Archives for March 2006

How To Underwithhold Taxes Without Penalty

Q: How do you know when you’ve been at this too long?

A: When you you are halfway done on a post about how to underwitholding taxes without paying a penalty, only to find out you’ve already done it! Check out my post on April 23rd of last year – Maximizing My Tax… Bill? Underwithholding On Purpose. Let’s see if I can add to what I wrote already without too much overlap…
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Capital One 360 Raises Rate to 4.00% APY

This is on the eve of the end of their Winter Save Up Sale. Chart updated.

Still Haven’t Done My Taxes Yet

April is almost here, and I haven’t finished doing my taxes yet. Tsk, tsk. I’m actually about 90% done with my return, but I am still trying to track down every single receipt possible in order to reduce my tax liability. They are legit business expenses, but I really need to work on my bookkeeping skills. After reading up on the rules I am not messing with the home office deduction for 2005.

I would just file a tax extension to October 16th, but I underwitheld on purpose this year and will be owing taxes (without penalty). That means I have to pay what I owe by April 17th even with an extension. If you followed some of the deals from my blog this past year, here are some things you may want to note:
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Citibank’s Capital One 360 Clone – 4.50% APY

This is interesting – Citibank finally fully rolled out its e-Savings Account, which has no minimum balance requirement and currently pays 4.50% APY. Why not just call it CitiDirect? It’s not the highest rate for a no-minimums online saving account, but it’s still really good for a bank with such a wide physical branch network.

What’s the catch? “To open a Citibank e-Savings Account you must have or open a checking account in the Citibank EZ Checking, Citibank Account, Citibank Everything Counts Account or CitiGold Account relationship package.” The EZ Checking looks like the easiest option:
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What Are Your Luxuries?

Well, it is quite apparent that saving money is a personal issue, as was shown when I explored buying generic brands or shared about my free haircuts. I certainly didn’t expect so much reaction from that! On the flip side, I’m sure even the most frugal among us have their indulgences. Maybe it’s $40 haircuts, or their wall-to-wall DVD collection. Or maybe it’s just ordering extra toppings on your pizza. Here’s a little list of things are that are worth the extra money for me:
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Banks That Do And Don’t Pull Credit Reports

Obviously, whenever you apply for a credit card you expect them to perform a credit check, which will ding your credit score a bit temporarily. But sometimes even opening a savings account can cause a hard inquiry. I figured I’d share based on my 3 free credit reports what banks did and did not pull my credit, partially for my own memory.

Banks with Credit Check
Bank of America Checking (none for subsequent accounts)
Presidential Bank Checking (none for subsequent accounts)
Pentagon Federal CU Checking (signed up for overdraft protection)
Citibank Checking
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Deconstructing My 3 Free Credit Reports

For some reason, I felt like I should check all of my credit reports today. I think it was because I knew my new landlord had run our credit, and I also haven’t checked them in a while. Remember, the government mandates that everyone gets 1 free credit report (but not score) every year from each of the 3 credit bureaus at You can get all three at once, or space it out. I requested all three so I could compare them all side-by-side.

Besides, if I want my credit report again I can always go to sites like and get one free with a trial subscription. I’ll have to cancel within 30 days or get charged something, but you get the credit report instantly, so why wait 30 days? I usually cancel the same or very next day! Another bonus is that you can also get your credit score for free as well, which is usually $8 everywhere else.
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Moving Six Blocks

Well, after enduring what felt like a decade of yanking us around, we found another rental we like in the same neighborhood and put in our 30-day notice instead of waiting to be kicked out. The new house and rent are very similar. We made sure to make the new lease long enough so we won’t have to move again until we leave this area permanently in a little over a year. We’ll be hiring hourly movers for the big stuff and moving the small stuff ourselves.

Hopefully, this will be a blessing in disguise if we can get rid of some of our accumulated junk! Off to the grocery store to get some free boxes…

Emigrant Direct Signup Bonus Update – February Payouts

Everyone who sent me their Form #2 in February for my Emigrant Direct Referral Bonus should have been paid last week. If not, please e-mail me. Thanks to all who participated, I paid out over $100 again this month.

Word of Mouth and Semi-Passive Income

I am still doing some part-time website consulting on the side, and it is simply amazing how many people are interested in hiring me. Almost every new person I casually meet with a small business, when I say what I do, I get “Hmm.. you do websites? Do you do <insert their business niche here> sites?” What is nice is that for some clients I can build up a nice steady stream of income after I set up the initial site, where I charge them a certain amount each month for hosting, site updates, and occasional support. I honestly think I could do very well with this, the only thing stopping me is my mediocre time management skills.

One thing I have learned that since I lose 50% to self-employment taxes, I have to make sure to make it worth my time. For example, say I charge $50 a month. If I end up spending an hour a week on that client, that’s 4 hours of work for only $25 take-home. Working for yourself is fun though.

Why Not Invest Entirely With ETFs?

I’m still pondering my portfolio options (one, two, three), but a good question is why I’m not looking more seriously into using ETFs instead. To be sure, there are plenty of good reasons to go with either mutual funds or ETFs. Besides wanting to dollar-cost-average, I’ll admit that I have another reason against ETFs that isn’t fully logical, but is still important to me. I’ll throw it out here and see if I’m the only one.

Here it is: If I’m going to put a huge hunk of my money at a financial institution, I want it to be at a dependable place that I feel comfortable with. That’s why I like Vanguard and Fidelity. They have many differences, but they are both dependable companies that I feel are solid and have provided me with excellent customer service up until now.
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A Year Of Free Haircuts = $250 Saved

I noticed it’s been almost exactly a year since my first post about letting my wife cutting my hair. Since then, I haven’t seen the inside of a barber shop. So let’s see, I used to cut my hair about once every 3 weeks, at about $15 including tip. 52 weeks/3 x $15 = $260. Subtract $10 for buying the clipper kit, and we’re $250 ahead!

In addition, I actually prefer my home haircut to a barber now. Practice makes perfect! And the convenience factor is great, no appointments necessary.
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