Saturday, December 28, 2013

Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

PF Stock recently partnered with a few credit card companies that offer travel rewards cards. Most travel cards offer you an incentive (typically equal to $50-$100) to sign up, and have no annual fee. Here are three good credit cards to consider: The Carnival MasterCard, The Priceline Rewards Visa Card, and the Travelocity Rewards American Express Card.

As long as you plan to use one of these services, it is definitely worthwhile to consider getting one of these cards for the bonus points.

But if you don't use Priceline, Travelocity, or travel on Carnival Cruise Lines, then there are other better alternatives.

For general travel, I recommend the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard. There are two version of this card, one that never has an annual fee, and one that charges an annual fee after the first year. The no-fee card gives you a bonus equal to $200 after spending at least $1000 on the card. The other card gives you a bonus equal to $400, but will start to charge a fee of $89 after a year.

Which card is better for you? That depends on your own situation. Clearly the card with an annual fee gives you a much better incentive. If you don't want to pay an annual fee, you can either get the no-fee card, or cancel before an annual fee kicks in.

PF Stock

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Should Verizon Honor Its Contract?

I have been a long time customer of Verizon Wireless. My former employer had a deal where employees receive a 20% discount on Verizon Wireless service. About one year ago, I purchased a new cell phone from Verizon which, of course, had a new 2-year contract requirement. A couple months ago, I started receiving messages (including Email, texts, and postal mail) from Verizon saying that I needed to renew my discount by validating my employment.

Since I am no longer employed by that employer, I was not able to validate my employment. As a result, Verizon took away their 20% discount. I am stuck paying the higher, non-discounted rate even though I had no idea that it may end in the middle of my contract. But the question that I'd like to ask is should Verizon honor the discount which was in place when I bought the new phone until my 2-year contract is over? Is it fair for them to pull the discount away in the middle of my contract?

What do the readers think?

PF Stock

Friday, December 13, 2013


Back in September, I received an alert from E*TRADE about some new initial public offerings (IPOs) that they had available. These were Five Prime Therapeutics (FPRX) and ClubCorp Holdings (MYCC). Although I didn't know much about either company, I decided to put in orders for both new issues.

I have written about buying IPOs before. While getting into an IPO can be a way to make money quickly, I have warned that not all IPOs go up in price. And there is no guarantee that you will be allocated shares in the first place. It turned out that I was allocated 200 shares of MYCC which went IPO at $14, and I received only 40 shares of FPRX which priced at $13.

Neither of these IPOs rocketed up on the first day. Of the two, ClubCorp has been more stable. However, Five Prime had more of a rocky start. From its initial price of $13, FPRX dropped as low as $8.02. Then things started to change, FPRX went up 50% in the last week, and 17% just yesterday. I didn't see any significant news, so I am puzzling as to why.

Anyway, I hope that my IPOs continue to do well. My only regret is that I was allocated so few shares of FPRX. If anyone has a theory on why FPRX is shooting up in price, I would like to know why.

PF Stock

Disclaimer: This material is for general information only. It is not intended as an offer to sell or buy, or as an endorsement, recommendation or sponsorship of any security or fund.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Free Hunger Games: Catching Fire Poster from Target

I just stumbled across an offer for a Free Hunger Games: Catching Fire Fabric Poster from Target. It seems that the catch is that you have to Pre-Order "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" Blu-ray/DVD from Target.

It is not a bad offer since you get the Bluray disc, DVD, and a Target Exclusive bonus disc with 45 minutes of extra content for less than $25. There is no release date listed, but the offer is valid 12/3-1/31.

PF Stock

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Guest Post: How I Turned $64 into $129,000 in Two Years

I didn't have a lot of money five years ago. Times were extremely hard and using my skills with computers for the rural community only brought in so much money. As I spent a great deal of time on eBay trying to find the best deals for the tools and equipment I used, I began to wonder if I could make a few extra dollars selling to others in the same fashion. This is how I started to really make money.

1. The Initial Purchase
Since my credit rating was poor and I didn't know anyone that could help fuel my business with the money I needed, I decided to try my hand at eBay to develop some revenue. I bought two lots from different sellers each containing a variety of computer equipment and parts. The total was my initial $64 that I spent buying both of these lots. Once the packages had arrived, I had established my own inventory - as small as it was.

Each lot comprised of things such as sound cards, video cards, hard drives, and other random items that I had researched previously to determine if I could sell them for more than what I paid per piece. As long as I made more than $0.50 each, the lot would be paid for and I wouldn't lose money. The reason I bought both of the lots is because I knew the items within sold for far more than what the buyer was asking.

2. Parting it Out
After a great deal of research on eBay, I found the best prices to sell my items in order to make the most money. Within a month, I had sold everything I had originally purchased and made several hundred dollars in the process. The ball was starting to roll. Another source of my inventory came from private customers who didn't want the old parts after upgrading their computer systems. These pieces were still working and in good condition mostly consisting of memory and hard drives. So, I sold those too.

With each additional lot that I had purchased, I sold each item individually making more money than what I bought the lot for. On average, I was making approximately 250 to 300-percent more than the cost per item. This isn't including the parts from walk-in customers who didn't want to keep the parts they were upgrading from. Most of the time, parts were selling almost as fast as I could list them on eBay. Without having an overhead specifically for my little business, every dime could sit in PayPal in order to buy bigger and better lots. Each lot I sold allowed me to by two more with money left over.

