Picking up Nickels

Friday, November 30, 2007

Capital One Money Market $25 Signup Bonus expires today

Just a quick reminder that the Capital One Direct Banking $25 bonus for opening a High Yield Money Market Account that I mentioned in September expires today.

Here's how it works:

Click on the link below to open a Capital One High Yield Money Market Account by 11/30/2007 and you will receive a $25 bonus (and I will get a $15 bonus). You'll get yourself a no fee, no minimum balance FDIC-insured savings account that is currently offering an APY of 4.40%.
To qualify for this bonus, you must use the link below:


When filling out the application at the Capital One web site, be sure to enter Offer Code AM3VHP8DF to get the $25 bonus.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Ebates.com $10 Holiday Signup Bonus Offer

Ebates.com is offering another double referral bonus promotion of $10 through December 31st, 2007. Check out my earlier post about Ebates for the skinny on how you can get cash back by shopping online through Ebates.com.

Here's how to get your $10 bonus (and I will also get a $10 bonus) on your first purchase through Ebates:

  1. Click on the Holiday Bonus link below to sign up for an Ebates account:

    Ebates Holiday Bonus Referral Link

  2. Make your first qualifying purchase through Ebates by December 31st and earn the cash back offered by that vendor (like 2% off a Dell PC) plus your $10 bonus.
  3. Ebates will mail you a Big Fat Check on a quarterly basis as long as your account balance is greater than $5.


Monday, November 12, 2007

November 2007 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on November 9th, 2007:

Asset October 2007 November 2007 Change
Checking 564 552 -12
Money Market 30,445 33,269 2,824
Savings Bonds 4,607 4,623 16
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 91,336 91,802 466
Brokerage 115,367 105,066 -10,301
401k 109,939 105,529 -4,410
Roth IRA 35,486 34,217 -1,269
SEP IRA 187,738 179,199 -8,539
529 Savings 37,858 36,682 -1,176
Credit Card 0% Balance Transfers -18,675 -18,475 200
Total Assets $594,665 $572,464 -$22,201 (-3.7%)

Uncertainty in the financial markets continues as the S&P 500 index has slipped another 6.96% since my last update. My bottom line was down a bit, although I suppose it could have been much worse than 3.7%:

(chart courtesy of msn.com)

I'm continuing to be in a holding pattern with regard to money moves over the past month, although I do have a couple of CDs maturing next month. Hopefully there will be somewhere decent to put that cash when the time comes.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Low inflation? Not according to my numbers!

As an occasional CNBC viewer, I am always skeptical when someone like host Larry Kudlow frequently trumpets a low inflationary environment as measured by the government-calculated inflation statistics:

Bears will argue against rate cuts because they worry about inflation. But it's hard to find any continuous inflationary evidence.

In stark contrast to Kudlow's politically motivated position on inflation, I present the following comments that Dennis Gartman (Publisher of The Gartman Letter) made on CNBC show Fast Money on October 10th:

Do you believe PPI? I don't know about you, but my inflation, from my business, from my life ... I didn't have a 2% inflation rate last year. I think my inflation rate was nine or ten percent.

My personal view on inflation was in line with Gartman's, so I decided to take a closer look at my cost increases over the past year. Although I found that cost increases for some things were difficult to quantify (like restaurant meals and clothing costs), I was able to see how many of my costs have compared to the CPI-U number of 2.8% annual inflation over the past year:

Expense Annual Increase
Home Heating Oil 31.6%
Gasoline 29.7%
Health Insurance Premiums 18.1%
Groceries 14.2%
Dental Visit (cleaning & X-Ray) 6.2%
Homeowners Insurance 6.1%
Satellite TV 5.9%
POTS Telephone 5.5%
First Class Postage 5.1%
Standard Analog Cable TV 3.8%
CPI-U 9/06 - 9/07 2.8%
DSL Internet Broadband 0.0%
Real Estate Tax -2.5%
Electricity (cost per kWh) -3.2%
Auto Insurance -10.9%

It certainly looks to me like my personal rate of inflation is far higher than the government claims. And although pundits like Larry Kudlow argue that I can now buy a computer or flat screen TV for historically low prices, I worry about the impact that double digit price increases on necessities like food, gasoline, and health care are having on the average American out there. I am particularly concerned about the 13% increase in grocery spending that I observed in 2006, which is being followed up by the 14.2% increase I have observed so far in 2007.

How can we be in a period of low inflation when the Mexican Central Bank raised rates last month due to inflation concerns? When will our government finally admit that its measurement of inflation data is flawed?