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Finders Keepers

Last night I found two 5 dollar bills in the parking lot outside Z’Tejas. This was immediately followed by Heather’s happy dance. I think that’s the most money I’ve ever found.

15 Responses to “Finders Keepers”

  1. stardo says:

    i’d say if you had more happy dances outside of more bar & grills, you’d soon find yourself mysteriously finding many more dollar bills here and there.

    (sorry, just had to poke fun)

  2. stardo says:

    this is also, incidently, the single biggest reason why i never carry cash. (it always seems to make its way out of my pockets and into the hands of women i don’t know, by whom i mean the cashiers at the grocery stores =P) the 5% cashback might have something to do with it too, i dunno.

  3. admin says:

    Ya, how in the heck are you still getting 5%? I thought all cards that were giving that much stopped.

    And I think happy dances of the kind you refer to draw in WAY MORE than 10 dollars. A little extra spending money would be nice…. =P

  4. stardo says:

    dancing of that variety can earn you 6 figures, in the right places. ;)

    5% cards in no way have disappeared. some may be more or less difficult to find, but in no way have they gone away.

  5. admin says:

    Well, I bet you don’t get 5% on all purchases. And even if you did, I bet there’s a cap at, oh, say $300 a year?

  6. stardo says:

    first of all, 5% on everything would be awesome, but the very best card that i know of right now gives you 2% on everything, and that card is hard to get.

    i don’t get rewards on restaurants, but cards that give 5% cash back for restaurants do exist.

    alright, well here’s what i do, card-wise:

    food (restaurants + groceries): chase rewards card
    gas: mbna aaa gas card
    plane tickets: chase united card (the one with no annual fee)
    everything else: american express blue

    i spend roughly $250 a month in food, $75-$100 in gas, $0-$200 in everything else. you see why i am not concerned about a cap (the most i could make in food, if i spent it all in groceries, is $150 a year).

    i like the mbna aaa gas card because it applies a credit monthly to the card. you have to spend the same in other purchases as you spend in gas to get 5% back in gas (effectively making it less than 5%), but i don’t worry about that because i charge my student loans ($140/month) onto that card. i see it as a decent way to get rewards on my student loans. i could just charge the gas to the chase rewards card, but then i might have to start worrying about a cap, and besides for tracking purposes it is easier to separate the two.

    i could earn 1% on misc. expenses via the chase card, again, but i charge it to the american express. less than 6500 you get 1% back on groceries, drugstore, gas, and .5% back on everything else. greater than 1% you get 5% back on groceries, 1.5% on everything else. that 1.5% is what i am aiming for. i mostly charge things like free-after-rebate to the american express to bring the total up. my cell phone and karate bills are both charged to it as well. no clue if i can charge up to $6500 in a year, but i just got the card and with enough FAR items i might very well be able to. i also charge my car insurance on my amex. that’s roughly $1000+ a year right there.

    while i might be better off getting a restaurant-type card, i think i would actually be better off going to less restaurants. having a restaurant card would only give me less motivation to actually go to the store and to make my own meals.

    i also do some things to try to increase my cash back, like get a fatwallet bonus, staples rewards, best buy rewards, blockbuster rewards, coupon doubling/tripling, etc. connecting safeway in with your united miles makes grocery shopping even better, reward-wise. setting up upromise to be connected with all the major grocery cards is also pretty nice, though admittedly not as noticeable, reward-wise, unless you are on the look out specifically for upromise items.

    living with my roommate i don’t have many bills, but if i did i would try to get rewards for all of them.

    in all this, i don’t go out of my way to buy things just to get rewards, but rather try to get rewards for things i am already spending money on. it also encourages me, in the case of restaurants and misc. spending, to try to spend less money. the best rewards you can get are for not spending money in the first place, though FAR items are notable exceptions to this (as long as you actually get the rebate!).

    just some thoughts.

  7. stardo says:

    i meant greater than 6500 on the amex comment up there, as opposed to “greater than 1%”.

  8. stardo says:

    i also don’t mean to say that all my other expenses besides food and gas each month totals between $0 and $200. i have rent, insurance, karate, cell phone, student loans, all things alluded to in the post. what i meant to say was my misc. other expenses (say, a car wash, a new toy – read: computer part, bday gift, etc) tends to be between $0 and $200, sometimes worse on the bad months.

    i also include the expense of FAR items into misc. other expenses. i credit the money i get from them likewise.

