Money Monday: Mint.com

How many of you are Mint.com users? It was one of those websites I signed up for early on, then forgot about. A friend of mine mentioned it recently which propelled me to give it another try.

Hands down, Mint is the best financial website out there. Gone are the days of tracking debits and credits in an Excel file. Mint aggregates all my balances in one place (my mortgage at Wells Fargo, my brokerage account at Schwab, my Chase credit card, my savings account at Navy Federal, my property value via Zillow). I can track all my transactions, figure out a budget, and see my net worth.

It’s pretty awesome. Check it out.

Occupy Wall Street: Hey Protesters, Read This

Two weeks ago, I got to experience first-hand the Occupy Wall Street protest in San Francisco. I was surprisingly impressed by their organizational fortitude, including their ability to canvas our building and determine the best time in the very early morning to block the entrances. They had flyers stating their concerns. They had a lively band playing coordinated tunes. Had they been practicing?! Incense was burning. I felt like I was back on Telegraph Avenue.

While they were peaceful, they were also denying us our right to work, so that we can make money to pay our mortgages, so we don’t waste our time protesting and blaming others for our own problems! Own your debt. Be accountable.

Do you realize that through our taxes we all bailed out General Motors and Chrysler? Strange, but I don’t see an Occupy Detroit protest. Since the major auto companies received bailout funds, then should we assume that we are entitled to free cars? Just like we are all entitled to free checking? No! It doesn’t work that way. People willingly pay over $100 a month for their cell phone and cable bills, but they adamantly refuse to cough up $3 for personalized customer service at the branch, 24/7 online banking, ATM maintenance, and most importantly, that your money is guaranteed!

Some of the banks, including the one I work for, refused to participate in the bailout but were ultimately forced into it. Forced, that is the truth. We paid it in full plus interest, so the government made money from the banks.

As for the foreclosure mess, do you realize that the banks that remain acquired the servicers who originated those unsustainable loans? And we are working hard to modify those loans based on a customer’s ability to pay. The process is not perfect, but we have to go to work to be able to identify and solve problems. I know people whose homes have been foreclosed on, but that was mainly the result of unemployment, not because of an excessive mortgage payment. Are banks to be the scapegoat because unemployment remains high?

Everyone has a right to protest, but please follow decorum. I spent over an hour outside of my office building because demonstrators prevented us from getting work done.┬áIf I don’t believe in some organization’s or company’s philosophy, I don’t park my ass in front of their office with outstretched arms and refuse to let their workers in. If there’s a strike, the people picket in front of and around a building. That is following the rules, and it is effective.

Wall Street is not without fault, but given the press, it’s an easy target for corporate greed. There’s all this talk about the disparity between the 1% and the rest of us in the 99%. But I went through the Forbes list of richest Americans and I had to get down to snowy-haired Charles Schwab who heads up a full service brokerage firm. I had to go through 90 others before I got to someone who works for a place that resembles a bank.

If you want to protest corporate greed, can we please at least mention Larry Ellison and the plum real estate he is amassing ? I don’t see anyone storming the sprawling Oracle campus.

Do you see where I’m going with this? The protesters don’t have the full picture. Occupy Wall Street is a misnomer.

Money Monday: Credit Card Cash Back

This one’s a doozy. I’ve got a generous credit card for you. It’s Capital One which I’ve used in the past because it’s one of the few credit cards that does not tack on extra fees for using your card internationally.

Check out the Capital One Cash credit card.

  • One-time $100 cash bonus after you spend $500.
  • 1% cash back on all purchases
  • 50% yearly bonus on your cash back
  • No annual fee

It even says on their website that this credit card is good for people with excellent credit. That’s you, right?! Essentially this is a 1.5% cash back credit card which falls second to my superior 2% cash back Schwab credit card—but that deal don’t exist no more.

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