Free eBooks on Real Estate Investing and Renting Out Your House

biggerbook is a popular discussion forum for real estate investors. Founder Joshua Dorkin and Senior Editor Brandon Turner have also written a couple of books about the subject. For a limited time, they are free in Amazon Kindle format.

I have not read either book (yet). According to the Amazon reader reviews, it looks like there is some solid beginner information inside both books along with numerous references back to their BiggerPockets website. I believe the first book is also available as pages on their website but it may be easier to read this way.

Download the books now while it is still free and read them later. As a reminder, you can read Kindle books on a web browser, Mac or Windows computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Amazon Mom 3-Month Trial + 50% off Diapers

Amazon Mom is a program that has some nice perks for parents (open to anyone… mom, dad, grandparent, or caretaker). The main draw is the 20% off diapers & wipes (5% Subscribe & Save discount + 15% Amazon Mom discount) and the fast shipping.

If you already pay for Amazon Prime at $99 a year, you can sign up for Amazon Mom for free. New Prime/Mom members are eligible for a 3-month free trial of Prime (must not have had free trial previously on your account) where you’ll also get the free 2nd-day shipping of Prime but not the video streaming or free Kindle book borrowing. Canceling is easy, you can even cancel the trial ahead of time while still getting the remainder of your 3 months.

Right now, new Amazon Mom members with free or paid Prime who join between March 27, 2014 and April 10, 2014 get 50% off their first pack of eligible diapers. You can still use Subscribe & Save to lower the price even more. Details in link.

Discover It Card Review: Improved, 5% Cash Back Categories, Free FICO Score


(3nd Quarter activation open. I just logged on and noticed that you can now register to get 5% cashback on up to $1,500 in purchases at Gas Stations from July to September 2014. 5% rewards start only after activation each quarter and are not retroactive, so sign up now by logging into your account online.)

Discover it 14 Month BT (RED)Scrappy little Discover is trying something bold. They’ve chucked everything and started fresh with only one card – the new Discover it® Card. (Yes, lowercase, don’t ask me why.) No longer promoted are the Discover More, Motiva, Open Road, Escape, and Miles cards.

In fact, you may want to convert your old Discover card to this one. The new card is a definite improvement over the old products, with many positive changes in direct response to the competition. Here are the highlights:

  • 5% cash back at gas stations on up to $1,500 in purchases from July through September 2014 when you sign up*. 1% cash back on all other purchases.*
  • 1% flat cashback on all other purchases. Previous cash back cards had an initial tier that only gave you 0.25% cash back on the first $3,000 in purchases, and then 1% after that. They’ve finally matched competitors and went for 1% flat.
  • Free FICO score every month. You get a free official FICO score, updated every month, shown on your billing statement.
  • Late payment forgiveness. There is no late fee for your first late payment, and your APR won’t automatically increase either. You can also pay-by-phone for free, up to midnight Eastern on your due date. We all make mistakes, so this is a nice addition.
  • Human. 100% U.S.-based customer service available any time. Guides a free, personalized online tour to help you get the most rewards for how you use your card. Instead of an intentionally-complicated robot phone tree, you can now select at any time to go straight to a human. I’m a little bummed that this has to be touted as a feature, but sadly it is…
  • No annual fee, no fee for going over your limit.
  • Looks out for you. Since each Discover purchase is monitored. If it’s unusual, you’re alerted by e-mail, phone or text-and never responsible for unauthorized Discover card purchases
  • 0% Intro APR* on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months. Then the variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% – 22.99%.  A fee of 3% applies for each balance transferred.
  • No foreign transaction fee. Discover is not accepted very widely in Europe, although it works anywhere you see the Diners Club International Logo. However, it is one of the best cards for Asia, especially China and Japan. You can use your Discover anywhere you see a China Union Pay, JCB, or Diners Club International logo.
  • Silly things. Things that shouldn’t matter, but still might. The card arrives via UPS/FedEx mail in a sleek-looking box. The card front is made to look like brushed stainless steel with no raised embossing – your name and card number are only on the back. I wonder where they got that idea?

Is it really a game-changer? Well, no. It’s not quite “one card to rule them all”, but it does combine the good bits from several other popular cards (Chase Sapphire, Chase Freedom, Citi Simplicity) to create a competitive offering. I like the 5% categories that are usually pretty broad and useful.