3. Snowball Effect
As time continued, I bought more lots and parted them out on eBay and my reputation for being a local computer guru was beginning to spread within the community. As I needed bigger and better lots, I started shopping on sites such as and others. Using the same principles of testing hardware and selling it, I was getting quite a good reputation on eBay as well. Since my net income had grown to several hundred dollars per month, I decided to become more professional and rent out an office close to my home. I now had an office that could accommodate customers.

Many lots had virtually brand new, high-end video cards and such that had damaged boxes. These were new items that worked perfectly but the packaging was dented and crunched in areas. As retail stores don't like to sit these kinds of "ugly" packaged items on their shelves, I would benefit from it as eBay buyers don't care about such nuances. In many instances, a single video card sold high enough for me to purchase yet another lot.

As the eBay sales continued to increase, so did my customer base. As I had a small shop along a main road in town, I was beginning to see three or four customers per week - each paying me quite a bit to fix various computer problems such as virus infections, upgrades, and entire new computer systems. My walk-in customer sales were catching up to my eBay income rapidly.

4. Getting the Word Out
Although my eBay venture was paying a large portion of the small bills and overhead costs, I still needed more money if I wanted to become fully successful. As my computer client-base had been steadily rising as well, I put more effort into growing my corporation to include computer and gaming console sales and repairs. Thanks to the word of mouth, a local rehabilitation center inquired about my services and wanted to hire me to work on their school computer systems and network. My business had its first large client that paid very well.

This new client was roughly paying my company $60,000 per year to maintain the vast network infrastructure, building new computer systems, developing therapeutic software, and more. Needless to say, I had quite a bit on my plate and was running myself fairly thin. Thanks to the staff at the new facility, even more people were approaching my small company for computer repairs, purchases and a great deal of various technology-based needs.

5. Too Large for the Area
The new client was bringing my company a great deal of business. Not only were my services paid for by the school, but I was also making more sales to individuals who learned about me through word-of-mouth. Between building a large variety of computer systems for clients and the amount of items I was selling on eBay, my little rental space filled up inside of six months. It was time to move into a larger facility to accommodate my ever-growing amount of inventory. By this time, I was making several thousand dollars per month.

By this time, UPS had been regularly dropping off the lots I purchased. I also began selling items for local companies on eBay such as infrared heaters, thermal barrier paint additives and a lot of consignment sales from the community. I quickly began filling the new office areas with merchandise. In fact, we started to get into selling various items outside technology such as makeup and toys.

6. Advertising MethodsWhat Was the Key to My Success?
I needed to make money for my family and that was my driving force to get things done. What I believe were the keys to my success were:
  • Determination to never give up
  • Hard work spending countless hours researching the most popular items to sell and building top notch computers and websites
  • Learning everything I could about effective business practices
  • Putting my customers first in everything from online sales to the children that frequented the store.

Eventually, the walk-in customer income greatly surpassed the eBay amounts. Between having both a strong online presence and a profitable brick-and-mortar location, the money was constantly coming in. Computer sales were plentiful, the website work was amazing and our influence within the community was strong because we took very good care of our customers. Although it may have been a slow start in the beginning, constant vigilance and a drive to succeed caused my business to grow exponentially in a very short amount of time. Although I don't miss putting in 90 hours per week, sometimes I do miss the excitement when things were starting to fall into place.

About the Guest Author
This article is contributed by Madoline Hatter. Madoline is a freelance writer and blog junkie from You can reach her at: m.hatter12 @ gmail. com.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pinnacle Foods?

Since its inception, this website has dominated the major search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) results for "pf stock". A few months ago this started to change. So, who has been muscling in on my turf? It seems that a company by the name Pinnacle Foods with the stock symbol "PF" went IPO back in March of this year. Since then, has dropped in the search results. This all seems a bit unfair since PFStock (the blog) has been around for over 6 years longer than PF (the stock symbol).

Although the company only recently went public, Pinnacle Foods owns such well-known brands as Duncan Hines, Log Cabin, and Birds Eye. While brand names are important, I usually like to evaluate a stock based on its fundamental strengths. One key criteria that I use to decide on purchasing a particular stock is its price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio. Pinnacle Foods (NYSE: PF) currently has a P/E ratio of 54.

I compared this P/E ratio against a couple of Pinnacle Foods of competitors in the food products industry. These were Conagra Foods and Mondelez (formerly known as Kraft). Conagra (CAG) has a P/E ratio of 20; Mondelez (MDLZ) has a P/E ratio of 26.

Comparatively, PF stock is expensive within its industry group.  So, I don't think that I will be buying PF stock anytime soon.

Disclosure: I don't currently own any shares in CAG, MDLZ, or PF stock.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Citi Dividend Card Q4 2013 Categories

I had written before that I have a Citibank Dividend MasterCard. One of the benefits of this card is that it offers 5% cash back on rotating categories of merchants. The main problem I have with this arrangement is that I always forget which categories are currently offering 5% cash back when I am at the store. As a result, I often miss out on the bonus dividend dollars. In order to help me remember, I have decided to post the categories which change every three months here.

For Q4 2013, you will earn 5% for purchases from:
  • Best Buy
  • Department Stores
  • Toy Stores
Note that "Q4 2013" means from October 1 - December 31, 2013. Also note that even if you have a Citi Dividend Card, the enrollment is not automatic. You have to login and sign up for this offer at the Citibank website. See also Discover Card 2013 Cash Back Bonus Categories.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Get $2,500 from TD Ameritrade

Like in my previous post Get a $1750 Gift Certificate.html, TD Ameritrade is at it again. This time, I received an offer for $2500, if I deposit $1 million or more into TD Ameritrade.

