Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bank of America $75 Bonus

60 Minutes - Bank of America (October 19, 2008)Need a new checking account? Bank of America is running a special online promotion where they will give you $75 if you open a new checking account with at least an initial $125 opening deposit. 

Here is the fine print.
You will receive your $75 credit to your new account within 90 days of opening your new personal checking account online. Limit one $75 incentive per household every 6 months. This is a special offer to existing Bank of America credit card customers and only valid only for new MyAccess Checking® accounts. This offer does not apply to current checking customers or student checking accounts. You must use the Offer Code CH75OL1 and fund your account with the $125 minimum opening deposit requirement within 30 days in order to qualify for this offer. We may report the value of any premium to the IRS. This offer expires on 3/31/2010. This offer may be withdrawn or modified at any time without notice. The $75.00 credit can only be made to your new account. This new account must be still open at this time to receive your $75.00 credit. Reproduction, purchase, sale, transfer or trade of this online-only offer and use of offer code CH75OL1 is prohibited. MyAccess Checking® has no monthly maintenance fee when opened online. Other account related service fees still apply.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Email Forwarding Etiquette

Email: The Manual: Everything You Should Know About Email Etiquette, Policies and Legal Liability Before You Hit SendA soapbox article on email forwarding etiquette.
If you must forward on emails, please strip them of all the guilt crap and 'please forward' this garbage. I find it hard to even enjoy the nuggets of wisdom when they are coated in crap. For example, if you think an email is worthy of a forward, send people the following.
First, personalize it a bit.
"I read these and they brightened my day, hope you'll enjoy them, too."
Or, just simply -
"I liked this."
Then include the message, and tone it down so it's not shouting at us. (Huge font sizes and bolded text and the USE OF ALL CAPS when writing equals shouting in the real world)

1) Give people more than they  expect and do it cheerfully.
2) Marry a man/woman you love to  talk to. As you get older, their conversational  skills will be as important as any other.
3) And so on and so on....
But if you liked it, please do not include the manipulative, guilt tripping, sob story, endings that usually accompany these.
In other words, if you noticed a nugget of gold in the message, clean off the crap and just pass us the gold. Otherwise, to some people it will seem like you are just forwarding on crap to them.
"Hi, I was thinking of you today and thought I should throw a cow pie in your face!"  :) 
"Hey everybody! I got a load of horse biscuits, why don't you have some?!"  :)
Sorry, I do not mean to rant, but that email with the burning house picture and promise of good luck and "it's been around the world ten times" really kind of tipped me off the edge and made me drag out my soap box.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Be Happy AND Fit - At Work

DeskerciseGet more exercise at the workplace by going out of your way, taking the long way. Not always applicable to everyone, but in large corporate offices it might work. 

Print to a printer further away.
Use the restroom on a different floor
Park on the wrong side of the building. 

Some of these tactics provide a break, a chance to stretch, and get you walking further. You may also run into people you haven't met before. Of course, it would be inefficient to go get something off the printer every hour on the wrong floor, but the idea is right. Tailor it to your needs. 

And don't forget to smile at all of your co-workers that you don't know. You will feel refreshed and ready to focus on your task again, and your heart rate will have increased and your oxygen intake as well. Both help you stay awake and be more alert.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How to Move Yourself Across the Country

20 Moving Boxes and Supplies #1Oh, the joys of moving.....A friend of mine recently asked me for some advice on moving. He knew that I had recently completed my move out East and that I had managed it by myself.  This is my response to him in hopes that it might help you as well if you ever need to move.

Well, there were lots of places we went online. If you are looking for a truck to haul your stuff you have two options.
1) Get a Uhaul. Remember - you have to drive it, and you have to fuel it up on the way.
2) Use service from the big green, yellow letters, ABF trucks.

With Upack, you still have to load the truck (hence upack) but they come drop off a trailer in your yard or parking lot for you. When it is loaded, they usually give you 3 days to load it, they will come pick it up and drive it off. 5-10 days later it arrives at your destination and you have another 3 days to unload it. Do not worry though. They are really flexible. When we moved, we sent the truck away without a final destination address. How? They primarily ship terminal to terminal, and then make the last connection to your home. In fact, my brother in law actually did a one day uhaul and drove over to the terminal to load a truck rather than have it come to his house. I cannot remember why - but you can do it that way, too.
Their website, is pretty helpful and will explain most of this to you.

