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Weekly Financial Review #13

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Here are some quick hit financial thoughts for this week:

  • I got an uplifting comment towards my cutting the cable TV article from a person known as Ro. His comment is worth publishing in full, "This week, we bought a Radio Shack antenna, booster, cords and guide wire to switch to antenna. Antenna.web maps your location for best signals. We have 14 channels so far that are excellent quality. We're pulling the plug on Dish Network this week ($69 a month) and looking forward to cutting more monthly bills that are bleeding us to death. Bell South's taxes and mystery fees for basic phone line is $14.50 a month ($69 total). I am reading Mary Hunt's book about living for half price. We are making a game of budgeting, opting for viewing our own videos vs rentals as well as library videos and exchanging with friends. The stress levels are coming down as the bills become less. Entertainment is too time consuming, anyway!"
  • I got my rental car from Enterprise today. (You remember my accident last week, right.) They wanted $5 from me to get a Dodge Magnum when I was promised a mid-size car. I asked for the free option and they had a Focus. After a little discussion they gave me the Magnum. Then they wanted me to pay $12/day for insurance (with a deductable) or $22/day for free-and-clear. Hmm, let's see.... At $22/day the insurance (not the car itself mind you) would cost me $660 a month. This is supposed to be my free substitute transportation from the insurance company? Even at $12 a day, it would be $360 a month - or over $4300 a year. It's quite a business they've got going there selling insurance.
  • I have been getting 5% back at gas stations, grocery and drug stores with my Chase card for about two years now. This is coming to an end as they sent notice that they are switching to 1% back starting in May. Nothing like a 5 times reduction in rewards points to leave a bad taste in your mouth. It looks like I'll switch to my Chase Freedom card at that point (3% rewards on gas/groceries/fast food).  Update: Brandon below mentions that this is not the case and that I've been reading it wrong.  He's right.  The gravy train continues...

Here is my non-financial thought for this past week:

  • Ask.com is running a couple of crypt billboards around Silicon Valley. The first says, "The algorithm is from Jersey." Very cryptic. The second says, "The algorithm killed Jeeves." I quite like the interesting billboards. Too bad, it seems like a complete waste of money.

Last updated on April 8, 2007.

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10 Responses to “Weekly Financial Review #13”

  1. Brian says:

    I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned, but if you’re already springing for broadband access, why not switch your phone to VoIP. I’ve been using Vonage (yes, I know they’ve got their issues in court – as of today, they aren’t supposed to sign up any new customers) for 3 years with no issues. $19/mo (including tax, etc) for 500 minutes with all the options (Voicemail, CallerID, etc) all included. Other providers comparable to Vonage that I’ve heard good things about are ViaTalk and BroadVoice, both have comparable rates. ViaTalk also has an offer from time to time to get 1 year of service for $200 with 1 year free of their unlimited plan. Talk about kissing Bellsouth goodbye and never looking back…

  2. Lazy Man says:

    Brian, I do use Vonage. I had thought about switching Skype as MossySF mentioned in a comment in a previous post. It’s even cheaper than Vonage, but not quite as easy to use.

  3. Brian says:

    Skype would work fine for me, but it doesn’t pass the wife test. I could probably do without cable and 2 DVRs if it wasn’t for a wife (but I still love her). I’d much prefer to download my shows commercial free over bittorrent and play them on something like an AppleTV. But it’s not easy enough for her to use and they don’t have her shows, so there we go with a $130 cable bill ($40 of which is Broadband and reimbursed from work). Oh well, the little sacrifices we make for harmony in the home.

  4. limeade says:

    I admire the steps people are taking to cut their costs. I also like the fact that you talk about increasing your passive income through alternate income streams. Sounds like you’re on a very good path.

    -limeade

  5. dong says:

    After reading all those comments on the “cutting the cable” post, I think I’m gonna get a new TV. Not very frugal, but I’ve been holding off on getting a new LCD cuz I’m a dish contract for another 12 months and it would’ve cost me another 150 to upgrade to HD without signing up for a new contrct. I don’t want to sign up for a new contract since I might move. Long term I was gonna suck it up and get HD dish service, but now that I’ve gotten alot of confirmation that HD attennaes work pretty will I think I’ll just do that and buy a new TV. My new long term plan is HD attenae, and iTunes. I rather just pay for the shows I watch on cable. That’s my splurge. Otherwise I’ve got my monthly expenses cut. No Land Line. Family Mobile Plan with with my brother and parents (though that means I’ve an out of state area code – but who cares). My share of the mobile bill is less than $15 given the discount my bro gets at work.

  6. brandon says:

    Are you sure your Chase card is cutting all rewards to 1% I too received a similar letter but after re-reading it they are keeping all 5% rewards EXCEPT for super big discount stores like SuperWalmart. This was for a Chase Ultimate Rewards card (or similar?).

  7. I saw the billboards, too. I think it is worth talking about the marketing strategy. Do they really think they will recoup the money? I didn’t know it was ASK.com until you told me. How did you know?

  8. Shadox says:

    I saw those same billboards. I too didn’t know it was ask.com. Now that I know, I don’t care. Of course we are talking about those billboards, so buzz is being created.

    As a Director of Marketing myself, there is no way in hell I would approve a campaign suggested by one of my guys that involved this sort of expense, but then again I am in B2B marketing and these guys are targeting the masses, so who knows…

  9. Brian says:

    does chase have a limit on how much you can take in rewards per year? I know Citibank has a $300/yr limit per credit card which we typically reach after 5 months.

  10. Lazy Man says:

    Brandon, you are right about the Chase thing. I’ll correct the one above.

    Brian, I’m not sure if there’s a limit. If so, I haven’t run into it yet.

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