Again, I don't know how many of my readers will be able to benefit from this offer. For something a little more reasonable, you can open a new TD Ameritrade account and get $100 for a $25,000 deposit, or get 60 days of commission-free trading for a $2,000 deposit.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Double Your Money in 7200 Years

In a recent discussion with another parent, a comment came up that it is hard to get kids to save money when interest rates are so low. Indeed, many bank savings accounts pay as little as 0.01% interest. It is no wonder that parents would forgo opening a savings account for their children.

In my post The Rule of 72, I quoted a formula for how long it takes for savings to double:

Years to double = 72 / Interest Rate

In this case, if you were to deposit your money in the bank at an interest rate (APY) of 0.01%, it would take 7200 years to double in value! Again, this is not very compelling for the average saver.

I mentioned that when I was a kid, I had a Squirrels Club account. But, I have not found the same thing in our area. I did, however, find that Union Bank offers something called a Kidz Savings account. The main perk of this account is that it offers kids a gift card for every 10 deposits that they make. This is certainly a better incentive than the interest rate.

Has anybody else found effective ways to get kids to save their money? I would love to hear your response in the comments.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

5 Things to Do Before Retirement

Retirement is a time of life that is meant to be your 'golden years', where you can take time to relax, spend quality time with loved ones, and do the things you always wanted to do. However, this will only happen if you take time to do a little forward planning before you actually retire. There are a number of things you should look at doing before you finally walk away from the toil of the daily grind. This includes:

Planning your finances
It is important to plan your retirement fund as early on as possible, but do bear in mind that it is never too late. If you have reached your late 40s or even 50s you can still look at ways to save towards your retirement, particularly given that the official retirement age is on the increase. Without financial planning you could find yourself with inadequate funds to enjoy your retirement, so start planning and saving as early on as possible.

Living arrangements
It is a good idea to think about what your living arrangements will be when you retire. Are you hoping to retire somewhere abroad in the sun? Perhaps you want to move closer to family once you no longer have to be near work? You may be planning to downsize to a smaller property after retirement. Whatever the plan, it is important to start thinking about what you will do before you retire so that you have plenty of time to put your plans into action. If you need some guidance, AgeUK discusses some of the options for retirement housing.

Debt repayments
The last thing you want when you retire is to have loads of debt hanging around your neck. You therefore need to monitor and try and clear your debts prior to retirement wherever possible. A rising number of retirees are left dealing with a range of debts, and this can really reduce quality of life. If you have debt issues that you need to resolve, speak to counsellors at places such as Consolidated Credit as they can offer valuable advice to help you.

Home improvements
Many people wait until they retire to carry out home improvements. However, this is the time of life you want to be relaxing and having fun not forking out all of your money on DIY projects. Instead of letting everything pile up until you retire, keep on top of your repairs and home projects and do them gradually so that you do not have to find a lump sum of money to pay for them or dedicate all of your time to doing them in one go.

Spending your time wisely
In order to make the most of your time once you retire, you need to do some forward planning so that you can spend your time wisely. If you wait until you retire you may find that you never get around to doing the things you want to do and before you know it years have gone by. Start making a list of the types of things you plan or want to do, as you can then hit the ground running when you retire.

With a little forward planning, your retirement can be far more comfortable and far more pleasurable.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Free Trial to - No Credit Card Required

I've written before about MarketClub, which is part of a website called Ordinarily, they offer a free trial for their services. But, the catch has been that they will require you to enter a credit card. For the next 300 users, MarketClub is offering a completely free trial for 2 WEEKS. They are offering a free trial WITHOUT having to enter a credit card.

This is a part of their Summer Special for the MarketClub service. I think it is a no-brainer. The 2-week free trial is plenty of time to see the value in the service. I will let you in on a little secret: there is a special offer for trial takers that is reason enough just to take the trial!

Here’s that link again:


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Citi Dividend Card Q3 2013 Categories

I had written before that I have a Citibank Dividend MasterCard. One of the benefits of this card is that it offers 5% cash back on rotating categories of merchants. The main problem I have with this arrangement is that I always forget which categories are currently offering 5% cash back when I am at the store. As a result, I often miss out on the bonus dividend dollars. In order to help me remember, I have decided to post the categories which change every three months here.

For Q3 2013, you will earn 5% for purchases from:
  • Hotels & Resorts within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio
  • Car rental agencies
  • Movie theaters
  • Theme Parks
Note that "Q3 2013" means from July 1 - September 30, 2013. Also note that even if you have a Citi Dividend Card, the enrollment is not automatic. You have to login and sign up for this offer at the Citibank website. See also Discover Card 2013 Cash Back Bonus Categories.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

How to Get Rich for Free

A fellow personal finance blogger, Barbara Friedberg, has recently published a new book called How To Get Rich: Wealth Building Guide for the Financially Illiterate. It is a basic personal finance text that seems really good for people who are just getting out of debt, or starting to save money and accumulate wealth.

Best of all, Barbara let me know that from now until May 5, 2013, she is offering the Amazon Kindle
version of her book for free. I think that the regular price is $4.99. To get your free Ebook, just click on the link and choose the Kindle version.

Note that you will need an Amazon account to take advantage of this offer. If you don't have a Kindle, you can still read it online using the Kindle Cloud Reader.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bracketing The Bubbles: Housing Markets Of 2006 and 2013

The U.S. housing market has been on a tear similar to the housing bubble a decade ago. Home prices rose by an impressive 10.2 percent from February 2012 to 2013, the largest year-to-year ascent since 2006. Homes sales in February reached levels not seen since 2010, primarily due to investors. Houston in particular was a seller's market in 2012, with 75,000 homes changing hands, the most since 2007, according to the Houston Association of Realtors.