Harper Trucks PGCSK19BLKO Nylon Hand TruckThe biggest difference between upack and uhaul is that with upack you do not have to drive or pay for fuel. You get an estimate on how many feet of space you need and then fill up the truck. AND you only pay for the space you use. We got a quote for 24 feet and only used 20 feet, so they only charged us 20 feet. There is no penalty for using more or less.

Another option you can look into, if you need longer term storage is the PODS. Upack also has some relo cubes as they call them. You load up a container and then they ship it. But because it is a container, it is easier and cheaper to store for a month or three if you need the time.

I completely recommend upack. It was a lot less stressful to not have to drive the truck and it was way cheaper overall when considering cost of fuel. For example, from Rexburg to Iowa is 1,300 miles. A Uhaul truck might average 5-9 mpg! You might spend anywhere from $400-$800 on fuel.

If you need any other helpful hints or tips - just let me know. I feel pretty good about making a move now that we have done it twice. The first time I watched while a professional team moved me and so the second time I tried to do what they did. And, we didn't break anything, so that was good. I can give you some tips on how to pack your boxes, load the truck, etc. Just let me know.

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rent or Sell?

This is not your normal debate on whether you should rent or buy, but rather a question about whether you should rent out your home, or sell it.

The Complete Guide to Your First Rental Property: A Step-by-Step Plan from the Experts Who Do It Every DayThe recent economic turmoil inspired me to start looking for a new job in the case that I found myself laid off and unemployed. I had a good job, but I wanted a backup plan because our company was going through several rounds of layoffs during 2009. I polished up my resume and sent it out. I applied to places that I thought I would enjoy working for. It was a bittersweet moment when the interviews started. I liked where I worked. I enjoyed where I lived. But the future was so uncertain that finally I accepted a position clear across the country. We packed up and moved out to the East coast. We were fortunate to find a place to rent but we were faced with the question - What do we do with our home back West?

Like so many people, we purchased our first home at the peak of the real estate bubble. But how were we to know? We were newly graduated, moving into a new area and taking a promising new job. We thought that we were going to be living there for at least the next 20 years. Weeks after moving in we already had 5 and 10 and 15 year plans for what we would do to upgrade and beautify our home. We took on a 30 year mortgage at 6.75% interest. We were lucky enough to put a few percent down, but still had PMI. We felt lucky to refinance in early 2009 down to 4.75% and start saving $200 per month. We were excited to use that amount to pay down student loans.

And then it happened. While we had witnessed the economy going to shreds we still felt good with my work. That was before the first round of layoffs, and then the second....

The house might sell for what we owe on it. But that represents a loss of our down payment and all the upgrades we put into it. It is more likely that the final sale price and realtor commissions will require us to come to the table with money to let go of our first home.

Should we rent instead? We have no experience with this and we are scared to think about managing a rental property from two time zones away. Finally, does it make sense to rent it for less than the monthly mortgage payment?

The Art of the Short SaleShould we walk away? No. Personally, I do not think this is an option for me. While I am able financially to pay the mortgage - I should pay it. Even if that means living on a tighter budget this year. Why? Cause I made the decision to move. Granted, had I not moved and been laid off and been unable to pay the mortgage - I would have walked away. But that was the contract - if I am unable to pay the mortgage, the bank gets the house. Anyways, this discussion could go on and on and I digress from the rent vs sell question.

Let's run the numbers because numbers are not emotionally attached to the home where your first baby took her first steps. The numbers show, if I were to save the mortgage payment I make now after the sale and sock it away into a savings account, that I could easily have a good chunk put away for a future home purchase or a new/used car. The numbers also show that it would take almost two years to bank up a sufficient emergency fund for owning a rental unit that would make me feel comfortable.

Risk versus reward. If I had more cash stashed away I might be more inclined to just rent the house. That is when an opportunity fund comes in handy.

There are several other factors that have not been considered in this question. Is the home a suitable rental? Are all homes potential rentals? After looking at all the rentals we did before we moved into our new home on the East coast I realized that our Western home might not be the best rental unit. So while it really pains me to sell the home at such a loss - I think that is our best course of action for the future.

