Monday, February 27, 2006

Credit Card Arbitrage - Update

The process is complete and I am now earning 4.75% on $6,500 thanks to Citi Bank. I received my Citi Bank credit card a week and a half ago and immediately requested a check from their website. The check arrived a few days later and now has been transferred to my savings account with ING. The process went smoother than I expected, so I am going to try this arbitrage thing once more. This time my wife will be applying for the card. I will post once everything is set up with that account.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

2006 Budget

After much procrastination and tweaking, I have finally developed a budget that I am hoping my wife and I can adhere to. We will begin tracking each and every expense starting March 1st. I will post the results after the first month. We will see how it goes and how accurate my projections are.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

American Express - The Recurring Battle

Back in December, I applied for an American Express Blue credit card. I applied for this card because it advertised a 3.99% lifetime interest rate on balance transfers initiated during the application process. I ended up transferring $13,000 to the card from two merchant cards issued by Citi Bank. I didn't have balances on either of these cards and was able to request refund checks due to the credit balance the transfers caused. This all went smoothly. Unfortunately, my first and now my second statement both show the balance transfer as a regular purchase and thus is accruing interest at 13.99%. I called customer service and they assured me it would be fixed this month and that my next statement would have the proper adjustments. Hopefully this will be true, so I don't have to go through the hassle of calling them again.

As an FYI, I applied for this card so I could payoff my Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) which had a variable rate that had jumped to over 8%.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Mortgage Escrow Account

In February of last year, we bought our current home and established an escrow account through our mortgage provider. Our mortgage provider collects money from us each month and holds on to it until property taxes or homeowners insurance is due. They then pay those bills and life seems easy since we don't have to worry about paying them. However, it is also an interest free loan to the bank during the months that nothing is paid by them. As such, I have decided to close our escrow account and instead allocate the monthly amount they were charging us to savings and then make the payments ourselves. Sure it gives us an extra couple of bills to pay and worry about, but I also will be able to earn a little interest while we save up to pay the bills. An easy bonus without much effort.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Credit Card Arbitrage

My wife and I decided to take the now popular (at least within the personal finance blogging circle) plunge into credit card arbitrage. Following the advice of Jonathon at MyMoneyBlog, I have applied for a new credit card with Citi Bank. I was approved for a $6,600 credit line and will request a check for $6,500 when the card arrives and online access is established. If everything goes as expected, I will be applying for additional card(s) for myself and my wife.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Net Worth - January 2006

I have updated my net worth as of January 31, 2006 at Networth IQ.

A quick synopsis of our situation--

Cash - We have our cash split between our checking and savings accounts. We currently have saving accounts with Emigrant Direct and ING.
Stocks - This is the value of my Employee Stock Participation Plan (ESPP). I currently allocate $25 each pay period to this plan.
Retirement - Roth IRAs for myself and my wife plus my 401K make up this balance.
Real Estate - The purchase price for our primary residence plus minimal appreciation. We bought this house in February 2005.
Cars - We own a 1997 Honda Accord and a 2004 Pontiac Aztek. The value noted here is from Kelley Blue Book.
Other - My wife started a small business a couple years ago and this is the initial capital we invested.

Mortgage - This is the outstanding balance on our primary residence.
Student Loans - The debt we incurred to send my wife to graduate school. We consolidated this debt in 2005 at 3.125%.
Credit Cards - In December, we transferred our outstanding Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) to a fixed interest credit card. We are now paying 3.99% instead a variable rate that was most recently at 8.125%. In addition, our monthly credit cards bills are included here. We pay these off in full each month.
Car Loan - We are two years into paying a 0% loan on the Aztek.