Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Frustrated With Cable TV Customer Service: How I Turned Their Refusal to Credit my Account Into a Yes

Ok, i'm a busy man. So, when I experienced a 30% loss of cable TV channels it would go to reason that I wouldn't call the cable company immediately. Three days later I spent nearly 1/2 hour on the phone resolving my account issues.

I reset my cable box and regained the lost channels while I continued to wait to speak to a customer service representative. I explained to the rep that I had an interruption in service for three days and that I just fixed the problem. However, I still requested at least a one day credit to my account. The call center rep stated that he could not credit my account since I waited so long to report the problem.

I then stated how I had been busy and that I was asking for at least a one day credit not three days. I told him how long I waited before I got to speak to a person and cited the wait as the reason I didn't jump at the opportunity to call in when I had better things to do. The rep stuck to his guns. Meanwhile, I stated that I was interested in writing a letter to the company CEO and asked whether a case # was assigned. If not, I asked how I could reference my phone call. He said there was no case #. I then asked for his ID#.

I was very frustrated when I got off the phone. In my line of work, I have ghost written correspondence for very senior people. I was about to start writing a letter that probably would have taken me 30 minutes or more to perfect.

I then took another path and spent 15 more minutes with the same company's customer service to get a second opinion.

When I got a new rep on the phone, I asked the customer service rep to read the notes attached to my account. I then explained what my issue was and that I would like a credit for at least one day. If that couldn't be done, I asked for the rep to provide me the appropriate information for submitting a complaint.

The representative then gave me a three day credit. Honestly, I think the rep would have given me a three day credit before I ever asked for her assistance in submitting a complaint.

The company I speak of above is Cox Communications.... So, when you're at your wits end with a customer service rep and things aren't going your way:

1.) Ask for a case # or customer service rep ID #
2.) Wrap up your conversation in a manner where you're reasonably confident the rep will write notes on the account... Don't hang up mid call.
3.) Call back and get a 2nd opinion with another representative.
4.) If that doesn't work, then ask the representative on how to submit a complaint.
5.) If that rep is ignorant and can't provide verifiable information, do the research and write a letter to the CEO of the company. Keep the letter to one page and stick to the facts... I suspect you will more often than not get a positive outcome. You see, the CEO's front office knows that if you take the time to write a well thought out letter, there's a reasonable chance that you have a legitimate complaint and you may end up as a lost customer if not handled properly.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Recommended Personal Finance Articles From: TheDigeratiLife, FreeMoneyFinance, DarwinsFinance, MoneySmartLife, FinancialArmageddon and DinksFinance

Here's several recommended articles from those sites that share links with Plugged in Finance. I hope they are of use to you.

The Digerati Life. "The European Sovereign Debt Crisis and Your Investments."

Free Money Finance. "Making Money Taking Surveys: Worth It or

Free Money Finance. "How Being Late on Mortgage Payment and Foreclosure Impact Your Credit Score."

Darwin's Finance. "Is Putting in a Swimming Pool Worth It?" Writer finds a nominal cost of $67/swim for his family.

Money Smart Life. "Sell Your House Faster By Fixing These Problems."

Financial Armageddon. "The Pessimism of the Unemployed."

Dinks Finance. "Socioeconomic Standing, Age & Where We Live."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bought New Lexus at $527 Below Invoice

Yipee! We got a 2010 Lexus ES350. It's a replacement for my 1998 Acura.

I've been driving my Acura 2.3CL for 144k miles now. The Acura only broke down once at about the 110k mile mark (overheated due to bad thermostat). Our other car was bought in 2007 used and now has 90k miles on it. We're almost to the point where its impractical to take our high mileage cars on cross country road trips. We have been waiting since 2008 to buy and decided to buy now and take advantage of my ability to buy in Washington State tax free. Basically, military personnel residing in Washington State can buy a car tax free if they are within 3 months of transfer out of state and are not a Washington resident. Well, it certainly is nice to avoid paying their 9.6% sales tax.

