Archives for May 2017

Big List of Scary Personal Data Websites + Opt Out Info

mag

“People would care more about privacy if they knew how exposed they already are online,” says Geoffrey A. Fowler in his WSJ article Your Data Is Way More Exposed Than You Realize. I would have to agree.

I hear this all the time: “I have nothing to hide.” The truth is, pretty much everybody does something online they have reason to keep private.

The full article is behind a paywall, but here are the websites that should scare you into caring. I’ve selectively avoided full linking and added some info of my own as well. Opt out information is included where possible.

  • FamilyTreeNow.com – Public access to your current and past addresses, phone numbers, relatives and associates. See my previous post. Opt out at www.familytreenow.com/optout.
  • TruePeopleSearch.com – Public access to your current and past addresses, phone numbers, relatives and associates. See my previous post. Opt out at www.truepeoplesearch.com/removal.
  • Spokeo.com – Public/paid access to birth month, email, current and past addresses, phone numbers, relatives, social networks and court records. Opt out at spokeo.com/optout.
  • StalkScan.com – Mines data from Facebook to reveal information that can be found publicly. Open to public. You can adjust your Facebook settings, but your friends may also be the source.
  • Google Maps Timeline – Google may be tracking your location all day long and keeping records forever. Not public. You can log in and request your data to be deleted.
  • Google My Activity – Google may be tracking every search and your web browsing history and keeping records. Not public. You can log in and request your data to be deleted.
  • AboutTheData.com – Acxiom is a data broker that uses information to target ads and marketing. I found some unique data on there, although supposedly it’s not public (just up for sale). View/edit/remove data here.

Let me know if you know of any other similar sites. See also:

Blue Business Plus Card from American Express Review: 2X Points on All Purchases Up to $50k/Year

bbpamexAmerican Express has rolled out the new Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express. This card is unique in that it offers double Membership Rewards points on all purchases with no annual fee. Therefore, if you can redeem for more than 1 cent per point of value, this card has the potential to beat a flat 2% cash back card. Here are the highlights:

  • Limited-time offer: Earn 20,000 extra Membership Rewards® points after you spend at least $3,000 in your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 2X Membership Points on the first $50,000 in purchases each year. 1X Points on purchases thereafter.
  • 0.0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months. After that your APR will be a variable rate, currently 11.99%, 15.99% or 19.99%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • No annual fee

Note the usual language regarding the sign-up bonus. This is a new card so nobody should have this card already, but you can only get the sign-up bonus once so try to apply during a limited-time offer.

Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.

Better than 2% cash back? Membership Rewards points can be converted to the following airline miles (there are more, this is just a selection):

  • Delta SkyMiles
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • ANA Mileage Club (partner of United Airlines)
  • Air Canada (partner of United Airlines)
  • British Airways (partner of American Airlines)
  • FlyingBlue (Air France/KLM)
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Virgin America

If you value any of these miles at more than 1 cent per mile, then you would be getting more value than a 2% cash back card. For example, this card can earn the equivalent of 2 Delta miles per dollar spent.

Unfortunately, there are many redemption options for Membership Rewards points that are worse than 1 cent per point value. Here are a few examples:

  • Shop with Membership Rewards Points (~0.5 cents per point)
  • Shop with Points at Amazon.com (~0.7 cents per point)
  • Use points at BestBuy.com (~0.7 cents per point)
  • Gift Cards (varies from 0.5 up to 1 cent per point max)

If you don’t expect to get at least 1 cent per mile value, then you should stick with a 2% cash back card. If it’s close, then I would probably lean towards simplicity. Consider the following:

Business credit card eligibility. Many people aren’t aware that they can apply for business credit cards, even if they are not a corporation or LLC. Any individual can be a small business. Perhaps you sell items on eBay, Craiglist, or Etsy. Maybe you do some graphic design, web design, freelancing and/or consulting. If you received a 1099-MISC tax form and filled out a Schedule C, that means you have business income, you pay self-employment taxes, and you’re a sole proprietorship. This is the simplest business entity, but it is fully legit and recognized by the IRS. On a business credit card application, you should use your own legal name as the business name, and your Social Security Number as the Tax ID.

