Finding & Buying Eco-Friendly Checks Online.

A few weeks ago my friend Jim over at Bargaineering had a post up about buying checks online, right about the time that I was, well, looking to buy checks online. Funny how that always works that way! Although I didn’t go with his recommendation as I don’t shop at Walmart for my own personal reasons, I did end up buying from a different company than I have bought from in the past. For the last X amount of years or so, as long as I can remember, I have been buying our checks online Checks In The Mail. I never had any problems with them at all, but this time I was looking for checks made from recycled paper and printed with non-toxic inks – and I managed to find them at a reasonable price!

The Check Gallery came to my rescue, as they only sell environmentally friendly checks. They had a deal for new customers where if you buy one box, the second box is only $.10, so my total came to a whopping $11.06 for two boxes, and shipping by UPS Ground was free. The checks are made from recycled paper and printed with soy-based inks, so the minute amount of checks that I do write didn’t have too much of an effect on the environment at all prior to coming to my house.

Now that I have the checks, I can say that I can recommend these guys if you need checks that are A. reasonably priced and B. environmentally friendly. $11 for 2 boxes of checks printed on recycled paper and delivered for free? Sold. At the rate I go, about 2-3 checks a month max, these should last me a very, very long time!


I Am Not Against Using Credit Cards To My Advantage.

In the last month or so, I have gotten a few emails asking why I talk about using credit cards on this site. I took the time to answer the people directly, but I wanted to mention it here just in case there was anyone else wondering. I am not, contrary to what some may believe, anti-credit card. I have credit cards, my wife has credit cards, and we use our credit cards. Often. In fact, I have 5 credit cards and my wife has 2, and we have about $200K worth of open credit to our name. So we would be pretty far from being anti-credit card, yes? I charge almost all of our monthly expenses to my Chase Amtrak card so we can take free train trips every year, and my wife charges all her expenses to her Working Assets card which gives money to charity when you use the card. And for my business expenses, I still use my American Express Business Gold Card, which I will continue to use until I have enough points to get a decent reward. (And then I will switch those to my Amtrak card as well) So, far be it from me to tell people not to use credit cards! In fact, I have quite the opposite opinion of them…if as a card user you can follow a few easy rules:

Pay off the card in full each month

Paying interest on monthly charges is a recipe for disaster that will only continue to snowball.

Take advantage of 0% interest offers if you carry debt

If you have decent credit, there is no reason you should be paying high interest rates on any debt you are trying to pay off. Use credit cards that offer you 0% interest for balance transfers to reduce the amount you owe.

Don’t think that open credit is “free money”

If you don’t have the money in the bank, in cash, you don’t have the money. Period.

Use a card that has rewards that match your needs/wants

Fly American Airlines a lot? Get an AA rewards card. Like getting cash back? Sign up for a cash back rewards card like the Discover More card, which gives you between 1-5% cash back on all your purchases. Travel Amtrak? Get the same card I use most often, the Chase Amtrak card.

While everyone has their own reasons for using/not using credit cards, I believe that credit cards, if used correctly, can offer real benefits to their users. From getting free money to miles to rewards to 0% interest offers to purchase protection, credit cards definitely have a place in my life and on this site. I hope that helps answer those people who wonder how credit cards can be a valuable part of any personal finance program! What do you think?


Wall Street Using Bailout To Stage A Revolution?

I just finished reading this entire article in Rolling Stone and…wow. I don’t agree with 100% of everything that is written in it, but it sure takes a hard look (from a different angle than most of us have been looking) at the banking crisis, government involvement in said crisis, and the AIG debacle. I recommend everyone read all the way through it, and then we can discuss here in the comments as I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Here are some excerpts that really hit me:

The latest bailout came as AIG admitted to having just posted the largest quarterly loss in American corporate history “” some $61.7 billion. In the final three months of last year, the company lost more than $27 million every hour. That’s $465,000 a minute, a yearly income for a median American household every six seconds, roughly $7,750 a second. And all this happened at the end of eight straight years that America devoted to frantically chasing the shadow of a terrorist threat to no avail, eight years spent stopping every citizen at every airport to search every purse, bag, crotch and briefcase for juice boxes and explosive tubes of toothpaste. Yet in the end, our government had no mechanism for searching the balance sheets of companies that held life-or-death power over our society and was unable to spot holes in the national economy the size of Libya (whose entire GDP last year was smaller than AIG’s 2008 losses).

