I had a some good luck last week. Nothing big, at all. I had an overdue book to return. The library has a two day grace period, but I was on day three. So, I was going to get charged $.25/day for a total of $.75. I wanted to make sure that the book got checked in that day vs. the following day, which would make it even later, so I took it to one of the librarians instead of putting it into the return book slot. I explained that I wanted to make sure it was checked in because I was late. She mentioned the two day grace period and I said that I was past that, but my husband had really wanted to finish the book and it couldn’t be renewed because there was a waiting list – so I was expecting a fine. She very kindly offered to check it in and change the date so that I wouldn’t be charged any fee.
Very nice of her, indeed!
From there I went to King Soopers to get some groceries. I gave the clerk a coupon for $2 off $10 of produce. I thought I had enough produce, but the coupon wouldn’t ring up. I told the clerk not to worry, I would just use it next time and make sure I bought enough produce. She just smiled and said I was close enough and “forced” it through for me.
Both times, I explained how I was in the wrong or mistaken about something. And both times I was immediately forgiven. I’ve noticed this pattern before. I’ve also noticed how much more willing I am to work with patrons who take this approach vs. blaming a situation on my company or me or a coworker. “I accidentally registered my kid for the wrong swim lessons – can you help me out?” goes over much better than “you registered my kid for the wrong lessons and you’d better fix it”.
Always give credit. And always take the blame.
Between many of my go to dishes – Caesar salads, cauliflower au gratin, pasta/shrimp Alfredo, homemade tomato soup, regular spaghetti with meat sauce, and yummy chicken tenderloins – we go through a LOT of parmesan. I usually buy the Kirkland brand at Costco, but today I decided to try out another brand that they carry – BelGioioso Freshly Shredded Parmesan-Romano. It’s in a 2 lb plastic bag vs. a 1 lb plastic screw top container. But at $8.99 it costs a fraction of the $11.49 Kirkland brand.
And it tastes better, too!
Every once in a while I shop at Talbots. Not because they offer free shipping, because they don’t. And not because their website is so awesome. It isn’t.
But it’s possible to get gift cards for a hefty discount from sites like Giftcardbin.com. This past season I bought a top that I really like. So, I decided to see if they sold it in any other colors. Once I was able to locate the item on their website (it wasn’t easy) I saw that, yes, it came in the two colors I was looking for – black and ivory. Plus, it was on sale. Yay! I couldn’t find a discount gift card that I was willing to buy. The balances were too high. I was spending around $100 and didn’t want to buy one for $400+ (even though they are 25% off).
Sunday, I was ready to pull the trigger. Except that $8 shipping charge was really bugging me. I called the closest store to me to see if they had any stock, but was told that none of the stores had any. They were only available online at this point. I decided to hold off, even though the stock might all be gone by the time I made up my mind.
And, then, yesterday a $20 Talbots coupon arrived in the mail!
Voila! Decision made. The top I’ve already got fits me well and is flattering. I’ll be very happy that I got these other two. I might even have opportunities to wear them in the next month or so. It might be 75 degrees out this week but, this is Denver, we’re bound to see more cold weather before April is out. Besides, it’ll be November again before I know it. My days and weeks fly by so fast it’s almost alarming.
Years ago, when we were flipping foreclosures, I opened a Roth 401(k) for myself. I contributed to it for only one, maybe two, years. Ever since, I’ve gotten a quarterly statement and paid $25 to the administrating company. That’s $100/year for roughly ten years. And it drives me crazy every time that fee comes out of my bank account.
On Monday I emailed our advisor at Wells Fargo to see if he had any idea what I could do with it. If I liquidated it, I’d have to pay some kind of penalty. Maybe I could roll it into something? He got right back to me. I could roll it into a Roth IRA and, because we have over a certain threshold of investments with them, there’d be no administrative fees. 🙂
I’m kicking myself for not putting this on my To Do list earlier. But, better late than never!
I’m getting better about remembering to use TOPCASHBACK when I make online purchases, typically at Macy’s. I just redeemed $15.16 this morning. I chose getting an Amazon e-gift card which had a 3% premium. Usually I just choose the ACH deposit to my bank account, but I’ve been buying stuff at Amazon recently and wanted to see how it worked. I’ll probably just go back to getting ACH deposits because it’s a simpler process.
But I’m a sucker for premiums!
I went to my redemption history and added everything up and was surprised to see it came to $132.15. It would have been a lot more had I consistently remembered to use the TOPCASHBACK website. Try it out, yourself!
I added another item to my Interests list – learn to speak Spanish. I’ve been considering getting Rosetta Stone for awhile, but never got around to it. While reading Tools of Titans, though, I discovered duoLingo, which is a free online language app. I started yesterday. 🙂
At school, in Calgary, I learned to speak French pretty decently. I’m incredibly rusty at this point, having had few opportunities to ever use it these past 30 years. I have four cousins in Montreal, but I rarely see them. And they’re all perfectly bilingual, so speak English whenever we’re together. Maybe, if Jay and I ever go to France, I’ll be able to practice.
In the meantime, though, I have numerous reasons to learn Spanish. There are lots of Spanish speaking people in Denver. In fact, I just found out that our son is using duoLingo to brush up on his Spanish. He works in the construction industry and many of the sub-contractors are Hispanic.