So, how did I get this deal? Well, first off, I didn't bring my spouse (smart & dumb move). Before dropping her off at the airport, I asked her what she would like. She knows that I was primarily looking at cars at the $25k price point as a replacement for my car (Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Ford). However, she said "I would like a BMW, Mercedes or Lexus." I said, how about Infiniti or Acura. She said no. She said she wanted a sedan, but would also be willing to take a Lexus RX SUV. I asked her what color. She said Silver, any color interior. As an alternate she would take a white car with tan interior. In prior conversations we also agreed on paying up to $35k for a new car.

I promptly went to my favorite dealer (Acura). Test drove a used 2006 Acura RL. It had 59k miles and wasn't certified pre-owned (CPO). Nice car for about $24k, but I would want CPO. I told the dealer that i'm all over the map on what I wanted and that I needed my wife with me before making the purchase.

I then test drove the Mercedes C300 Sport 4Matic. The Mercedes was nice and sporty. Much better than the one I test drove around 2002. The 2010 Mercedes C-Class is also an IIHS top safety pick. I told the sales rep that I needed my wife with me before making the final decision and left.

I then went to BMW. Their cars were all a bit more expensive and not as safe as Acura, Lexus or Mercedes (crash test wise). Heck, half of the BMWs I looked at didn't even report their crash test ratings on their window stickers like others. I left and went to Lexus.

Upon arrival, I spoke with the dealer about the Lexus RX and RX hybrid. They didn't have any entry level RX or RX hybrids. Then we discussed the ES series. They had some nearly entry level models. I asked for one in Silver and they had me test drive one with an MSRP of $38,220. I liked the test drive but said I wanted to wait until my wife returned from travel and had the option of being involved. However, I did double speak and say that I would be willing to talk numbers.

I sat down with the sales rep and he asked for some credit information. I said that I didn't want to do a credit pull and that if that was necessary I would wait until my wife was back in town.

The sales manager walked over and made conversation. He offered me the car at one price. I was silent for about 10 seconds (thinking). Before speaking, he shaved off $500. I was momentarily quiet and insisted that I wanted my wife present. At the very end he asked at what price he could get a sale. I asked to use the Internet and pulled up Truecar.com. I forgot to plug in the dealer installed LoJack, but plugged in all other options. Truecar then provided the dealer "true cost," invoice and what would be a "great price" based on historical sales (without LoJack). I said if you can met this Truecar "best price" i'll buy. He came back and offered me my price plus $100. He then stated off the cuff how much I would expect to spend in fees. He advertised $140 in additional dealer fees (he was off by $48). When added altogether, the price was at about $35,300. I stated that at the start of the day I was really only in the mindset of spending up to $30k (Acuras on my mind). He gave me a moment and I walked out to the car. I thought, if I could get the car for $34k then it would be worth buying now. I walked back in and said I would be willing to buy for $34k.

The sales manager offered with another Lexus that was identical but without LoJack. This car's MSRP was $37,435. He offered it to me for $33,885 plus what ended up as $188 in sales fees. I asked to test drive the different car. The counter offered car actually had cleaner paint and fewer miles (5 total miles). I test drove and then went to the back room with the Ninja Super Sales Lady. She tried to sell me everything under the sun in dealer mark up items (warranty, paint protective film, leather treatment, light treatments, glass treatments, LoJack, etc.). I didn't buy any. In the end I paid:

$33,885 (agreed price)
+ $29 title, license fees.
+ $9 lien fee
+ $150 document prep fee

Total: $34,073 financed at 1.9% for 60 months... Before leaving I also got a full tank (~$36 value).

Factoring free gas, my adjusted price was $34,037.

Truecar.com reports this car at a Truecost of $33,897 and a dealer invoice of $34,600.

My final adjusted price was $140 over "truecost" and $563 below invoice.