Discover is still the underdog to American Express/Visa/Mastercard, but it has its own perks. There are bonuses above cash back value for certain gift card redemptions. Their ShopDiscover cashback portal also often has the highest percentages for online shopping merchants, like 10% at Sears, better than eBates and such. Finally, Discover card has a lot of consumer features like return protection and an extended warranty that extends the manufacturer’s warranty for up to an extra year.

Basically, this Discover card is certainly improved and a worthwhile addition to your wallet, although rewards geeks like myself probably won’t it the only card in our wallets. ;)

Existing cardholders. I have not gotten any communication from Discover that my existing cards will be converted to an “it” card automatically. Readers report that if you call them up, they will convert you to the new card manually for free. You get to keep your same card number and thus credit history. Certain people with annual fee miles-type cards or those doing a 0% balance transfer promotion may prefer to stay, but again I think this card is definitely better than the plain Discover and Discover More cards.

“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.  “The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.”

American Airlines Free Bonus Miles – Facebook Required


aapassAmerican Airlines has a new AAdvantage Passport Challenge where you can earn free bonus miles for various small activities:

  • Play trivia and other games to earn up to 700 miles
  • Share and complete social actions to earn up to 350 miles
  • Take flights to earn over 9,000 miles

You’ll need a Facebook account, but it does present a good way to reset your miles expiration date at no cost. AA miles currently expire after 18 months of inactivity.
You should get 50 miles just for the Like, but I also did the first quiz “New American Trivia” to make sure I get some miles. You get less points if you missed questions, so here are answer hints:

  • More 330 locations, more than 50 countries.
  • Last 4 airports are Chicago O’Hare, Charlotte Douglas, Philadelphia and Phoenix.
  • American Eagle
  • All of the above.

Update: I did the 2nd tail fin quiz too. They were the same for both of our accounts, so here you go: 323 121 322 132.

That was the low-hanging fruit, I skipped the rest for now. Per the terms and conditions, “Bonus miles will be awarded within 3-4 weeks after the promotion period has ended”.

Uber Car Service Promotion Codes: Free $$ Ride Credits


Update: Get over $100 in additional free ride credit from competing car services here!

Uber is a service that allows you to summon a ride via a private car or taxi using just your smartphone. All payment including tip is put on your credit card via the smartphone app, making it a cashless transaction. Your smartphone knows where you are, so you can tell how far away the nearest car is as well as estimate your total fare ahead of time.

There are a few different flavors (from cheapest to most expensive): UberX, UberTAXI, UberVAN, UberBLACK (black town car), UberSUV, UberLUX. UberX involves private individuals driving their personal cars, and recently announced price cuts in 36 cities making them 25% cheaper than taxis.

Right now new users can get $30 off their first ride by signing up for a new account using this invite link: This is triple the usual $10 offer for a limited time, and contains my personal referral code uberMYMONEYBLOG for which I’ll get a free ride as well. Works anywhere in the USA. Good for all ride options.

(You can no longer stack multiple promo codes on top of each other.)

Bonus: Get $25 credit towards any hotel stay booked through the Hotel Tonight app. Sign up online at this link with promo code JPING2 for $25 in credit (new customers only). Then download the Hotel Tonight app (Apple or Android). More info here.

Kapitall Brokerage Promotion: $100 Bonus for $1,000 Deposit


kapitallKapitall is basically a brokerage with a user interface like a video game. Their motto is “Drag, Drop, Trade. It’s that simple.” I don’t think the idea of equating stock trading with a game is a good lesson for long-term investors, so I’m not a big fan. In general, the more a person trades, the lower their returns.

However, Kapitall is offering a up to $200 bonus promotion that is worth mentioning. New customers who open and fund an account by March 31, 2014 can earn the following:

  • Deposit $50-$999, get $50.
  • Deposit $1,000-$9,999, get $100 and 1,000 Kapitall Koins.
  • Deposit $10,000+, get $200 and 2,000 Kapitall Koins.

The $100 for $1,000 deposit is essentially a 10% bonus and I don’t see any minimum holding period or trade requirement. On a separate page. they do appear to add a 180-day minimum holding period for the initial deposit and one minimum trade. But if you want to withdraw your money, you’ll have to make a minimum of two trades (buy and sell).