What do you think? If you own a rental - was it your place of residence first? Share below in the comments.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sword of Truth Series: Soul of the Fire Review

Soul of the Fire (Sword of Truth, Book 5)Quotable Quotes from Soul of the Fire
Yeah, I didn’t find any. Mostly because this novel was hard to get into. Chickens, chickens, and more chickens. The talk about chickens was a little out of style and it kind of drug on. Then suddenly, there was an alternate story that was going on that had to be developed so that Richard could journey there.  

There was also several instances that left you really wanting more and really believing if it could have happened that way – not disbelief that Richard could use subtractive magic and wipe away a mountain, but that Cara, a Mord Sith, could be bested by an amateur. Okay, so maybe Fitch got away with the Sword of Truth for a while, but he managed to outrun her all the way back to Anderith from Aydindril? And no mention of anything in between those two events is given.

I am also frustrated that Zed is no longer a major character. Cara is more of an important character than Zed these past few books. Zed just has to keep getting minimal treatment and swept aside and out of the way so he cannot help, even if he is a First Wizard. This, I guess, is so that the story can continue to concentrate on Richard and he can save the day again, even though as he continually reminds us – he is just a woods guide.

Again, I was really disappointed with the dynamic of the book. 100 pages to detail chickens and a few days. 100 pages of other fine detail development. And then in one sweeping gesture the book wraps up and is concluded. You would think that now that the reader has come this far and is this engrossed in the novel that we would enjoy a few more details about how the awesome deed of saving the world was accomplished. Instead, after a few pages, we can set the book down and sigh with relief because Richard saved the day again. But it’s okay,he is just a woods guide. The plot line in this book was weak. Some events need time to accomplish and that is okay. Like it takes Jagang’s army quite a while to move. Fine. But instead of hurrying up to just sit around and wait – no, that is not fun. What I am trying to say is that unreasonable things happened to accommodate the timeline.

I don’t want to be exceptionally harsh. It was still a great novel and it continues the story in a most fantastic world. The attention to detail is wonderful and an entire culture and city were developed. Ironically, all that work will shortly be trampled. However, the politics and social interactions are very well written. Manipulation is the work of the evil people. Oh, and one last note, there was only one prophecy in this book given and it was never even spoken about later on. Du Chaillu had a dream about Richard would be on fire. I don’t think it was really resolved.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Quotable Quotes: Temple of the Winds

Temple of the Winds (Sword of Truth, Book 4)Kahlan is explaining to Nadine that Richard is a wizard, even if he did grow up and was only a woods guide from the Hartland.
“Just because kittens are born in the hearth oven, that doesn’t make them muffins. No matter where they’re born, it’s their destiny to grow up to go out and kill rats.”  - pg 90, paperback

Drefan responding to the question if he would like better quarters to stay in while at the palace.
“It isn’t what kind of house you have that matters. This is not happiness. It’s what kind of mid you have, and how you care for your fellow man – what you can do to help others who can be helped by on one else.”  -pg 327, paperback

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Quotable Quotes: Blood of the Fold

While we are on the subject, I would like to quote some really good parts from Blood of the Fold.
Blood of the Fold (Sword of Truth, Book 3)Page 73, paperback – Richard meets an old woman on the street selling honey cakes. She is working to support herself, but is dismayed that her son is lazy and waiting near the palace for a handout of gold that was promised to be dispersed to everyone.

“Them’s the vermin: them who take what little we can earn or make with our hands so as to promise it right back to us, expecting us to be thankful at their kind hearts; them who tempt good people to be lazy so they can rule us like they do sheep at a trough; them who took our freedom and our ways. Even a foolish old woman like me knows that lazy people don’t think for themselves; they only think about themselves. I don’t know what the world’s coming to.”

Page 87-88, paperback – Richard is talking with his bodyguards and they are explaining that they are bonded to him, by choice, and will teach him the way of being the leader of the nation. He is worried they think him more than he is and explains that he is still new at this. They respond.
“If you don’t know everything, that’s not important to us….It doesn’t matter to us if you have more steps in the journey; we won’t abandon you for it.”