This card will require you to personally guarantee that you’ll pay them back what you charge on the card, which means they’ll check your personal credit score like any other consumer card. However, as the card is a business card, American Express won’t have it show up on your personal credit report, so it won’t change things like your credit limits, average account age, or credit utilization ratio.

Bottom line. The new Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express is a unique card that will be very attractive for a certain subset of travelers who know how to maximize their frequent flier miles. If you don’t know how to do this, I would stick with a 2% flat cash back card. Finally, linking this card also allows you keep Membership Rewards points earned from other AmEx cards active while having no annual fee (even if you no longer have the other cards anymore) .

Work + Skill + Luck + Risk = Big Success

barking

A new book called Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker promises to reveal surprising facts about what really determines success. The publicity tour has generated several articles about how high school valedictorians are less successful than you might think:

Beyond the clickbait, what really happened? I haven’t read the book, but I did learn that Dr. Karen Arnold of Boston College tracked 81 high school valedictorians and salutatorians for 14 years after graduation. Here are some of the findings of this study:

  • 95% went on to graduate college.
  • The average college GPA was 3.6.
  • 60% went on to receive graduate degrees.
  • 90% were in professional careers.
  • 40% are in highest tier jobs (not exactly sure what this means).

Apparently, none of the subjects became billionaires or “changed the world” in a meaningful way. Why not?

The theory is that high grades are a product of conformity and obedience, while being “successful” is about mastering a unique skill and non-comformity. Research has found that high grades are only loosely correlated with intelligence. In addition, out of a survey of 700 millionaires, the average GPA was only 2.9. If you are devoted to a single passion, it can be hard to have good grades in all subjects; thus you tend to struggle in high school.

My question is – How you define “success”? If it’s a respectable career with above-average income, it seems that being valedictorian gives you a much higher chance for that. There’s a reason why many parents want their kids to get good grades and become an engineer, doctor, accountant, or lawyer. You are playing the odds. There are many starving artists and writers, but not many starving nurses.

If “success” is becoming a billionaire, then yes it seems that being a valedictorian may not match up with that. If you want to get rich quickly, you’ll need to start your own business and take some sort of ownership stake. The richest people all own something – music copyrights, book copyrights, businesses, real estate, something.

The difference is taking risks. By definition taking a risk means there is the chance of failure. A small business can make you rich, but most small businesses end up failing. However, you’ll only get graduation speeches from the winners. This is called survivorship bias, as this XKCD comic explains:

survivorship_bias

There is no direct formula for success, but you can still break it down into the required parts:

Work + Skill + Bad Luck + High Risk = Failure + Experience

Work + Skill + Good Luck + High Risk = Success + Experience

No Work + Good Luck = Failure

The takeaway is that you need hard work, valuable skills, taking a risk, and some luck. Luck plays a role, but you need the other three or you have no chance at all.

If you can be a high school valedictorian, I feel you are able to do hard work and thus have the ability to develop valuable skills. That’s a good base. The difference is… will you take the risk? Will you risk putting all your time and energy into developing a skill or a company that may or may not result in something valuable? Will you accept that chance of failure? Or would you rather go with the odds and do something with more reliable results? Perhaps statistically valedictorians take less risk than other groups.

I plan on advising my kids to take calculated risks when they are young and can devote 70 hours a week to a single task. That’s possible when you aren’t taking care of your kids (or your parents). However, I would also teach them that a reliable stream of above-average income plus a high savings rate equals financial freedom, aka early retirement in 10-20 years. (Getting rich via ownership just accelerates the process even further.) Once you have that financial freedom, you can do whatever you want with your life. Start a charity, write a novel, spend time with family, travel the world. Living a lifestyle aligned with your values certainly sounds like “success” to me.

Delta SkyMiles American Express Cards (Limited-Time Offer)

amexdeltaplatAmerican Express and Delta are running limited-time offers on four of their co-branded credit cards. Since you can only get the sign-up bonuses once on each of these cards per person per lifetime (each card is considered different), it’s best to wait for one of these temporary bumps to maximize your bonus miles. These offers are indicated to end on July 5, 2017.

