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Archive for October, 2017

Credit Card Rewards Update

October 31st, 2017 at 01:09 pm

2017 TALLY:

$500 Gift Cards (AmEx Gold, Moi)
$500 Gift Cards (AmEx Gold, MH)
$525 Gift Cards (Citi Thank You, MH)
$499 Travel Rewards (Capital One Venture,MH)
$200 Cash (WF Wise, MH)
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$2,224 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

**In addition, various monthly rewards that I will tally at 12/31.

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MH got a $250 reward offer from AmEx. I tracked down the $500 offer link and applied for that one instead.

This is a LOT for us. I am not a big churner and have probably never opened 4 cards in one year for just one of us. Yeesh. I will probably lay off and not do any rewards for him next year.

{This level of credit card churning has absolutely no effect on our credit scores. Hell would freeze over before we ever carried a balance on a credit card}.

As to credit score, which is a question that I get a lot, we have 100% on-time payments and 10 years of good credit on our reports (even if the accounts have been closed). That's clearly about 90% of OUR credit score. No one knows exactly how it all works. About the only think I have ever noticed that impacts our score is utilization ratio. Like when I made a big purchase on our Target card and totally forgot it only had a $500 limit. (So we ended up with a very high utilization on one card). I mean, it probably never would have occurred to me in the first place. It dinged our score for a bit, but maybe just for a month or two. Nothing we couldn't overcome and I am talking maybe it went from 840 to 820. I'd consider this "no effect" since anything above 750 is an excellent credit score. This is something that didn't amount to a hill of beans in the long run. But as someone who needs a good credit score for her job, I will be cautious about utilization ratios in the future. As to most the rest, the only thing I really care about is paying my bills on time.

Since we have mostly never borrowed for anything and this credit card reward extravaganza is a more recent phenomenon, we have way below average # of cards/credit lines on our credit reports. (I think that's CRAZY!! Lord knows we have opened tons of credit cards in the last 8 years or so. How are we below average?!). So it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the future. But that's something that doesn't affect our score because we are at or below average. (P.S. I guess our willingness to close our credit cards is also a lot of this. Stuff older than 10 years completely drops off, so maybe we've already reached a bit of a peak.
If I apply for 4 new cards next year but 4 old cards completely drop off my credit report, it's hard to increase this number much at this point).

Closing credit cards and having only a year or two of open credit doesn't amount to a hill of beans, for us. My theory was since good credit stays on your report for 10 years that clearly that counts for something. I've since seen this theory confirmed, in the years since I figured this out on my own. This is why I have never given a flip about keeping old cards open. That is WAY too complicated for me, to keep track of open cards. (I felt this way when I opened one credit card every few years or so. So it never occurred to me to keep open all of these cards. No Way!). We close all accounts we are not using.

Anyway, so those are some notes on that front. With this $500 reward, we are on track for our second best year ever. About $3,500 in rewards. Year #1 was 2011, which was more than $4,000. (That was the year that Chase had a $1,000 cash bonus. Crazy!)

This & That

October 15th, 2017 at 10:30 pm

**The tax season from hell is officially over. (10/15 is the last of the income tax deadlines.) I am EXHAUSTED. I think I may have enough down time to take a week off in December (the week I couldn't take off last year, so I have an extra week this year). Will see. Still in the middle of another monster project, though the end is in sight.

(I am usually not so busy in September/October, and probably would generally consider May through November to be pretty relaxed at work, but it's just been one of those years!)

**On the home front, hell froze over and MH finally discarded his professional wardrobe. It was mostly bought used and hasn't been worn in 15 years. We had last left it that he could keep it but I was NOT moving with that stuff that he was obviously never going to wear. This was our compromise.

In the end, he asked me to take him shopping for more casual clothes (he wanted help) and he was open to purging his closet after we went shopping. I thought he mean some of his more casual clothing, but he went through it *all* and admitted most of it was not in great condition after sitting in a closet for 15 years.

In the process, I took some time to purge my side of the closet too. My problem was not with his quantity of clothing, but with the fact he was NEVER going to wear it. So when he purged like 90% of his barely existent wardrobe, I felt like I should make an effort on my side of the closet. I was surprised how much stuff I had to purge and the shirts I forgotten I had, etc. Ugh. I can use improvement on my 1-in/1-out rule.

