Buying Life Insurance as a Millenial

If you’re around the age of 24-32 then your Facebook feed is probably getting BOMBARDED with constant updates of babies, pregnancies, and couples who have just got married. Some people are bothered by it but I’m very happy for everyone that they’re taking a big step in their lives and growing up! It’s a fantastic feeling when you’re no longer just looking out for Numero Uno and have a crime-fighting partner who you can trust to take the shot when your life depends on it and who you are more than willing to take a bullet for. However, with the greater responsibility that inherently comes with the territory then the risk also increases. If something happens to you then it just doesn’t affect you but your family and others who are dependent on you. This could lead to more household/family duties for your significant other and a greater financial burden if you happen to lose your job or cannot work. The extreme case of this is when you cease to exist in The Matrix and get erased completely. The emotional expense it will take on your family is incalculable and if you can minimize the destruction in anyway then you should take those necessary precautions. One major consideration should be buying life insurance to at least minimize/eliminate the financial burden on your family.

I use to think I was invincible and cannot die because I am the narrator of this story and everything would end if I died. Unsurprisingly, I’ve matured and eliminated this way of thinking and embraced the fact that my family would have to go on and suffice if anything ever happened to me. Now, I have a little girl to worry about and a significant other who depends on me therefore it was a logical decision to have a safety net in place if anything does happen to me. I must thank Dave Ramsey for getting me thinking about buying life insurance because I figured that I had it through my work and therefore I was covered. THIS IS NOT THE CASE! I looked at the life insurance I had through my company and it was for 1 year of my salary – after funeral expenses, that money would last probably 1-2 years. One story that he keeps telling is the husband who buys life insurance and then a few months later is diagnosed with terminal cancer. We’re all just dust in the wind and eventually we’ll be taken to a greater plain therefore please plan accordingly even though your path is undetermined.My first question when looking to buying life insurance was, “how much do I need?”.

There are many opinions out there and you can Google for them however the one I used is called the DIME method.

  • D = Debt – How much money your family will have to pay the creditors when you perish.
  • I = Income – The recommendation is 10 X your income
  • M = Mortgage – How much do you still owe on your home/properties before it’s paid off
  • E = Education – How much does your children need to complete their education

I made a simple spreadsheet for this and determined that my rough estimate is close to $1 million dollars therefore that was the policy I was shopping for. Here is my simple spreadsheet:
DIME MethodThe second question is, “what type of insurance should I get?”. The two most widely used out there is Whole Life and Term Life insurance. Whole Life provides you with a coverage amount you set and a higher premium where the additional dollars above your premium goes into an account that builds your “equity”. Dave Ramsey does not approve this method as you can make more money by taking those additional dollars and invest it yourself. Also, life insurance is not needed for your “Whole” life because as soon as you become fairly wealthy then your family should be financially stable enough to handle any money issues. Term life insurance is similar to car insurance where you pick an amount of coverage and a “term” of how long you want the insurance for. This is the one that I went with because, as I mentioned before, you shouldn’t need life insurance for the rest of your life and it provides the best option with the lowest premium.

The next step is to decide where to buy your life insurance. I went to the life insurance broker Zander Insurance, who is recommended by Dave, and they made the process of buying life insurance very easy. You enter in some basic information and they’ll provide you with several quotes from various life insurance companies. I just went with the lowest premium and of course I reviewed the company online to ensure they’re competent and rated a good company by others. Here is the information you’ll have to fill out:
Zander InsuranceAfter you choose a life insurance company, a representative will contact you to set-up the health screening and paperwork process. I spent around 30 minutes answering questions with the rep about my health history, my current health status, and if I participated in any dangerous activities like sky-diving, rock-climbing, and/or battling dragons. After that initial health phone call they’ll send a nurse to your house to get blood testing completed. This wasn’t a new process to me because my company does the same thing to determine if you’re eligible for a health insurance discount. When the lab results are complete, they’ll notify you if you’ve been approved for life insurance or not. Finally, they’ll send you your policy to review and sign. Some notable notes I have from reading my contract.

  • The policy will not be active until the premium is WITHDRAWN by the life insurance company
  • They will withdraw (2) months worth of premium on the initial payment
  • The policy becomes incontestable after 2 years
    • If you decide to suicide within those 2 years then the policy could become void
  • The company has the right to eliminate the policy without notification if premium cannot be withdrawn due to insufficient funds

Overall, after (2) years your family should have no issue with getting your policy redeemed with the proof of the death certificate. The entire underwriting process takes 3-4 weeks depending what your schedule is like to get the health screening completed.

If you are married, have a family, or have any other person depending on you then take this small step to ensure that at least they won’t have a financial burden upon your death. Nobody wants to think about their death however it’s a thought that needs to be taken seriously if you truly care about the people in your daily life.

What’s in your wallet?

“What’s in your wallet!?” is the famous slogan marketed into this world by Capital One and I think it’s a very fascinating way of looking into a person’s life through the perspective of their wallet’s contents. I’m not referring to a person’s financial standing but what they keep in their wallet and the reasoning for each item. I remember when I was out with my coworkers one night and we decided to pour our wallet’s contents on the bar table. There were people with entire novels inside their wallets! Carrying every punch card they’ve received from all the eateries along with a random library card from a place they’ve visited only once. This contrasted with the minimalist who carried a money clip that had only one credit card, one debit card, his license, and $20 in cash. It was very enjoyable for me to take a peek at someone’s life through their wallet and how to correlated with their personality. Therefore I thought it would be a good post topic: “What’s in MY wallet”.

