October 13, 2021

I'm Still Here

I'm still around but just not active on my blog.    I've just been on an extended unannounced hiatus.    

I don't know if I'll post again in the future or not.    

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October 4, 2019

Keep Alaska Air Miles from Expiring with FandangoNOW purchase

If you are inactive with your Alaska Miles account for a 2 year period then you can lose your account and your airline miles.    If you don't use the airline frequently then you can pile up some miles only to have them wiped out due to this.     I actually lost some miles not long ago,.   In my case Alaska was nice enough to reinstate the account for me but I doubt that they'd do it again.   

One way to keep your miles in an infrequently  used mileage plan is to find other cheap or trivial methods to generate miles for free or low cost and use that just frequently enough to remain active and delay the expiration.    On Alaska airlines you can get miles with their 'Mileage Plan Shopping' by making purchases with a variety of retailers. 

FandangoNow is one of the retailers in the Alaska shopping portal.    They have items you can purchase instantly for a couple dollars.   

Go to : mileageplanshopping.com and log in with your Alaska account.
Then search their portal to find the FandangoNow and follow its link there clicking the green 'Shop Now' button and you will be redirected to the FandangoNow site

Buy anything there worth >$1 and you're done.
Now just wait.   It doesn't credit to Alaska miles instantly and you'll have to give it maybe a couple weeks.   So don't wait until the last minute.

FandangoNow has various movies you can rent but the good stuff is usually $5 or $6.    If you want to see one of those movies anyway and need the miles credit then maybe thats not a bad deal.    There are also single episodes of TV shows for $2-3.    Or if you don't have any need for a movie rental or show you can always just find a $1.99 item to buy just to get the 2 miles credit and keep your Alaska miles active.

The Mileage Plan Shopping site says:

"While most transactions will appear within 5 business days, some transactions may take up to 15 
days in order to appear in the list above."

I made a $2.99 purchase on Sept. 24th.   I got my miles on the Alaska site on October 4th.
On the Mileage Plan site it posted the item there on October 1st. I got an email from Mileage Plan Shopping on October 3rd saying that I'd earned 3 miles by shopping.   Then October 4th  on the Alaska site it showed up with the 3 miles credited in my Mileage Plan account.
Altogether it took 10 calendar days from the purchase until it showed in my Alaska activity.

I'd recommend putting an item on your calendar to remind you that the miles are expiring 3-4 weeks in advance so you've go some time to go make a purchase and get the miles credited.

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June 21, 2019

How to Tell What Mobile Network Your Tracfone Phone Uses

I now have a cheap phone plan from Tracfone.     Tracfone has taken to using multiple mobile networks.   You could have Tracfone and be on AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon depending on ... um, beats me, actually I don't know what or how they choose.     So anyway I don't know what phone network my was using and I wanted to check.   Took me a while of searching to get a good answer.

I found the answer I was looking for at HowardForums.com     Posted there by someone with username 'hpham'     I'm pasting their full answer here to save it for reference :

There are several ways to tell which network your Tracfone uses.

* Look at the SIM number. The first six numbers of the SIM ID determine the carrier: 

890126 = T-Mobile, 890141 = AT&T, 891480 = Verizon. 

* Use the phone model number. Model numbers ending with "C" or "VL" use Verizon. Numbers ending with "G" or "AL" use AT&T. Numbers ending with "BL" could be AT&T or T-mobile.

* Send a text message from your phone to your email address. Look at the sending address of the email. The carrier name is in it.

My phone has 891480... at the start of the SIM and if I text to my email from my phone it comes through with an address @vtext.com which is Verizons address.    My phone is on the Verizon network.

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May 17, 2019

Should You Delay College and Work To Save up Money Instead of Taking Loans?

The Simple Dollar today discusses the question Is a Gap Year Better Financially Than Going Straight to College?

Setting the other reasons for gap years aside, lets look at the finances.    Does it make sense to work a job before college in order to save up the money to pay for tuition so you can avoid taking out student loans?

My reply to that is below :

For the financial decision, it almost always makes more sense to finance college vs working to save up money.
Why? Because going to college gets you a good paying job and by delaying college you're just trading good job wages post college for low wages before college. If you're not banking on making good money after college then I'd ask why you're doing it at all considering that paying for it isn't trivial.
Look at the 5 years in question and the choice really boils down to :
Gap year : 1 gap year working unskilled job and 4 years in college 
no gap year : 4 years in college and 1 year working after college with a degree and some student loan debt
So you're really trading a year before college working unskilled wages versus a year after college with a degree and the debt.
The average new college graduate makes $50k /yr. Lets take Trents assumption that working pre college is making $20/yr. Really you're trading $50k of income for $20k of income. After tax and minimal expenses you ought to be taking home probably $30k vs $12k. If your first year after college nets you $30k you could pay off the $12k in loans your gap year might avoid and have $18k extra cash.
Now the choice is :
Gap year : work 1 year and net $12k then go to college for 4 years
no gap : go to college and take out $12k extra in loans then work a year and net $30k and pay off that $12k pocket $18k more
Of course the particular numbers will matter. Depends on how much money you can make in the gap year vs your planned post college career.
Gap years can make sense for other reasons. If you're really not ready for college, doubt it will work for you, don't know what you want to do with your life, etc, then those are potentially better reasons to do a gap year.

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