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sword of Truth Series: Blood of the Fold and Stone of Tears Review

Blood of the Fold (Sword of Truth, Book 3)Last night I finished reading the third book in the series; Blood of the Fold. I was frantically reading as fast as I could and staying up late again to keep reading this wonderful adventure. However, I had the distinct impression as I finished this book that the author made the same mistake as he did in the second book. In my perception it was a shortcoming, but it may have been planned. It was too long ago to remember if the first book suffered the same fate. What problem did I perceive?
Stone of Tears (Sword of Truth, Book 2)
The second book was 900+ pages long and covered but a few months of time. Several events were happening at once in very distance separated places. During one part of the second book almost one hundred pages were devoted to the buildup and attack of the outnumbered Galeans against the Imperial Order’s troops. Painstaking detail left me riveted to the pages as the story unfolded. And then suddenly I realized that there were only 100 pages before I would reach the end of the book.  

Anxiety began to slowly place its grip upon me as I wondered what could be resolved in such short notice. The buildup was there but how would there be enough pages to bring it to conclusion? And then in a flurry of pages all the loose ends were tied up, the hero conquered, everyone was happy, and it was the end. It almost felt like the writer couldn’t write fast enough to keep up and the ending just happened all at once. I felt dismayed that there was so much buildup and such intimate detail and great story and so little conclusion.

Once we hit the climax of the story both the author and the reader fell off a precipitous cliff to the end. I know that I began to read faster and with more intensity as I neared the end, but it felt like the author felt that same urgency and wanted to reach that happy ending and inadvertently left out some of the juicy details that we had been feasting upon all along.

Maybe this was done by design. Maybe I would have cried out in anguish if the ending had been all long and drawn out. Maybe the author realized that by the time I reached the last page my eyes would be bloodshot from lack of sleep and my breaths short from constant pangs of fear and anxiety and my endurance near gone from following the characters through such realistic adventures and so the author did me a favor and helped me reach the glorious end just a few pages early.

What do you think?
Temple of the Winds (Sword of Truth, Book 4)Either way, I will be continuing on this quest. Here comes Book 4, Temple of the Winds.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sword of Truth Series: Wizard's First Rule

Wizard's First Rule (The Sword of Truth)Author: Terry Goodkind
Series: The Sword of Truth
First Book: Wizard's First Rule
Genre: Fantasy
Associated New TV Series available on Legend of the Seeker
My rating halfway through the first novel: Five Stars *****, Muy excelente!
My Thoughts: Don't read it. You will hate me if you do. Why? Because there are seven or eight more books in the series! :)
Serious Thoughts: This guy knows how to do dialogue like nothing else I have read. You *know* exactly how the character feels and looks when they speak. It is really that good.
My wife loves the series and has already watched the first nine episodes and is reading during the day while I am gone at work and then gives me a chance to read at night when I am at home.
The series is okay. I watched the first episode until I found out it was based on real books to read. 

The Dark Is Rising (The Dark Is Rising Sequence)Funny thing is that this author and his series is very new. I am not sure if the series is done yet, but his last book just came out last year, the first was published in 1995. It is definitely different than C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. In fact an interesting thing is that besides his plot being the same struggle of light against dark - his main character is a "Seeker" - the same as in the Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper. Speaking of which - did you ever get to watch the movie "The Seeker" based on her books that came out last year?  We rented it.  It was good, but I think it only follows the idea of the story - because the conflict is resolved in a mere five days. I didn't remember that.  But I really don't remember much about the books anymore else than I liked them a lot - so I guess it is finally time to sit down and read them over again.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Motivation: DRiVE - The Presentation

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates UsDaniel Pink visited my place of work and he gave an awesome presentation on his book, “DRiVE: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us.” Mr. Pink will discussed the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today's world is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

After attending the presentation, I am excited to go check this book out at my library and put it on my wishlist on What follows are the notes that I took away from this presentation and I am recording it here for my own reference so that I can remember what I learned.

Mr. Pink began his presentation with some tips on how to give a good presentation.
Brevity, Levity, Repetition.

An illustration of how money is not always the best motivator.
An interesting problem posed by some researcher back in the 1960's. You have matches, a box of thumbtacks, and a candle. Find a solution to light the candle but keep the wax off the table.

Eventually, participants will find that the solution involves using the box that the thumbtacks are stored and tacking it to the wall, and placing the candle inside.

The solution is unique in that the box actually has a second function from what you originally saw it as just a container for the tacks - but as something useful to the end solution.

