Feb 9, 2010

HSBC Direct Drops to 1.20% APY

While I was getting the feeling that market has started to do better and jobs are opening up, HSBC's Online Savings Account dropped its APY to 1.20%. While I prefer Ally these days for my savings funds but I keep a sufficient amount in HSBC for quick and flexible access which is not available with Ally. Let's hope the continued sinking stops sometime soon.

One Free Grand Slam at Denny's Today

Denny's is doing it again!

Yes, you can get a free Original Grand Slam at Denny's from 9AM to 2PM today. It's my favorite, so if you have never tried it before, today is the day. Select four of your favorite items from a list of ten exciting breakfast items.

Jan 31, 2010

Ally Introduces High Yield CD

After introducing the concept of No Penalty CD, Ally Bank has recently introduced High Yield CD. Also widely being recognized as Bump-Up CD, this product offers one of the top CD rates in the market today.

So what is Ally's High Yield CD: If you have some savings left to be invested into a 2 year CD then this may be a good place to consider. It is a 24 month CD featuring 2.10% APY, and Ally allows you, once, to call them and request for a new higher rate (bump-up) if you notice a better rate during the term of your CD for the remaining term.

Let me put this in simple words: Suppose I open Ally's 2 years High Yield CD today at 2.10% APY. Now suppose Ally bumps up the APY for this product to 2.50% after 1 year, then I may call Ally and request them to apply this new higher rate to my CD funds for the remaining term that is, for this example, 1 year.

Like Ally's most other products, this CD comes with no fees, no minimum deposit amount, FDIC insured, etc. The 2.10% APY is pretty high already and considering the market improving day by day, I believe, the APY will definite increase a lot by 2012 thus making this product a bright option.

Sep 9, 2009

Restaurant.com Update: $25 Certificate For Just $1

Hey people, I know it's a long long time but I am here with a great news. I wrote a post about how you can save money and enjoy your favorite eat-out times at the same time by purchasing gift certificates from Restaurant.com.

If you have not noticed already, today is September 9, 2009 or 9/9/09 ;) so the good people at Restaurant.com might have thought of this magical number and spread out a great coupon code - NINETY. So now you can get a $25 gift certificate for just $1 after applying this code. Almost all coupons are valid for one year from date of purchase so this is a great opportunity to stock up some for yourself ;) I am nost sure when this deal will be taken off so hurry-up and get going ... NINETY @ Restaurant.com
Update: I just confirmed, this offer will run through Sunday, September 13, 2009.

Aug 4, 2009

A Phone Call And HSBC Waived My Late Fee

I could not imagine a late credit card payment, but nothing is impossible as they say. And when I was enjoying in Albany, NY with friends I forgot my due date was also passing-by, the next day I check my HSBC credit card account and I see a $20 late penalty. Believe me I am not that irresponsible, get this: my statement balance was $3 and I was just 1 day late. Well yeah I know thier policy is policy so they had to charge me but somewhere inside I wasn't comfortable with this whopping $20 fee for a mere $3 just a day past due and this was my first default in last three years.

I discussed this with a friend and came to know that I can get this fee waived if I call HSBC customer care and request them to consider my situation. Thus I did so, I called the HSBC customer center same day:

I said: "Hey as you can see from my account details, I am charged $20 for being a day late for payment on my card. I have been with HSBC for last three years and never missed a single payment, is there a chance to revert the late fee?"

While I anticipated a little negotiation, this is what I heard next:

The Customer Rep. replied: "We thank you for being a wonderful customer for three years. I have initiated the credit and you will see the $20 off of your account in the next few days."

Oooo man that was simple, wasn't it? Just a phone call and I saved $20 ;)

Aug 3, 2009

Grocery Shopping: Thinking Of Total Bill The Moment You Enter A Store Helps

With nothing much left to do on weekends, grocery shopping is one of my favorite activities. While I suffice the shopper in me, I also fill-up the items for the week to come and thus many of my posts deal with grocery shopping. In Quicken Reveals - II I discussed how I escalated my grocery bills by misjudging the actual needs and this time it's something different.

I usually shop with my friends and the fun part comes when we eventually go to checkout counters. Every time my question will be: "So who wins today?" I compare the total billed amount for all of us and declare the winner ;) While this sounds funny at first, this became a motivation for us after their few competitive shopping experiences with me. When you focus on your total bill from the moment you enter the grocery store, it changes the way you shop for each and every item on your list resulting in a lowered total.

I realized the importance of this seemingly funny activity of mine when I went alone to Walmart a few weeks ago to get a small list of items, four to be exact. When I go for the weekend shopping my list would be somewhere from 10-12 items and believe me for a single person that's more than enough for a week. So this time it was petty four count and I lowered my guard because I thought my friends are not with me and anyways I am getting only four items. Guess how much I paid? $12. I came home, thought about it and felt ashamed of myself for being so carelss.

Now when I said focusing on the final total bill changes the way you shop for every item, I meant that in a practical way. I would not go to get an item on my list and pick the cheapest one available on the shelve; every individual has different tastes and preferences for every other item and thus it is your prudent call which item should be picked the cheapest and which ones you would not compromise. For example, though I could get cheaper ones but I will always buy my favorite strawberry shortcake; however I had to buy a floor cleaning agent yesterday and I bought the cheapest as any one is good as far as it has detergent base.