The factors driving these market conditions today, and those of 2006, are producing the same results, but with contrasting methodologies. Though the mechanisms driving this apparent economic recovery in 2013 are different, the end result could be the same as it was six years ago.


Restrictions On Credit
From 2002 to 2006, virtually anybody with a pulse could apply for a mortgage and be approved without providing any statements of income or employment. A subprime mortgage was generally known as a loan extended to a borrower with a credit score below 620. Different lending institutions would hedge the individual risk by extending the loan with terms that are now deemed "predatory."

For instance, an individual with a 550 credit score in 2004 would easily qualify for an ARM (adjustable-rate mortgage) at just about any commercial banking institution. A 2/28 or 3/27 ARM would entice the first-time home buyer because the first two or three years of the mortgage would have a low fixed rate. What few subprime borrowers took into consideration (or simply were never told) was that the final 27 or 28 years of the loan would have adjustable payments that would be significantly higher than the "teaser" rate. But because homes were being purchased as fast as they were being constructed, the market flourished. The balloon payments, among other reasons, caused mass foreclosures and the market crashed by 2007.

The Federal Reserve changed its credit requirements for mortgages after 2008, in what was supposed to be reform to the system. The average FICO score for a mortgage applicant in 2012 was 734, according to a study by California, one of the hardest-hit states for foreclosures in 2009, has the highest average FICO score for mortgage applicants today, at 755. Easy credit is a thing of the past, but a new bubble has arrived based on other criteria.

Quantitative Easing
The Federal Reserve began QE3 in September 2012, announcing it would buy (print) $85 billion per month in mortgage-backed securities and U.S. Treasurys, indefinitely. Housing prices have since been on a continual rise, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 both have broken single-day records, and interest rates remain below 1 percent. The one major difference between QE1 (November 2008 to March 2010) and QE3 is that the prices of precious metals have been declining since September. Gold traded for about $1,775 in October 2012, but closed at $1,551.80 on April 4, according to US Money Reserve. Contrarily, gold traded for as low as $712.30 in 2008 before skyrocketing to $1,889.70 in mid-2011.

The global currency wars of today are the likely culprit in dropping the prices of gold and silver, as the Federal Reserve was alone in its QE initiatives last decade. Today all of the major central banks in the world are following suit, and a global market correction is inevitable at some point. The more dollars that are pumped into the economy, the more the housing market will appear healthy. But just as subprime mortgages ultimately corrected the market with mass foreclosures, quantitative easing could ultimately debase the dollar to the point of hyperinflation.

All bubbles burst when they are inflated to maximum capacity. Americans have already seen what happens when market corrections take place. This time around, however, everyone should be more prepared.

About the Guest Author
Tricia Parsons is an economist and freelance writer. She writes for many finance journals and loves sharing her knowledge of finance with others.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Citi Dividend Card Q2 2013 Categories

I had written before that I have a Citibank Dividend MasterCard. One of the benefits of this card is that it offers 5% cash back on rotating categories of merchants. The main problem I have with this arrangement is that I always forget which categories are currently offering 5% cash back when I am at the store. As a result, I often miss out on the bonus dividend dollars. In order to help me remember, I have decided to post the categories which change every three months here.

For Q2 2013, you will earn 5% for purchases from:
  • The Home Depot
  • Home furnishing
  • Home and garden
Note that "Q2 2013" means from April 1 - June 30, 2013. Also note that even if you have a Citi Dividend Card, the enrollment is not automatic. You have to login and sign up for this offer at the Citibank website.

See also Discover Card 2013 Cash Back Bonus Categories.


Friday, March 15, 2013

The Rule of 72

How long does it take for an investment to double? This is a question that is often asked, and there is a very simple formula that can be used to estimate the time it takes for your money to double. This formula is called "The Rule of 72". And the rule is:

Years to double = 72 / Interest Rate

Suppose that you were to deposit your money in the bank at an interest rate (APY) of 3%. Conceptually, you are giving the bank a loan on your money, and expect to be paid back your principle plus interest. In this example, you can expect your investment to double in 72/3 = 24 years. If you can find an interest rate of 4%, you would expect it to double in 72/4 = 18 years. The rule of 72 is also known as "the rule of 70". Using this rule, if you had an interest rate of 5%, the investment would double in 70/5 = 14 years.

At this point, I would typically go into a mathematical derivation (using such numerical concepts as natural logarithms) showing how this rule came into being. However, I will spare you the gory details this time.

One other thing is that I will mention is a similar "Rule of 115". This rule is used to estimate the time that it takes for an investment to triple in value. Similarly, the rule is:

Years to triple = 115 / Interest Rate

Again using the 5% interest rate example, it takes 14 years for your money to double. However, it would take 115/5 = 23 years to triple in value. It's all just simple math. Any questions?


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bank Error In Your Favor?

Has this ever happened to you, or to anybody that you know? Do banks ever make a mistake in your favor? Many many years ago, I opened a bank account and deposited $1000. A few days after I opened my new account, I noticed that I had significantly more than the $1000 that I put in. I didn't do anything, and a few days later, I noticed that the amount was corrected.

So, has something like this ever happened to you?