Over the last couple of decades, Jay and I have usually gone to Mexico for vacation each year. We’re heading to Florida more often these days, but there are still plenty of opportunities to speak Spanish there. If we end up spending time in other warm climates like CA and/or AZ, it will be helpful to speak Spanish. And Spain is high on our list of places to visit. Duh!
Finally, one of my brothers moved to Guanajuato, MX a year or so ago. His new wife is Mexican and, although she speaks decent English, her other family members don’t. I imagine we’ll see them at least once or twice/year – either in Calgary, Denver or Guanajuato. It would be fun to be able to hold a basic conversation in Spanish. We’ll see how far I get.
So, on Wednesday I filed our business tax return using TurboTax. The Federal return is filed for free, but TurboTax charges $49.99 to file the state return. I pay it because it’s easier than figuring it out on my own. Plus, this is the last year we’re filing taxes for our business, an S-corporation. We haven’t been actively doing any real estate for a couple of years and I’m just going to report my writing income on a Schedule C from now on. We’ll be paying more in taxes, but not that much more, and I won’t have to go through the brain damage of filing quarterly paperwork and the business tax return, especially now that we don’t have a tax accountant. Plus, my personal income will go up and be reflected on my Social Security earnings, which will increase my benefit.
Anyway, I’d paid the $49.99 on Wednesday and on Thursday I got an email from TurboTax announcing a special – free state filing until 3/16. Aggghhh! I decided to call and ask for a refund. It was a pain in the butt trying to talk to a real person and, ultimately, we determined that the email was part of a phishing scam (which I sort of suspected at the start but it looked very legit). The woman who worked with me was very nice and, for my trouble, she credited me half of the $49.99 purchase price.
Was it worth it? Yes and no. It was a pain and I was frustrated and it took around 30 minutes. So, it all depends on whether I think $50/hr is a decent return for my time. And I’d have to say, for me, yes it was.
The point I’m making is that it’s often worth making the call to get a refund. The key is to be nice. I know, from experience, that the person making $10/hr has a lot of power. 😉
p.s. I ran my Malware afterwards, just in case, because I’d clicked on a link in the email and it took me to a “destination not found” URL. I’m trying to run it every day, in fact. A lot of the email addresses of people subscribing to my blog are from rather unusual countries and I’m not sure those people are particularly interested in clipping coupons for Bed, Bath and Beyond or King Soopers – if you get my drift. And I’m getting more and more sketchy emails.
I’ve posted about always reading the comments on your bank and credit card statements. But I guess I needed a reminder. 😉
We have one account that has very little money in it these days because we aren’t flipping houses anymore. I’d close it entirely but, years ago, I set up a 401K for the business and four times/year a $25 fee comes out. Boy do I regret setting that up because we only contributed once, I think, and the whole thing is now a mystery to me that I’m going to have to unravel.
Anyway, whenever I get statements for this account I just file or throw them away. So, I was surprised when I noticed the account, which I keep at $50, went to $45. I called to inquire and found that they are now charging $5/month to get a paper statement. The notification was in the “Important Messages” section of a previous statement, which I hadn’t read. I was surprised that they wouldn’t reverse it for me. Usually, all you have to do is ask nicely. Especially, when it’s a new type of charge like this was.
Anyway, I signed up for paperless statements and just chalked it up to not paying attention to my own advice. Serves me right!
Now I really need to do something about that stupid 401K. I need to see if I can roll it over into something else, or liquidate it. I won’t even care about paying a penalty. I’m paying $100/year to maintain it, anyway, and it’ll serve as a reminder to keep things simple.
One of our kids had some 26,000 United miles that were in danger of expiring. He no longer uses the MileagePlus card and hasn’t taken a United flight in awhile. I didn’t want to lose the miles. Nor did I want to trade them for some magazines or other unwanted item(s).
I had a number of options.
I could have purchased miles. Not!!! It’s expensive and totally unnecessary.
I could have transferred points to his account. But the minimum number to transfer is 1,000 and I just wanted to keep his points from expiring.
I decided to buy something through United’s shopping mall. I linked to Target’s website via the MileagePlus shopping site, using his MileagePlus number, where I bought some UltraSwim shampoo and conditioner for $7.99 using my Target credit card. I think it got .5 miles per dollar spent, so a total of four miles were added to his balance. But the expiration date for his miles were extended another 18 months, which was the whole point of the exercise.
I needed the shampoo and conditioner anyway. Bed, Bath and Beyond was out of them when I went last month.
We still get a paper every morning. The cost keeps going up, but we haven’t called it quits – yet. Jay and I like doing the puzzles. I do the Sudoku and the Crytoquip. Jay does the Word Jumble. I know you can do these online, but I like doing them while I’m making and eating my morning oatmeal.
I also clip coupons. I probably don’t use enough coupons to justify the $20/month cost. But I use enough to defray part of the cost, especially when I make a trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond.
I read much of the paper, not that I’m impressed by the writing or the bias. Seems most of the writers are in their 20s and spend more time on a witty, punny headline than making sure their readers can follow the gist of what they are trying to communicate. But, I regularly find something of interest or value in the Lifestyle section and/or the business section so that, between the coupons and puzzles and articles, I feel justified in the decision to keep getting the paper.
As things change (and they will) I may reevaluate. In all likelihood, the paper will quit me!