Now, how quickly can different groups of people solve the above problem when money as a motivator is applied? Interestingly, the money incentivized group finds the solution much slower, an average of 3.5 minutes slower. However, if you repeat the problem with the tacks sitting outside of the box, both groups find the solution very quickly, and the money incentive works to speed the result.

The reason? All the ingredients were immediately available. When it is an algorithmic problem, or simple mechanical process, it is fine to be focused with money as the motivator. Incentives tend to narrow our vision and increase our focus. However, if cognitive skill is required, larger rewards lead to poorer performance overall.

Rewards, okay. What about punishments?
Example was given of a childcare facility that had a problem with parents coming in late to pick up their children. Idea of a solution was to charge or fine the parents for arriving late. Result - the rate of parents arriving late actually increased!

Before, it was a matter of a personal relationship. If a parent arrives late - the caregiver has to stay late. With the implementation of the fine - it became a transactional matter. Additionally, there was no guilt for the wrong of arriving late, just a simple fine. Other solutions involving shame, 3 strikes your out, all lead to undesired outcomes. Suddenly, you are dealing with grievances, exceptions, loss of business, etc. However, if you maintain the solution in the moral realm, make it contractual, people will honor understand their impact of arriving late and improve their behavior.

Rewards and punishments are not enough to motivate people in every case. It is not just that simple. For example, we honor our moral obligations. We practice musical instruments. Why? Because it is fun and interesting to us. Beyond money as a motivator - why do people work at NASA and earn less than their counterparts in private industry?

Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose

Management is great for compliance but self engagement is way better for productivity. The software company in Australia, Atlassian, holds what they call Fedex Days. They are given Thursday afternoon as a day to do whatever they want as long as they present on it on Friday. They have to deliver over-night. Surprisingly, people are rising up and responding to the challenge and they are not being motivated by money.
There are other companies that employ this 15% time or 20% time method to increase worker productivity. Gmail and several other famously popular Google projects, many of their best ideas, you may have originally found in their "Labs" section, were all spun out of from 20% time projects. The ubiquitous sticky note was an unofficial 3M project. Some of the greatest ideas come from people being turned loose and allowed to experiment with their creativity. In a world of management the idea of turning your people loose requires a lot of trust and a paradigm shift that the 15-20% time off the normal project will actually help the company's bottom line. But if you look around and see where people love to work - it is where they can be semi-autonomous.
PJ's thoughts: History is overflowing with stories of the people rising up and overthrowing governments. To quote Star Wars, "The tighter your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

We are busy people and yet, even after working our 9 to 5 we come home and still find time to volunteer in different organizations, or work for free on projects that fulfill us. The whole idea of open source software is an idea that is revolutionary. People from all over the globe can collaborate and create something wonderful and then give it away for free. This is enjoyment based intrinsic motivation. We all feel the need to become better at what we do. In fact, the biggest contributor to workplace happiness, or the days that you feel most productive at work are the days that you can feel like you are making progress. Performance evaluations, however twisted and convoluted they are today, were originally designed as a way to provide feedback. Anyone that has developed a talent has done so with lots of feedback. Athletes measure their performance and compare how they did after each event. Student musicians practice at home and then receive feedback from their weekly lessons. They can measure their progress - it is a huge motivator.
PJ's thoughts: Just think of all the people that have gotten themselves out of debt. You hear stories of how they made a chart and crossed off a debt, or watched the numbers continually getting smaller over time. It is a motivator.

For the first time in decades, private industry recruiters are losing people to government jobs. Some of that is due to the economic situation, but there is a bigger reason. People wanted to do something, be a part of something, and have their work matter. When you are at work, just listen to the way people talk. Do you refer to your company and the work you do as "we" or as "they".  The content, who love their work are a part of it and say "we" did this. Those that are there to pay the bills talk about how "they" (the company) did something.

What really motivates us to do the things we do? I am not sure in every case. But I know that some of my original ideas were definitely proven wrong. I am excited to get this book and to read it and to learn more from it.

Do you have any experiences where you or someone was motivated to do something by a unique method? Share below in the comments.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Roth IRA Plans for 2010

After seeing yesterday's promotion from ShareBuilder, I went looking for options for my Roth IRA contribution this year. I wanted to invest my $5k (over 55 get to invest $6k) and where I could do it and not be charged an annual fee, and be able to invest in a fund that didn't have an upfront sales fee, an enormous expense ratio, etc. I was pretty excited about trading free for a year with ShareBuilder and wanted to try out a real automatic investing, dollar cost averaging approach for a year and see how it went.