Here are the bonus highlights for the two consumer cards and two business cards. Note that each of the offers are slightly different in terms of bonus amounts and spending requirements. I list common benefits like free checked bags and priority boarding at the bottom.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card

  • Limited-Time Offer: 60,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 4 months.
  • $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 4 months. (Not just airfare – buying a Delta gift card online or buying an in-flight drink counts.)
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

You can find a list of all available American Express credit cards at CardRatings.com

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card

  • Limited-Time Offer: 70,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 4 months.
  • $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 4 months. (Not just airfare – buying a Delta gift card online or buying an in-flight drink counts.)
  • $195 Annual Fee.
  • Companion certificate for a domestic economy roundtrip flight each year upon renewal of your Card.
  • Miles Boost® lets you earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after you spend $25,000 or more in eligible purchases on the Card in a calendar year. Earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after you spend $50,000 in eligible purchases on the Card in a Calendar year for a total of 20,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQMs.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card

  • Limited-Time Offer: 60,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 4 months.
  • $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 4 months. (Not just airfare – buying a Delta gift card online or buying an in-flight drink counts.)
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card

  • Limited-Time Offer: 70,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 4 months.
  • $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 4 months. (Not just airfare – buying a Delta gift card online or buying an in-flight drink counts.)
  • $195 Annual Fee.
  • Companion certificate for a domestic economy roundtrip flight each year upon renewal of your Card.
  • Miles Boost® lets you earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after you spend $25,000 or more in eligible purchases on the Card in a calendar year. Earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after you spend $50,000 in eligible purchases on the Card in a Calendar year for a total of 20,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQMs.

The above cards all include the following benefits:

  • Earn 2 miles per dollar on purchases directly with Delta including flights booked on Delta.com, Sky Club® membership or passes, Delta Vacations® packages, seat upgrades, or in-flight purchases like food, beverages, and entertainment. Earn one mile for every eligible dollar you spend on purchases.
  • First checked bag free on Delta flights. Savings of up to $50 on a round-trip per person. (Savings of up to $200 on a round-trip for a family of four.)
  • Priority Boarding. You can board your flight when Zone 1 priority boarding is called, so that you find room for your carry-on bag and settle into your seat sooner.

Prescription Check App by Warby Parker: Extend Your Eye Prescription For Free

wpeye

Warby Parker sells prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses, primarily online at prices lower than traditional retail optical stores (starts at $95). They can send you frames to try on at home, or you can upload a picture of yourself and “try on” frames virtually.

The next step is to remove the optometrist visit whenever possible. Per this Quartz article, Warby Parker has rolled out a new Prescription Check app that will write you a new prescription (with a new expiration date) if their eye exam shows that your prescription hasn’t changed.

You basically do the “Big E” exam while standing the proper distance away and looking at your desktop computer screen, using the smartphone app for interaction. The updated prescription is written by a licensed eye doctor and is valid at any optical center (not just Warby Parker). The app is registered with the FDA. For now, the service is at the convenient price of free.

The catch? For now, eligibility is limited to the following:

  • Must be a resident of California, Florida, New York, or Virginia.
  • Between ages 18 and 40.
  • Must already own Warby Parker prescription eyeglasses.

Warby Parker says they will increase eligibility over time (and eventually start charging a fee). I went ahead and signed up for e-mail alerts.

I’ve worn glasses for decades and would agree that there are times that I just want another pair of glasses but my eye prescription expired after 12 months. On the other hand, I do feel reassured when I visit the optometrist that everything is alright. Maybe they should extend prescriptions to 2 years if your vision has been stable for a while.

(Added: A reader tweeted that in some states like California, eyeglass prescriptions last for 2 years while contact lenses are for 1 year. Another site that does online eye exams is Opternative.com.)

Free Return Shipping When Paying with PayPal (Activation Required)

pp200

If you shop online at websites like eBay, Walmart, and Home Depot where PayPal is an option for payment, consider that PayPal will reimburse your shipping costs if you buy using PayPal and end up having to make a return.