Here is a corny photo I took of 80% of my wallet contents.
Whats in my walletDriver’s License
This is the quintessential item I have in my wallet as it acts as my main form of identification and, more importantly, bears the responsibility of allowing me to consume alcohol.

Contact Card
I put my business card in the front in the case of an emergency where first responders might need to contact someone during business hours. On the back of the card, I’ve listed (2) emergency contacts. The main card in the front is laminated while I carry (3) regular business cards just in case I might need to exchange one with a new business contact.

Health Insurance Card
This is also for an emergency situation for when I might have to be taken to a hospital. Of course if it’s a life or death situation then take me to the nearest hospital! But if it’s not then please take me to a place that’s within my network! If you’ve ever had a health emergency then I’m sure you know how the costs can quickly become astronomical – I once had a 15 minute ambulance ride that cost $1,400!

College Student ID
This is just to show that I’m always a BEAVER! And to test my youthful good lucks trying to get that college student discount whenever I can!

$40 Cash and $8 in spare change
I went the longest time without carrying cash because I would only use my credit card. I learned the hard way that I needed at least some cash on me when I went to Cartlandia and all the vendors were CASH ONLY – I was so hungry but I couldn’t “afford” any food with my stupid pieces of plastic rectangles. I picked $40 because it’s a good amount when you’re in a pinch like needing to buy a decent meal for you and your date; geting a cab home or to a friend’s house when you’re too drunk; buying that awesome Domo Kun plushy at the flea market; or making a quick $20 bet on the spot that you can hit the goal post from the 18 yard box. The reason I carry $8 in two dollar bills is solely to give to homeless folks I cross paths with. My parents have always taught me to give to needy folks whenever I can and this is something I do as a small act of kindness. For $2 they can buy a Big Gulp and hot dog at 7-Eleven – a deal that I take advantage of whenever I get the opportunity!

Debit Card
It’s not shown in the photo but I always carry my debit card just in case I need to withdraw money from my checking account. The odd thing is I keep a very low balance in my checking account at all times – it’s usually below $75. My checking account balance is low because I believe I can maximize my money by putting it in other areas rather than letting it sit in a no-interest checking account. US Bank gives you a couple of designs to choose from for your debit card and I picked the Broncos one because Tim Tebow was playing for them when I got the card. However, as soon as I received the card the Broncos freaking cut him!!! I’ve been stuck with a Broncos debit card but I’m not even a fan……

Credit Cards
I carry all eight of my credit cards with me (only 4 of my cards are shown – the sexy ones) because I put a small charge on them to prevent the credit card company from closing the account. My main card is the Chase Sapphire because the points don’t expire and I reconcile the points to get a big check when I’ve built up 10,000 points ($100). I constantly check to make sure all my cards are there because I don’t want to go through the hassle of losing a credit card and not “promptly” reporting it.

Those are the contents of what’s in my wallet. Hopefully you learned something new about me and the next time your getting drinks with your buds, take out your wallets and see what it says about them. Do this prior to getting wasted as you’ll most likely find out that several of your items are missing by the next morning.

What’s in YOUR wallet?!

Khang’s Review: Every Dollar Budgeting Tool by Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey released last Monday 3/23/15 what he has called the best budgeting tool available therefore I thought I would take it for a test spin and see if it’s better than the Mint or the custom Excel spreadsheet I made. The product is called Every Dollar and there is a free version along with a Plus version that costs $99/year which allows you to sync transactions with your bank accounts (basically what Mint does for free). The log in screen is the same as any other website where you would need a username/password. However, the verification email that they send can take up to several hours! It also gets easily lost in your junk email therefore it’s best to check in there first if you don’t see it within a few minutes. In this day and age, and after Dave spent a couple million bucks to get this running, it should only take a few seconds to receive a verification email not several hours.EveryDollar Log-in PageThe website itself is very beautiful and easy to navigate as you can see below. Categories are very cleanly separated with a distinguished tab to help you differentiate between your budget items; the initial category is your income where your budget should start and the default categories are giving, savings, housing, transportation, food, lifestyle, insurance & tax, and lastly your debt. These categories then have smaller sub-categories where you can add your own custom budget line item. An extra item they have on the side is the “Baby Steps” which is Dave Ramsey’s steps to becoming financially wealthy and I think it’s a nice touch but seems a little weird to me that it’s included in the tool – but it’s his budgeting tool so how could he not sneak it in there??
EveryDollar Initial PageThe initial step is to put in your monthly income and then move down the line to fill out all you budget items. A nice feature is that as you scroll down the screen, the amount that you have left to budget is locked at the top for you to see. You can also click on the remaining amount and that will toggle the website to switch to how much you’ve spent in your budget. This gets a little annoying because I thought I could change the spent amount by clicking it but I can only do that through the added transactions. Speaking of the transactions, this is where the budget tool fails miserably and makes it no better than a mediocre tool.
EveryDollar TransactionTo add a transaction, you click on the budget category and click on add new transaction to the right. The screen lets you add either an expense or income and asks you for the date and amount. As you get more transactions then you have to manually input them into your budget category but if you have the Plus version then your transactions will automatically populate from your bank accounts. As you can imagine, this can become extremely time consuming with the number of transactions you have. Budgeting is a struggle for most people already and making it as time consuming as possible creates a difficult obstacle for people to overcome.

