September 24, 2018

10% Cash Back at 200+ Stores

Today Ebates  has a promotion with 10% cash back rates at a variety of stores.   There are over 200 merchants in the list.      Its a 'one day only' promotion.

Some of the stores on the list are :

Macy's (20%)

Shoes.com
QVC
JCPenney
Overstock
Dicks Sporting Goods
Staples
Hotels.com
Travelocity
Ann Taylor
Dell 

And many more.



Standard Ebates blurb: To get cash back from Ebates you need to be signed up with Ebates.  Then simply go to Ebates to get the referral to the store before you do your shopping.  I also get a referral bonus if you use my links to sign up with Ebates.  


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September 20, 2018

FREE Photo Magnets at Shutterfly - pay S/H of $4 for 1st and $1.75 addn

Shutterfly has a promotion today only for free photo magnets. 

Offer is good for either 3"x 5" size or 4" x 5.5" size. 

Use promo code : GOODIES

You get the magnet for free but you have to pay for shipping/handling.    The  magnets are $3.99 shipping for the 1st and then $1.75 for each additional.     So for example you can get 4 magnets for $9.24 shipped. 

1 magnet = $3.99
2 magnets = $5.74
3 magnets = $7.49
etc.

I've bought magnets off Shutterfly a few times and there are a good product.   

--

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September 6, 2018

Ebates Travel Thursdays 10% cash back on Hotels


Ebates has a promotional deal called Travel Thursdays that offers 10% cash back on multiple hotel deals.

Marriott, Hilton, Holiday Inn Express and Ebates Hotels are just a few of the names that you can get 10% cash back on. 

If you're planning any travel then today is a good day to book and get an extra 10% off via cash back.



Standard Ebates blurb: To get cash back from Ebates you need to be signed up with Ebates.  Then simply go to Ebates to get the referral to the store before you do your shopping.  I also get a referral bonus if you use my links to sign up with Ebates.  



--This article contains referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

July 10, 2018

Current Discover Deals promotions

The Discover Deals promotions are one of the reasons that I keep my Discover card.   

Right now you can get 5% bonus cash back for purchases at Restaurants until the end of September.   On top of the quarterly 5% deal there are several other good discounts and promotions on Discover Deals.

Below are some of the more notable (to me) deals and discounts currently offered on Discover Deals:

Note all these deals are subject to expiration dates.   Many last to the end of 2018 but some expire at the end of July 2018.

Instant Discounts
Peapod = $40 off your 1st purchase of $100+
Target = $5 off online purchase of $50+
Budget auto rental = 25% off base rates
Avis auto rental = 25% off base rates
National auto rental = 20% off
Sames Club = $10 gift card when you join or renew
Carter's babies/ kids = 20% off of $40+
Big 5 sporting goods = 10% off
Wayfair.com = $15 off $100+
Shutterfly = get a FREE 8x8 photo book (shipping extra)
Aamco = 10% off any service
PODS storage = 10% off select services

5% cash back bonus : 
Microsoft
Sams club
Groupon
Macy's
QVC
Nike
Old Navy
Samsung JCPenney
Dell Home
Gap
Lego
LL Bean
Crate&Barrel

10% cash back bonus 
The North Face
Under Armour
Finish Line

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July 5, 2018

$10 off and a Free Box of Honey Nut Cheerios with Prime Pantry promotion

Amazon is having its Prime Day annual promotion.   One of the deals is for $10 off of a $40+ order on Prime Pantry.   A second deal offers a free box of Honey Nut Cheerios for a qualifying $40+ order.    You can get both deals on a single order.     Prime Pantry is usually $4.99 a month addon but you can get a free 30 day trial.

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June 8, 2018

Sizes of Rental Units in the US

I previously talked about ownership of rental properties.    A lot of the single family home rentals are owned by individuals and most large complexes are owned by some sort of business entity.   

I decided to look at how the rental housing in the US is made up as far as the size of the rental units.  Do most people live in large complexes, single homes or duplexes or a mixture?

I got the data from 2015 Rental Housing Finance Survey

Here's the graphic :



And the figures in a table :

 Number of Units on Property1 47,543
   1 unit 19,283
   2 to 4 units 6,523
   5 to 24 units 4,938
   25 to 49 units 4,081
   50 to 99 units 3,249
   100 to 149 units 1,908
   150 units or more 7,561


A large % of rentals at 40% are single family homes.      The majority of rental units, 54%, are in 1-4 unit buildings.    20% of rental units are in large buildings and complexes of 100 units or more.


