it worth it?
It depends. You can make (from what I have noticed) anywhere from $5 + merchandise to $50. For example to rate a car dealership I saw they paid $25.

Need to find reputable companies/agencies?
Contact me at

Note: I am not affiliated with any company and this post is based on personal experiences just like the remainder of the blog.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Prime Rate Prediction and CD rates

It seems like the Feds are done for rate hikes for the year. So, this might be the best time to park some of your cash in a high yield CD. The rates have been dropping across the board from the 6% to the low 5%'s now and they might continue to drop.
There are a few good deals out there depending on where you live. A few available to most are from the World Savings Bank that have a 15 month CD for 6.01% APY with a minimum deposit of $10,000 and it has to be "new" money i.e. from outside the bank. Another good one is the Citibank 6 month CD at 5.50% APY and 6.00% in Texas.

So if you are looking to lock in a great rate now is the time. At least that's what I think. If you want rates in the upper 6% to 8% look at your local credit unions as many have very high yields on their CD's and deposit shares.

If you find some good deals please let me know!

Some banks like GMAC is offering CD's up to 5.40% and INGDIRECT up to 5.20%

For a detailed account of the prime rate prediction visit the Wall Street Journal Prime Rate Blog

Update: Pinecone

Well the pinecone research link has been disabled. Hope some of you got through. I have collected a bunch of promotions from banks and credit card companies with offers ranging from $10 to more than $200 so I will try to organize them and put them up as soon as I can. In the mean time if you are looking for a specific offer or deal feel free to contact me.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Pinecone Sign up link FOUND!

As mentioned before in my post about Pinecone I just came across a working link! I don't know when it will expire so I suggest you hurry and sign up!

Pinecone is a an online research company that pays you $5 per survey I myself have gotten over $30 in one month.

Note: I know people wonder if I would get anything if you sign up and the answer is no. I don't get anything.

"Get Paid to take an Online Survey? Are you for real?"

I got an email today in which part of it read, "Get Paid to take an Online Survey? Are you for real? " and the answer is yes. There are many survey sites and you can probably google and find tons and tons of them but be careful! Apart from fraudulent websites, there are some that might not be worth your time.

Look for survey sites that pay per survey and not the ones that enter you in a free drawing, odds of one wining that drawing are slim besides I feel like they are a waste of time. I deal mostly with two survey websites.

My favorite survey website is the Pinecone Research as it sends a flat rate of $5 per survey. A check is sent within 3 - 5 days.
How can I join? Look for a banner. They do not offer members to send invitations nor do they have a sign up page on their website: They have limited slots and you have to look for them as they advertise via banners on websites. If I find one, I will provide the link here.

Secondly, I use surveysavvy, they offer from $1 to $10 for any given survey. They send a screener survey to see if you qualify. You can request the payment in the form of a check through their website. To join or get more information click on the image.

Whatever I earn through these surveys goes directly into a high yield savings account like HSBCDIRECT, Citibank e-savings, GMAC bank, or INGDIRECT(Their rates are low at this point) and I also invest in T-bills to avoid state and local taxes. Those are very hot options right now. I will provide a detailed account on online savings accounts and T-bills in future posts.

A little thing called InboxDollars

Here is the first installment for the Making Money Online section. I came across this deal by accident and so far it has turned out to be quite fruitful. In a matter of 8 minutes that's right 8 minutes I have made $9.43.

What is InboxDollars?
An online website where you register with your usual information and they give you access to multiple online survey companies, 100% free stuff, free trials, and other offers. You can maximize your check by trying products and cancelling them or if you'd rather take the safer route, just register for the survey websites and get anywhere from $0.50 to $3 for signing up. There is no cost to sign up and nothing to purchase. Take their daily survey and get $1 for each survey completed.
They also send you an email where you get money just for reading the email. So far I have not detected any spyware or adware with this service. I have not given them any sensitive information and I do not plan on doing so either.

What type of questions they have asked?
So far they just asked what type of tax preparation software do I use, and what I look for in a tax preparation software. Took me less than 1 minute to finish that.

Any Bonuses?
Yes! Sign up by clicking on the image below and get $5!
What do I get? $5 for referring you. Once you sign up go ahead and refer others and make $5 for each referral.

** I do not represent InboxDollars and the information is not guaranteed. Check the website and direct your questions to them.

A taste of what to expect

In the coming few days I expect to have completed my compilation of reviews, offers and promotions of various banks, online savings accounts, and some website where you can make money for just taking online surveys. If you are interested in getting free samples of various products look for my posts on many offerings this coming week. I will share with you what I have tried and used and what I have not.
I will try to create a user friendly page with some make money offers with bonus, surveys etc that I myself have used to make money off. For example, I am a member of a survey company called Pinecone Research they usually send me like 2 or 3 surveys a month that take about 5 minutes to do. What do I get? A $5 check for each survey. So far I have made about $30, not to shabby! Then there is this other service that gives you money for signing up for survey websites, trying free offers, or even just reading their offers no sign up or purchases necessary! I just joined this one and have made $12 in one day!

Interested? Need more information before I post the details? Email me!

Credit Card Deals

Lets look at some of the hot credit card deals out there!

Bank of America rewards American Express Card
This card has a few good perks.
1. No annual fee
2. 0% APR on balance transfers and cash advance checks for the first 12 months!
3. AND you get a $50 Statement Credit after qualifying transactions

Other Perks:
  • Double points on dining and travel purchases until Jan 2007
          • Low standard APR of 7.9% for purchases (Depends on your credit)
          • Free Additional cards and much more! You can check this offer out by clicking on the card image.
Citi Diamond Preferred Rewards Card
This is another great card with a lot to offer!

  1. No annual fee
  2. $100 gift card through their ThankYou Network after first purchase.
  3. 0% APR on balance transfers for 12 months!
  4. And right now offering 5 reward points for every $1 spent at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations. That equates to 5% back on those purchases.
Other Perks:
Citi's balance transfers are way to simple. All you need to do is login to your credit card and transfer funds immediately to any bank account or credit card you want. You can make money off this offer by putting the money in a high yield savings account for 12 months and then paying it off once the 0% deal is over. You will be earning around 5% on their money! If you need more information on this feel free to email me. CLICK on the card image to link to their promotional offer.