You must first activate this service, and then after that PayPal will cover up to $30 of return shipping costs for up to 12 eligible PayPal purchases worldwide per calendar year (January 1st to December 31st). You must submit a refund request within 30 calendar days of mailing back the returned item. Found via SD.

ppreturn

When shipping back the item, remember that you’ll need to provide the following proof:

A return shipping cost receipt that also shows the seller’s address. (If your receipt doesn’t show the seller’s address, also send a photo of your return package that does.)

Real-World Example of Why High-Cost Index Funds Are The Worst

costsmatter

Here’s another reminder that in the world of investing, having low costs is more important than owning “passive” index funds. Why? The simplest argument is that index funds can have high expense ratios.

Anyone can open an account at Vanguard, Schwab, Fidelity, or TD Ameritrade and purchase an S&P 500 index fund with expenses of about 0.05% a year. That works out to $50 a year on a $100,000 balance.

Meanwhile, the following companies have the most expensive S&P 500 index funds on the market. These happily charge you $1,000 to $2,300 a year on a $100,000 balance while investing in the same companies in the same amounts. Credit to Meb Faber for compiling this list.

500expensive9

These could be considered the worst mutual funds out there. Why? If you buy an actively-managed stock-picker fund, at least you have the possibility of outperformance (for a little while at least). You bet on red in roulette even though there is zero and double-zero. With an expensive index fund, you have zero upside. You can’t win. You didn’t even bet on double-zero. Instead, you essentially lit 1% of your money on fire.

Let’s look at the real-world performance of Rydex S&P 500 Fund (RYSYX) and the Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX). Here’s a Morningstar chart showing the relative performance of the Rydex S&P 500 Fund (RYSYX) and the Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX) from the inception of the Rydex fund in mid-2006. This is a “Growth of $10,000” chart, and you can see how the gap just keeps widening over time.

500expensive2

Here’s a quick takeaway from this chart:

  • Someone who invested $100,000 in the Rydex S&P 500 Fund (RYSYX) from 5/31/06 to 5/21/17 (~11 years ago) would now have $185,183.
  • Someone who invested $100,000 in the Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX) from 5/31/06 to 5/21/17 (~11 years ago) would now have $235,948.
  • That is a difference of over $50,000 with no luck involved as both are passive funds that that legally promise in their prospectus to track the S&P 500 index.
  • Let me repeat: That’s a difference of $50,000 on a $100,000 starting balance over only 11 years! That is real money; actual dollars that someone will not have to spend in retirement. Imagine what that number could grow into over 30 years of saving.

Isn’t that horrible? Now, consider that the reason why someone would buy these funds in the first place was probably due to a human advisor putting their client in such a fund. Therefore, there is the possibility of another layer of advisor fees on top of the fund expense ratios. (Or they could be options in a bad 401(k) plan. It would be really scary if these were the best options on a plan menu.)

I can’t understand how these companies can get away with charging so much for doing so little. According to Morningstar, the State Farm S&P Index fund (SNPBX) currently has $1.4 billion in assets and the Invesco S&P 500 Index fund (SPICX) has $1 billion in assets. Billions of dollars? Why are so many people buying this stuff?!

Real-World Example of Sequence of Returns Risk

portpie_blank200

The standard investment advice is the older you get, the more bonds you should hold in your portfolio. There are various rules of thumb like “Age in Bonds” or “Age minus 20 in Bonds”, and so on. On the other hand, stocks have higher historical long-term returns, so shouldn’t we keep as much in stocks as we can?

It’s not just about the long-term average return, you also have to worry about the sequence of returns. I’ve shared a hypothetical example of sequence of returns risk before, but Will Street Project has a great post called Why Drawdowns Matter that illustrates this effect using real-world numbers.

From 2000 to 2016, the overall total return of the S&P 500 Index (large US stocks) and the Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index (broad US bonds) was roughly the same. The sequence for stocks was bad then good. The sequence for bonds was basically a slow, gradual line upwards. Stocks thus lagged bonds for most of the period but caught up and even surpassed bonds a bit by the end.

Here’s what would have happened if you started with $100,000 in either the S&P 500 or the US Aggregate Bond Index and kept on buying $500 per month:

500plus

Here’s what would have happened if you started with $100,000 in either the S&P 500 or the US Aggregate Bond Index and kept on selling $500 per month.