  9. admin says:

    Wow, that’s alot of reading. As you know, I am just now getting into the “frugal” mode, so I have a ways to go before I have my finances in tip-top ultra saving condition. For now, I just use my MBNA Alumni card for everything and it gives me points, on who knows what, I don’t even know…I figure I will look into other cards after I get all my other things (like my Roth IRA, savings accts, etc) all figured out. At the moment I have like $75-$100 in points already accrued, and I didn’t use that card for a long time because I forgot about the points thing until recently. I can cash that out for money, or Amazon certificates, or whatever. I also have a Capital One card, but I’m not going to use that anymore I don’t think, since it gives me absolutely no rewards. That will probably be the one I replace in the upcoming months.

    I cannot believe you only spend $250 on food and groceries. This includes all the eating out you do? I guess that is why fast food is so popular here in the US. It’s cheap. Gosh, I spend way more, but as everyone knows, I am on a very specific diet, and I cook for myself everyday using fresh (non-processed) ingredients…this makes the majority of my expenses every month = food. If I were to have a card with a cap on it for groceries, I would reach that in the first few months, I’m sure. I have been researching cards a bit, as I don’t want to have five million…just enough to cover the basics. I don’t need one for restaurants, since I rarely go out (about once a week on average). Now that I’m a student I never go out for lunch, and I always make dinners during the week. Every once in a while I’ll go out for sushi or whatever I’m craving on the weekends.

    Hmmm…gas is a big one, that I could use rewards for, especially with my gas-guzzling SUV. However, now that I have started riding my bike everyday, I seriously hope to cut down gas expenses. A gas rewards card would still be nice though.

    Plane tickets — I almost ALWAYS fly southwest. So a United credit card would do jack squat for me. I could get a southwest credit card, but I don’t really think it would be worth it. The amount of money you need to spend to reach a free ticket is ridiculous.

    I just found out about the fatwallet bonus recently, have been using that. Also, savings.com has a similar rewards system that I’ve used when fatwallet doesn’t offer the bonus. This is mostly for my camping/biking stuff I’ve been splurging on lately. I’m not aware of the staples rewards, best buy rewards, blockbuster rewards? Do you have to buy things at these places? I never do, so it probably wouldn’t apply to me. I rent all my movies at the library for free, so no need for blockbuster. I’m HUGE into coupons, and in fact that is where most of my recent savings have been coming from. I did not know that Safeway connected with your United miles. But again, I don’t fly United, so this would probably not help me.

    Thanks for sharing, it always helps to see what others are doing.

  10. stardo says:

    why do you think americans (including me) are so fat? in spite of inflation, price of food (even dining out) remains relatively inexpensive. $250 is actually really high. my parents together spend only a little more than that (last i saw around $300). $150 is doable, especially if you make most of your own meals from scratch.

    5% on a $500 reward cap implies you spend $10,000. i find that hard to believe. reward caps are rarely an issue, unless you use the reward caps for 1 card for *all* of your expenses. i would think that would be rare so you can build credit history on other cards as well.

    i’m sure southwest has some sort of frequent flyer mile program and some sort of credit card to go along with it. you can get frequent flyer miles even without the credit card. you should be able to sign up for free on their site and every time you fly you get miles. they usually don’t expire (especially if you keep getting more, one thing the safeway miles are good for). you might not spend enough in a year to earn a free flight, but you might in 5 years. time is on your side, if you can get something for next to nothing, might as well.

    staples rewards is great and free. best buy rewards is too, though a lot is overpriced there. blockbuster is like $10 a year and gets you a free non-new release monday-wednesday for every movie you rent. i don’t watch many movies anymore, but i did in college.

    i don’t think it’s a crime to drive an SUV (at least not yet), but you’ll certainly pay for it at the pump. bus, carpools, and bike cut down on that a lot. like i said my gas is $75-$100, and i live just about as far from intel as you do from tempe. not sure if you have to pay for parking either, but that can add up.

