Free eBook: The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles

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wattlesI saw that a book called The Science of Getting Rich was temporarily free at the Amazon Kindle store, so I checked it out as with most financially-related titles. Surprisingly, it had over 300 reviews with a 4.3/5 star rating, quite rare for a free eBook. It turns out that this specific eBook is a bit of a “recycling” job done by someone else on the original 1910 book The Science of Getting Rich [Wikipedia] by Wallace Wattles. I guess if you keep the original book but add a bit of your own content, you can add yourself as an author and charge money for it. The original book itself is old enough that the copyright expired and is now in the public domain. You can get a completely free copy of the book in various formats from Archive.org.

Further digging reveals that this book is the basis of the popular book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, which was made into a bestseller after being recommended by Oprah Winfrey. Both books talk about the power of positive thinking and visualizing your goals. Now, I can already tell that some people will hate this book and some will love it. I’m usually the one to call this sort of thing “fluffy mumbo-jumbo” as I’m more of a practical nuts-and-bolts type of person but I can’t deny that it has helped some other people. (Just don’t pay hundreds of dollars for this type of thing…) Here’s an excerpt:

People must be taught to become rich by creation, not by competition. Every man who becomes rich by competition throws down behind him the ladder by which he rises, and keeps others down; but every man who gets rich by creation opens a way for thousands to follow him, and inspires them to do so.

The book is short, only about 70 pages.

Costco New Membership Discount – LivingSocial

Costco CardsLivingSocial has a special Costco Wholesale membership deal where for $55 you can get $104.47 in value:

  • 1-year Gold Star membership ($55 normally)
  • $20 Costco Cash card
  • $29.47 in food voucher and coupons (free Kirkland Signature™ 48-pack of AA batteries, a free rotisserie chicken, a free Kirkland Signature™ case of water, $4 off Kirkland Signature™ coffee, and $4 off Kirkland Signature albacore tuna.)

4 days remaining, over 25,000 purchased already. Valid at any Costco Wholesale club location. New members only, which is defined as a person who does not have a current membership. However, it appears that you can wait until May 10, 2014 to actually activate the voucher without losing any value.

To learn more about Costco, check out my old post on their unique business model and how to decide if you should join.

Best Free Scanner Apps for iPhone and Android

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tinyscanOne of the more useful apps on my phone allows me to take a picture of documents and receipts and convert them instantly into a PDF file. The apps automatically detect page corners and “flatten” the raw images into a high-quality scan with results that are very similar to a traditional scanner. From there, I can either e-mail the file or upload it to Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, etc. I find myself using it very often for both business and personal reasons.

This post was originally about a $5 app that was temporarily free, but the “sale” ended before I could publish it. Instead, while trying out the various apps I found that many offer really good functionality for the nice price of free. Try them out and see which one works best for you:

  1. CamScanner Free (iPhone / Android) – This one appears to have the most features available in a free app, but it does add a little watermark to the bottom of the PDF. 4.5 stars on Apple, 4.5 stars on Google.
  2. TinyScan Free (iPhone / Android) – Lots of positive reviews, 4.5 stars on Apple, 4 stars on Google.
  3. Genius Scan Free (iPhone / Android) – Lots of positive reviews, 4.5 stars on Apple, 4 stars on Google.

If you know of any better apps, please let me know in the comments.

PaperKarma App: Take A Photo Of Your Junk Mail and Say Goodbye

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pkappI totally missed this app the first time around, but PaperKarma is an iPhone/iPad app and Android app that helps you stop junk mail. Catalogs, magazines, coupon books, flier, credit card offers, yellow books, etc.

You just snap a photo of any piece of unwanted mail, and that’s it. (Try to capture the address label and any tracking codes.) They scan the photo, grab the pertinent details, and contact the mailer directly to remove you from their distribution list. They’ll even contact you when you are successfully unsubscribed. For free. That sounds almost too good to be true.

Previously, I’ve had success with the websites CatalogChoice.org to stop unwanted catalogs and YellowPagesOptout.com to finally end delivery of those huge phone books (both free as well).

Citi Executive AAdvantage Card 100,000 Mile Bonus

This Citi Executive AAdvantage MasterCard link is showing a sign-up bonus of 100,000 American Airlines miles after you spend $10,000 within the first 3 months of opening. There is also a $200 statement credit (earn $1 in statement credits for each $1 spent on purchases within the first 12 months.) There is a hefty $450 annual fee that cannot be waived, so you should be sure that you can get proper value out of those miles. In addition, the primary benefit of this card over lesser AA cards is that you get access to their airport lounges (Admirals Clubs).