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June 5, 2018

Privacy Notice

As author and owner of Freeby50 I do not personally capture or retain or use any personal information from visitors of this site.

The blog uses software provided by Google corporation and their software may use cookies to store information about user visits.   Please see the full google privacy notices for information on their use of cookies. 

If you subscribe via email newsletter to the blog then your email information is stored by the newsletter maintainer.   Personally I do not run that and you can get information on their newsletter system directly.   

If there is any personal information you'd like removed from this blog 's posts hen please email me directly.


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May 16, 2018

$350 Bonus For Opening Chase Checking and Savings accounts


Chase bank is currently offering a $200 bonus and a $150 bonus for opening Checking and Savings accounts respectively.     For the checking you have to set up direct deposit from your job or government benefits and with the savings it requires a $10,000 balance.

Read all the details at the Chase site.


Here's the key fine print for reference:

 To receive the $200 checking bonus: 1) Open a new Chase Total Checking account, which is subject to approval; 2) Deposit $25 or more at account opening; AND 3) Have your direct deposit made to this account within 60 days of account opening. Your direct deposit needs to be an electronic deposit of your paycheck, pension or government benefits (such as Social Security) from your employer or the government. After you have completed all the above checking requirements, we'll deposit the bonus in your new account within 10 business days. To receive the $150 savings bonus: 1) Open a new Chase SavingsSM account, which is subject to approval; 2) Deposit a total of $10,000 or more in new money into the new savings account within 10 business days of account opening; AND 3) Maintain at least a $10,000 balance for 90 days from the date of deposit. The new money cannot be funds held by Chase or its affiliates. After you have completed all the above savings requirements, we'll deposit the bonus in your new account within 10 business days. The Annual Percentage Yield (APY), for Chase SavingsSM effective as of 3/16/2018, is 0.01% for all balances in all states. Interest rates are variable and subject to change. Additionally, fees may reduce earnings on the account. You can receive only one new checking and one new savings account opening related bonus each calendar year and only one bonus per account. Bonuses are considered interest and will be reported on IRS Form 1099-INT (or Form 1042-S, if applicable).

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May 15, 2018

Does This Mean Chase is Rejecting Me (again)?

I just applied for a Chase Ink Business Cash Card since it currently has a $500 cash back promo after spending $3000.     Credit to Slickdeals for reporting the deal.

I got this reply :


I suspect I might be getting a rejection letter in the mail in a few days.    We'll see.

I signed up using my rentals as a business and I think thats legit.   But it might not pass their muster if I filled it out wrong.    I suspect that I might fail the chase 5/24 rule which rejects applicants who've signed up for 5 cards in the past 24 months.   I'm not sure as I've lost track of the cards I've applied for.


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May 9, 2018

Labor Force Participation for men Age 65+ from 1850 to 1990


I found this paper excerpt on NBER titled The Evolution of Retirement: An American Economic History, 1880-1990   Figure 2.1 in the document shows the labor force participation for men age 55-64 and 65+ from 1850 to 1990.   

Here's the chart :

Source : NBER


Most men over 65 were working up until the 1940's. 

The concept of retirement as we think of it now wasn't invented with Social Security.   But its still a relatively new thing in the history of the world  Just 150 years ago the vast majority of men over 65 were still working.

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May 7, 2018

400+ Stores Giving 15% Cash Back at Ebates Today

Today Ebates is celebrating its 15th anniversary by offering 15% cash back across 400+ stores.


Some example stores you can get 15% at are : 

Macy's 
Dell
Overstock
Shoes.com
JCPenney
Dicks Sporting Goods
Lenovo
Ace Hardware
Avon

Some even higher like : 

ProFlowers 30% 
Magazines.com 45%




Standard Ebates blurb: To get cash back from Ebates you need to be signed up with Ebates.  Then simply go to Ebates to get the referral to the store before you do your shopping.  I also get a referral bonus if you use my links to sign up with Ebates.  

-- *This article contains referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

May 3, 2018

Institutional vs Individual Ownership of Rental Properties


Most single family and 2-4 unit rentals are owned by individuals rather than businesses.