And that’s pretty much Every Dollar in a nutshell because that’s all budgeting is – starting off with your income amount and then subtracting all your expenses until you’re down to 0.

The downfall of Every Dollar is that you have to manually input the transactions and you have to PAY if you want the automatic transactions. With Mint, you get the transactions for FREE and it’s very easy to categorize them into your budget items. If I were you, I would not purchase the Plus version because you can do everything with Mint and you also get all the balances of your other accounts as well. The website does look nice but doesn’t do anything special that Mint or my custom excel doesn’t already do. If they make the Plus version free then they might have a fighting chance but for now, it is an inferior product to Mint’s budgeting tool and his statement of best budgeting tool available is definitely an overstatement.

In conclusion, Every Dollar is too time consuming to be a worthwhile budgeting tool because you have to manually input all your transactions. Stick with Mint if you want the best bang for your buck (FREE) and time. I hate to say it but I think Dave Ramsey made a bad investment by spending $3-4 million dollars and multiple years on this product. The only reason this budgeting tool is getting any traffic at all is because it’s backed by Dave Ramsey; if it wasn’t then it would just be another mediocre tool lost in the ether of the internet.

My experience with selling/donating plasma

My first experience with blood donation was in high school as a 16 year old when I donated for the Red Cross when they came to my school. I thought it was really cool to be able to donate and save someone’s life and the experience has led me to become a lifetime blood donor however I haven’t done it in a few years. This initial experience allowed me to get familiar with the process and learning not to be afraid of the HUGE ASS needle that they stick in your arm! That’s okay with me since needles, like the cold, never really bothered me anyway! And as sickening as it sounds, I actually like to look at it when they stick me.

I heard about plasma “donation” on the radio when I was a senior in college and they advertised that you could make $300 a month by donating plasma. I’ve read multiple articles about the semantics battle between using the word donation vs. selling and the main argument is that it’s not donating if you’re getting paid for it. At the end of the day, you are giving your plasma to help others survive and live longer therefore call it whatever you want but the end product is still the same. I decided to check it out and it was pretty identical to donating whole blood with the Red Cross except it took longer and you can donate twice in a week while you can only donate whole blood once every 8 weeks. I’ve donated at three plasma centers which include two locations from the same company in Gresham and Hillsboro along with a center from a different company in Portland. Before I started to donate plasma, I wanted to get as much information about the process, what its actually like, what can I expect, how much do I get paid, what are the health effects, etc., as I could. Therefore, the premise of this blog post is to provide my personal experience with the process mixed with what I’ve read over the annals of the internet – I’m going to report on plasma donation through my scope of what I saw and how I saw it.

The first step that needs to be done is to see if there are any plasma donations near where you live – this can be accomplished with a simple Google search for “plasma donation centers”. There are several providers that should have multiple centers where you live and from my experience they don’t vary that much from one to the other. I’ve read that centers are usually located in areas where people need the money like near college campuses and in the low-income parts of town. The centers I’ve participated in definitely fit this stereotype and the donors give off the vibe of being on the lower rung of the socioeconomic ladder. But at the end of the day, we were all donors trying to get a quick buck.

Once you find the center then you will need to go through the initial screening process which will take approximately 2-4 hours.During the process they will do a routine physical, ask you questions about your health, test your blood pressure, and take samples of your blood. It takes this long only the first time, your next visits will usually take 10-20 minutes before you begin your donation process. You can choose to donate after you pass this screening or elect to give a sample of your blood and then donate within the next few days. For the sake of my story, I will assume you just gave the samples and will return for your donation at a later date.

The following paragraphs is what you can expect when you decide to sell/donate your plasma as they are eerily similar at all locations. Once you enter the plasma center, you will go to the designated kiosk area where you sign-in with your thumbprint and answer similar questions that were asked in your initial health screening. If you’ve donated whole blood with the Red Cross before these questions will be very familiar like are you sick today, do you have any new tattoos, have you taken drugs monobobopoopo, coochietera, or tooko, have you ever had HIV, do you live with anyone with Hepatitis, yadda, yadda, yadda. There are approximately 20-30 questions and it’ll take you at least 5 minutes because you cannot move to the next question since they are timed. Here is a picture of the kiosk:Questionnaire KioskAfter you complete your questionnaire at the kiosk you will sit down in a lobby or wait in line until you’re called by a technician to complete your shortened health screening. Below is a picture of the lobby of the place I used to donate at in Portland. I’ve covered the face of the individuals to protect their privacy.
Main waiting roomDepending on how crowded the center is, you could wait anywhere from 2 minutes to an hour. When I donated at the center in Hillsboro it only took 2 minutes because it was new and basically empty around the time I came in (6:00 PM which is their closing time) while at the Gresham center it took closer to an hour because it was packed all the freaking time. The nurse will call you up and take you to a private room/stall where they will begin the blood screening process to make sure you’re healthy enough to donate that day. Here is a photo of what that room looks like, sorry for the potato quality.
About to get tested!You’ll quickly find out that they ask for your full name and last 4 digits of your social security very often. Not sure if this is to verify if you’re the same person (I know, I know…) or to make sure you’re still thinking properly and not high off your ass. You can’t see in the photo above but there is a scale just behind the chair and that is what they’ll have you do first. This is important because there are 3 ranges for the amount of plasma you have to donate correlating to your weight – I weighed around 160 and was in the middle band which required me to donate 880 ML. At some centers you get more/less money (+/- 
$5-10) depending on your weight and at others its constant no matter what you weigh although you do have to donate more if you weigh more but you get paid the same as that skinny ass person. After they weigh you, then the worst part of the donation happens: the finger prick! They’ll prick you finger to get a blood sample so they test for your iron and protein levels. Other things they’ll check include your blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. After you pass all those then you move into the donation zone or as I like to call it “THE MATRIX”.