**I also *finally* got through our photos. The problem is my (4-year-old) phone has a burst mode for taking photos. I LOVE this feature, but the downside is I end up with massive amounts of photos.

It was my goal to download and backup photos before our London trip. There were two big vacations in particular that I never backed up. (They were automatically backed up in google, but we have a more extensive backup system in place, and I had never added those photos to MH's more secure backup). I was trying to use London as a motivational deadline, but I had too much to do and was having technological difficulties. Anyway, on one day a couple of weekends ago I made some strides on this. I seemed to stumble upon a more efficient way to get everything downloaded. So I spent all day and just got it done. Finally! Backed up London, and probably all the big vacations we took in the past 4 years. I think the hard part was deleting the endless duplicates.

**Other than being busy on the chore side of things, it's been a very spendy month.

We finally replaced our hot water heater. It was making some strange noises, and was definitely time. We were planning to be more proactive in 2015 but the labor costs to install were more than we expected. I got a lower quote this time around, and am happy to cross this off my list.

For a while now, I've also had it in my craw to pick up some glasses in person. The last pair of glasses I purchased were $10 on Zenni. They are absolutely *awesome*. Is my second pair I've ordered online? But I never got proper measurements for my pupils and I thought I saved enough on glasses the last several years that I could probably splurge on a new pair and try on in person. Sounded like a nice luxury.

Was it worth it? Not sure. I wasn't enthralled with the selection and ended up getting glasses more very functional but nothing as cute as I have been getting on Zenni. I could let it go as there is nothing wrong with practical glasses. The only complaint about the $10 pair was that they were a little heavy. Which I guess I will make note of for the future (Zenni certainly sells very light glasses. I had just never bought such heavy glasses before, so hadn't thought to check the weight).

Whereas Zenni charged me a whole whopping $5 for their anti-glare coating, my HMO charged me $90. So that's going to be the deciding factor. I have had problems with night driving. If the $90 clears that up for me, then it's a no-brainer and definitely worth it. But if I don't notice any difference on the glare, then I am probably just going to stick to Zenni in the future. (I am guessing I won't notice any difference).

Today I ordered some prescription sunglasses online, $30.

My timing is probably pretty terrible on this front. I have been thinking about doing this for a while, but what motivated me to make an eye appointment last week is that MH (who has been talking about this quite a while) decided to go ahead and make an eye appointment for himself. Never wore glasses, but can feel his eye sight worsening. He wanted me to go with him to help him pick out glasses, and I told him was fine since I need to have a check up myself.

In the end he feels his near-sight is worsening but they told him he needs everyday/distance eyewear. Strange as it sounds, it seems to be helping.

They actually upsold him to a $350 pair of glasses, but they were a pair like I had before which I really liked and were very high quality. (I wore for maybe 6+ years). So I told him to just go for it.

I went for titanium (wanting to go much lighter) and paid $250 for mine.

So yeah, though I planned for a while to do a splurge for myself, wasn't planning to make it a double splurge. Makes it a little harder to digest.

So that sums up some big spending.

**In other news, the kids have been really clicking with their cousins and I have been making an effort to get them together. My impression is that SIL is far too busy for us, so I was really surprised when I requested a more last minute get together and she obliged. (I figured I'd try, but wasn't expecting much). So I have to give her credit. She wanted to go do something ridiculously expensive, next time, and told me they had no free weekends for the rest of the year. So that is the flip side of it. They do over-book and tend to flake on our standing annual traditions. But I mentioned we'd be in town one weekend and she is making that work too. Which is nice because though I am doing *all* the driving (I guess it comes with the territory of being the ones who moved), I appreciate not having to take any extra trips. We had a 3-day weekend last weekend, and then if we can kill two birds with one stone next time... That works.

For last weekend, MH had some movie plans and some volunteer commitments, so I just took the kids on my own. It was a nice little day trip.

**UGH! I accidentally cut and paste over my last post. It was about the wild fires in our state. They suck and it's horrible. We are far away and unaffected. I think that sums it up. I mentioned the wind was crazy yesterday and not helping, but it seems to have died down, so maybe they can get these fires under control.