There’s been quite a bit of recent talk about rising natural gas prices, and it looks like our gas company may have been listening… We’re on their Equal Payment Plan, wherein they project our total usage over the next year and then bill us in eleven equal payments. In the twelfth month we settle up — if we overpaid we get a refund, and if we underpaid we have an additional bill. While I haven’t heard anything official about price increases, we just received the statement laying out our monthly obligation for the upcoming year. Guess what? Our monthly payment is up 19%, from $79/month to $94/month. Granted, this is just their best guess, but over the last couple of years they’ve been pretty close to spot on. Hopefully this winter won’t be colder than normal, or we could end up paying even more.
The other day I was driving past a gas station and I saw someone filling up their Humvee. Given the most recent runup in gas prices, I couldn’t help but shake my head and chuckle. I have to admit that, while I don’t enjoy paying more for gas than I used to, I still get a sort of sick pleasure out of price hikes whenever I see someone filling the tank on their monstrous gas hog. Anyway, all of this got me to wondering… (more…)
As you may or may not recall, I received two sets of rebate coupons following my attempt to cancel to Citi’s Credit Protector service. Each set of coupons consists of 5 x $10 rebates, only one of which can be used per month. The point is to get you to stick with their service and pay the associated fees. However, the fees are based on your closing balance so, if you have a ‘dormant’ credit card lying around (perhaps you’ve already hit the annual cash-back reward limit and are waiting for it to reset?), you can take advantage of this offer for an easy fifty bucks. In my case, I thought I might as well try to make it $100, so I submitted rebate coupons from both sets. Well, I just checked my rebate status and found that they were both approved. Now, I’m not necessarily suggesting that you try to dupe them into giving you extra sets of coupons, but it seems like that sort of strategy would work if you were so inclined.
CNN/Money recently ran an article about piggybacking on your neighbor’s wireless internet service rather than paying for your own, and they have since published a followup detailing reader reactions. While two-thirds of their poll respondents considered such network “sharing” to be stealing, the majority of those that actually took the time to write in were of the “if it’s in my house, then I’m free to use it” mindset. (more…)
Completely off topic, but I ran across this entry in the Compaq support library the other day and found it very amusing. Apparently there’s enough dumb people in the world to warrant a FAQ entry dedicated to the idea that the phrase “press any key” actually means that you should press any one of the keys on your keyboard, as opposed to the one marked “any.” Unbelievable.
Just a quick followup to my previous entry about selling my stuff on eBay. The auctions are now complete, and I’m pleased to report that I ended up selling seven of the eight items. While all of the items that I listed were of the ‘cleaning out your closet’ sort, my total take was $278.66. In terms of fees, eBay will get $15.03, with PayPal getting an additional $10.18. I also need to pay to ship everything out, and am unsure as to exactly how much that will end up costing. Once the dust settles, however, I’m guessing that I’ll end up with about $240 in my pocket and, since I sold pretty much everything at a loss (relative to the original purchase price), I don’t have to worry about paying taxes on my auction earnings. Not too bad for a bunch of stuff that was just taking up space in our closets (and rapidly depreciating). All in all I’m quite pleased with the results. Now if I could only find some more stuff to sell!
The other day I mentioned that I recently bought a new Sprint PCS cell phone, and have been playing around with a free trial of their unlimited internet access (a.k.a. Vision). The phone in question is a Sanyo MM-7400, and I thought I’d review a few of its features here for anyone that might be in the market for a new cell phone… (more…)
Just a quick tip that I was reminded of when traveling recently… Car rental agencies do their best to push their overpriced insurance on you when you’re standing at the rental counter. Be prepared for their sales pitch by checking whether or not your own policy extends to rentals. In our case, it does. As long as we’re driving the rental in place of our own car (like when on vacation) then it’s covered.
If you’re going to be paying with a credit card, you should also check into what sort of coverage the card provides. In some cases credit cards provide secondary coverage that picks up where your own leaves off, thereby paying your deductible. In other cases, a credit card will cover the whole shebang. If you check with both your insurance agent and your credit card company before you depart, you’ll be able to make an informed decision and your savings could be substantial.
I’ve written previously about the allowance system that we implemented for our kids, and I just thought I’d post a quick update as to how it’s been working, as well as how we’ve tweaked the system since we started. First off, I’d have to say that the system that we created is working quite well. The kids are excited about managing their money, and they’ve done a pretty good job with it so far. Sweeping their long term savings into an ING Direct savings account at the end of each month has been a hit — in fact, they can’t wait to log in to see how much interest they’ve earned each month. It did not, however, take long to realize that the 30/30/30/10 scheme for dividing their money into pots for long term savings, short term savings, spending, and charity was a bit too inflexible. (more…)
I recently spent an afternoon listing a bunch of items for sale on eBay, and thought I’d pass on a few tips. These are a combination of things that I’ve found to be useful as an occassional seller of random stuff, as well as what I look for as a buyer… (more…)