Saturday, August 30, 2008

Target 800 – Credit Score

Because of an identity theft incident, I subscribe to Equifax's credit monitoring services. While reviewing my credit report for any problem entries, I noticed Equifax is offering Scorewatch free for 30 days. Well – I haven't hit my target of 800, but things aren't bad.

Has anyone made it to 800?

Auto Insurance and Marriage – Crazy

As my wife and I continue the process of merging various financial affairs, I noticed an interesting item on our bill from State Farm. For some reason that cannot be justified by any sanity or financial data, State Farm is charging us 50% more to insure her older Corolla than it is charging to insure my nearly new Highlander.

Things I know:

  1. Somewhat beat up (but reliable), the market value of the Corolla is ¼ the market value of the Highlander (if that).
  2. My wife is the primary driver. Although my driving record is good, I had an at fault accident two years ago. Her record is perfect.
  3. From a credit perspective, we should be identical.

Comparing the before/after pricing quotes from other carriers, I think State Farm's price on the Highlander is significantly better than the competition.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Changing Health Insurance Mid- Year – Nervous!

According to a document provided by my wife's employer, I will be added to her insurance effective September 1, 2008. Until I get an insurance card from Blue Cross, I won't feel completely comfortable with my situation. As a result, I won't forward the "proof of other insurance" to my employer until after I talk with the new insurer

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Gas Prices – Commodity or Branded??

Do you pay extra for "branded" gas from companies like Exxon, Mobil, or BP? IMHO – Gas from any reputable company is gas.

The other day, I paid $3.61 per gallon at my local BJ's Club. On the way home, I saw prices as high as $3.84. In my area, the Citgo consistently has the lowest prices and the Shell has the highest. At some point, one would expect the Shell customers to switch to Citgo; however, they do not.

Why not? Despite all the protestations about gas prices, I think most people are lazy and not sensitive to gas prices. They just fill up in the most convenient spot without even considering the cheaper gas one block away.

Your theories?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Married – Setting up Joint Accounts

This weekend, my bride and I started the process to merge our finances. First step, we merged two of our checking and savings accounts (we used the same bank) at TD Banknorth. In the joint savings account, we will keep $1-2K for emergencies. The joint checking will be for ATM use and for the rare times we have to write a check.

Most of our money will be direct deposited in ING Checking and Savings accounts. Unless a check is required, we will pay everything using online bill pay.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thanks Marriott – Not!!

If the bride/groom reserved a block of 10 rooms for the weekend, would you give them a decent room? At our local Marriott, they had other plans.

Because most of my family was from out of state, I decided it would be nice if everyone stayed at the same hotel and took a block of ten rooms. In addition, my bride and I reserved a room for the night of the rehearsal dinner and our wedding night. What did we get?

  1. The first room offered was next to the ice machine (aka the nuclear power plant).
  2. When I complained, they gave us another room. Unfortunately, I didn't inspect it carefully. We checked out of the room at 5am due to the horrible smell of mildew. Thanks Marriott!!!

During the rest of the honeymoon, we stayed in an airport Sheraton (using Starpoints) and a Hyatt (honeymoon). Both of them provided clean, quite rooms and great service. Next time we travel, we will remember.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wedding/Honeymoon Over

Back from the honeymoon and still adding up the damage. It was worth it. In the following weeks, I will be posting on some of the highlights – the Hyatt and the lowlights - the Marriott.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Final Wedding Report

Tomorrow is the big day. I am marrying a wonderful woman in a beautiful church with a dinner in a great restaurant (and view) to follow. Today, we are doing a few last things, but it looks like we managed not to bankrupt ourselves. On to the honeymoon. Next posting in 2 weeks.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Housing Market - Starting to Harden?

Although I would not be the farm on it, I am starting to see signs the housing market (in Connecticut) is starting to harden. Currently, I work with two new employees looking to buy homes. According to them, the supply is now limited to the "dregs." From what they see, the only people who are willing to sell at the depressed prices are the people who have no choice. Everyone else is holding on to their houses.

Since Connecticut did not have the massive housing developments of California and Florida, one would expect us to be "leaders" in the recovery due our limited supply of housing.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Charging the Wedding!!!

Having already put a large amount on my Citibank card to pay for the honeymoon, next week I have to pay for the wedding and the reception. Although I had enough money in savings to pay for all of it, paying it off seemed risky. Instead, I did a balance transfer to move the money from Citi to Discover. At a cost of $75, I get to use their money for 12 months free. For the reception, it is going directly on the Discover card and I get 5% back since it is a reception.

When we get back, my wife will be back to work (she is a teacher) and our cash flow will really pick up. While we cannot quite live on my income alone, it is close enough to bank a large portion of her paycheck. We should have enough cash in the bank to pay everything off by Christmas.