PinchingPennies

Saving money to pay off student loans and consumer debt

Chase is making changes

I just noticed that Chase charged me a service fee on my “free” checking account. Gave them a call and they claimed to have sent me an updated ToS with the fee change. So I can either do a monthly direct deposit into that account or keep $1500 on hand. I sit here wondering why my monthly money transfer doesn’t count as direct deposit. If the definition is an automatic ACH transfer each month, my GIRO transfer should be equivalent, after all I do pay a monthly service fee on that transfer.

Guess this means another call to Chase.

You know, if they didn’t act so sneaky, I probably wouldn’t hate them so much.

May 3, 2011 Posted by | Hidden Costs, Unexpected Expenses | , | Leave a comment

Credit Cards and Student Loan Debt Oh My!

Or an update.

My student loan balances have been going down steadily but the credit cards have been a bit of a challenge. When we moved, I had to put part of the move on the credit cards and paying down the balances has been slow going. If I was following Dave Ramsey, he’d say to pay off my smallest student loan to gain momentum and then pay off all debt from smallest to largest. I tend to pay things off from the biggest interest rate to the smallest but that would put my student loans dead last.

Since my smallest student loan is “only” around $600, I think I will focus on knocking that one off first. Maybe Dave Ramsey will be right and it will get the ball rolling so to speak. Even if he is wrong and I am still discouraged, that student loan will never come back the way my credit card balances did. :(

Updated my debt chart to keep myself honest.

April 3, 2011 Posted by | Credit Cards, Student Loans | , , | Leave a comment

More Spent on Overdraft Fees Than Fresh Veggies

Americans spent more money on overdraft fees than on fresh vegetables or books last year. No wonder banks love them overdraft fees and loath to do away with them.

The Center for Responsible Lending issued a report stating that Americans spent almost 24 billion dollars in overdraft fees last year. The banks’ reply? It is better than being embarrassed at the checkout. Not really but rationalize it any way you want, banker.

There are pretty pictures at this write up at BusinessInsider.

November 15, 2009 Posted by | Unexpected Expenses | , , | Leave a comment

ING Direct Closed Our Account!

Apparently they will not allow their customers to live outside the United States. Who knew? That is fine, the husband called trying to get access to our money and they decided to go ahead and transfer it back to our checking account at another bank. They got wind that we were moving to Europe and promptly closed the account.

August 25, 2009 Posted by | savings | , | 1 Comment

Cash For Clunkers & Selling Our Used Car

This is the last weekend for the Cash for Clunkers program – where the government pays for trading in older cars in exchange for cash toward a new car with better gas mileage. This is also the weekend where we try to sell both of our cars.

Friends have taunted us, saying that we will never sell our cars this weekend because everyone will be looking for a new one under the Cash for Clunkers program. A woman looked at our Hyundai last night and she told us of an interesting side effect of the program. There aren’t any Toyotas available here. She noticed we have a Corolla as well and asked about it. It is a 1996 so she wasn’t interested but she did mention she looked for a Toyota first and couldn’t find one because of the program.

For those who are curious, she did agree to buy the Hyundai but we are waiting for her to return with the cashier’s check and no deal is done until cash is in hand.

Fingers crossed! Our car loan will be paid in full as soon as we sell it.

August 22, 2009 Posted by | Car Loan, Debt | , | Leave a comment

Seattle Rejects the Grocery Bag Tax

Being frugal doesn’t necessarily mean being anti-environment. In fact, in a lot of ways they can be complimentary. Whether it is saving money on diapers by using cloth or hanging your clothes outside to dry, it is good for the wallet and the planet.

Seattle recently voted on whether or not to tax disposable grocery bags and in the end, the plastic bag lobby won out with a ‘no’ vote.

My family has been using cloth bags for years to reduce the amount of paper or plastic we are adding to the landfill but it also saves us some money. And it should. Grocery stores don’t offer up disposable bags from the bottom of their heart, they add a charge for them onto the cost of the groceries. The stores we shop at generally offer a $.05 to $.10 credit for each reusable bag that we bring. At the end of the transaction, the clerk reduces our end bill by the number of bags we bring multiplied by the amount of the credit.

Now most stores offer reusable bags for $1 a bag. Those things are generally tough but I found canvas bags to be the most durable. One canvas bag that I’ve had since high school is now starting to fray on the handle. Not bad for 15 years of use. Search Craigslist or Freecycle for free ones and you can start saving and slow the growth of landfill trash today.

