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Archive for December, 2007

Free Money: Citibank Checking Acct Sign-up

Posted by jenwae on December 18, 2007

Fancy having $200 put into your wallet for free? Just open a regular Citibank checking account. Yes, it’s that easy.

Walk into a Citibank financial center, or call 1-866-810-9043 to talk to a representative, and mention the promotion code MVS4.

The features:
Non-interest bearing checking account
Promotion expires 29 Feb 2008
Fund with an initial $100
No account fee if you:
(1) do 2 bill pay every month  -OR-
(2) direct depost -OR-
(3) maintain a daily combined average balance of $1500 (in any of the linked account, including the checking account)

Basically, this is a the Citibank EZ checking account which you can apply anytime but without the $200 bonus. So if you are thinking of doing so, why not grab the free money as well?

Your account will be credited with $100 after the first 3 months of direct deposit or bill pay, and the other $100 after 3 more months of direct deposit or bill pay. In other words, you will get the full $200 after 6 consecutive direct deposit or bill pay. Remember, if you choose the bill pay, it must be 2 bill pay a month.

If it seems a lot of work, it’s really not. If you are currently employed, more likely that not, you already have direct deposit setup with another bank. Just go to your HR department, and put in a request to have another line of direct deposit for the new Citibank checking account. For example, if your paycheck of $1000 is direct deposit into Bank A, you can split it up to $900 for Bank A and $100 for Citibank.

If bill pay seems less work, that’s fine too. You can use the online bill pay to pay anything, even your gardener or a friend you owed money. There’s no minimum amount for the bill pay, so you can have a $5 bill pay to, let’s say your wife, and another $10 to your Macy credit card. That’s already 2 bill pay you satisfy.

You will be asked some pertinent personal information during the call. A welcome starter kit will follow in a few days, and then you can start the funding via ACH (eletronic external transfer from another bank account). A $1.50 charge will be imposed on each non-Citibank ATM withdrawals.

 This is by far the best deal I’ve come across. It’s a $200 bait, but a good one without any catch.

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Money in the Story: Woman vs Kmart

Posted by jenwae on December 14, 2007

Not many of us think highly of toilet paper. We roll it out, tear a little piece off, wipe our butt, and then flush it down for good. That’s all we do, giving little thought. So it is no surprise that we don’t think much when buying toilet paper from retail shop. But you might learn a bit or two from this woman in Murrysville, Pennsylvania.

Mary Bach purchased some toilet paper in October from Kmart, and was assessed a 28 cents sales tax. She complained about being charged for an item that is not subject to the 7% sales tax in Pennsylvania. The store management did not budge, so she paid, grudgingly.

Later, Bach brought her complaint to the state’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. Under Pennsylvania law, plaintiffs can sue for the amount of the damages or $100, whichever is more.

She won, and was awarded $100 plus court costs by the judge.

Bach said, “I want consumers as they shop during the important holiday to be aware of what is and what isn’t taxable. I would lose my ability to spread that message if I were gagged.”

Apparently, Kmart has offered Bach an out-of-court settlement if she consented to sign a confidentiality agreement – she rejected.

Bach reminded shoppers to check their sales receipts when they shop.

So there you go. Whether you are standing up for the truth, or upholding your principles, don’t undermine your ability to make a difference, even if it seems tiny – Bach did it with 28 cents.

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Saving of the Day: Property Tax

Posted by jenwae on December 13, 2007

Come Dec 10, we are usually in a depressed mood. It’s inevitable; no matter how we try to stuff it out of sight, it will eventually come around. The dreaded blue-white bill with a big yellow printed sum owing  staring back at you – The property tax bill. property-tax-2.jpg

The property tax is payable in 2 installments. The 1st part is due Nov 1 every year but you can resist until Dec 10 to hand over your hard-earned money to the state collector. For tax saving reason (that will be another post), we usually pay our entire dues in the first installment itself by Dec 10.

If your home is in San Diego County, the county allows you to make payment by a credit card. So if you are savvy enough about credit cards, you can use it to your advantage. You can potentially shave a couple of hundreds off your tax bill, in the form of cash rebates from your card. How?

The card issuer levies a convenience fee of 1.88% for charging the tax bill on its card. If your property tax is $5000, that’s an additional $94 service fee incurred on your credit card. However, if your card gives you 2% cash-back (like mine FNBO card does; no annual fee), you get back $100. You “make” $6 profit, or better said, you take $6 off the tax bill.

Before you roll your eyes and say “Come on, it’s a measly $6”, what if you have a 5% cash-back credit card? Yes, with that, you take back $250. Minus the convenience fee, you net $156. And not to mention you can hold off your credit card payment for another 21++ days, so your money can sit in a high-yield online savings account and earn some good interest. A dollar saved is a dollar earned!

The Citibank CashReturns card gives you 5% cash-back on ALL purchases for 3 months (and 1% thereafter). With no annual fee, this card is a runaway winner – for any big purchases!

So, there you go. This is Saving of the Day idea for you – not for us unfortunately, because my wife made the payment by check before I could say “Jack the Ripper”. We will definitely not let this chance go past next year.

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Free Money: E*Trade Online Savings Acct Sign-up

Posted by jenwae on December 13, 2007

etrade1.gifGo grab this free $25 bonus when you sign up for the online savings account from E-trade. It’s free money literally credited within 30 days of opening your new account. The features:

APY = 5.05%
Minimum in account (to avoid fees) = $1
Maximum 6 outbound transfers in a calendar month
Must be new account funded with new money
Interest earned credited every month end
Online-statement only
Promotion ends 31 Dec 2007

It takes just a couple of minutes to fill in the form online, and create a username and password. Typical personal information required. Choose the account type (Complete Savings). You can fund your new account via electronic transfer (ACH) from your external banking accounts, or wire transfer or a check. It is best to do the ACH for convenience. The last step is to specify your funding amount of $1 or more!

It’s that easy, no frills and $25 for…hmmm…10 minutes clicking and typing. Although E*Trade has been hard hit by the credit crunch crisis, your money is safe and FDIC-insured up to $100,000.

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