Can you get the same price? I hope so, but you should understand that I also had a slight advantage.

(1.) The dealer threw in an unadvertised $1000 in Toyota Loyalty credit.
(2.) The dealer threw in an unadvertised $750 military appreciation credit.
(3.) The dealer reduced his price several times due to my excuse of needing the wife there.

So, what did the wife think? Well, she wasn't completely satisfied. She is a bit concerned about now having two Silver Lexus ES cars (2010 and 2004 ES). Ha, Ha, Ha.

In the end, we got what I thought was a good price. Even though I got my wife what she asked for, she still has a little leverage on me whenever we decide to replace our 2004 Lexus 50-60k miles from now. She states "If I was there, we would have never got a Silver Lexus... We now have two Silver Lexus ES cars!!!" Even though she asked for a Silver BMW, Lexus or Mercedes this morning, i'm going to keep my mouth shut and simply say yes dear and no dear. Also the house will be nearly spotless when she returns from travel.

While the dealer made $140 over "truecost," he/she is still getting paid the factory military and loyalty concessions. That said, the only car that I'm seeing now going below "truecost" are left over 2010 Hyundai Sonatas.

Anybody else had luck getting a car under "truecost?"

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Net worth down $14.8k on investment property accounting adjustment

I adjusted our household net worth down $14.8k this month.  The decision to do so was based on the realization that it is impractical to carry my investment properties without a built in adjustment for the capital gains tax we'll have to pay on each of them whenever we sell them.  Yes, we could do a 1031 exchange and forgo the taxes; however, that assumes that at the time of sale real estate is the best investment decision and a great buy is sitting there ready for purchase.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Recommended Personal Finance Articles From: MoneyNing, FreeMoneyFinance, No-SpendZone, FundMyMutualFund, FinancialArmageddon, MyGoodCents, Etc.

Here's several recommended articles from those sites that share links with Plugged in Finance. I hope they are of use to you.

MoneyNing. "Focus on Something New to Stop Spending Money."

Free Money Finance. "Where You Should Hide Money and Valuables at Home."

Free Money Finance. "$1 Million Not Enough for Retirement."

The No-Spend Zone. "Can the Magic Jack really make your phone bill disappear?"

Fund My Mutual Fund. "1.2 Million American Households Lost in Great Recession - Through 2008."

Financial Armageddon. "Not Your Father's America."

My Good Cents. "Free Chick-Fil-A Food All Week!"

Dividends 4 Life. "Dividend Stocks' Tax Rate Could Increase to 39.6%."

Now Cash Only - Closed Three Credit Cards in Last 50 Days Due to Fraudulent Activity (Two Citibank Cards and One Discover Card)

Regrettably, I have become a PRO at handling fraudulent activity on my Citibank and Discover cards.  I have two rebate cards between these companies giving 2% and 5% cash back, respectively.  Nowadays, our household has transitioned to cash only at three stores.

Starting in February, I had to close and reissue a credit card due to fraudulent activity for the first time in my life.  It was my Citibank card which had some unusual activity out of Paris, France.  I was out about $400.  I called Citibank and learned that I had to fill out an affidavit confirming that the cards were in my possession and that the activity was not mine.  I also included a transaction history printout with all fraudulent activity clearly marked.  The fraudulent activity was credited back to my account four days later.

I learned that the affidavit form is mailed to you in a non-descript envelope.  Make sure you sift through all of your junk mail during a fraudulent claim period so that you don't experience any unnecessary delays.  Also, you can get the affidavit form even faster if you contact Citibank's Security department directly.  The Citibank Security department can email you the affidavit form.  Once complete, the affidavit form can be either faxed or mailed back.  I faxed my affidavit back and enjoyed a quicker processing time.

If you move around as much as me, you may not give serious consideration to keeping your contact information current on all your accounts.  I could have caught the fraudulent activity about 24-48 hrs sooner had the Credit Card company been able to contact me directly with their concerns.