Love me some reusable bags. w00t!

August 19, 2009 Posted by | savings | , | Leave a comment

The New Selling Used Crap Economy

It sucks.

We are trying to get rid of 75% of our stuff before we flee to Europe and selling on Craigslist is slow and infuriating. I had someone offer $50 for my $300 jogging stroller because the brake (a bike-type brake) needed to be adjusted. People hem and haw about a $5 purchase. It is flat out not worth it.

Taking books to the big used bookstore near me is almost as bad. On my last trip, I took 2 big boxes of books and had over an hour wait for an offer. There were seriously more sellers than buyers. I asked the guy that helped me about the wait time and he said it has been really busy all summer. Cleaning and decluttering, I guessed? No, the economy. People are broke.

A recession is the wrong time to sell all of your stuff. Dave Ramsey might want to update his advice for this new, sucky economy.

August 16, 2009 Posted by | Earn Money | , , , , | 1 Comment

Thrifty car rental guarantees what again?

I am having a run of horrible luck with businesses lately. Today it is Thrifty’s turn.

I booked a flight to Philadelphia for a few days to visit the husband’s family and meet our new niece. Since they live in the burbs, we need a rental car for while we are there. So I head to Travelocity to figure out which car rental agency to use. Travelocity comes back with a 4 day rental at $151.95 plus tax from Thrifty car rental, coming to a total of $181.11. Since I prefer to go right to the source instead of using a third party, I visited Thrifty.com and reserved a car. I didn’t notice until I confirmed the reservation that the $181.22 rate did not include taxes and so the price of the car was quite a bit higher there than at Travelocity.

Fortunately Thrifty.com has a “best rate guarantee” written boldly across their website.

Thrifty's Best Rate Guarantee

Thrifty's Best Rate Guarantee

So I submit a claim with all the information needed for their employees to find the fare I did and it was D.E.N.I.E.D. The email I received stated that Travelocity’s weekly rate is the same as theirs. Well, that is nice but I am only renting for 4 days.

I respond to their email with exact details from Travelocity’s site.

Review the Total

Thrifty Car Rental Standard Special rental, 4 day(s) at $29.44/weekend includes unlimited miles/kilometers.
Weekend Daily Rate
2 weekend day(s) @ $29.44 $58.88
2 extra day(s) @ $43.69 $87.38
1 extra hour(s)@ $5.69 $5.69

Subtotal $151.95
Taxes and Fees $29.16

Total due at rental counter: $181.11

And this time, I get the following response to my email:

Thank you for your email

Presently, your rental does not match the BRG Terms and Conditions.

Patrice

Thrifty.com Help Desk

Every time I get responses like this, I think of John Grisham’s book, The Rainmaker. As if they are the insurance company that automatically denies the claims hoping people will go away. Well, I am sick on the couch so I am not going away. I asked Thrifty customer service to explain what portion of the T&C my claim violated. I’ll see if they have an answer for that one.

August 15, 2009 Posted by | Hidden Costs | , , | Leave a comment

Big Garage Sale #1

We’re doing it! We are going to sell most everything we own and moving to Europe. The husband was offered a job and it will be a good way to minimize our stuff and pay off some student loans.

Preparing for the garage sale, I’ve been going through things and pricing them, with my 4 year old’s help. LOL Then I go back through and reprice the really egregious pricing problems. We are planning on holding the garage sale this Saturday to get rid of wave 1 of stuff. I’ve found that we have a ton of buried things we can get at least $100 for. My student loan balances are going down in my head.

Dave Ramsey would be so proud.

July 21, 2009 Posted by | Earn Money, Student Loans | , , | Leave a comment

The husband’s student loans are paid off!

About time. I just made the last payment on the husband’s student loans to close them out. That’s the good news anyway. The bad news? We might have to take one more out for $1000. :(

Here’s the deal. The husband was supposed to finish and defend his PhD thesis this summer. The problem is that you need to be enrolled to defend your thesis so we paid $1000 for 1 credit so he could defend. Then it came out, oops, his committee was out of town for the summer and technically he’d be defending this fall. Now he needs to enroll for another 1 credit class this fall. Since we are moving for his post-doc, cash is a little short – so it looks like he will need to take out a small loan. Or put it on his credit card. Either way, adding to the debt.

July 4, 2009 Posted by | Student Loans | , | Leave a comment

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