Then, yesterday I found an ad from Fidelity that made me look twice via one of my favorite personal finance blogs - MyMoneyBlog. Fidelity is offering free trades on 25 different iShares ETF's.

The ETF Book: All You Need to Know About Exchange-Traded FundsI was pretty stoked by the idea that I could put my full contribution straight into ETF's (exchange trade funds).  ETF's are almost like index funds. There is a slight difference, but I won't go into that here.
SO, what am I suggesting? Well, MyMoneyBlog wrote a short paragraph explaining it better than I could. So, quickly go here for more information on asset allocation with ETF's.

Finally, I also found out that Fidelity is just playing catch up. Apparently, Schwab has been doing this for a few months with their own brand of ETF's. Fidelity is also playing catch up in their pricing because there are several online trade houses that have been offering very low trade commissions for a few years. I guess the pressure has finally pushed them to react and drop their own pricing. Competition is great for that.

And looking at the last link, the important thing to notice is the focus on expense ratios, because the higher the expense to own the fund, the better it has to do to actually return you any money. For example, your China fund that you own currently, might have returned a nice 10% this year, but it costs you 2% a year to own - so effectively you only earned 8%.  Had you just simply bought a foreign index fund or ETF that only earned the average 8%, and only cost 0.1%, you would have earned 7.9%.   It works more in your favor during losing years because then you add the expense to your loss and make it worse of a loss.

So, should you run out and open a Fidelity account? Well, not quite yet. I am almost convinced, but I want to look one last time at Vanguard - the best of the best out there for what I have heard. However, because I already have an open account at Fidelity - I might just open my Roth IRA with Fidelity for the easiness factor.

Well, that is my plan. Thought you might be interested to know as well.
What are your plans?  Share them below in the comments.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

ShareBuilder Free Trades for a Year

If you have not opened an IRA yet - Now is the time to do so!  Or, if you are unhappy with your current broker, this new promotion from ShareBuilder might be what it takes to convince you to try something new. ShareBuilder is offering a new promotion to new IRA account holders to receive free trades for the entire year of 2010 with Promo Code: 2010IRA.
*Open an IRA before 4/15/10 to receive 1,500 Automatic Investment Plan credits. The trade credits will be posted to your account the next business day and will expire on 12/31/10. This offer applies to Individual Retirement Accounts only. AIP credits for mutual fund purchases apply only after the minimum investment has been met. Visit the ShareBuilder website for complete pricing and rates.
Your Complete Retirement Planning Road Map: A Comprehensive Action Plan for Securing IRAs, 401(k)s, and Other Retirement Plans for Yourself and Your FamilyPersonally, I think this is a great deal. Trade commissions can eat up a large portion of your contribution. For example, if you do a monthly investment plan and buy only two stocks or funds - that is 24 trades. Your costs could range from $4 at ShareBuilder to $10 or more at other brokerage houses. Granted, some brokerage houses waive trading commissions if you are buying their brand name funds. For the year, your costs would range from $96 to $240+. And if you are only investing $5000 into a Roth, those trading commissions quickly become an expense of almost 2% to almost 5% of your total investment.

Are you a ShareBuilder investor? What is your experience? Share below in the comments.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Petronius Arbiter Quote

The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter (Forgotten Books) “We trained very hard… But it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized.  I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing:  And a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.”
Petronius Arbiter, 66 AD
(quote may be falsely attributed -

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chase Business Checking Free Terminal - $525 Value

Heads up! It's another Chase Business Checking Account promotion aimed at existing customers again.
This time Chase Bank is offering its business customers a free terminal that accepts credit and debit card payments if they call  1-800-386-9509.
If you have an actual physical store and have been using PayPal or something else to be paid - now you can explore the option of accepting plastic from your customers via this promotion.
Contingent upon the execution of a Merchant Application and Agreement with Paymentech, LLC ("Chase Paymentech"). Free terminal (Hypercom® T4210) operates exclusively with Chase Paymentech's processing services.
Essentially, they are giving you the terminal, which they value at $525, to guarantee future business from you. If it works for you and your business then that is a great deal for you. Personally, my business has not evolved to that point, so this offer which expires 31 March 2010 will be of no use to me. Hopefully some of you can enjoy it.