Monday, February 18, 2013

Why Ontario Canada decided to Implement Advance Fee Ban for Debt Settlement

To put a stop on the harmful practices of some debt settlement companies the Ontario Canada has announced advance Fee Ban for Debt Settlement. This new regulation which is already there in other provinces is going to be implemented in Ontario too to protect consumers from the abusive practices of some of the debt settlement companies. According to Margarett Best, the Minister of Consumer Services, various evidences of evil practices by some companies have been located and the implementation of advance Fee ban for Debt Settlement has come up as a measure from the Government for the protection of consumers.

The consumers should be fully informed of their rights before signing up any contract and there should not be any payments unless and until the results are obtained. According to Best the Government is determined to stop such practices in the market. With the decision of implementation of advance fee ban for Debt Settlement Ontario is joining other provinces who have already introduced regulations for debt settlement companies.

A large number of consumers get cheated by the Debt Settlement companies every year in Canada and this is why a number of provinces have brought such regulation and Ontario is an addition to it. For handling such situation in a better way and to protect themselves from being cheated the consumers need to get an exposure of debt-counselling from Consolidated Credit Counseling Services. Such unbiased services help to keep the debts under control and deal with it in a better way.

The decision of implementing advance Fee Ban for Debt Settlement is going to bring a number of changes. First of all, it is going to stop the corrupt practices of debt settlement companies who charge up-front fees from the consumers. Secondly, there will be a limit to the amount of fees that is charged. According to this regulation all the rights of the consumers and the risks associated with it would be disclosed to the consumers and it is mandatory. The contracts are being made clear and transparent and it is going to make sure that set aside funds are under the control of consumers. Moreover, a ten day cooling off period is going to be implemented. As advance fee ban for Debt Settlement is going to be implemented, there will be some other benefits like remedies and enforcement for consumers, establishment of standards of conduct and prohibition of misleading advertising. The provinces like Nova Scotia, Alberta and Manitoba have already launched regulations to stop the fraudulent acts of debt settlement companies.

According to the proposed rule there will be fee limits and it depends on certain conditions. Firstly, when an operator negotiates or arranges an agreement of debt repayment between the consumer and a creditor and is neither incorporated full nor related member agency of Ontario Association of Not-For-Profit Credit Counselling Services, 10% of the amount of debts that consumer owed to the creditor when consumer entered into the agreement of debt settlement services with the operator, can be charged. On the other hand, when the operator negotiates or arranges a debt repayment agreement between the creditor and the consumer when the operator is incorporated full or related member agency of Ontario Association of Not-For-Profit Credit Counselling Services, the consumers need to make a series of debt repayments over a period of time. It can be the amount of one-time administration fee and it is not more than average monthly scheduled repayment of the agreement. Or it can be the sum of 15 per cent of each scheduled debt repayment amount.

For an instance, when a debt settlement provider does not belong to the Ontario Association of Not-For-Profit Credit Counselling Services, make a negotiation and settle for a repayment agreement for a debt amount to $20,000, can charge a fee which will not go beyond $2000 as this is 10% of $20,000. Moreover, this amount would be paid only when the services are completed successfully.

For the members of the Association a typical repayment plan approach is reflected. According to this, in case of monthly payment towards debts of $400 on average, a one-time fee of $400 and not more than that can be charged. In such case an amount of $60.00 from the monthly payment of $400 can be taken up by The credit counselling service as fees as 15% of $400. The rest of the amount of $340.00 will be distributed to the creditors in such case. If there are any additional charges, it is only the charge back fee incurred by the operator from a financial institution in case there is any not-sufficient-funds check or a dishonored consumer check. It is only the actual charge from financial institution that would be allowed to pass through. To deposit such check the charges are typically below $10.

This new legislation of Ontario Canada will help consumers to prevent the rogue debt collection companies and debt relief companies that are keen on making underachiever promises and disturbing marketing practices. It will at the same time target the debt relief companies who demand advance fee or up-front charges for debt related help. When debt settlement business is flourishing, many fraudulent debt settlement companies make the consumers believe that their debt can be fixed easily and debt will disappear within a night. To stay away from such unscrupulous debt settlement companies the people need to have sufficient protection and knowledge of various debt related issues as well.

With Consolidated Credit Counseling Services the consumers get to learn a better way of handling their personal finances and a few issues like how to use credit in a wise way, how to get out of debt and how to budget. When experienced professionals help you to have a better insight on consumer debt strategies and family financial management, you can expect the best solution for your requirements.

The changes that are going to be implemented as a result of introduction of Fee Ban for Debt Settlement in Ontario, Canada are surely going to bring the debt management agencies of Ontario in line with various other provinces like Alberta and Nova Scotia.

To stay away from unscrupulous debt settlement companies the people need to have sufficient protection and knowledge of various debt related issues as well. With Consolidated Credit Counseling Services the consumers get to learn a better way of handling their personal finances and a few issues like how to use credit in a wise way, how to get out of debt and how to budget.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

IRS e-file – When Will I Get My Refund (2013)?

If you are wondering when you can expect to receive your tax refund from the IRS, you are not alone. In past years, the IRS had a publication where you can look this information up. The current version of this Publication 2043, gives one Key Message: "The IRS issued more than 9 out of 10 refunds to taxpayers in less than 21 days last year. The same results are expected in 2013."

The Internal Revenue service used to have a table where you could look up when your federal tax refund would be deposited in your bank account (by direct deposit), or when your check would be mailed if you e-filed and your refund was accepted within certain dates. Unfortunately, I could not find such a table this year. To give you some idea, you can look at the IRS table from last year.

