Credit Card Research: TrueEarnings Costco & American Express Card.

Since I get emails all the time asking about different credit cards and if people should be signing up for this, that, or the other one, this will be a new feature every week about different credit cards. This week’s card is the TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express. The TrueEarnings Card is designed for Costco members who have average credit and plan to take advantage of the cash back reward program. The cash rebate amount varies according to where the cardholder makes the purchase; 1% is earned on general purchases, 2% is earned for travel-related purchases, and 3% is earned for restaurant and on gasoline purchases up to $3000 (1% thereafter). There is no limit to the amount of cash rebates that can be earned. (If you are reading this by RSS, you might have to click through to see all the details)


Money Quote Friday – They Seem Half-Asleep Edition.

“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” –Morrie Schwartz

I used to walk around half-asleep as well, doing a job I hated only because it provided a nice paycheck. 4 years ago I stopped doing so and have been much happier since. Don’t waste your life doing something you don’t enjoy just for the money – it’s not worth it. Have a great weekend.


Using Evernote To Declutter My Life.

This is a post that originally appeared on one of my other sites, Simple. Organized. Life. .

I cannot believe I have not used this product before last week. Wow, just wow. If you have never heard of Evernote, you are going to want to investigate it very soon. Basically, it’s a free (there is a paid version which has a few more options) organization tool for almost anything you can think of that you can use on your desktop, on the web, and even on your iPhone – and it keeps them all in sync. Anything you upload to this app, from anywhere, is accessible from anywhere else. It is quite amazing. Since I probably cannot do it the explanatory justice it deserves, I am going to lift a bit of text from their site:

Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere. Capture everything now so you will be able to find it all later. Things to capture: Tasks and to-dos, Notes and research, Web pages, Whiteboards, Business cards, Scribbles, Snapshots, Wine labels, and even Twitter messages. And then find them all any time across all the computers and devices you use.

It even works with the webcam built into my Macbook – I can have it snap a pic of anything, be it a document, business card, or whatever, and it brings it into Evernote WITH text searchability. For example, I scanned a friend’s business card using the webcam and saved it as an image in Evernote. I then searched all my notebooks in the program for my friend’s name…and sure enough, his business card came up because his name was printed on the front. This could really change the way I interact with my paperwork and assorted clutter around the house. The other day I went around the house grabbing all sorts of things I no longer wanted to keep in physical form, entered them into the program, and then discarded them. One of these days I am going to open the file cabinet and start scanning everything in there to try to go completely paperless. Some people who use the program have bought some high-end, double-sided scanners to make it easy, and I might have to follow suit someday.

Just to be clear, I have no vested stake in this company. In fact, I highly doubt they even know I exist. And on top of that, the product is free – so I don’t even get an affiliate sale from promoting it. I just love it THAT much. I have it installed on both computers and on my iPhone and it works flawlessly. I have saved everything from a random piece of paper with a phone # and name on it all the way up to decent-sized PDFs of invoices for my clients. If you are serious about getting organized and going paperless, Evernote would be a good way to get started. Check it out if you are at all intrigued!


When Spending The Money Is Worth The Cost.

This past weekend I helped friends move into the new house that they bought. And when I say “helped friends move”, I mean I lifted a few things here and there, arranged some furniture, and did some babysitting. I didn’t actually do the moving part of the weekend – my friends had hired professional movers to do the really hard work. My buddy and I went and picked up the U-Haul truck on Thursday night, and then the two movers took everything out of the old house (more…)


Reader Question: Should I Get A 15 Or 30 Year Mortgage?

I received this question from Jennifer L. over the weekend “My husband and I are about to start the pre-approval process for a home loan, and I was wondering what you thought of 15 year versus 30 year mortgages. We are considering and will probably qualify for either, but we are not sure which one to go with. Thanks so much!”

Thanks for the question, Jennifer, and congrats on getting started on the home-buying process! It is a great time to buy a home, and I hope you find what you are looking for. As for my thoughts on 15 year versus 30 year mortgages, I definitely have my opinion on the choice. And while I am not a financial planner, and you should definitely seek the advice of a professional before you sign any papers, I can tell you what I think about which one I would choose for myself and why I would choose it.

home loans
Creative Commons License photo credit: TheTruthAboutMortgage.com

If I were getting a mortgage, I would definitely be getting a 30 year fixed-rate one, even if I could pay it off in 15 years. This to me is a no-brainer, as it gives you a lot more flexibility in when and how you pay your mortgage. If you are in good times and you have the ability/desire to pay more on your mortgage, you can – and possibly even pay it off in the 15 years you were considering getting the loan for. But if your priorities change, or you lose a job, or something else happens with your family, your “regular” mortgage payment should be low enough for you to continue making the payments and not lose your home.

Just because you sign up for a 30 year mortgage, it normally doesn’t mean that you cannot pay it off in 15 years. (Be sure to check with your lender to make sure there are no pre-payment penalties) If you can do it, that’s great – and congratulations! But if you cannot, or can only afford to pay a little extra on that 30 year mortgage, that’s fine too, as at least you won’t be stretching and trying to make ends meet every month. Having a payment that is too big for you is just not worth the price of admission of you ask me!

So there you have it – I am all for a 30 year mortgage, even if you think you can afford or pay off a 15 year mortgage instead. Even if you make a very good living, getting the 30 year one gives you two options, the high and/or lower payment, whereas a 15 year mortgage gives you only one – the higher payment. I would go with the 30 year mortgage.

What do you guys think? What would you do? What did you do and why?