    i can go on and on about cutting expenses, but much of it has already been talked about in online forums, especially related to frugality. do due diligence and take the reading material to heart and you can save quite a lot. good luck.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The difference between processed, pre-packaged food and fresh, organic food is HUGE. In terms of both cost and health effects. I could easily spend close to nothing on groceries, if I shopped solely by sales and coupons. But that would mean me eating CRAP. I don’t eat anything out of a can or a box if I can help it. Now, as for my roomates, I’m not against fattening them up with crap ;)

    I was spending roughly $10 a day ($300 a month) a while back on gas alone. That was when it cost me $60 to fill my tank, and I lived 20 miles from civilization. And my groceries were coming out to $400 a month. So a cap could easily be reached in that scenario. In fact, on average, I spend $400 a month on groceries. I could pare this down, but I see no need to. We each have our priorities. And I place mine on food/exercise.

    And yes, I’m already a member of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Program. The points only last for 2 years though, so it’s hard for some people to cash them out in time.

    Parking has more than quadrupled since I went to ASU as an undergrad. Next year it will cost $700+ for an annual parking pass. I can’t believe they expect graduate students, most of whom are living off a $21,000 stipend (pre-tax mind you) to pay that much for parking. It’s ridiculous. I guess that’s why most live in the slums next to campus and walk/ride their bike to school.

    But ya, all this has been a great distraction from the presentation I’m supposed to be writing. Thank you.

  12. stardo says:

    i enjoy being a distraction as well as being distracted.

    the majority of the food i buy from the grocery store is healthy and very cheap, though few would be happy living on eggs, oatmeal, and peanut butter sandwiches (whole grain bread).

    salads are incredibly inexpensive and incredibly good for you. it helps that i don’t like salad dressing.

    i drink water. no pop, no beer, very little juice. when i go out to eat, i will rarely order a drink besides water (lemonade if i plan on getting quite a few refills out of it). water = cheap and healthy.

    the thing that gets me is going out to eat. i’d say i spend over 50% of my food budget on 25% of my meals. really the only unhealthy part of my diet is the dining out, as well.

    is there a bus route near where you live that goes to the asu campus? were i you i’d probably bike to the bus stop, throw my bike on the bus rack, and take the bus in to campus and bike whereever i needed to get to around campus. you could ditch the bike entirely if you just wanted to walk, but i seem to recall you having to go between buildings miles apart during the day. far cheaper than a parking pass, a little safer than riding up and down busy streets to/from school, and you can get a little reading done on the bus to/from school. only problem with the bus is creepy people, but i tend to zone them out. easy to do with headphones and a book.

  13. stardo says:

    oh at the united miles expire after 2 years if you don’t have any activity. since i have at least 1 flight back to michigan a year, i don’t have to worry about that. not sure if southwest is similar.

  14. admin says:

    Oh yeah, I neglected to say that a critical part of my diet/lifestyle is variety. I can’t live on bread and water alone. Half the fun is experimenting in the kitchen and trying new recipes. In fact, I’m constantly looking for variety in all areas of my life — particularly exercise (I easily get bored of the same routine day in and day out), entertainment, hobbies, research, even career.

    It depends on what salad you eat. The iceburg lettuce kind are devoid of nutrients and not very tasty for that matter. I love spinach, and organic spinach is quite expensive. Check it out next time you’re in the prepackaged salad section of the store. I think for this stuff its especially important to have organic — to make sure its free of chemicals,preservatives, sprays, etc. Sulfites are in prepackaged salads and salad bars, and they destroy my stomach (I get sick at places like Sweet Tomatoes), so I have to be careful what kind I eat.

    There is a bus route. You forget how far I have to go to school though. It takes me 45 minutes to an hour just to bike. It also takes me this long to drive if I leave at 5pm. It would take me even longer than this to ride the bus, since they’re so slow, and I would have to take multiple routes. So I would be getting time to read at a great cost — I’d be forfeiting a good 2 hours of exercise, I’d be dependent on someone else’s schedule, and I’d be accused of being a satanist by crazy people (has happened before, I’m not a fan of the Phoenix bus system). I am getting a free bus pass though just in case it rains or something and I don’t want to ride home. I really enjoy biking though, so it’s a non-issue. And my bike is too expensive to be used for riding around campus and risk getting stolen. I can just walk between classes. Now, for going between campuses, I do have to drive, but I just ride back to my house and drive from there, since the second campus is close to my house and parking is free there.

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