500minus

The difference is that in the top chart you are adding money (and thus buying stocks at a lower price during the bear markets), while in the bottom chart you are taking out money (and thus selling stocks at a lower price during the bear markets).

It is important to note that things would look different if stocks shot up initially and then tapered off, as opposed to stocks struggling initially but then going back up at then end of the period. However, we can’t control the sequence of returns in our own retirements, so we have to be prepared.

One solution is to hold more bonds (or single-premium immediate annuities). Another solution is to use a dynamic withdrawal strategy so that you’re taking out less money during a down market.

Shoe Dog by Nike Founder Phil Knight: A Great Audiobook

shoedog180

As a kid in the late 1980s, I admit that I yearned for a pair of Nike Air shoes. I’d doodle shoes with that AIR logo and visible air pocket. I still remember the day I finally got a pair. They were an ugly blue-suede color from the bottom of some bargain bin, but they were only $34.99 and they were mine.

As Nike was already huge by then, I never had any curiosity about the early years of Nike. I only started listening to Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight after seeing it mentioned as Warren Buffett’s “favorite book of 2016” in his Berkshire Hathaway annual letter.

While I usually prefer reading physical books since I like to write notes and make highlights, this book seemed more like a story so I decided to listen to it as an audiobook. That turned out to be a good decision. (Right now, Audible is offering two free audiobooks as part of its free trial. As with all Amazon trials, it’s easy to cancel. The other book I picked was When Breath Becomes Air.)

Here are some quick notes that I took (less than usual due to it being an audiobook) along with some of my favorite quotes (you can mark notable places with the app and then go back).

Phil Knight was on the University of Oregon track team. He ran for fun and would have kept running even if he never owned a shoe company.

I’d been unable to sell encyclopedias, and I’d despised it to boot. I’d been slightly better at selling mutual funds, but I’d felt dead inside. So why was selling shoes so different? Because, I realized, it wasn’t selling. I believed in running. I believed that if people got out and ran a few miles every day, the world would be a better place, and I believed these shoes were better to run in. People, sensing my belief, wanted some of that belief for themselves. Belief, I decided. Belief is irresistible.

He was a visionary, but not necessarily how you think. Knight first sold imported shoes from Japan – Tiger by Onitsuka. In fact, he only started Nike after Tiger threatened to pull his distribution rights. He didn’t start with “Air Jordans” and “Just Do It” fully-formed in his mind. He was more of a warrior/competitor that just kept on fighting.

Nike’s success was not at all guaranteed. Knight had to maintain a full-time job as an accountant while running his company on the side. There were many hiccups and struggles and lawsuits, each of which could have bankrupted the young company.

I’d like to remind them that America isn’t the entrepreneurial Shangri-La people think. Free enterprise always irritates the kinds of trolls who live to block, to thwart, to say no, sorry, no. And it’s always been this way. Entrepreneurs have always been outgunned, outnumbered. They’ve always fought uphill, and the hill has never been steeper. America is becoming less entrepreneurial, not more.

Knight never used this word, but he appeared to be more of an introvert than an extrovert. He wasn’t a natural salesman or self-marketer. He didn’t like advertising. He developed a strong core of extremely loyal people at Nike. He was not a micro-manager.

Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.

Thoughts on becoming rich:

When it came rolling in, the money affected us all. Not much, and not for long, because none of us was ever driven by money. But that’s the nature of money. Whether you have it or not, whether you want it or not, whether you like it or not, it will try to define your days. Our task as human beings is not to let it.

On luck:

Luck plays a big role. Yes, I’d like to publicly acknowledge the power of luck. Athletes get lucky, poets get lucky, businesses get lucky. Hard work is critical, a good team is essential, brains and determination are invaluable, but luck may decide the outcome. Some people might not call it luck. They might call it Tao, or Logos, or Jñ?na, or Dharma. Or Spirit. Or God.