Did you sign up for this promotion? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Chase Business Checking Free $25 Offer

Another free money offer from Chase.

This time the offer is directed at existing Business Checking Account holders. The free $25 bonus offer comes when you sign up and complete one wire transfer.
Offer valid from 1/1/10 through 3/31/10. Offer limited to one Wire Transfer Service reward/premium per customer, per calendar year. Reward will be automatically deposited into the Chase business deposit account you specify, within four to six weeks after sending your first wire transfer through Chase Online for Business. Reward is considered miscellaneous income and will be reported on IRS Form 1099-MISC.
It was kind of hard to find the information online so I called my old customer service rep to find out the fees associated with wire transfers. For business accounts there is a $25 fee and for personal accounts it is only $20. These fees are both for domestic transfers.

So, essentially, if you are a business checking account owner and have the need to do a wire transfer before 31 March 2010, this offer will pretty much allow you to do the wire transfer for free. I did not really have a need so I ended up not going through with it.

Have you ever done wire transfers? What is your experience? Share below in the comments.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lists of Things: Small Cars

Every once in a while it is nice to just have a go to list of things already compiled and organized. That is all this is for me - a reference point.

Car Buying Tips - Chapter 1I will have to buy a new small commuter car again one day and this list is a compilation of most of the cars that fit in the small and inexpensive commuter category. Obviously, for you this list may not be complete or perfect, but it is a first cut. Prices range mostly between $11k and $14k. There will be many additional determining factors in the final decision to purchase any one of these models including fuel economy, reliability, roominess, price, etc.

Honda Fit
Honda Civic
Ford Focus
Hyundai Accent
Hyundai Elantra
Mitsubishi Lancer
Nissan Versa
Toyota Corolla ($14k+)
Toyota Matrix ($15k+)
Chevy Aveo
Chevy Cobalt
Dodge Caliber

Do you own any of the above mentioned vehicles? What has been your experience?
Do you have any car buying tips? Share them below in the comments.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Wrong Number

Wrong NumberWe have received a lot of wrong number phone calls to our new home since we just moved and just got our new phone service connected. This happened at our last home, too. We moved in, set up service, and almost immediately we were fielding calls from several collection agencies all trying to find a certain woman. It took a while to convince them that we really were new people to that number before they would quit calling. 

In our new home we have received a number of funny calls as well. Some people immediately recognize that they have dialed a wrong number and hang up. Others just start in on a conversation at you and are surprised when you are not their best friend or whatever.

Funny as those all are - imagine if you received a wrong number call from a bunch of criminals reporting in that their dirty work is done. This is the premise of a new book that is ready to launch March 8th, 2010 aptly titled, Wrong Number written by Rachelle J. Christensen. From the back cover -

“I think you have the wrong number.”

When Aubree Stewart answers her cell phone on the way to work one day, she isn’t prepared for her life to change. Someone dialed a wrong number, a simple mistake. But the call changes everything when Aubree overhears information about the murder of a government official. Now she must run for her life as the caller tries to eliminate her.
Aubree is placed in the witness protection program, but when the FBI’s protection fails, she heads out on her own. She soon realizes she’ll never stop running until she can solve the mystery behind the wrong number. Unable to trust anyone but herself, she’s cautious about accepting the help of a Park Ranger named Wyatt Erickson. As she struggles to keep herself hidden from the enemy, she finds it harder to protect her heart.
Teeming with government plots, a dash of romance, and plenty of intrigue, Rachelle J. Christensen’s Wrong Number will have your heart pounding the next time the phone rings!

I had the unique opportunity of working closely with this emerging author and reviewing her manuscripts and proofreading and other editing help as requested. It was a lot of fun to read a story and be able to work with the author as she shaped the story and brought it to life. It is a great read and will keep you turning pages all the way to the end.

Sorry, Wrong NumberSome of you may have stirring recollections of a similar story. Indeed, I too think that this story plays along a similar plot line found in an old radio show that was later expanded to film in 1948. I also saw a college theater performance a few years ago that was grand. 

What is your editing/authoring story?
Have you received any funny or scary 'wrong number' phone calls?
If you have read the book - let us know in the comments!


Related Posts with Thumbnails