I found the New York Times article "Mom and Pop Own Fewer Rental Units" from last summer and they had data for 2001 and 2015.    Here's a graphic from that article :


Source: New York Times


The chart shows the % of each rental size category that is owned by an "institutional investor".   
They list the 2015 Rental Housing Finance Survey as their source for the numbers.    Looking further into that data I find that they break down ownership into categories of "Individual Investor" and several different kind of business entities.   The lists includes : Trustee for estate,    LLP, LP or LLC ,    Tenant in common,    General partnership,    Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), Real estate corporation,   Housing cooperative organization, Nonprofit organization,Other and Not reported.     I'm not sure how they split it up.    Its unclear how they decided which of those categories are "institutional investors" and which aren't.    For example an LLC might be some big hedge fund or it might be an individual.   In any case if we just look at the "Individual Investors" and then assume that anything else isn't an individual we still see that most properties in the  1-4 unit size are owned by individuals.


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April 20, 2018

My Marginal Tax Rates 1997 - 2018

I've been employed for the past 21 years with a healthy salary.    Over that time my base salary has gone up about 5% annually in total.    It grew faster in the first 10 years then the raises slowed down as I peaked within my job role.    At the same time my marginal tax rates have gone down.

Here is the plot of my personal federal income tax marginal tax rate :



I got the marginal tax rates from the information at the Tax Foundation up to 2013 and at Moneychimp after that


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April 17, 2018

PSA : Amex Blue Does NOT Count Fred Meyer as Groceries

The American Express Blue Cash Preferred card has a nice 6% cash back reward for groceries.     The card carries a $95 annual fee but if you use it for groceries this can more than pay for the annual fee.   Except at Fred Meyer...

Amex Blue does not register Fred Meyer as a Grocery and thus you don't get 6% back from Fred Meyer purchases.    This is true even if you buy only groceries at Freddy's.

I just wanted to put this out there in case I can help keep someone else from making the same mistake as me by assuming Freddy's would count as grocery.

I'm not sure but I would assume that all Amex don't report Fred Meyer as grocery, not just the Blue cards.   But the Blue cards are the ones that have extra cash back for grocery as far as I know.


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April 12, 2018

Hulu + HBO for $13 for 6 months plus possible $15 cash from Ebates

Hulu is currently running a discount deal to add HBO for just $5 per month for 6 months.     You can add that to the $8 basic Hulu subscription for a total of $13 per month for both Hulu and HBO.    Thats a $2 monthly savings versus HBO Now alone and you get Hulu for free. 

Here's the link with the info on the Hulu deal

On top of that if you're a new Hulu subscriber you can also get $15 cash back via Ebates for signing up for Hulu.



Standard Ebates blurb: To get cash back from Ebates you need to be signed up with Ebates.  Then simply go to Ebates to get the referral to the store before you do your shopping.  I also get a referral bonus if you use my links to sign up with Ebates.  

--This article may contain referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

March 19, 2018

Community College is Free

I apologize for the clickbait lie title.     Community college isn't actually "free".     Well not exactly.   The average net tuition for community colleges is actually NEGATIVE.    That means that after paying for tuition and fees on average students end up with extra cash in their pocket. 

The College Board Trends in College Pricing data  shows it :

source : College Board, click image for full size

Right now as of the current 2017-2018 school year the average cost for students for tuition and fees is : -$330.   

In other words community college is free.   On average.

Well OK its more accurate to say that the average financial aid and grant package and tax incentives for community college students exceeds the average cost of tuition and fees.   But who would have clicked on an article with THAT title?   Boring!


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February 27, 2018

If You're Buying Prescription Drugs Via Insurance, Also Ask About the Cash Price


Just saw this article posted from the New York Times :

Why Your Pharmacist Can't Tell You That $20 Prescription Could Cost Only $8  (paywall)

The article exposes a practice by which pharmacists are gagged from telling customers that drugs would be cheaper with cash purchases.      Now I don't know how common those gag orders really are.   But it seems they happen.     It also highlights the fact that cash prices for drugs may be less than the negotiated insurance rate.   

In any case, the take away here for me is that if you're buying a drug at a pharmacist then you should ask them what the cash price is.