Below is what THE MATRIX looks like. I call it this because the first time I walked into the area I was freaking shocked! It looked so surreal. The Gresham center has like 10 rows of beds and it was full of people hooked up to machines that were taking their life force similar to The Matrix before Neo got rescued by Morpheus. I wish I had a photo of the Gresham center as my photos below does not do it justice.
Plasma CenterPlasma Center 2Once you sit on the bed, the technician will ask you if you want the right or left arm. I usually alternate arms but some people use just one arm. My reasoning was that I wanted to let the wound heal and not collapse the vein which was unlikely. You’re allowed to donate twice within a 7-day period. The big, grey machine you see in the photo will take whole blood from your body and then separate it into plasma, which they’ll keep, and return your red blood cells back to you. The entire process takes approximately 45-90 minutes depending on how well hydrated you are. The fastest I’ve done was 41 minutes and the longest was 75 minutes. The IV needle stick starts with them pumping up your arm to see your vein and the best location to stick you! Once they determine your veins are good to go they’ll put iodine on the location and mix it for 30 seconds. Then the FUN BEGINS! They’ll take the needle and stick it in you! I’m a crazy person and I love to look at when they do. Other people look away like a little bitch but hey, I don’t judge. Here is a photo of me with the needle in me arm! The blot of blood is rare and usually no blood escapes from the wound except when they extract the needle.
Needle in me arm!After you near the end of your donation, they’ll either give you a saline pack through the IV or make you drink a bottle of electrolytes (Powerade or Gatorade) to help you replenish the fluids you’ve just lost. After that you’re all done and you get paid!

Most places will give you a very high dollar amount for the first 4-5 times you donate. IIRC, one place gave me $50 for the first time and $80 for the second time alternating till you gave 5 donations and another place gave me $50 for 4 donations. After that period expires, you’ll get into the regular payment schedule which gives you a small amount for the 1st donation and a larger for your second. For example, the most recent place in Portland was a $25/$45 split while the one in Hillsboro was $20/$40 – it varies from center to center but they’re all around that range. They also have promotions every month like you get a peel card for prizes on your 6th donation of the month or an additional $20 on your 7th and 8th donations.

If you just want to get some beer money, then this is a quick means to get that. You’re also helping others get crucial life saving medicine in the process. My only caveat is that you stop donating if you’re feeling/getting sick because it will prolong the amount of time you’re ill. I had first hand experience with this because I had a cold but kept going on keeping on. It was 3 weeks into my cold and I was very frustrated I didn’t get over it because I rarely got sick and never stayed sick for too long. I decided to stop donating and BOOM, within a few days I was back to normal. Your experience might vary but just giving you my insight. I also felt extremely drained after I donated and wasn’t able to do much – I just went straight to sleep as soon as I got home.

Therefore if you do decide to donate, make sure you know all the health implications and make sure you’re well hydrated the day prior, during, and after you donate. I personally had no qualms or ill effects from donating however there is limited research on the long-term effects for prolonged plasma donation. I’ve stopped donating at the request of my parents and I do miss the income a little bit; you can make more than 3 grand a year! Either way, you only have one body and money can’t buy health so make sure you cross your T’s and dot your I’s before you make the decision to start donating plasma. I hope this helps in your decision to donate and don’t hesitate to contact me through the social media links!

$20 is $20: Amex coupon for $10 rebate on phone bill

American Express sent me this coupon stating that they’ll give me a $10 rebate if I pay my phone bill using their card. I usually pay my phone bill with my Chase Sapphire card and then pay off that charge every month. The reason I do this is because then I would get points for the bill payment rather than just paying the balance with my checking account. Here are the details from American Express:

AMEXThe first part of the term is that your phone bill must be at least $75 therefore if you’re on a single plan that might be a little difficult. But the more important thing is that if you’re paying $75 for a single phone plan then you are paying WAY TOO MUCH for your phone! Being on a family plan with T-mobile made me meet this $$ requirement.

The second part was that you had to be part of one of the major carriers which they state as AT&T, Spring, T-Mobile, US Cellular, or Verizon. Therefore, sorry for those people using Clear, Metro PCS, Virgin, or any other obscure ones I haven’t heard about. As I stated above, I used T-Mobile therefore I met that second requirement as well.

The last part is that you can only use this coupon 3 times which didn’t really matter to me because all good things must finally come to an end. Once I use this coupon 3 times then I will go back to paying my T-Mobile bill with my Sapphire card because the points never expire! Also, that’s my primary card where I make all my charges on.

If you have the diligence to pay off this charge on your American Express card immediately then I don’t see why you shouldn’t take advantage of this free $10! Even a small amount can make all the difference and remember that $20 is $20!