While it may be interesting information to have, this is the federal government that we are talking about. You should also be able to check the status of your income tax refund using this link. (And of course, en Español: ¿Dónde está mi reembolso?) You will need to enter your social security number, filing status, and refund amount to see your refund status.

I've heard some anecdotal stories about the IRS a long time to process refunds in 2012, so can understand why they decided to do away with the table. I will be curious how the IRS does this time around.

If you haven't prepared your tax return yet, I encourage you to use either TurboTax or H&R Block At Home.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Be the First to get a "Discover it" Card

Discover Card is currently promoting their brand new "Discover it" card. I've had a Discover Card for a very long time, and I believe that it is one of the best credit cards issued in the United States. In the past I have written about the rotating categories for Cash Back bonus, and getting cash back at grocery stores and other retailers.

Here are the main benefits of the Discover it card:

  • No annual fee.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service available any time.
  • No late fee for your first late payment.
  • Paying late won't increase your APR.
  • No overlimit fee.
  • No foreign transaction fee.
  • 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter offered to all cardmembers.
  • Unlimited 1% cash back, not points, on all other purchases.
  • Pay for millions of items with your rewards at
  • Pay your bill 'til midnight (ET) the day it's due by phone or online.
  • Choose your payment due date online or by phone.
  • Lower rate, lower payment or other help after job loss.
  • Automatic expedited delivery of your new card.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Citi Dividend Card Q1 2013 Categories

I had written before that I have a Citibank Dividend MasterCard. One of the benefits of this card is that it offers 5% cash back on rotating categories of merchants. The main problem I have with this arrangement is that I always forget which categories are currently offering 5% cash back when I am at the store. As a result, I often miss out on the bonus dividend dollars. In order to help me remember, I have decided to post the categories which change every three months here.

For Q1 2013, you will earn 5% for purchases from:
  • Drugstores
  • Fitness Clubs
Note that "Q1 2013" means from January 1 - March 31, 2013. Also note that even if you have a Citi Dividend Card, the enrollment is not automatic. You have to login and sign up for this offer at the Citibank website.

See also Discover Card Q1 2013 Cash Back Bonus Categories.


Monday, January 14, 2013

How Many Credit Cards is Too Many?

I recently applied for an IberiaBank Visa Card. Iberia Bank offers 1% cash back on qualifying purchases with their Gold Card, so I was anxious to get in on the bonus. But to my surprise, I was denied a new credit card by IberiaBank.

The last time that I checked, I had a credit score of 803, and this score is better than 89% of all Americans. Iberia listed the reason for their decision as: excessive revolving bank cards. I have a grand total of 9 credit cards: 2 American Express, 3 Citi cards, 2 Discover ™ Cards, and 1 each from Bank of America and Barclays Bank Delaware (Barclaycard). Barclaycard is the same company that offers the Visa Black Card.

Is this number of credit cards considered excessive? Has anybody else with a good credit score been denied a new credit card for the same reason? What do readers think?


Saturday, January 12, 2013

How to Use a Credit Card Safely

According to the law enforcement agency Europol, data breaches have made the US the main source of credit card fraud in the EU. In fact, they believe that 60% of the losses from credit card fraud result from 'card-not-present' transactions, transactions which involve the use of stolen data from the Internet.

Less prone to credit card fraud is the UAE, which ranks below the US in terms of susceptibility to credit card crimes. Even so, 45% of UAE credit card holders don’t use their card online, despite this being safer than offline use at hotels and restaurants. In such places, credit cards can be copied or the details stolen before the card is returned to the owner.

However, if you take certain measures and pay attention to detail, whether you’re in the US or in the UAE you can avoid falling foul of online fraudsters.

Online Precautions
  • Never supply your PIN number online. You only need this at cashpoints and, if you’re making the payment through a chip-and-pin system, at points of sale.
  • Don't provide sites with your online banking password. They don’t need it.
  • Avoid buying things online in Internet cafes and other places with public Wi-Fi access. You can easily stay logged without realizing it, exposing your data to others.
  • Be suspicious if you return to an online shopping website site and it doesn't ask you for your CVV2 number. Once a transaction is complete, the site isn't allowed to store it.
  • Some websites take part in the ‘3D Secure’ transaction verification system. Despite the name, the system lacks a lot of the cues that indicate a window is safe. Often, the window comes from a strange overseas address that has no clear connection to the trader, the bank or the card provider. Be wary of this.

Offline Precautions
  • Hang up on anyone who calls claiming to be the bank; tells you to replace your card; suggests you phone back the ‘bank’ and then prompts you to key your PIN number into the phone. Genuine banks will never do this.
  • Shield your PIN number at ATMs, take your withdrawal slips with you, and, if later you don’t need it, shred it instead of scrunching it up and throwing it in the bin.
  • If you pay by credit card at a hotel or restaurant, don’t let them take your credit out of your sight. They may steal the details or copy the card.
  • Extremely devious fraudsters change the address the credit card is registered to. Notify your bank if you suddenly stop receiving bank statements in the post.