The offer appears targeted, but the agent code is not required and people have gotten approved for the card. That doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t have some trouble getting the 100k bonus, so I would take screenshots or save all application pages to PDF format along the way.

Slate from Chase: 0% APR For 15 Months + NO Balance Transfer Fee for 60 Days!

Slate from Chase Visa

Updated. If the new year has motivated you to tackle those credit card balances, here’s the best offer available from any bank even including credit unions… 0% APR on both balance transfers and purchases for a full 15 months, with no balance transfer fee and no annual fee.

Limited-time no balance transfer fee offer! The Chase Slate® is now available with 0% introductory APR on both balance transfers and purchases for 15 months, and the best part: $0 balance transfer fee! There are different flavors of this card, but you should see it mentioned right at the top of this specific offer link. You can literally borrow money or transfer existing balances for free and pay it back in 15 months with no interest (keeping in mind you’ll still need to satisfy the minimum payment each month until then). $0 annual fee.

It is very rare these days to find a no balance transfer fee 0% APR offer that is available to all (as opposed to being targeted only to specific customers). You can verify in the Pricing & Terms section of the application, down in the Fees box:

None on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. All other transfers: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Make sure you initiate that balance transfer within the first 60 days.

Lower your interest on balances!
This is a great opportunity for those people with good to excellent credit but are still working hard to lower their debt payments, as now you can have all your money applied directly into cutting down your principal instead of having it go towards interest and/or fees. The 0% APR applies to new purchases as well, so your balance owed will go down that much faster and you won’t have to worry about interest until well into 2016.

Chase Blueprint is a free feature on select cards that lets you break down your balances into things that you want to pay in full each month and bigger purchases that you wish to pay off over time. A gadgety feature, but if at all possible I say nuke those balances completely!

If you wish to get cash from this balance transfer offer without it being classified as a “cash advance”, one option that has worked for me is to ask for the balance transfer as a check or electronically transferred to your bank account. Just call the number on the back of your card after you get it and tell them you’re trying to pay down debt that’s not on another card.

  •  Slate® from Chase application link

“Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer. This site may be compensated through the issuer’s Affiliate Program.”

TradeKing $50 Referral Bonus 2014 + Transfer Fee Rebate

TradeKing Banner

Updated.  If you are looking to open a new TradeKing stock brokerage account, don’t forget to grab both a $50 opening bonus and a $150 transfer fee reimbursement if moving money from another broker. TradeKing offers $4.95 trades with no minimum balance requirement. There is a inactivity fee if you have less than $2,500 and make zero trades for 12 months. Options are $0.65 a contract. I’ve been using TK for a while, they are a good basic broker for ETFs and dollar-cost-averaging. I am not an active trader or daytrader.

TradeKing $50 referral bonus
You can get a $50 opening bonus through their refer-a-friend program. You must open with $3,000 and make 3 trades within 90 days. I do have an account with TK and if you’d like a referral, please feel free to us my special referral link.

New referred client must fund their account with a minimum of $3,000 and place 3 trades within 90 days of opening the new account. Account types that don’t qualify include: Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, Rollover IRA, SEP IRA, Simple IRA, Solo 401K and Coverdell IRA. Accounts will be reviewed 90 days after account is opened to confirm that all of the requirements are met. At the time of review 3 trades must have been placed within the past 90 days and the account must have at least $3,000 in account equity.

TradeKing transfer fee reimbursement program
If you transfer an account of $2,500 value or greater over to TradeKing, they will also refund up to $150 in account transfer fees charged by your old broker. Yes, you can can combine with the above offer. Here’s how:

TradeKing will credit your account transfer fees up to $150 charged by another brokerage firm when completing an account transfer for $2,500 or more. Credit will be deposited to your account within 30 days of receipt of evidence of charge.

Open a New Account or if you already have an account, log in. Complete and print an Account Transfer Form. Mail or fax the signed Account Transfer Form to TradeKing along with a copy of your most recent statement from your previous broker. Request your account transfer reimbursement by faxing your transfer reimbursement form, along with proof of transfer charge, to 866.699.0563.

USPS Price Increase Effective January 26, 2014

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Here’s a quick reminder that the US Postal Service is increasing the price of a First Class stamp from 46 cents to 49 cents on January 26, 2014. I wouldn’t buy Forever stamps as an “investment”, but if you plan on using a lot of stamps in the next year or so you’ll save 6.5% if you buy in the next couple of days. My bills are all paid online besides my property tax, but I still go through a decent amount of stamps with holiday cards and baby-related announcements.

Here’s a chart from Wikipedia tracking the historical nominal (face value) of a stamp along with the inflation-adjusted value.