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February 21, 2018

Cord Cutting - Mediasonic HOMEWORX : Is A Good Basic $30 OTA DVR

Just after Christmas I bought a Mediasonic Homeworx HW220STB*  DVR.   Right now they sell for $29.99 at Amazon.   My verdict on the device is that its a good value and works well.     However the interface is fairly simple and a bit clumsy.

I've found that we watch less and less cable television while our cable TV bill goes up and up.    The value we get out of paying for cable TV has dwindled.   At the same time the different choices and ways to watch TV has increased.     I've been testing out OTT (over the top) streaming TV services.   However most of the OTT options have limited broadcast network channels.   For example, Sling TV is pretty good but they only have ABC, NBC and Fox in select markets and where I live I can only get them on demand.   Of course you can watch the broadcast networks via an antennae but I've come dependent on a DVR.    Hence the personal desire for a OTA DVR.

So how well does the Mediasonic Homeworx HW220STB  work?     The main points good and not so good :

Features
- Works well
- Cheap
- Did I mention its cheap?
- Also functions as a karaoke box.  (programming not provided)

Limitations
- Only watch or records one channel at a time
- Very limited program guide based on info within the broadcast feeds.
- Requires USB media bought seperately
- Clumsy, crude interface and remote control
- Needs reliable TV signal to be effective as a DVR



If you want a well working OTA DVR for cheap then this is a good device and I'd recommend it.    The very reasonable $30 price tag makes this thing a great value.    However I would point out the limitations.     

The box records fine and I've had no problems other than signal issues (see point on that below).    Reception is good and it tunes networks as well as my TV does with the same antenna.    
The interface is functional enough but its not fancy looking and reminds me of something from 20 years ago.    Some of the controls on the remote and the functions are't intuitive.     It will take a bit of getting used to and I still find myself searching on the remote for the right button sometimes.
The program guide only gives you maybe 24 hours of information and its totally dependent on what the broadcast network imbeds in their signal.    If you want to set a few recordings days in advance before you go on vacation you'll have to look up the air times somewhere else and set them manually.   
The box comes with no storage and you need to provide a USB drive to store your shows on.   I used a USB hard drive that I had handy and it works fine.     The maker recommends using a HDD with it but it does support USB flash.   Users report mixed results with USB flash so you might want to make sure you've got a better speed device if you try USB flash.    And lastly a big point: 


You need a good and consistent TV signal

I figured out after buying the DVR that a poor or unreliable TV signal makes an OTA DVR  worthless.    Well not exactly worthless but not really good enough.     As much as people praise cord cutting and the great channel selections now available OTA I don't recall anyone pointing out that TV reception can be unreliable.    Some of us will remember having to get up in the middle of a TV show to adjust the TV antennae.     Well that hasn't changed in the 21st century with HD TV.    TV signals are still variable and you can still get random interference that causes your signal quality to fluctuate.    This isn't so much of an issue if you're watching a show live.   It may be an inconvenience to have to adjust your antenna a little but its just that - a bit of an inconvenience.    However if you're recording a show via DVR and your signal goes bad you're not there to adjust the antenna and the DVR records a pile of digital garbage instead.  If your TV signal is prone to random fluctuations then it could make recording programs with a DVR a pretty frustrating and unreliable experience.      To be clear this has nothing to do with the DVR box itself of course.   It can only record the signal it gets. 


While I recommend this box and do think its a great value the last point really hobbles its usefulness for me.  I don't know about you but I really don't want to sit down hit 'play' to watch a recording, get 10 minutes into it and then get hit with 50 minutes of a screen full of recorded digital garbage because the TV signal went wonkey two nights ago in the middle of the show while it was being recorded.

Update - May 7, 2018 : 
After writing this I figured out my antenna problem and my reception is now very dependable.   I've been using the Mediasonic box a little bit over the past few months and it has been ~90-99% reliable.   I have had it mess up my programming schedule a few times and it failed to record a show because of it.   The box does also occasionally lock up and crash but it is easily fixed with a power cycle.   I've successfully recorded dozens of hours of TV with it and it works great but its not 100% dependable.


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* yes thats a commission link, if you like my articles and decide to buy one of these please follow my link.   The commission isn't impacting the nature of my review at all. 