Protecting yourself against credit card fraud is a matter of being careful and observant. Be wary of sudden instructions to disclose delicate information, like your PIN number or online banking password, and of where you use your card. If anything on a website seems suspicious, don’t go ahead with the transaction until you can confirm the site is genuine. Not going ahead with the purchase is the best protection there is!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Reader Submitted Money Saving Tips

Thanks to everyone who participated in the iPad Giveaway. The contest winner chose to receive a $300 Amazon gift card in lieu of the Apple iPad Mini that I was giving away. Perhaps that is a money saving tip in itself. Anyway, I have compiled the tips that were submitted by PFStock readers. I have tried to categorize the tips, and hope that this will come in handy my readers. Without further ado, here are some of the tips that were sent in:

Use coupons:
  • Make sure to use coupons!
  • Use coupons and shop on sales.
  • Use coupons, keep an eye on good deals, and buy in bulk.
  • My best tip is to use coupons on products that you buy.
  • Use coupons and watch sales and check the clearance racks.
  • Use a free coupon with a Buy One, Get One Free offer, doubling your savings!
  • Make a budget, use coupons, buy items on sale and use cash so you don't overspend.
  • Only shop sales, use coupons and make a plan so you don't overspend.
  • Food is a big ticket item, follow the sales, use coupons, cut down on non essential food items,you'll save money and learn to eat healthier.
  • I religiously cut coupons and follow several great blogs that feature coupon matchups at local stores, so I can shop efficiently, quickly and most cost-effectively.
  • My car is a walking coupon shop. I have an envelope with coupons for shopping such as Macy's, Express, Chico's etc. Then I have another with restaurant and fast food restaurants. Then the last is for grocery store items. I continually check Groupon, the radio and newspapers for deals to purchase both for at home and as gifts. We live on what we earn. We do not go out or buy unless we have the money for it. We drive older cars and my husband is in the car business. We save as much as we can in the 401K and have a savings for unexpected expenses. We pay off credit cards, do not take out loans and you'd be surprised what we earn. We would never stop in a coffee shop for a coffee when you can make it at home. We don't drink alcohol so that saves money.

Shop around online and in stores:
  • Always Google or check RetailMeNot for coupon codes for online purchases. Use ebates or another site to earn cash back on your purchases.
  • Check websites for the best deals.
  • Look at sale flyers online weekly and compare prices and coupons.
  • I comparison shop online then search for coupon codes to save extra money.
  • Compare prices every where online and check for coupon codes for free shipping.
  • Always search online for coupons and sales, and if you don't 'need' the thingy wait for a coupon or sale (example: I like 3D movies but they cost way too much, I waited for Black Friday and got them for 1/2 price).
  • Always price compare online before purchasing a desired product.
  • Shop around online, you can find great deals and compare prices.
  • My tip is to set alerts from deals websites for the things you need so that when a good deal comes around, you can buy it and not have to worry about buying at retail.
  • I always check prices on the internet for things I will be buying. I try to shop for groceries from the store ad. I stock up when items are on sale and try not to pay full price for anything.
  • Shop secondhand shops for clothing and housewares!
  • A good money saving tip would be look at other stores before jumping in and buying something because you wouldn't believe how many things I've looked at on one site and kept looking around and have deals on things. Another good tip is look for coupon codes before checking out on sites there are some really good codes out there for free that you can easily find with searches for free shipping and percent off of your total order which helps around the holidays and anytime! Hope I helped and thank you for the amazing giveaway good luck everyone!

Use credit cards to your advantage:
  • Make sure to pay credit cards off in full in month. I keep a list of all our monthly charges, each charge goes right on the list, so I know exactly what we will owe. We don't buy unless we have the money ahead of time. Also, Get a credit card that doesn't charge a fee and look for one with rewards.
  • Avoid credit cards and pay with cash. You will be surprised how much money you will save.
  • My best tip is if you can't pay cash don't buy it. I am currently credit card balance free. (knock on wood)
  • Money saving tip for travelers.. check out flyertalk the credit card threads.. you can literally aty & fly for free with the great sign up bonuses on so many credit cards. [PFStock: Can anybody tell me what the word "aty" means?]
  • If you pay with cash you will spend less. It's too easy to hand over a card and not think about how much you're spending.
  • Plan purchases and watch hidden costs if you have to charge. Getting 18 months no interest and not paying things off is costly. You pay interest on the whole purchase after 18 months even if you only owe a few dollars. BEWARE!
  • Price match, use coupons in store and online, shop around before purchasing, take advantage of credit card rewards and other store loyalty programs etc.

  • Coupon, and organize with a list - the time invested will be worth it.
  • Always make a list and never ever buy on the spot for big purchases.
  • Always use your grocery store's discount card and always look for coupons before you go shopping.
  • Carry your store affinity cards in a coin purse, separate from your wallet. This way, all of your store cards are all in one place and easy to find.
  • Make a list before shopping and stick to it. Resist those impulse buys.
  • My best money saving idea is to take a list when you go shopping and stick to it.
  • Stay out of stores! Only grocery shop with a list - and stick to it.
  • I sign up for loyalty rewards from my favorite stores. Besides that I earn points whenever I use it, I also get special discounts.

