Monday, April 23, 2012

"This is Peggy . . ."

You know that Discover credit card commerical, where "Peggy" is the male customer service representative with the thick accent and he gives the confusing run around to the consumer's credit card problem.  Well, I had a similar problem with Capital One and as a result I have closed my Capital One account.

As you probably know if you read this blog regularly, we don't use credit cards for day to day expenses.  But we do have a credit card and we do use it for travel expenses.  Back in May 2011, I went on a girls' trip to Las Vegas and ended up charging an outing on my credit card.  We didn't get what we contracted for and I learned a few lessons that I wanted to share. 

First, and I'm not sure if this is actually a tip that will work, but I learned not to sign a credit card slip for an outing before the outing is underway.  The company used the fact that I signed the credit card slip against me in the credit card dispute.  I had been drinking, we were in Vegas after all, and the slip was presented to me to sign before we got on our way.  When you sign the slip you are, evidently, aknowledging receipt of the services and since the service had not yet started I should have said I won't sign until the end of the night.  However, I'm not certain that we would have been able to go on the outing until I signed the credit card slip, so perhaps the suggestion should be to make some notation on the slip that I was being asked to sign before we got underway.  

Second, we did a charge back and when I received the letter from Captial One setting forth the company's response I should have responded in written form with my evidence.  Instead, I opted to call Capital One, which was an option presented in the correspondence that I received, but then spoke to a "Peggy" person, who did not speak English as a first language and told me that that I did not need to do anything that the dispue had been resolved.  I had plenty of evidence that we did not get the service we paid for, but I never presented such evidence in writing because I was told I did not need to.  Unfortunately, the person who was telling me what to do or not to do, was wrong or did not understand my questions (because of the language difficulties) and the end result was that Capital One counted my failure to respond, in writing, as agreement to the company's position (which again consisted of presenting a copy of the contract and a copy of the credit card slip signed by me).  Going forward, I will always respond in writing.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Hazards of Debit Cards

We use our debit cards for 90% of our day to day transactions. We like debit cards because we can keep track of our spending, we avoid debt by avoiding credit cards and by spending present dollars, we stick to our budget and our allowance system since we are limited in what we can spend.  90% of the time our debit card system works well, but everyone once in a while something goes wrong and since our debit cards are tied to our checking accounts, when things go wrong they can go way wrong.

Mr. Sam recently ordered car parts (for our antique car, his hobby) that totaled about $300.   Since the purchase exceeded $300, we discussed and agreed that he could go forward with the purchase (one of our rules requires us to discuss and agree on any purchase over $300).  He waited until the second half of the month to make the purchase so that he would have more than enough money to go forward with the purchase.

Unfortunately, the car part company put the $300 transaction through three times on his debit card which triggered an overdraft to our main account.  Ugh!  I was furious and disappointed and I really want to call the company and chew them out.  Luckily, Mr. Sam noticed the problem the day it happened so he got on the phone with Wells Fargo and the car company to work a solution.  The car company had reversed the two extra charges and Wells Fargo agreed to forego the overdraft fee, but it took a number of calls and about and hour of time.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Vacation Season

I have posted before about our vacation budgeting/planning system. I have used this system now since 2007 and it continues to work well for us. We just returned from a long weekend trip and the known costs, the rental cottage and the fishing trip, were prepaid prior to the trip.  The remainder of the trip expenses were budgeted, as previously explained, I normally budget $100 day for each of us and we save that up in our ING travel/vacation account.  However, this trip was more of a nature/relaxing trip and we didn't come close to spending that much each day.  My annual girls trip, over Memorial Day weekend, is coming up so I'll put the money we didn't spend back into our ING account and I have just a few weeks to get ready for the next trip.

Friday, April 13, 2012

2012 Savings Goals - Mid-April Report

(1) Max out 401k(s) - $10,705 (31%)(goal is $34,000)
(2) Max out IRA(s) - $1500 (15%)(goal is $10,000)
(3) Add to e/r fund - $ 2800 (28%)(goal is $10,000)
(4) Pay down mortgage - $1245 (25%)(goal is $5,000)
(5) House projects - $350 (7%) (goal is $5,000)
(6)  Trading account fund - $0 (0%(goal is $5,000)

Total - $16,600 (24%)

At present, we are about $3300 behind on our 2012 goals.

We have started to put money aside for the funding of our 2012 IRAs.  But, because Mr. Sam's employment status is somewhat precarious (his division is in the process of being sold to another company) we are putting that IRA money into an ING sub-account.  We won't invest these monies until we have confirmation that Mr. Sam has a position with the new company or has a new job.

If you are funding your 2011 IRA, Monday, April 17th is your last day to do so.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

2012 Savings Goals - April Report

(1) Max out 401k(s) - $10,105 (30%)(goal is $34,000)
(2) Max out IRA(s) - $1000 (10%)(goal is $10,000)
(3) Add to e/r fund - $ 2400 (24%)(goal is $10,000)
(4) Pay down mortgage - $1245 (25%)(goal is $5,000)
(5) House projects - $300 (6%) (goal is $5,000)
(6)  Trading account fund - $0 (0%(goal is $5,000)

Total - $15,050 (22%)

At present, we are about $3500 behind on our 2012 goals but we are slowly starting to catch up from our slow start this year.  We have paid off the credit card, which we used to pay for Mr. Sam's recent certification class.  He has another class he wants to take and we are hoping that the company might pay for this one, if not that will be another $2500 on education this year.

We are going away this weekend, trip has been paid for already and daily spending money was saved in our ING travel/vacation savings account.  Just have to stop at the bank tonight and make a withdraw of the cash for day to day spending.