Thursday, August 25, 2011

Plastic Purchases

We have purchased a new, large, rug for our living room.  My favorite store, for home furnishings, is Pottery Barn and that is where the rug is coming from. 

Rather than pay cash for the rug, we are electing to use our Pottery Barn credit card.  The PB credit card provides a point for each dollar spent and the points add up to rewards.  500 points provides a $50 certificate.  We are purchasing a $1000 rug and as such opted to use plastic to obtain the rewards.  $100 in rewards will be used to purchase some new glass wear already picked out as well. 

Before we went down this path we shopped around to make sure that the rug I had picked out was the best option for us.  Meaning that I love Pottery Barn, but there are lots of other home furnishing stores so we needed to make sure that my selection was not out of bounds. 

Secondly, we waited the requisite number of days before purchasing the rug (pursuant to our $100 rule).  A 10 day wait was required since the purchase was $1000.  We actually waited many more days since we were also shopping around.

Third, we have the cash in the bank for this purchase.  So even though we are using plastic we will promptly pay off the purchase with cash before we incur any interest or other costs associated with a plastic purchase.

And even after all that I get a little jolt of anxiety running up a $1000+ plus credit card bill.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Economics of Coffee

For Christmas last year, I bought Mr. Sam a Keurig single cup coffee machine .   He makes a single cup of coffee each morning to take with him and on the weekends we'll each have a cup.  I get my coffee, during the week, at work (which has an industrial Keurig coffee machine).

The Keurig system works great, but the coffee pods can be expensive, ranging in price from @ .70 to more than a dollar a pod.  So we don't use pods at home, instead we buy good coffee and use the my K cup which allows one to simply use their own coffee in a mini filter cup.

Recently, I was in a Dunkin Donuts store (my favorite coffee) and noticed they were now selling coffee pods of DD coffee. I thought that was interesting, wouldn't they be undermining their customer base by offering such an easy option for home brewing?  But then I noticed the price, $13.99 for a box of 14 pods, basically $1 a pod.  The price for hot coffee in the retail store starts at about $1.20 for a small.  So the pods are about the same price, of course a pod will work for a large or an extra large serving and you save on gas and time.

My favorite pod flavor at work is "Donut Shop" which I think mimics the flavor of Dunkin coffee. has a 50 pack of the Donut Shop pods for $30 or .60 a pod, that is the best price I've seen in the pods.

We will probably stick with our current system of simply using our favorite coffee in the my K cup, that is the cheapest option and the coffee is good. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

ING Takeover by Capital One

I'm a bit slow to post on the sale of ING to Capital One and the outpouring of emotions on the interwebs about the end of happy savers at ING.

I'm a big fan of ING, have been a happy saver at ING since April 2003.  I give them high marks for ease of use, the ability to set up multiple sub accounts for different savings goals, ease of setting up recurring transfers in order to build savings, etc.

And in the past I've used ING for our CD ladders although I don't have any presently because the interest rate for CDs are so dismal (I can get the same return in the regular ING savings account).  And what was a high yield savings account is now down to 1% although still much higher than I can obtain at my local bank, Wells Fargo, or my local credit unions. 

So, high marks for function, form, ease of use, customer service, low marks for interest rate but still better than I'd get anywhere else.

Now, as for Capital One, I've got a credit card with them and can't say I've ever had any trouble with them although they do, generally, get low marks for customer service.  I don't use the credit card with any regularity so can't really offer an opinion.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

2011 Goals - August Update

(1) Max out 401k(s) - $19,440 (59%)(goal is $33,000)
(2) Max out IRA(s) - $10,000 (100%)(goal is $10,000, this goal is completed)
(3) Add to e/r fund - $6,100 (61%)(goal is $10,000)
(4) Pay down mortgage - $2,905 (58%)(goal is $5,000)
(5) House projects - $1,800 (36%) (goal is $5,000)

Total - $40,245 (64%)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Market Impact on our NetWorth

With the recent market volatility we have been pushed back below the millionaire mark.  We also had a major expense for which we had planned for, but had to take $10,000+ out of our short term savings. 

Bummer . . .

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Other Goals

In addition to our 2011 savings goals, we had a couple of other financial goals that I documented in this January 2011 post.  

I'm pleased to report that we have completed goal number three, which was to get our debt below $600,000.  In fact, today when I was updating our NetWorthIQ profile, I calculated that our debt is now at $598,247. 

Although our mortgage debt may edge up a bit in the near future because we are working to refinance one of our rental properties and rather than paying the closing costs up front we are rolling those costs into the new loan.  But it makes sense to refinance since we will be moving from a 6% plus loan to a 4% plus loan, we are keeping the payoff term the same and our monthly costs, even with the closing costs rolled in will be reduced.