I started using my Discover Card while waiting for a new Citibank Card to be issued.  I didn't change of my credit card usage.  Then, my Discover Card was hit with fraudulent activity about 35 days later.  This fraudulent activity was in the amount of $180 at a Wal-Mart in Nashville, TN.  This time, I caught the fraudulent activity within the first 24 hrs.  Discover Card didn't require an affidavit and credited the fraudulent charge with just a phone call.

While it was disconcerting, I wasn't about to go to cash only just yet... Unfortunately, 15 days later I was hit for about $160 in fraudulent activity out of Spain on my new Citibank Card.  With all of this fraudulent activity, I was able to discern a common thread across all three accounts.  Each account had been used at facilities co-located withing a shopping center.  I initially thought that one location was skimming and cloning my credit card information.  It turns out that it wasn't a single store.  It was in fact the credit card clearing house.  So, next time you get hit for fraudulent activity on a credit card, understand that the problem can be bigger than credit card skimming at just one store.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

A Recommended Strategy to Those Who Are New to Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIPs)

I entered 2010 with 21 DRIPs. I bought many of my DRIPs in late 2007 and early 2008 because I was getting a discount on the broker fees due to a one time annual subscription to Direct Investing's "Money Paper." I originally felt that it was smart to get a large number of DRIPs because it would give me something to do (following the many stocks) and establishing more DRIPs would allow me to max out the broker fee discount I was getting.

I ended up buying stocks that included Manitowoc and Alcoa. Since buying these stocks, I have had little interest in carrying some of them and have recently sold Manitowoc (article that convinced me to sell) and downsized to 20 DRIPs.

Nowadays, I believe that DRIP portfolios are best suited to a small number of holdings that can be easily followed and are somewhat predictable. So, what is predictable? Very little. But, one may consider stocks with long standing track records as somewhat predictable. A good group of stocks matching this are the "Dividend Aristocrats." Dividend Aristocrats are those stocks that have established track records of increasing dividends every year for at least 25 years.

My current mood on DRIPs is to restrict any subsequent purchases to those companies that meet the following starting criteria.

* No or low fee for dividend reinvestment / ongoing monthly purchases.

Then, and only then will I start my subsequent analysis. You might say, this is pretty arbitrary. You leave out a lot of great possible investments. My answer is why buy and hold a stock for 10+ years unless it is well admired? Why buy a DRIP if it's not cheap for ongoing periodic investments? Why hold something indefinitely for the sake of future dividend income if the company doesn't hold long-term dividend growth as a principle goal?

Companies that meet these criteria:

3M Co (MMM)
Exxon Mobil (XOM)
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
Lowe's (LOW)
PepsiCo (PEP)
Wal-Mart (WMT)

* The six stock hyperlinks above send you to the "Transfer Agent" that manages each company's DRIP. Common transfer agents are Computershare, BNYMellon, Wells Fargo.

I own DRIPs in MMM, XOM, JNJ, LOW and WMT plus too many others that I wasted my time buying. I'd be happier had I restricted my DRIP portfolio to something smaller and more closely resembling this list of six.

Prior Plugged in Finance articles on DRIPs.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

For Those That Are Interested in Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIPs).

I have been investing via Dividend Reinvestment Plans since 1999 when I started with Exxon. I have grown to favor DRIPs over most other investments. I like DRIPs because after paying an initial fee, you can make reoccurring investments for free or at much lower costs than most discount brokers. Minimum reoccurring investments typically range between $25 and $100 per month. Additionally, you frequently have the option of having dividends reinvested for free. Some companies charge a fee for dividend reinvestment; however, you can just as easily avoid the fee by having these dividends direct deposited to your bank account.

The first thing to understand about DRIPs is that your shares will be held by a "transfer agent." My two favorite transfer agents are Computershare and BNYMellon. If you're interested in starting a DRIP, I recommend you go directly to their sites and see if any of the stocks on your watch list can be purchased directly through them for initial setup.