Reduce Wasteful Spending:
  • My best money saving tip is to reduce wasteful spending like cigarettes, liquor, eating out...and& to coupon when you will save money faster than one might think.
  • My best money saving tip is to reduce the amount of monthly bills you have to the smallest number possible. For example get rid of cable, you do not need it. You can get rid of all the monthly bills except electricity and phone.
  • I try to save my money because I am a college student.
  • My best money saving tip is to buy something even if you don't need it (except foodstuffs) when it's on sale, especially if you use it, because then you won't need to buy it when you need it.
  • A saving money tip I suggest is don't spend on unnecessary. Spend on needs, not wants!
  • One money saving tip is loose your cable company. With today's platform integration, who needs regular TV? There are so many free options with internet TV and YouTube. I say who needs it?
  • Stock up when commonly used items are on sale.
  • Money Saving Tip~ BUY GENERIC EVERYTHING. Generic is just as good as brand name!
  • Lots of good tips. I try to buy whatever I need when it's on sale and try to save every extra cent I can, which is hard to do today with the high price of rent, etc.
  • I grow a garden in the summer and try to put up as much as I can to have fresh veggies and fruits during the summer and preserved food the rest of the year.
  • I set aside a food budget. I do not use any other money outside of the food money. It helps us plan better and get what we really need.
  • Shopping around and comparing prices... never buy right away!
  • My best tip is wait one week before buying any large ticket (non-essential) item. It truly gives you the time to think about the item and stops you from an impulse buy. It seems so simple but I have really instituted this rule in my life for anything over 100.00 and I have saved a large amount of money doing this. The time also gives you an opportunity to shop around and decide if you really need it and maybe, yes maybe, you forget about the item. If you do, you have saved $ and realized eventually that it wasn't that important (when you think about it again in the future).
  • In addition to using coupons and shopping around to get the best price you should work to keep the things that you have in good working order so that they don't need to be replaced and get as much use out of everything as you can - for example, you can use less than the recommended amount of laundry detergent and still have clean clothes; you can use half as much toothpaste and still get clean teeth, reuse disposable items (with care, you need to be sure that they CAN be reused without harmful effects) or don't use disposable at all.

Live below your means and save money:
  • Automate your savings so you'll be sure to pay yourself first.
  • Pay yourself 10% first. David Chilton's advice will serve you well. Also - don't pay bank fees! Get a no-fee bank account at PC Financial or ING. Use a no-fee credit card and pay off your balance. And finally and most importantly - Spend less than you earn! [PFStock: David Chilton is the author of the classic personal finance book, The Wealthy Barber.]
  • Do not carry credit card balances. Realize you cannot Keep Up With the Kardashians.
  • Make a budget and stay on it and always avoid the temptation to "keep up with the Joneses."Make a budget and stay on it and always avoid the temptation to "keep up with the Joneses.

Plan your finances:
  • Check your banking statements. Be careful of rewards programs where you might have to pay an annual fee!
  • Best tip for saving would be to set up automated withdraws to IRA's, savings accounts, etc... What you don't see in your bank account, you won't spend.
  • Don't necessarily choose the cheapest insurance, choose a company that will cover you in a loss AND has good premium costs.
  • This is not as much a money saving tip as it is a budget on a shoe string. I divide my monthly bills into my paychecks and pay that portion each and every paycheck. This was it is smaller amount and easier to budget.
  • The best tip would be to save more than you spend. Other solutions would be to always survey prices using certain apps that can scan barcodes and also to keep track of daily expenses with a limiting budget set for each month.
  • If you want a new car. Start saving the monthly payment for at least 6 months prior to ensure you will be able to afford it. Also if you save it for 6-12 months at $500 a month that is $3000-$6000 cash. You could use this to buy a used car paid in full and start saving the monthly payment again but 12-24-36 months. This will then give you $6000-$18,000 cash to pay for a very nice car including the trade in value of your car you bought for 3-6 grand.
  • Never spend change, just save it.
  • My best advice is to budget, budget, budget! And, like the above poster mentioned, saved change adds up in a hurry. Lastly, avoid impulse purchases like the plague lol.
  • I believe in setting realistic goals for myself when figuring out what I should be buying and saving. I know my needs vs. wants. I spend based on both, but I only spend on the wants if I have enough to cover those expenses. Too many people spend over the amount they really can afford because of impulse spending. That's bad budgeting. I've learned to plan ahead. Keep a "rainy day" account for those emergencies that may pop up. Plan for the future.

Thanks again to everybody who participated. If you have more money saving tips, feel free to share them in the comments below. Thanks for reading this far. If I can afford it, I would like to continue offering giveaways like this in the future. As many readers know, giveaways are usually financed by blog sponsors. I would like to have another iPad giveaway in 2013. You can help make this a reality by applying for an offer on either of these pages:

Most of these offers are free to apply. In return for your support, you will automatically receive 35 entries in the next giveaway. To let me know that you entered, send me an Email or complete the form on each of the pages. Thanks.


Disclaimer: Comments are user submitted money saving tips. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of PFStock.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Discover Card Q1 2013 Cashback Bonus Categories

Discover Card offers a 5% cashback bonus on a "seasonally rotating" list of spending categories. For the Q1 2013, these bonus categories are as follows:

Q1 2013: Restaurants, Movies

Discover has not yet announced what the specific categories will be for the rest of 2013. But based on the information currently on the Discover website, these are my guesses as to what they will be:
Q2 2013 (Spring Style): Home Improvement Stores
Q3 2013 (Summer Fun): Gas Stations
Q4 2013 (Holiday Shopping): Online Shopping purchases

For 2012, Discover offered 5% back on "movies" every season, so they might continue to do that in 2013. You should always use your Discover card if you are at the movies.

It is also worth mentioning that Discover Card is currently highly promoting their brand new "Discover it" card. Here are the bullet points that I know of for the Discover it card.

  • No annual fee.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service available any time.
  • No late fee for your first late payment.
  • Paying late won't increase your APR.
  • No overlimit fee.
  • No foreign transaction fee.
  • 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter offered to all cardmembers.
  • Unlimited 1% cash back, not points, on all other purchases.
  • Pay for millions of items with your rewards at
  • Pay your bill 'til midnight (ET) the day it's due by phone or online.
  • Choose your payment due date online or by phone.
  • Lower rate, lower payment or other help after job loss.
  • Automatic expedited delivery of your new card.