$200 for $10,000 is only a 2% bonus but that’s still not a terrible risk-free return over 180 days when compared with current bank rates of 1% interest over a full year.

(Kapitall Koins are their form of reward points. As a reference, 2,000 Koins = 1 free trade worth $7.95.)

Fees and Commissions
Their commissions are $7.95 with no account maintenance fees and no inactivity fees. Paper statements and trade confirmations are $5 each so you should be sure to accept paperless statements. Here is the full fee schedule.

[Read more...]

Costco: Procter & Gamble $33 Cash Card Promotion


costcopgCostco and Procter & Gamble have a mail-in rebate promotion for a $33 Costco Cash Card if you spend more than $100 pre-tax on any P&G products in March. Must purchase by 3/31/14 and postmark the rebate form by 5/1/14. You can apply for two rebates per household (for two $33 cash cards), but they must be on two separate $100+ receipts.

Stack the $33 rebate on top of the current coupon savings book valid 3/6/14-3/30/14, and you can get some significant savings by stocking up on items that you probably would buy eventually anyway. I have listed all of the participating brands below, and also added the coupons available during this period. I’m just going to print this blog post out as my shopping list. ;)

(Kind of makes you want to buy some shares of PG stock, eh? Well-known name brands and a 3%+ dividend yield!)

  • Charmin ($2 off toilet paper coupon)
  • Bounty ($2 off paper towels coupon)
  • Puffs
  • Tide
  • Gain
  • Dreft
  • Downy ($6 off scent booster? coupon)
  • Bounce ($1.80 off dryer sheets coupon)
  • Cheer
  • Cascade ($3 off dishwasher soap coupon)
  • Dawn
  • Joy
  • Febreze ($1.50 off coupon)
  • Swiffer
  • Mr. Clean ($2 off Magic Eraser coupon)
  • Gillette ($8.99 off blade/gel combo coupon)
  • Braun ($35 off shaver coupon)
  • Venus ($7.49 off blade/gel coupon)
  • Crest ($4 off coupon)
  • Glide
  • Oral-B ($20 off toothbrushes, $8 off heads)
  • Duracell ($3 off 9V batteries)
  • Secret
  • Pantene
  • Head & Shoulders
  • Fekkai
  • Olay
  • Tampax
  • Always
  • Metamucil
  • Prilosec OTC ($6 off coupon)
  • Pepto-Bismol
  • Vicks
  • Align
  • ClearBlue
  • Iams ($10 off dog food coupon)

Navy Federal Credit Union No Balance Transfer Fee Promotion 2014

navyfedlogoNavyFed Credit Union has a limited-time promotion going on until Sunday, April 20th where if you do a balance transfer from an external financial institutions to your existing Navy Federal card, you’ll get a fixed 0% promo APR for 12 months with no balance transfer fee. It is unclear if this offer is targeted to specific e-mail recipients as it is not mentioned on the home page, but I’d definitely call in and ask if interested.

Membership eligibility for NavyFed is primarily restricted to military personnel including Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force – including retirees and family members – but also includes some civilian employees in the Department of Defense. Similar previous offers from NavyFed have used “existing” in their terms to suggest that new credit card applications are ineligible, but that wording does not appear on this offer.

There has never been a better time to consolidate your high rate balance to your Navy Federal Credit Card. You’ll save more, thanks to no balance transfer fees1 and a 0% fixed intro APR2 on balance transfers for 12 months. After that, a variable rate between 7.99% APR and 18% APR applies.1

This is a solid offer as it has been harder to find a no balance transfer fee 0% APR offer these days even though interest rates are still relatively low. However, you’ll note that Chase is not mentioned in their little balance transfer fee comparison chart as the Slate® from Chase is also currently available with a 0% introductory APR on both balance transfers and purchases for 15 months with $0 balance transfer fee and $0 annual fee. All you have to do is initiate your balance transfer within 60 days of opening the account.

Either way, both cards are good opportunities to lower the interest rate on your existing balances and accelerate any debt payoff plans.