A few examples of stocks that can be purchased directly through these transfer agents are:

Purchased directly through Computershare:

* Exxon Mobil (XOM)
* Lowe's Company (LOW)
* Pfizer (PFE)
* Wal-Mart (WMT)

Purchased directly through BNY Mellon:

* Conoco Phillips (COP)
* Health Care REIT (HCN)
* Limited Brands (LTD)
* Pepsico (PEP)
* The Bank of New York Mellon (BK)
* The McGraw-Hill Companies (MHP)

Another popular transfer agent is Wells Fargo.

Many transfer agents require you to have an initial share before enrolling. When this is the case, I prefer to use Directinvesting's site to establish my first share. Direct Investing will coordinate the initial stock purchase and administrative setup with the stock's transfer agent.

Starting DRIPs can be a little time consuming because it will take you some time to find those DRIPs that are low fee or no fee. Additionally, it will take you some time to find the cheapest means of starting a DRIP. Basically, expect to spend $10-$30 to start a DRIP.

My favorite DRIPs that I hold are (Stock - Transfer Agent):

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Computershare
Wal-Mart (WMT) - Computershare
Exxon Mobil (XOM) - Computershare
Lowes (LOW) - Computershare
3M (MMM) - Wells Fargo
RPM (RPM) - Wells Fargo
Aflac (AFL) - Aflac
Southern Company (SO) - Southern Company
Dow Chemical (Dow) - BNY Mellon
McGraw Hill (MHP) - BNY Mellon

Each of the above DRIPs have no or low cost methods of reoccurring investment.

I went a little overboard and bought a lot of DRIPs. The following are DRIPs that also offer no or low cost reoccurring investment. I continue to hold these and will only buy more if their earnings improve (Stock - Transfer Agent).

Alcoa (AA) - Computershare
Illinois Tool Works (ITW) - Computershare
Manitowoc (MTW) - Computershare

Baker Hughes (BHI) - BNY Mellon
Harris Corp (HRS) - BNY Mellon
Limited (LTD) - BNY Mellon
Manpower (MAN) - BNY Mellon
Sherwin Williams (SHW) - BNY Mellon

Cummins (CMI) - Wells Fargo
Pentair (PNR) - Wells Fargo
Graco (GGG) - Wells Fargo

Overall, I hold about $15,962 in DRIPs that have a net dividend yield of 2.7%. This gives me a current annual dividend of $431.56. I intend to continue to grow this portfolio until it reaches a level that will offer significant dividend income in retirement (at least $4000/yr). Right now, I'm investing about $300 per month and will ratchet this reoccurring investment up periodically as our household income increases and as we pay off our investment properties.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Get a Free Pastry at Starbucks

Read this for Coupon.

Buy a Starbucks drink this Tuesday, March 23rd before 1030 AM and get a free pastry.

Starbucks Promo Coupon. Look at bottom left of page for coupon.

Debt From These Companies Recently Traded at Lower Yields Than Comparable US Treasuries... Ominous Sign for US Debt Rating

Came across a Bloomberg article today that reports that Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Proctor & Gamble (PG), Abbott Labs (ABT), Royal Bank of Canada (RY) and Lowe's (LOW) all had their debt recently trading at lower yields than comparable US Treasuries.

Moody's predicts that the U.S. will spend more money this year as a percentage of revenues to service its AAA rated debt... More so than all other top rated countries except for the UK.

Related article.

Additionally, John Lipsky of the International Monetary Fund notes that by 2014 all G7 countries except for Canada and Germany will have debt-to-GDP ratios close to or exceeding 100 percent.

Related article.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Recommended Personal Finance Articles From: The Digerati Life, Free Money Finance, Money Smart Life, Darwin's Finance, Financial Armageddon, etc.