$20 is $20: Chase Savings Acct. Coupon for $175

One thing I’ve noticed throughout my life is that there are millions and millions of ways to make money – all you have to do is open your eyes to them and complete your due diligence to ensure that it’s actually legit and worthwhile. The $20 is $20 line came from a picture I saw where a homeless man is wearing a shirt that said “I’m not gay but $20 is $20.” Aside from the humorous context of the shirt I took the meaning of the picture to mean that you shouldn’t discard an endeavor because of it’s monetary value because $20 is still $20 and if the opportunity presents itself, you should consider the terms and take it! I will write different posts where I’ve found these opportunities, all the terms, and the experiences I’ve had with attempting to cash out on these little life nuggets. The first one I want to talk about is opening a Chase savings account to get $175 (I’ve done this before with a $100 coupon).

chase savings

 

This is the coupon I received in my email from Chase stating that if I open a Chase Savings account and deposit $15,000 then I will get $175. Of course the only reason this coupon would work is if you have $15,000 to be able put into an account. The next part is to read through the fine print to make sure you can meet all the terms and that there aren’t any catches. Here are the terms of the deal:

Avoid the service fee by doing one of the following options (verbatim from the email):

Option #1: Keep a minimum daily balance of $300 or more in your savings account; OR,
Option #2: Have at least one repeating automatic transfer from your Chase checking account of $25 or more. One-time transfers do not qualify; OR,
Option #3: Have a linked Chase Premier Plus Checking, Chase Premier Platinum Checking or Chase Private Client Checking account. Otherwise a $4 Monthly Service Fee will apply in most states ($5 for accounts opened in CA, FL, GA, ID, NV, OR and WA). A $5 Savings Withdrawal Limit Fee will apply for each withdrawal or transfer out of this account over six per monthly statement period. We will notify you of changes to your account terms or fees. For more information, please see a banker or visit chase.com/savings.

The other important terms is how you get the bonus and more importantly keep the bonus – below are the details verbatim:

Bonus/Account Information: To receive the bonus:
1) Open a new Chase SavingsSM account, which is subject to approval; AND
2) Deposit a total of $15,000 or more in new money within 10 business days of account opening. The new money cannot be funds held by Chase or its affiliates. After we receive your minimum $15,000 deposit, we’ll deposit the bonus in your new account within 10 business days. For a Chase Savings℠ account, the Annual Percentage Yield (APY) for all balances is effective as of 01/23/15 and may change at Chase’s discretion. The APY is 0.01% for all balances in all states. Interest rates are variable and subject to change. Additionally, fees may reduce earnings on the account. You can only receive one new savings account-related bonus per calendar year. The offer is not available on account conversions, or in combination with any other offer. The bonus is considered interest and will be reported on IRS Form 1099-INT.

Account Closing: If your savings account is closed within six months after opening, we will deduct the bonus amount at closing

I’ll explain how I saw this deal and the experience that I had attempting to get this $175 from Chase.

The first thing I wanted to determine was that how long and how much did I have to leave into the account to gain this bonus. The reasoning behind this is that I currently had the money in an account that was gaining 0.75% APY while the Chase savings account would give you 0.01%. That means that in a month I would receive ~$10 from the current account and only $1.50 for the Chase account – that’s a yearly difference between getting $120 or $18. $120 might not seem much to you but remember the saying “$20 is $20.” Therefore it’s pertinent that you see how much and how long you need to keep your $15k in the account because you want to maximize the use of your money. Also, it’s important to note that this money is considered an “emergency fund” therefore you want the money to remain liquid and easily accessible therefore when I say “maximize the use of your money” this means that I don’t plan on investing this money because I need it to be accessible.

How much? The answer to this question is option #1 of avoiding the service fee. It states that you need to have a minimum balance of $300 to avoid the $4-5 fee. Therefore you need to just keep $300 in the account to avoid having the service fee erode your earnings. This means that you can withdraw $14,875 from the account and put it back into your higher earning interest account after the $175 is deposited into your savings account.

How long? The account needs to remain open for (6) months before you can close the account and withdraw your $300. I see this deal as advantageous because you are gaining $175 on your $300 for 6 months if you withdraw $14,875 as soon as you receive your coupon. This leads to the $300 gaining you an interest rate of almost 10% over the 6 months! How can you not love that when a typical savings account is giving you less than 1%?

Therefore if you have $15,000 and receive this coupon from Chase then take it because $20 is $20!! Also, be aware at account opening that you should be opening a Chase Savings account and not a Chase PREMIER Savings account. The banker tried to pull this fast one on me but I caught him on it and made him change it. If they make you open the premier account show them your coupon and say that you want to open the regular account. If they don’t allow you to do that, then leave because the deal won’t be worth it. The reasoning behind this is that the Premier account requires you to keep a minimum balance of $15,000 and what is the trade-off they give you for this?? An interest increase to 0.03%!!! A WHOLE 0.02%!!!! WOW THANK YOU CHASE!!! Yeah F that.

Good luck!

Starting the DEBT SNOWBALL!!!!

2/5/15 and 3/7/15 Update:

I plan on updating this every 2 weeks which coincides with pay-day!

I’ve just started listening to Dave Ramsey and began reading his book “Total Money Makeover” – It has definitely opened my eyes to my financial situation and helped me start thinking about what I can achieve. The thing that he stresses the most is getting out of debt and never borrowing any money. He breaks down his debt-free method into baby steps for you to follow that will help you reach that point in your life where you are financially wealthy and independent. The first baby step is to save $1,000 for an emergency fund – I have this completed already. The second baby step is to start paying off all your debt starting from smallest to largest regardless of interest rate. I’m currently completing baby step 2. I haven’t listed my debts yet but I want to in this post so that I record my starting point and put my goal on paper! Below is my debt from smallest to largest and I will be DEBT FREE!!!

