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In the Credit Card Details

Our credit card will do more for us than we thought.  I wonder if it can do backrubs.

During my Untitled-1credit-card-research-bonanza last week I did the impossible:  I actually read the fine print!  Well, not really the fine print, the almost invisible print, actually.  Sure, Husband and I know our rates (not that they matter, because we pay off our complete bill every month) and our limits, but we didn’t realize just what our card could do for us.  I found a document for our World MasterCard titled, “Guide to Benefits.”  Initially I thought this to be one of those ironic pamphlets where ‘benefits’ really just means ‘ownership’ and the whole 17 pages were just legal butt-coverage for MasterCard.  In this case, I was luckily wrong. 

Turns out, that aside from whatever rewards program that your credit card offers, they may also offer you some free and clear (crazy, I know) benefits.  Here are the unexpected highlights of ours:

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Article publié pour la première fois le 01/07/2010

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The GREAT Coupon Experiment aims to solve a mystery as old as the Sunday insert itself: Is coupon cutting really a feasible way for people with lives and dogs and families to save money?  My mother would say, “yes”; I would say, “I don’t know, that’s why I’m doing this experiment.” 

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Total Savings: $8.32 ($5.30 Coupons; $3.02 Sales)

Thoughts:

1. This week was one of my best and I only used printable coupons, which meant no $2 newspaper eating into my savings. 

2. I checked out what was on sale before I made my list. 

Commissary shoppers go here: Commissary Savings Aisle & Maxi Saver

Walmart shoppers go here: Walmart Circular

Super Market shoppers read: Wal-Mart vs. Super Market vs. Commissary

3. I already knew this, you already knew this, but it is our duty to warn everyone else: STICK TO THE LIST.  At the top of my receipt you will find four bags of unplanned candy.  This is because I brought Husband this week and he does not abide by the rules of grocery shopping.  A helpful tip: if you must bring a candy addict or otherwise unsavvy shopper, give them a task.  I like to give Husband a coupon for an item that I know the store doesn’t have and tell him to go find it.  

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Article publié pour la première fois le 29/06/2010

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Interesting Company Stats

Sometimes when looking at an investment, you may want to look at something beyond the obvious.  For example, what really makes this company different from its competitors or what could potentially drive this company in the long term.  Here are some interesting non-financial company statistics that you may want to consider when making your next investment.

 Talent

The first area that I think is important to look at is the company’s talent profile.  This means doing a company house check and really looking at what the entire executive team and board of a company is comprised of.  For example, is the company being led by the original start-up team, or is it a bunch of old venture capitalists at the helm?  Is the company led by a woman or have female leadership?

These signs can have a direct correlation with future decisions of the company.  For example, if the company sells more to women, it could be a positive thing to have a female leader, since she could relate more to the customer.  If the company is now being led by venture capitalists, you may want to question what the long term motives of the company will be.  Will they be looking for their exit, or thinking about long term shareholder growth?

Talent can play a big role in directions the company chooses.  If the company has board members that are known for things at other companies, some of those traits may carry forward.

Customer Data

Customer data is another interesting metric to look at if you can get insight into it.  For example, are the main customers affluent individuals, or are they low income?  These types of statistics can let shareholders know how a company could perform in a recession.  Just look at high end car sales during the last recession.  Since the customers were primarily wealthy, car sales took a hit when the stock markets collapsed.

Customer data can also give a sense of loyalty to the company.  How many repeat purchases does the individual make?  How often do they come to the store?  These metrics show engagement, which can show long-term growth.

Article publié pour la première fois le 17/04/2012

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15 Little Budget Busters

Little 

Looking at your credit card statement 1 dollar here, 5 dollars there probably won’t jump out and grab your attention (unless it is at a questionable establishment; although, I don’t think you can use a credit card at those types of places).  Some of these little expenses you won’t even see on your bill because you’re simply paying extra.  Most financial blogs/gurus/experts/etc. agree that the little expenses are where budgets frequently get off track. 

Just so you don’t think I’m being smug here, this list consists primarily of mine and Husband’s own little budget busters.  I’m not sure why I’m continuing to write this magnificent introduction, considering most of you are already scanning the list below.  Hey!  My eyes are up here! 

Eh, whatever, without further ado, here’s the stinking list you animals. 

 

1. Music – $1/song is so much easier to let slip than the $19.99/CD of olden days.

2. Apps – probably the best marketing concept EVER; kudos to Apple.  Tell me, why is it that I am so inclined to spend $2.99 on a game that launches birds at pigs?  I don’t know either, but I am.

3. Chick Drinks – when McDonald’s introduced any drink for $1 I was just thrilled.  One Diet Coke per day was already in our budget (it’s important to me, don’t make a fuss).  However, with the price so low, I suddenly found myself justifying and extra one here, an extra one there.  It was no good for the budget.  

4. Man Drinks – I hate going to bars.  It’s not the smoke, the loud music, or the handsy dudes (maybe a little bit of the last one); it drives me crazy to see people paying $2, $3, $4 for a drink that comes in a 12 pack for half the cost per beer.  But I do do it occasionally for Husband; jeeze, I must really like that man.

5. Great Deals! – the great deal at Target.  The too good to pass up deal.  The deal that will never ever ever happen again.  Wow, that sounds like a good deal.  But was it something you already needed?  Do you really need it?  No?  Oh, well maybe its not such a great deal after all. 

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Article publié pour la première fois le 07/09/2010

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Quartz Mountain, Oklahoma

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The locals call this Quartz “Mountain.”  We Coloradans call it “a hill.” Either way, a fun little adventure.

Article publié pour la première fois le 08/06/2010

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Businesses Should Accept All Payment Types

As a customer, I’m a firm believer that businesses should accept every payment type available.  It can be very frustrating going into a shop, or being on a website, and being limited to what payment types are accepted.  In fact, I completely avoid a local coffee shop simply because it only accepts cash.  I’m sorry, but I’m one of those people who never pays with cash.

Second, as a small business owner, I want to get paid any way possible.  I am happy to accept payment from my customers in whatever form is convenient for them, since I don’t want to miss out on business because of this.  With more and more people going away from cash, I want to be open to accepting their payments.

The Basics – Credit Cards 

Every company should accept all major credit cards.  Stores and online shops need to stop excluding certain cards, like Discover or American Express.  It is a big hassle for customers, and I’m sure stores lose business because of it.

A common excuse as to why certain cards are excluded is cost.  However, there are a lot of merchant processing solutions that offer low cost credit card processing for all major credit cards, so I just don’t buy this excuse.  To me, as a customer, it is sheer laziness to look at your customer’s needs.  As a merchant, I know firsthand that the cost of processing other cards, such as American Express, are no more than processing certain types of Visa and Mastercards credit cards.

More Advanced – Mobile & Online Payments 

I do understand that not all merchants are going to be able to accept mobile and online payments immediately, but I think that most places should start researching it.  With the surge in smartphone sales, and new services like Google Wallet, more consumers will be looking to these types of payment systems.

One example is Home Depot.  I was recently in Home Depot and was able to use my PayPal account at checkout.  I found it to be very convenient, and I’m sure it doesn’t cost Home Depot anything more to offer this service.

Article publié pour la première fois le 06/04/2012

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