Here's several recommended articles from those sites that share links with Plugged in Finance. I hope they are of use to you.

The Digerati Life. "Foreclosure Rates, Job Statistics & Unemployment Numbers (Interactive Maps)."

Free Money Finance. "Investment Costs Everywhere - Another Point for Index Funds."

Money Smart Life. "How to Make Extra Money With Your Brain."

Darwin's Finance. "101 Ways to Cut Expenses - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly."

Financial Armageddon. "No Surprise Here."

Military Finance Network. "A Military Retirement is Worth Millions of Dollars."

Military Money Might. "Lowe's and Home Depot Extend 10% Veteran's Discount to Every Day."

Paper Economy - A US Real Estate Bubble Blog. "Buyer Traffic Forecasting Decline."

What's Your Number? Mine is Apparently $2.3 Million. Determine Your Number in Two Minutes.

I saw an interesting commercial by ING tonight while watching a program on Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.

The ING commercial has a guy carrying his number (amount he needs for retirement) while talking to a neighborhood guy whose number was a GAZILLION. The point was that not everybody knows what they are going to need in retirement to meet their life style expectations. The commercial goes on to announce a simple ING website that you can use to determine your number.

The site is INGYOURNUMBER. I went to the site and in less than two minutes it gave my "number" as $2,311,839. This number was based on my desire to have $58,000 a year in household income that will last from the age of 51 until 90. This $58k was in addition to the pension I expect to receive from the Navy, assuming I only get only one more promotion.

Previously, I had the expectation for my number to be somewhere between $1.7 and $2 million. So, $2.3 million is not much of a surprise. My number will drop to something closer to $1.7 million if I get two more promotions and retire as an O-6 (Navy Captain = Colonel other services).


Monday, March 15, 2010

Best Article I Have Found on Unintended Acceleration

Came across a great Bloomberg article on unintended acceleration.

Bottom line:

(1.) Fifty-nine of 110 fatalities attributed to sudden acceleration in NHTSA records occurred in vehicles sold my manufacturers other than Toyota.

(2.) Toyota (51) followed by Ford (20) and Chrysler (12) have the most fatalities attributed to unintended acceleration.

(3.) All Toyota models worldwide will be equipped with advanced brake-override systems starting in 2011.

(4.) NHTSA records show 17 Camry, 7 Avalon, 5 Lexus ES330, 5 Highlander and 3 Sienna fatalities blamed on unintended acceleration.

Bloomberg article.

A separate NHTSA article states the following steps should be taken if you encounter unintended acceleration (be careful with the option discussing turning the engine off... This can result in a loss of power steering. I would be concerned about having steering wheel lock up during a drastic turn):

* Brake firmly and steadily - do not pump the brake pedal
* Shift the transmission into Neutral (for vehicles with automatic transmissions and the sport option, familiarize yourself with where neutral is - the diagram may be misleading)
* Steer to a safe location
* Shut the engine off (for vehicles with keyless ignition, familarize yourself with how to turn the vehicle off when it is moving - this may be a different action than turning the vehicle off when it is stationary).
* Call your dealer or repair shop to pick up the vehicle. Do not drive it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

One Year In Review With Lending Club (Peer-to-Peer Lending)

I started using Lending Club in November 2008 and collected my first interest payments the following month.

So far, I have invested $1617.67 into Lending Club and have another $675 ready for deposit whenever I find loans I like.

Lending Club has consistently stated that my "Net Annualized Return" has been in the 10 to 12 percent range with my current "Net Annualized Return" listed at 12.15%.

These numbers have been overly optimistic since Lending Club's formula fails to include transaction fees and losses in traded loans.