Do you adopt any such fun yet beneficial activity when you go shopping? Do leave a comment and share your views.

Jul 31, 2009

My Monetary Snapshot - July '09

Here's what it looks like at the end of this month:

Emergency Funds (High Interest Savings): $7663
Checking Accounts (Non-Interest Earning): $254
401K: $707.72
CD: $2000
Interest + Other Earnings: $73.59
(amazed how come it's $73.59 ;) all added up by paid surveys and free money)

Car Loan Balance: $11,838
Credit Card Balance: $206

July 2009: Total Assets: $10,624 Total Debt: $12,044

Jul 27, 2009

You Gotta Try Restaurant.com !!!

For two weeks under the work load that wasn't all I was left to do. One of my colleagues had guests and it spurred another eat-out plan. It wasn't the first time I used Restaurant.com nor I do any kind of advertising for them but the continued feeling of pleasure, fun, taste and savings altogether prompted me to pen this article.

To start with, I like their tag line: "EAT. DRINK. SAVE MONEY."
  • What You Need To Do?
It's easy and quick! Visit Restaurant.com and look out at the top right corner.

Step 1
is to Find a Restaurant. You can search a restaurant in your area by zipcode, state or city name. You can also select the diameter within which you would like to travel. Once you have the list of all participating restaurants, look for your favorite one. One of the features I like about the listings is the small banner at the bottom of each restaurant pic reading what kind of cuisine you can dine there.

Step 2 involves Purchasing A Gift Certificate value. Simply select the gift certificate value you want to go with, I almost always go for $25 certificate as it seems to be sufficient for 3-4 people. Buy a gift certificate of your chosen denomination.

Step 3 is to Print The Certificate, take it to the restaurant and enjoy your food ;)
  • So How Do You Save?

Every participating restaurant will feature different denomination. So take $25 certificate for instance. Restaurant.com itself discounts the initial price to $10, and the rest of the price cut comes from various discount codes.

Restaurant.com would run weekly discount schemes typically every week (NAPKIN will work through Tuesday, try it). These discount codes could be obtained from several discount code/coupon websites and usually result in 60-80% reduction on the $10 price. I am planning to post the playing discount code every week on Let's Be Curious!!!

  • Crunching The Numbers
Having said that I usually go with the $25 certificate, let me share my recent experience. After applying the discount code the price was $4. The total on the check after dinner was $48. So after applying the gift certificate at restaurant, total bill came to $48-$25 = $23. Adding the cost of certificate itself makes it $27. If you go with friends, splitting $23 left me to pay $7 ... what do you say, isn't it worth it ;)
  • How Does It Work?
Well I honestly don't know the complete inside story but mainly the participating restaurants gain publicity and advertising through Restaurant.com. Additionally there is a chance that a customer who is just trying out today would come back more often later.

However it works, it definitely works with me :)
  • What To Keep In Mind?
Finally the part asking some attention guys, always read the regulation on your certificates before taking them to lunch/dinner. Here are the pointers which I could gather:

a) Mostly you may use Restaurant.com's gift certificate in a participating restaurant only once a month
b) Sometimes you will need to present the certificate while placing the order
c) There is always a threshold total party order value. The certificates are valid only on order reaching these thresholds. For eg. I had to spend $35 or more to use my certificate, not a tough job is it? ;)

Let me know if you know something that I missed out. If you haven't already, try these gift certificates, they are excellent value for a few bucks. Please leave comments and experiences below.

Jul 22, 2009

A Long Lull And I'm Back ;)

Yeah I know, it was July 8th then and it is July 22nd today, but guess what I'm Back :)

As many of you might know I work full-time and if you follow me on twitter then you might be aware that for the past two weeks or so I was heavily loaded with office work. Sometimes it doesn't make complete sense to overkill the 'quest to perfection' syndrome, and that is what happened to me.

While I started to struggle with more important my supervisor calmly said to me
"I had always wondered and still find it difficult to decide when is it good enough".

It was all that took me to realize that I better channel my efforts in the areas of more demand. Doesn't this also sound like a personal finance aspect demanding some prudent thinking?

Jul 8, 2009

Facebook + Starbucks + Friend => A Free Icecream Pint

Free stuff never ceases to pop :)

Here's another people! If you are on Facebook and love ice cream then this deal is for you. Visit Starbuck Icecream's Share app page on Facebook and share coupon for a free ice cream pint with one of your friends. Remember you can share just one coupon so decide it before hand.

This is how it works:
  • Starbucks is giving away 20,000 free icecream pint coupons everyday
  • you share this with your friend and your friend gets the coupon
  • you get $1 rebate coupon for sharing
  • ask (bug :P) your friend to return the favor
  • scheme to run through July 19th
  • coupons are given starting every hour
  • that means over 800 coupons every hour
  • they go really fast so act fast at the strike of next hour
  • recipients may not reside in CO, LA & TN :(
So act fast at the next hour and bag your free icecream .... I just got my friend get me my free icecream coupon. Thanks for the deal @acheapchick

Let me know when you get your coupon and share if you know of any other cool scheme.