ShareBuilder Promotion Codes: Free Stock Trades (Updated 2014)

sbcapone

Updated with a few new codes 2014. Thanks to all who have contributed in the comments.

Here are some promotion codes for ShareBuilder investment accounts. ShareBuilder is a discount brokerage now owned by the same folks behind Capital One 360. Real-time trades are now $6.95 and automated trades are $4. They give out codes for various promotions, and like coupon codes they often work in your account even if you weren’t given the code directly. Sometimes they don’t though, so have reasonable expectations.

Don’t have an account yet? Get a $100 opening bonus if you deposit $5,000 or more by 12/31/2014 with promo code 100LSQ4, and then add the promo codes below afterward. You can often double-dip on codes if you have both a individual account and joint account. Sharebuilder also offers custodial accounts for kids.

How To Use
To enter the codes into your account, log in and go to the Accounts tab > Overview > Profile & Settings > Enter Promotion tab shown below.

In the marked box, enter a code. If it works, you should see a confirmation that says something like:

Thank you for referring ShareBuilder to your friends! Your 2 real-time trades have been credited to your account and are available to use immediately.

Active Codes (Possible Success)

SWEEP600 (1 free real-time trade)
BDAY14AU (1 free automatic investment)
3AIP
3AIP*GEJZOH

Expired Codes (Very Unlikely Success)

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Free TurboTax Deluxe Online with State Farm Bank Account

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Works again for Tax Year 2013. State Farm is again offering their bank and credit card customers TurboTax tax-prep software at a significant discount. TurboTax Federal Deluxe Online is free, Premier is $20, Home & Business is $30, and State is also included free with e-File for all versions. Software downloads are also available (Deluxe $20, Premier $30, Home & Business $40). I ran an experiment last year and found it only took a one-time $25 deposit and a week’s time to obtain this valuable perk. Details below.

(Side note: TurboTax Deluxe 2013 no longer supports stock and mutual fund sales reported on Schedule D. You must now pay for the $20 Premier version in order to get this feature. Rather disappointing feature reduction, Intuit!)

According to my blog archives, from 2006-2009 State Farm offered TurboTax Deluxe for free to all customers including insurance policyholders. Starting in 2010 or 2011, they started offering it only to bank and credit card customers. I recommend opening a “Free Checking” bank account instead of a new credit card account, as many other credit cards are offering $500+ value in sign-up bonuses while the State Farm one does not. I’d much rather get $500 for a credit check and just put $25 in a State Farm bank account indefinitely while earning the same perks. Think of it as earning 50% APY interest every year on that $25! I did not get hit with a credit check for opening the State Farm bank account.

New Bank Account Application Process Details

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Target Offers Free Credit Monitoring & Identity Theft Protection

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After losing their customers’ credit card numbers and other personal data, Target is offering free credit monitoring services at creditmonitoring.target.com to anyone who shopped at their US stores. (Supposedly the data breach “only” affected the 70 million people who shopped at US-located Target stores between November 27th and December 15th, but they also seem to be “discovering” more data lost every week.)

The package includes a complimentary copy of your Experian credit report and 12 months of daily credit monitoring from Experian’s ProtectMyID, which includes identity theft insurance and personalized assistance with identity theft fraud. You must sign up for an activation code by April 23, 2014 and redeem by April 30, 2014. ProtectmyID only monitors your Experian credit report for change, including new inquiries, newly opened accounts, new derogatory information (such as delinquencies or medical collections) and more.

This is not part of Target’s offering, but for better overall protection (2 out of 3 credit bureaus) you can also get free credit monitoring of your TransUnion credit report at CreditKarma.com. If you only used one card for Target (or everywhere) you can just ask for a new credit card number without affecting your credit history or credit score.

AirBNB Promotion Code: Buy One Night, Get One Free

Update: This promo expired. You can still get a free $25 AirBnB credit towards your first reservation via my referral.

Airbnb (what should I call it? Private residence accommodation site?) is a running a promotion for new customers that can get you two nights for the price of one. “Book your first trip between January 13 – 17 for travel by March 31, and one night of your stay of at least two nights is on us (value up to $300).” Use promotion code ONENIGHT. Partial fine print:

*The discount is valid only for guests who have never completed a booking on Airbnb. To receive the discount, you must book via the Airbnb website with promo code ONENIGHT and successfully complete Airbnb’s Verified ID process prior to booking.

I’ve never used Airbnb. I would be hesitant to stay in a private room (even though I’ve stayed in various hostels… somehow they feel safer) but would be open to renting an entire condo or house.

If you haven’t seen it, also check out this guy: I Bought an Apartment Just to Rent Out on Airbnb