February 5, 2018

Stocks in Roth and Bonds in 401k To Minimize Taxes

Most people have a mix of stocks and bonds in their retirement accounts.      Stocks are expected to grow faster than bonds in the long run.    If you put your stock investments in a tax free account and your bonds in a pre-tax account you'll come out a bit ahead in retirement. 

Lets illustrate this with an example.   Pretend you've got $100,000 split evenly between Roth and 401k accounts with $50,000 in each.   Now say you've got a 50 stock / 50 bonds allocation.    That would give you $25,000 in stocks and bonds in each account.   Now say your stocks grow 10% over 20 years and the bonds grow 5%.    Assume you've got a 33% tax rate on your 401k withdrawals.

Roth 70/30 410k 70/30
stock $25,000 $25,000
bond $25,000 $25,000
10% for 20yr $168,187 $168,187
5% for 20y $66,332 $66,332
total $234,520 $234,520
tax $0 $77,392
after tax $234,520 $157,128
TOTAL $391,648


Now instead put all the stocks in the Roth and all the bonds in the 401k and you get :

Roth 70/30 410k 70/30
stock $50,000 $0
bond $0 $50,000
10% for 20yr $336,375 $0
5% for 20y $0 $132,665
total $336,375 $132,665
tax $0 $43,779
after tax $336,375 $88,885
TOTAL $425,260

In the end you've got about 8.5% more money simply due to allocating your investments per the tax advantages.

Note:   I'm not saying that you should *only* have stocks in the Roth and bonds in the 401k.    In the above example its set up that way just to illustrate.  If you had a 70/30 split allocation then you'd still need some bonds in your Roth.    Further, reallocating periodically to keep a specific % asset allocation isn't possible if all your stocks are in one and all the bonds are in the other.

Admittedly this is pretty contrived example, but I did that to illustrate the point.    Its more likely you'd have money invested periodically annually over a long period rather than starting with a lump sum and its also likely your effective tax will be lower. 

I didn't come up with this idea, but I can't recall where I saw it.

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January 26, 2018

It Should Not Surprise Us that 1 in 6 Millennials Have Saved $100k


Recent headlines are telling us that Millennials: 1 in 6 now have $100,000 socked away    And when reading that I wonder 'why is this news'?        Will it be followed by reports that 1 in 50 Millennials are millionaires or that 1 in 2 millenials have over $50k in their 401k?   Cause I suppose both those are true too.

I don't think its any surprise at all that 1 in 6 millennials have over 100k saved.   Theres a few reasons why it should be expected.

Net worth and savings balances increase with age and millennials are aging.   

As millenials get older it is really just a given that their savings will grow on average.  This isn't any kind of generational phenomenon its just a simple reflection of peoples savings growing over time.

In the survey of consumer finances the mean holdings of financial assets by age in 2013 was :

Age of head (years) Mean  $k
Less than 35 38.3
35–44 148.8
45–54 253.1
55–64 411.2
65–74 566.1
75 or more 314.6
Note this is just among households who have financial assets but >90% do for every age group.
This kind of distribution has held over time too so you could see similar growth of assets by age in previous years.    As you can see there the jump from the under 35 to the 35 -44 age groups crosses the $100k mean.   


If you make a decent amount its not so hard to pile up $100k over a few years. 

I used one of DQYDJ.com's nifty calculators to find the income ranking for people age 18-35 and it shows that ~18% of households with heads in that age group make $100k or more.     If you are in your late 20's or early 30's and make 6 figures then its not too hard or unusual to have piled up $100k across your savings.   A 5% 401k investment and employer match would get you there.

People also inherit money.   

I found this interesting BLS paper with a lot of data on inheritances :
Inheritances and the Distribution of Wealth Or Whatever Happened to the Great Inheritance Boom?
Its a bit old but the figures give us a reference on how common inheritances are and how much people receive.   From 1989 to 2007 about 12% of people under age 35 inherit or receive gifts that average ~$146k.  The average skews high and the median value was $28k.     But still thats a sizable chunk of people who receive large gifts or inheritances.    If the median is $28k received by 12% then 6% of people got over $28k.   I'd assume that 1-2% of people inherit over $100k but that is more an educated guess.

I think that instead of proclaiming a sense of surprise that the younger generation has saved money they should have honestly stated 'hey we shouldn't generalize entire generations'.

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