Crazy Calculus and Credit Card Churning

WalletsTons of folks out there talk about their adventures and successes in credit card churning all the time – Holly at Club Thrifty and Brad at Richmond Savers, to name just a couple who have been around the block when it comes to credit card offers.

We had gotten into a very comfortable routine with our 3 cash back cards, but I was curious to see what bonuses we could accrue and how easily we could use them if we gave credit card churning a try for a year or so.

Halfway Through That Year I Want To Poke My Eyes Out!

Lose #1 – Fighting With Technology

With the exception of the Chase cards (these were just added to my existing Chase login and synced perfectly) that I added and churned through, adding new cards to mint has been absolutely terrible. I use a password manager, so each new account requires a plethora of new (fake) answers to a multitude of useless, socially engineer-able (I may have made that word up) questions. And entering and re-entering them multiple times. Then when a customer service agent asks you what street you grew up on and you tell them, “Wait, I need to unlock my database to tell you the answer to that…”, see if you can sense the moments when they try and decide if you are a criminal or not.

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Happy Friday – Happily Irrational!

We just made what is probably the least rational decision we’ve ever made. And it’s probably going to cost us between $15K and $20K over the next 5 years. And we’re happy.

Are we crazy? Well, you decide.

The Beginning

This story actually starts about a decade before we were born. It was the early 1970′s and Mr PoP’s grandparents were in a doozy of a car accident. Everyone survived, thank goodness, but the VW bug they were in at the time did not sufficiently protect the family members from serious injuries. As the story goes, grandma had extensive injuries and needed to relearn to walk, etc. After that experience, Mr PoP’s grandfather went out and bought his wife the safest car he could find – a 1972 Mercedes Benz 230 sedan. A yellow one, as it happened.

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Financial Literacy And Asking The Wrong Questions

I recently ran across a stumper of a question and wanted to run it by our blog readers here. So here goes. How would you answer the following question on a test of financial literacy?

Mrs Jones has a loan of 8,000 zeds with FirstZed Finance. The annual interest rate on the loan is 15%. Her repayments each month are 150 zeds. After one year Mrs Jones still owes 7,400 zeds.

Another finance company called Zedbest will give Mrs Jones a loan of 10,000 zeds with an annual interest rate of 13%. Her repayments each month would also be 150 zeds.

If she takes the Zedbest loan, Mrs Jones will immediately pay off her existing loan. What are two other FINANCIAL benefits for Mrs Jones if she takes the Zedbest loan?

1. _________________
2. _________________

My Answer

If I were taking this test, I would write the following, “It’s not clear there are any (much less two distinct) financial benefits for Mrs Jones to take the loan from Zedbest without further information.”

Then I’d likely memorize the test question and report it* to the test creators and proctors as a faulty question.  But that’s not on the list of “correct” answers.

And The “Correct” Answers?

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PoP Balance Sheet – June 2014

Welcome to our June 2014 Balance Sheet!

We use the structure of a monthly income statement and balance sheet in tandem to make sure we are keeping our expenses low and planting our pennies wisely. If you’re not already tracking your finances using these two methods, go to and get started today! If you have any questions about how we do this just post a comment and we’ll be sure to help!

June was a nice little month on our balance sheet.  We kept socking away money into various savings vehicles, and the S&P500 gave us a boost by climbing a couple of percentage points during the month as well.  All around a nice month.  So for the month of June:

  • Our total assets went up by $15.1K
  • Our total liabilities went down by $1.5K
  • Net worth rose by $16.6K
  • Total net worth as of the end of June is $760.2K, which represents a 2.2% increase this month.

And for the details… Continue reading PoP Balance Sheet – June 2014

PoP Income Statement – June 2014

Welcome to our June 2014 Income Statement!


Kitty PoP hiding in the laundry hamper from a summer storm.

Mr. PoP and I put these income statements together for two reasons. First, we want to be transparent about our finances because we’re trying to be role models for other people who are trying to plant their own pennies (and end up with dollars someday!). Second, we do this to make sure we’re on track to meet our own long-term goals. If you’re not tracking your income statement and balance sheet, we highly recommend you start using a program like Mint to keep track of it all.

Sorry for the radio silence on the blog here lately. We’ve been pretty bogged down with some craziness both in work and personally, and hopefully most of that will settle soon enough to do some more sharing about where things ended up in the meantime.

Income this month was pretty average. We did get a slight boost in the rental income thanks to new tenants that moved in at a slightly higher ($25!) rent than the ones they are replacing, so that’s nice.

On the expenses side, I was surprised it turned out as well as it did (slightly below what we aim for) given the several irregular and one-off expenses that occurred this month: 6 months of car insurance (lower thanks to being a 1 car family now!), spending $300 to pay back Mr PoP’s folks after that fiasco, and paying $450 upfront for 3 nights for AirBnB in New Orleans later this year for a wedding. (Have I mentioned how much we feel like everyone should just elope?)

A smaller item(but still of note) that won’t really show up in our income statements, but will be worth $240 in reduced expenses in the next few months is a credit that we got through a Ting promotion. Remember how we told you about using Glyde to swap our Verizon iPhones for Sprint/Ting iPhones when we switched our cell phones to Ting? Well, now they have a promotion where they will refund you the difference and the Glyde fees on your swap. I applied on a lark, knowing we might not be eligible since we completed our swap in February (Mr PoP even made fun of me for applying it had been so long), but they gave it to us! So even though we had already paid our bill for this month, we now have enough credits from the swap that we won’t pay a phone bill for the next 5 or 6 months. Seriously. I can’t say enough good things about Ting. If you want to give it a try, feel free to use this referral link for Ting as proceeds will go to pay for this blog’s expenses.

The Bottom Line

  • Earnings before principal paydowns and savings allocations of $4,269.

And here are the details…

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