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This & That

October 18th, 2012 at 07:09 am

**I applied for a new credit card, and so will have a 4-card system. I am sure I passed on it before because it has an annual fee, and because I don't want a 4-card system. But the 3-card system has been working well, so decided to give it a go.

New system:

-New Amex with 6% back on groceries and 3% back on gas. This is most of our spending, anyway.

-Old AmEx with 2% back on *everything.* Will keep this for insurance, utilities, misc. (Good thing is I don't have to change anything around - new card can just be swiped when used. This card is already set up to pay utilities and insurance).

-Credit union visa for 1% back on everywhere that does not take AmEx. (Mostly some utilities and insurance).

-Target card for 5% back on Target (used for groceries)

I am sure I would never consider this plan, but not for Quicken. With Quicken, I can download all the charges, and I just pay everything off the first of every month. It hasn't been a big deal, which is why I decided to bite this bullet. (I don't wait for statements - I just pay everything off when the month is over).

Oh, and the kicker is there is a one-time cash back bonus that would pay the annual fee for two years. I doubt this would be the best card in 2 years time - so will probably cover the fee for the life of the card. It seems we change our cards around every few years as rewards get changed.

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**I may also take a backseat with the one-time credit card rewards for a while. Nothing about the credit card activity (open, reward, close) seems to have affected our credit score much but this year all sorts of inquiries are showing up on our credit reports. The inquiries = ouch. (I don't know why none particularly showed up last year. We've been applying for the same cards over and over - same card issuers, etc.).

So, I am sure I can be enticed, but in the meantime there isn't anything spectacular and I think we will just work on this 4-card strategy for a while. At least until next spring? Let the credit scores bounce back a bit. Our scores are still A or A-, but rather keep them that way then get to the point where I literally can't get any credit I apply for. (If nothing else, we may want to refinance down to a 15-year loan in the near future). So, I guess we quit (or take a break) while ahead.

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**I am probably going to abandon mortgage payoff plan for the next year. I feel great relief about this decision. I am feeling much more pressure to build up cash reserves (personal circumstances, crappy economy). But also feel like we need to focus on the mortgage. & of course there are always too many competing financial goals. If we could always do everything we wanted, these blogs would not exist.

Anyway, the lightbulb moment for me is that I probably have about 1/2 our HongKong airfare saved up (was going to put to mortgage before year-end) and should have the rest by spring. I decided this was a good reason to hoarde up some cash.

So, yesterday I paid off our recent Florida vacation (had the money, but just waited for payday to not have to move anything around). For next vacation, hoping to have the money saved up a solid year ahead of time. Phew!

It's not quite so simple that I am overlooking mortgage for vacation. I think I am just changing the order of things. In fact, I am pondering using the money to max out our ROTHs in spring, and hoarding up money the rest of the year for Hong Kong. Hong Kong is not a new goal, so just means more can go to the mortgage later.

I like this idea because I can focus on cash a little more, and because HK kept getting pushed up so I Was unsure if I could come up with the money. Yesterday I looked at airfare to get a ballpark - it was much better than I expected. Though I can't buy airfare for another year, so will see!! Will save up far more as a cushion (whatever we don't need will go to the mortgage).

I was initially thinking maybe saving up $3k per year, for 3 years, for this trip. But, we have been talking more seriously about summer 2014, which was stressing me out! Less than 2 years away...

The kids will be spoiled. Grandma wants to take them both on a "once in a lifetime - anywhere in the world" trip when they turn 10. So, that covers 2013 and 2015. That leaves us 2014. We are going to visit a relative who isn't getting any younger and who will likely retire in the states. So, I think it is probably best to aim for 2014.

I may change my mind 100 more times in the next year, but don't be surprised if I abandon mortgage plans in the interim.

There is always more to the story. The plan to do 15-year mortgage isn't panning out so much (I really don't want to give up liquidity we have gotten this year - and there are only downward pressures on income and upward pressures on expenses - for forseeable future). Home value went up $50k+ over summer, so I am no longer scrambling to hang on to 20% equity. Rising interest rates and falling home values could alter my goals again.

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ETA: I updated the sidebar to reflect this change of goals. Total savings goal is the same, but just shifted some of it away from the mortgage. I also put down 2013 goals for future reference.

3 Responses to “This & That”

  1. Looking Forward Says:

    6% - sweet!
    I think the trip to Hong Kong while there is family living there is a wonderful plan.

  2. Monkey Mama Says:

    Oh - and if anyone wants to check out the credit card, it was at MyMoneyBlog. Of course!

  3. ironicone Says:

    Have you considered getting credit cards to help pay for the airline and hotel cost? Flyertalk has some great forums and guides for this. I recently got a citibank thankyou premier card with a 50,000 points bonus. This is good for 500 dollars toward a variety of things, including air fare and hotel rooms. Citi also has credit cards that give 50,000 points on american airlines.
    There a bunch of similar travel cards that could help..s

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