3/20/15:

I did a few things to reduce the debt quite substantially since my last update – the most notable items being taking out $4k of my savings and selling my silver at a  60% loss to pay off debts. I’ve also eliminated a means of income generation by no longer selling plasma due to my parent’s request; no longer selling plasma will cost me approximately $3,600 a year and 5 months to getting debt-free faster. But I’m a firm believer in filial piety therefore I will act per my parent’s wishes. I have also taken the drastic measure to stop my 401(k) contributions however I will re-contribute if I cannot complete this goal in 24 months. My current estimate shows me be doing in 26 months however this doesn’t take into the account the debt snowball method of compounding payments from paid off debt. Note: I don’t update the car balance or the parent loan balance until I reach them.

4/3/15:

I paid off all the student loans in my name!! I got this completed by withdrawing $5,000 from a savings account. I also made a huge dent into the Grace loan and soon I will have her in my hands officially.I’m going to need to start another way of finding additional income to accelerate this debt snowball therefore I think I’m going to start getting more serious about selling things on Craigslist and eBay. As far as progress goes, I’m quite proud of current pace and acceleration. I still have more money in a savings account which I’m saving as a final push for Grace.

4/17/15 and 5/1/15:

I found an additional source of income that is getting me approximately an extra $45/week. I also got my $171 check for selling my $200 Hyatt gift card. I also took out the cash I had in my brokerage account and put quite a big dent into car loan. If I’m moving at this pace, I should have the title for Grace by October!

5/15/15:

Got another additional income by starting to drive for Uber!! My first night I made $106 in fares and I get to keep approximately 74% of that so not bad for 3.5 hours worth of work! This should hopefully speed up my date – my new goal is to be done by December 31st, 2016.

5/29/15:

I got a nice bonus from Uber for $100 by completing 10 trips and also sold my broken Xbox 360 for $40. The other side job also netted me an astounding $150! Unfortunately, I did not work for Uber this weekend therefore that will affect next weeks debt update but perhaps I’ll make it up by working extra this Friday.

7/10/15:

I paid off my car loan!!! I finally have my first piece of property in my car and it feels great to not have another car payment even though the car was a very dumb decision by me! At least it’s a car that I absolutely LOVE! Paying off my 72-month car loan in 9 months definitely felt like a fantastic success. I don’t owe a dime to anybody underneath my name and now I’m onto erasing that debt that my parents took to put me through college. I haven’t driven for Uber in over a month but my start soon just so I can really start eroding this debt mound.

8/21/15:

I sold all the stock in my brokerage account and used the money to pay off debt. The majority of the capital to purchase those stocks came from my student loans so it was basically borrowing money to buy stocks, as Dave would say. This made a huge chunk in my debt levels ($9,500) and shortened my duration by 3 months or so. I’ve still been too lazy to drive for Uber and have been saying every week that I’ll start but I’m just so tired… My main goal now is to finish before I start my part-time MBA at PSU so that I can save up money to cash flow the books and tuition while I wait for the tuition reimbursement to come in (I don’t get it until I get a C or better in the class and provide documentation).

10/25/15:

Wow it’s been a long since I last updated! Well nothing new has really happened – I’m just keep on keep’n on. Oh, I accidentally paid $400 into the wrong student loan! This is truly a grueling physical and mental marathon but I’m so close I can see the finish line! I picture myself taking my family out to a nice restaurant after I finish because they have supported me 100% along the way and have also made many sacrifices to help me with this goal. I also envision myself going on the Dave Ramsey show and doing my DEBT FREE SCREAM!!

12/25/15:

Dang, it’s been exactly 2 months since my last update but a lot has happened in that short time that has accelerated my debt free snowball! I’m at that last 0.2 miles of the marathon and I can clearly see the finish line but your body is aching and every step is difficult but I’ve too far to give up now so I’m going to power through! The biggest snow angels I added to my snowball was a credit for my CarMax warranty, a Turner bonus, and an unexpected Ecomunnity bonus! I’m down to the last 2 months and I can’t believe I’m soooooooo close!!

01/22/16:

Holy poop!! I can’t believe I’m only 1 paycheck away from being debt free!!! I can actually be debt-free right now because I have the money in my savings account but I decided not to for a few reasons with one being that I might need it for taxes. Also, my next pay check will be on 2/5/16 which is the exact same date one year ago that I started to start this debt-free journey and change my life. My new saying for this journey is that I sacrificed a year of my life for an eternity of freedom.

1. $432 – Phone bill Paid 2/11/15
2. $1,645.05 – Student Loan Paid 3/6/15
3. $1,681.75 – Consumer Paid 3/6/15
4. $2,556.99 – Student Loan – Paid 3/6/15
5. $3,046.90 – Student Loan
5a. $1,748.43 – 3/7/15 Paid 3/17/15
6. $3,351.61 – Student Loan Paid 3/17/15
7. $4,433.71 – Student Loan
7a. $2,052.29 – 3/20/15 Paid 4/2/15
8. $18,968.45 – Car Loan
8a. $14,142.44
8b. $8,8188.63
8c. $6,572.57
8d. $4,260.49 Paid 7/6/15

9. $44,089.00 – Student Loan (It’s under my parent’s name but they gave me the opportunity to change my stars therefore I have no qualms about paying this back for them – broken out below).