Accounting for these factors my monthly annualized returns have been:

Dec 2008: 8.99%
Jan 2009: 9.35%
Feb 2009: 8.76%
Mar 2009: 8.39%
Apr 2009: 8.33%
May 2009: 7.78%
Jun 2009: -5.24%
Jul 2009: 11.26%
Aug 2009: 9.66%
Sep 2009: 10.04%
Oct 2009: 9.81%
Nov 2009: 9.36%
Dec 2009: 5.89%
Jan 2010: 11.88%
Feb 2010: 9.90%

My compounded monthly returns netted me 7.7% in 2009.

My 2009 returns were most affected by my first delinquent loan. I held onto this loan and sold it when it was between 2 and 4 weeks late. I eventually unloaded it but at a 32% discount to face value.

My monthly "annualized returns" are a bit lumpy due to fluctuations in my loan portfolio and the periodic loan trades I make. I don't like carrying any delinquent loans on my books and have only kept performing loans.

My principal lending criteria is not to loan to anybody with a total debt greater than 3x their monthly income. I make $25 loans. This small lending amount takes more time but it ensures more people can qualify to purchase the loan if I ever have to sell it in a hurry.

Additionally, I look at loans for the quality of an applicant's occupation vs. my own opinion on the corresponding industry. I am positive on the outlook for Federal civil service and healthcare jobs and have focused a significant amount of my loans on applicants in these two areas.

I'm seriously considering establishing a self directed ROTH with Lending Club, but I am waiting until I grow my non-IRA account to the no fee minimum (currently $10k).

Lending Club - Start Investing Online Today!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Recommended Personal Finance Articles From: FreeMoneyFinance, FundMyMutualFund, DarwinsFinance, MightyBargainHunter, FinancialArmageddon, etc.

Here's several recommended articles from those sites that share links with Plugged in Finance. I hope they are of use to you.

Free Money Finance. "Saving a Bundle on Your Taxes With an Unrelated Dependent."

Fund My Mutual Fund. "Job Loss Rates Across Post WWII Recessions [Chart]."

Darwin's Finance. "Easy Ways to Find the Best Finance Blogs."

Mighty Bargain Hunter. "Three ways to find a cool deal using Google."

Financial Armageddon. "You Cannot Buy Groceries With Your House."

Dual Income No Kids. "The Deficit: How to Protect Yourself."

Superbowl Sunday Pizza Deals / Coupons

One of the first ideas for scoring a deal on pizza is a quick search through your junk mail for VALPAK or other direct marketing. Read on if you don't have anything good in your junk mail.

Papa John's will charge $10 for all large pizzas and $11.99 for an extra-large pizza with four toppings. Pizza Hut is selling any pizza for $10.

Here's some links which may also be of use as you look to score a deal:

VALPAK. You'll have to type your zip code, choose pizza/restaurant.

Dominos Pizza. Enter zip code to get local deals. Retailmenot coupons.

Papajohn's. Click on menu & specials, then enter your location. Also, retailmenot's Papajohn's coupons.

Pizzahut. Also, retailmenot's coupons.

List of 99 restaurants offering free pizza delivery today (sorted by state).

Monday, February 01, 2010

Brutal Month for Net Worth... Down 6% ($27.3k)... Plus Other Updates

January was a brutal month for our household net worth. My spreadsheets go back as far as August 2008. Since then, this is the first month we booked a loss.

During January, two of our investment properties dropped significantly in value per Zillow.com. Additionally, we booked expenses for:

(1.) Body work for one of our cars
(2.) Bought our first flat screen TV
(3.) Made annual insurance payment on investment property
(4.) Rent

Our investments in the stock market also dropped in value, but by a small amount relative to the total $27.3k decrease. Unless the stock market tanks, our Net Worth should increase to where it was last month in 3-4 months.

On a positive note, we paid off the mortgage on one of our three investment properties this past December. We bought the house in 2005 for $86.8k.

Our next major purchase will be a new/used car to replace our '98 Acura with 141k miles. This summer we will be able to buy our next car TAX FREE. I'm looking forward to this upcoming purchase since our household operates two high mileage cars (wife's car has 86k miles) and want a low mileage car for road trips.