So it’s time to admit it: We’re fools, protagonists in a kind of gruesome comedy about the marriage of greed and stupidity. And the worst part about it is that we’re still in denial “” we still think this is some kind of unfortunate accident, not something that was created by the group of psychopaths on Wall Street whom we allowed to gang-rape the American Dream. When Geithner announced the new $30 billion bailout, the party line was that poor AIG was just a victim of a lot of shitty luck “” bad year for business, you know, what with the financial crisis and all. Edward Liddy, the company’s CEO, actually compared it to catching a cold: “The marketplace is a pretty crummy place to be right now,” he said. “When the world catches pneumonia, we get it too.” In a pathetic attempt at name-dropping, he even whined that AIG was being “consumed by the same issues that are driving house prices down and 401K statements down and Warren Buffet’s investment portfolio down.”

The most galling thing about this financial crisis is that so many Wall Street types think they actually deserve not only their huge bonuses and lavish lifestyles but the awesome political power their own mistakes have left them in possession of. When challenged, they talk about how hard they work, the 90-hour weeks, the stress, the failed marriages, the hemorrhoids and gallstones they all get before they hit 40.

“But wait a minute,” you say to them. “No one ever asked you to stay up all night eight days a week trying to get filthy rich shorting what’s left of the American auto industry or selling $600 billion in toxic, irredeemable mortgages to ex-strippers on work release and Taco Bell clerks. Actually, come to think of it, why are we even giving taxpayer money to you people? Why are we not throwing your ass in jail instead?”

But before you even finish saying that, they’re rolling their eyes, because You Don’t Get It. These people were never about anything except turning money into money, in order to get more money; valueswise they’re on par with crack addicts, or obsessive sexual deviants who burgle homes to steal panties. Yet these are the people in whose hands our entire political future now rests.

So, what do you think?


Sunday Money Roundup – Spring Is Here Edition.

However, it sure doesn’t feel like it. The thunderstorms are a nice touch, but the snow and hail are a bit much for Spring, don’t you think? The cat has been enjoying the yard, I started doing some planting, and I even changed out the screens in the windows – all to see snow return. Guess you never can tell what Mother Nature will do, huh? Anyway, here are the articles that caught my eye this past week…

Cash Money Life has a Pertuity Direct Peer to Peer Lending Review.

My Dollar Plan talks about How to Manage Money in Your Marriage.

Gather Little By Little has 95+ Money Saving Tips from his readers. Go see if there are any you haven’t thought of!

Money Ning talks about How to Achieve Predictable Stock Market Returns.

Wallet Pop answers the question “Is Credit Card Protection Worth the Cost?

The Wisdom Journal has a great post up about the 10 Places You Don’t Need A Good Credit Score.

Being Frugal talks about traveling on a budget after attending SXSW.

Five Cent Nickel wants to help you Save on Healthcare: Cheap Immunizations at the Health Department.

Four Pillars is talking about Going Back to School During Tough Times.

Mrs. Micah has an interesting (and timely) post about Why P2P Lending is Not a Substitute for High-Interest Savings. I agree 100%, but that doesn’t stop me from having an account and making money with Lending Club!


And The Winner Of “Nobody Wants A Million Dollars” Is…

Earlier this week I started a giveaway for a copy of “Nobody Wants a Million Dollars: How to View Money as a Personal Finance Tool Instead of a Life Goal by Dan Holt, and readers had the rest of the week until this morning to leave a comment on the post to gain an entry. Well, the giveaway is now closed and the winner, chosen at random, is Tight Fisted Miser. Congrats TFM, and please be on the lookout for an email from me asking for your mailing address so I can get this out to you. If you didn’t win, don’t fret – I have another book giveaway coming up in a few weeks, so be ready to enter!