9A. $4,493.34 Paid 7/24/15
9Aa. $2,867.71
9B. $8,513.88 Paid 8/21/15
9C. $9,792.23
9Ca. $5,817.24 Balance 8/21/15; Paid 10/2/15
9D. $10,354.67
9Da. $8,015.78 Balance 10/25/15 Paid 12/11/15
9E. $10,934.88
9Ea. $10,432.78 Balance 10/25/15
9Eb. $5,490.02 Balance 12/25/15
9Ec. $888.88 Balance 01/22/16

Original Total = $80,205.46

New Total (01/22/16)$5,490.02
ETA Pay-off (02/05/16) = 2 WEEKS = 2/2016

New Total (12/25/15)$5,490.02
ETA Pay-off (12/25/15) = 2 months = 2/2016

New Total (10/25/15)$18,448.56
ETA Pay-off (10/25/15) = 6 months = 4/2016

New Total (8/21/15) = $26,836.38
ETA Pay-off (8/21/15) = 9 months = 5/2016

New Total (7/10/15) = $42,172.00
ETA Pay-off (7/10/15) = 14 months = 9/2016

New Total (5/29/15) = $48,312.71
ETA Pay-off (5/29/15) = 16 months = 9/2016

New Total (5/15/15) = $50.624.79
ETA Pay-off (5/15/15) = 19 months = 12/2016

New Total (5/1/15) = $52,240.85
ETA Pay-off (5/1/15) = 20 months = 01/2017

New Total (4/3/15) = $58,194.66
ETA Pay-off (4/3/15) = 23 months = 03/2017

New Total (3/20/15) = $64,509.40
ETA Pay-off (3/20/15) = 26 months = 05/2017

New Total (3/7/15) = $72,591.2
ETA Pay-off (3/7/15) = 34 months

KN REVIEW: Light Stream Loan Process


I’ve had a dream of someday owning a Honda S2000 ever since I saw Johnny Tran in The Fast and the Furious beat the crap out of the VW and uttered his famous words “Too soon, Junior”. The point has come in my life where I’m able to afford such a car and mature enough to not make stupid decisions and get myself killed in it. I began the search by going through Craigslist and just seeing what the prices are and was I shocked to find what was available out there. Perhaps its the website but the cars that were for sell were usually very high miles (understandable since it’s a pretty old car) but the majority of them have cosmetic damages and/or salvaged. The last part is also understandable since people would drive these pretty hard leading to the higher probability of damages and wrecking the vehicle. Therefore my main concern was to find one with low miles and was well taken care of by it’s previous owner. I went next to Car Max which just opened a new location near my house; I’ve never heard of Car Max before till they opened the store nearby. And amazingly enough, they had a RED one with 44K miles!! This was too good to be true! I called them and told them to reserved the car for me and that’s when I began the process of trying to buy the car. This is the review of my experience with the lender Light Stream.

Light Stream is a subsidiary of Sun Trust Bank which is a well known and trusted bank with $175 billion in assets. I found Sun Trust by Googling “used car loans” and it was the first thing that popped up. Their loans were very competitive with the local credit unions at 2.84% for a 72-month loan. The best part of my experience with applying for this loan was how simple it was. I’ve applied for loans with other banks/companies before and it felt like it took at least 1 hour to fill out all the information. I can honestly say this was the most simple, easiest, and user-friendly loan application I’ve ever dealt with.

You fill out the typical information like your address, loan amount, term, income, non-liquid assets, and liquid assets. After you enter in all the information they send you an email stating that they’ll respond to your loan application within the next day and they are good for it! I received an email the next day asking for further documentation. What they wanted to see was a pay stub and statements backing up my liquid assets. This was very simple to upload and they responded within hours of me uploading the information. They state that the information had to have a date within the past 30 days but my statements haven’t came in for the last month yet. I told them this and said I needed the money within the next few days. They adjusted to my situation and waived the 30 day requirement and approved my loan!

The next steps were extremely easy as well. Once I was approved, I just signed back into my account and enter in my banking information for where I wanted the funds transferred to. I then picked a date on when I wanted the money (it could be same day if done before 11:30 AM EST) and even when I wanted to pay the bill!

I actually enjoyed applying for a loan with Light Stream. I think they really fit well with my age group as they are extremely responsive and quick along with very simple and minimalist controls. Next time I need a loan for something, I will definitely look to them first and I recommend you check them out as well!

 

How I passed the FE Exam on my second attempt!

I retook the FE exam in April after I failed it the previous April. I’m very pleased and honored to say that I PASSED!! The feeling of seeing “Congratulations” on the letter was indescribable when you know the amount of effort and sweat you put into passing that test. The worst part was waiting 7 weeks for your results to come back. I don’t know how many times I Googled “minimum passing score for FE exam” and I read the same forum threads over and over again just because I was so anxious. After having failed the first time and passing the second time, I believe I have some helpful insight for people who are looking to take the test. First of all, I commend you for taking this test because it opens opportunities for you down the road that you can’t even think about right now. I decided to take the test because of a situation I learned from one of my coworkers at my internship. My internship was at a government agency and one of the “engineers” there came from the same educational background that I did: graduated from the OSU CEM program. He was telling me how he was stuck at his pay grade and cannot get a raise/promotion because to move to the next level he needs to get his PE and the first step in getting your PE is to pass the FE. He told me that he’s taken the test 5 times and failed every time just because it was too much information and he doesn’t have time to study with a family and bills to pay (he’s 25+ years out of school). This lead me to firmly decide that I’m going to take the FE exam and pass because it stays with you for life! He told me he never expected he would be working for the government, his plan was to work for a contractor his whole life. You never know where your career is going to take you, so plan ahead as much as you can and pick the low hanging fruit!

