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

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!