AT&T Mobile Share Value Plan Discounts

AT&T Wireless has changed the pricing on their Mobile Share Value Plans, with unlimited talk, unlimited text, and 2 GB of shared data across all lines now costing $40 + $25 per line if you are off-contract. That’s means two lines with 2 GB of shared data would cost just $90 total (off-contract old phone or bring your own used phone), competing more closely with T-Mobile and Straight Talk. If you do sign a contract, the cost is $40 + $40 per line ($120 total for 2 lines) because you need to pay back the value of your subsidized new phone.

In addition, AT&T will let any customers who signed a contract on March 8th, 2014 or earlier get this pricing even if you are still in contract, provided you switch to a qualifying Mobile Share Value plan. This means that a 2-line plan formerly running $135 can now just be $90. The 2GB, 4GB, and 6GB data tiers all offer a promotional rate. If you upgrade to a new phone on contract in the future, the rate will go back to $40 per phone.

Bring on the price wars. Good news for the consumer! As always, see if you can stack an employee or student discount as well.

More: AT&T website, Verge, Engadget

Hotel Tonight App Promo Codes – Free $25 Credit


hoteltHotel Tonight is a well-reviewed smartphone app that specialized in last-minute hotel bookings. Currently, there are promo codes active that can get you free credit good for any hotel available on the app. The selection is pretty good in my brief experience. Found via xlilsp1keyx of FW. Paraphrasing:

  1. First, sign up online at this link. Be sure to add promo code JPING2 for $25 in credit (new customers only). This is my referral code, as are the rest of the $25 new-customer-only codes out there.
  2. Download the Hotel Tonight app (Apple or Android)
  3. Sign into the app and apply the following code FACEBOOK for another $25 in credit (valid for existing users). You should end up with $50 in total credit. (Update: According to the original Fatwallet forum post and your comments, the FACEBOOK code no longer works on existing accounts. Sorry about the quick expiration, they had a similar $25 code good for existing users in early February that lasted longer.)
  4. It worked for me (screenshot).

The credit expires one year after the promo code is applied. Please let me know if you know of any other codes that are active for existing customers. There are many other codes for a one-time $25 credit for new customers. These codes may stop working at any time, so I’d do it quickly.

Groupon: Whole Foods $10 Gift Card for $5

Groupon is selling a $10 Whole Foods Gift Card for $5 for one day only. They want to teach you about their search bar for some reason. No expiration date. Limit 1 per person, I’m sure it will sell thousands and thousands.

Remember that you can save a bit more on your Groupon with cashback shopping sites like eBates ($10 new customer bonus), Mr. Rebates ($5 bonus), and BigCrumbs.

Fidelity Investments American Express – 2% Flat Cash Back


fidoamexWith the ending of the Schwab card, Fidelity Investments is the only brokerage offering 2% cash back on all purchases on their Fidelity Rewards American Express cards. There are three flavors, depending on if you want the money deposited into a Fidelity taxable account, an IRA, or a 529 college savings plan. I personally have mine deposited into a 529 although I don’t think Fidelity’s 529s are the best… that way I can see the growth of this rewards money. An IRA would be too confusing for me due to the stringent contribution limit rules. (If you’ve maxed out the limit, they say that they will automatically defer the rebate until the next year. But what if you have a partially phased-out limit due to income, and your limit is reduced to $2,350? How would they know that?)

In terms of catches, there are no only minor ones. First, to get your 2% value the money must be deposited into a Fidelity account. It appears that their new Fidelity Cash Management account has no opening minimum, but if you want to make some trades the Fidelity brokerage account you will need $2,500 to open that (no ongoing minimum balance requirement). I would open your Fidelity account first to make sure you have no issues.

Second, the rewards only come in $50 increments:

Customers earn 2 points for each $1 in net retail purchases. Once you reach 5,000 points, they can be redeemed automatically or on demand for cash at a 1% exchange rate into an eligible Fidelity account (i.e. 5,000 points = $50 deposit).

So a $49 rewards balance = $0 in your pocket. It will roll over each month until the balance goes above $50, when the entire thing (i.e. $62.54) will arrive in your Fidelity account. Then the $50 hurdle kicks back in.

Finally, it is an AmEx and not a Visa/Mastercard, but I’ve found the number of merchants accepting American Express much improved since 10 years ago although there are still gaps in areas like utilities, insurance, and small mom & pop restaurants and stores. No annual fee.