The first tip I can give, and I know it’s cliche, is to STUDY, STUDY, STUDY! My first time taking the test, it was my final year of college and I wanted to have fun and party so that’s what I did and that’s why I failed. I didn’t study at all, not even opening the reference manual until the day of the actual test. Though maybe you’re a genius like some of my friends who say that didn’t study at all and still passed (I can vouch that he didn’t study for it lol). But if you’re like the rest of us then you will need adequate time. I recommend starting at least 3 months out if you have the time and spending 1-2 hours every night. I started legitimately studying at 1.5 months and those last few weeks I skipped a lot of sections. I basically skipped over the electrical section because I didn’t learn this in college and there was no way I was going to learn electrical fundamentals in 4 weeks. The book I studied from is the FE bible created by Micahel Lindeburg. DON’T BUY ANY OTHER BOOK EXCEPT FOR THIS ONE! I also got the NCEES civil engineering and that helped me a little bit but unless you have your company paying for it (I did) then I don’t think it’s worth the cost. Your main focus from this book should be the general math sections in the beginning. You want to be able to get all the easy points and not miss those because points are not weighted, all the hard questions and easy questions are the same points therefore the goal is to not miss any of the easy ones.

One of the best things I got from the Lindeburg book was the practice exam that they provided. I took the exam under “testing conditions”. I woke up at 6:30 AM and then ate breakfast and waited till around 7:30 before I sat down at my desk to take the exam. I used my calculator, a shitty mechanical pencil, the reference manual, and gave myself only 4 hours (you have another 4 years to take the afternoon section). I used all the same techniques as I would during the test. For example, there were 120 questions which meant that I needed to answer 15 questions every half hour and that’s how I kept pace to make sure that I wasn’t getting hung up on a question. Definitely wear a watch because it’s much faster than looking up at the big clock and depending on where you’re sitting, you might not even get to see the clock. I also incorporate the strategy I call “Live by the C, Die by the C”. Which basically means that if I don’t know the answer or can’t narrow down the answers then I’m going to put C and move on. You can do all the statistical analysis you want on putting one letter vs picking random but I just think that picking random you have a possibility of getting 0 of them correct. Putting C for everything you don’t know, you will get at least 1 correct no matter what. Who knows, that 1 point could be the difference between passing and not. The first time I took the test, I did not incorporate this strategy.

Lastly, remember to rest very well the day before the exam. I went into an isolation tank to clear my mind (that’s a whole separate post) and ate a good dinner and went to bed at a very reasonable time. I also took 3 days off from work. One of the most important things is to prepare your body for this test. It’s basically like your final exams but on steroids because it’s a culmination of not just one subject but multiple disciplines.

If you did your due diligence and studied accordingly, you should have no problem with this test. A final tip is to pick a relevant afternoon session and stay away from the Other Disciplines if possible. I was in construction engineering management so I had a few overlapping classes with the civil engineers therefore I took the civil section. My CEM friend took the Others and he said it was basically the morning session but they injected questions with venom and turned it into monsters! I wish the best of luck to you in taking this test and rest assured that it will pay for itself in your life time.

The Importance of Asking for What You Want

Throughout my short career I have been blessed with being put on big projects which would be contrary to the time I’ve been with the company. I’ve been thinking about the reason for this and it has boiled down to the fact that I ask to be given larger responsibilities and I have specifically asked to be put on certain projects. We had just been awarded a very large project that I was on the team for and I wanted to be part of the construction of the building. It was easy asking for larger responsibilities at my internships because I was temporary but as a permanent employee I had to think about longevity and company politics.

I asked a project executive at my current company about how I should state my desire to be on a new project that we had just been awarded. He gave me this piece of advice “In our company the best way to get what you want to is to tell the right people, and tell them often.” As soon as he gave me this piece of advice, I responded to the operations manager debrief email about our project award. This is what I typed “I’m very excited to hear the news and I feel extremely honored to be part of the process to win this project (I helped put together the drywall package – sorry I can’t state how much it was). I would love the opportunity to be part of the construction for (project) and hopefully my performance during the bidding process has showed what I can bring to the (project) team. I would love to discuss this opportunity with you on the deck today and look forward to speaking with you soon.”

I’m a man of my words, so at the bid party on our company’s deck/patio I came up to him and we made small talk for a few minutes. The conversation started about my current projects and then I asked about the award process for the project and afterwards introduced the subject of my email. I told him about my fear of asking him because I thought he would be bombarded by requests from everyone asking to be included. He told me I would be surprised at how uncommon it is for someone to ask that they want certain things. He then proceeded to tell me that it is a very good thing that I told him I wanted to be on this project. Then he tells me that the project executive that I asked for advice called him today and told him to put me on this project!

I made my intentions very clear that I want to be on this project and he told me that he would do his best to see that I get on but there are also a tremendous amount of variables that go into putting certain people on these big projects. I have done all I can to state my desire to be on the project and I have told the right person because the operations manager is the person who staffs all of our jobs; I will just have to wait and see if I will be given the opportunity. FINGERS CROSSED!!