On why he finally shared this personal memoir:

I’d like to share the experience, the ups and downs, so that some young man or woman, somewhere, going through the same trials and ordeals, might be inspired or comforted. Or warned. Some young entrepreneur, maybe, some athlete or painter or novelist, might press on. It’s all the same drive. The same dream.

Finally, some career advice:

I’d tell them to hit pause, think long and hard about how they want to spend their time, and with whom they want to spend it for the next forty years. I’d tell men and women in their midtwenties not to settle for a job or a profession or even a career. Seek a calling. Even if you don’t know what that means, seek it. If you’re following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you’ve ever felt.

Another anecdote that showed his honesty was that although he regrets not being able to spend much time with his young children, he also admits that if he had the chance he would do the same thing all over again.

There are many other worthy highlights in this book. I definitely recommend Shoe Dog for people interested in the origin story of Nike, entrepreneurialism, global business, and as interesting autobiography.

Frugal Entrepreneur Earns $5,600 a Month Farming Other People’s Yards

Here’s a cool story at the intersection of entrepreneurship, frugal living, and sustainable farming. Jim Kovaleski is a one-man farm, growing produce and selling it at local farmers markets, earning over $5,000 a month. What’s unique is that he doesn’t have a central plot of land – he grows his plants on other people’s residential yards in Florida and Maine. Some stories say he “leases” the land but in the interview below he says he doesn’t pay in cash, only in veggies.

He’s profiled above on the Justin Rhodes YouTube channel. Found via Kottke.org.

This nomadic gardener travels between Maine to Florida gardening leased front yards. With a frugal lifestyle and revenues as high as $1.5K a week, he’s living the dream.

It’s not an easy job, but he gets to work on his own terms while developing a unique set of skills. I’m impressed both by the yield he gets from relatively little space, and how he keeps people’s front yards looking relatively nice (as opposed to industrial or commercial). If you live in a neighborhood with the right vibe (like my old one in SE Portland), this idea could probably be replicated.

Coffin Homes: Living in Tiny Spaces As a Last Resort

cof

The Atlantic has a photojournalism article The ‘Coffin Homes’ of Hong Kong which startled me and challenged my idea of a “tiny” living spaces. The size reminded me of capsule hotels in Japan, except these are in much worse condition and are permanent residences. A sad and extreme example of high population density and lack of affordable housing.

Cheung reports that there is a “dark side to the property boom in wealthy Hong Kong, where hundreds of thousands of people priced out of the market must live in partitioned apartments, ‘coffin homes’ and other inadequate housing.” These residents are among an estimated 200,000 people in Hong Kong living in such tiny subdivided units, some so small that a person cannot even fully stretch out their legs.

Costco Membership Discount: $10/$20 Coupon Code

costexec

As of June 1, 2017, Costco will be increasing its Gold/Business annual membership fees to $60 (formerly $55) and Executive annual membership to $120 (formerly $110). Executive membership comes with a 2% cash rebate on purchases (now up to $1,000) as well as some other side benefits. The breakeven point is now $3,000 annually x 2% = $60. That works out to $250 a month.

Existing Costco members can save $5 or $10 by renewing before the rate hike on 6/1. Effectively a little discount for renewing early. You renew online up to 3 months before your membership expiration date. You can also renew in-store before your membership expiration date (I read up to 5 months before but may vary). Finally, you can buy their “Gift of Membership” gift card which costs $55 right now and then save it to renew your own membership when the time comes.

New Costco members can get a $10 or $20 Costco cash card. There are two ways to see this offer. You can google search “Costco membership” and click on the ad at the top, or you can visit this link. Use the coupon codes NHMBASE and NHMEXEC online at Costco.com, or print it out and bring it into a physical store. You should see the following promotional offer:

  • GOLD STAR MEMBERSHIP – receive a $10 Costco Cash Card
  • EXECUTIVE MEMBERSHIP – receive a $20 Costco Cash Card

By the way, Sam’s Club is also (still? again?) running a new membership deal where a new member pays $45 and gets:

  • 1-Year Sam’s Club Membership ($45 value)
  • $20 Sam’s Club Gift Card
  • “Free meal” = 1 rotisserie chicken, 1 apple pie, and 36 dinner rolls ($20 value)