Tag Archives: money

Coin – many cards in 1

Update: 20th Dec 2016
Unfortunately Coin was bought and subsequently shutdown before even Coin 2.0 was released. It was a nice idea, but I suspect the market is too saturated with competing and incompatible payment methods at the moment. At least Apple Pay is being accepted in more places.

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Recently I have been using the Coin credit card device https://onlycoin.com/. This credit card sized device can contain the details of many credit cards at once. There is a great video on their website showing how it works. When you go to buy something you simply push a button on the card to select the credit card details you want to swipe with. No more bulky wallet for multiple credit cards!

It uses Bluetooth to communicate with your iPhone or Android to unlock – so even if you left your Coin behind accidentally it will be locked out for anyone else to use. It also records the last location it was used at so you can go back and retrieve it if you left it.

There is a tap tap code you can use to unlock it without your phone, but I haven’t found that to be very easy yet. Out of all the places I have tried to use it only one place was not able to read the card, so I always card 1 back up card just in case.

The fun part is when you hand it to someone to swipe and they are looking at it and always ask me what it is – and then what a cool idea it is. I concur! The Coin 2.0 will be out soon which will work with chip enabled cards I will be interested to see how they implement this for multiple cards.

When you purchase the Coin it comes with a card swipe you plug into the headphone socket on your phone. Like how the Square payment method works. Using this you can swipe each card and save it to the Coin app and take a photo of the card. These details are then synced across Bluetooth to your Coin.

I will be very happy when I receive my Coin 2.0 for one major feature – the ability to give each card a nickname! The Coin screen just shows the card type (VISA, DISC) and the last 4 digits of the card number – so much easier to give each card a nickname.

Overall I am very happy with Coin and have found my wallet is nice and slim now – just got my Coin, debit card and driver license. Until Apply Pay becomes widespread this is a great alternative that works the majority of the time.

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Why You Need A Roth IRA

I am always surprised at the number of people who do not know what a ROTH IRA is and why they should have one. My financial adviser explained it to me years ago and I have been a strong proponent of them. For my UK audience, sorry I have no clue what might be equivalent to this!

Easiest way to explain this is through an example.

Joe is saving $500 a month into his 401k. He pays no tax on this money. When he retires he has accrued $500,000 in his retirement account and starts to withdraw. With each withdrawal he pays tax at whatever the current rate is. So if he had paid in $200,000 with no tax, he then pays tax on withdrawing $500,000.

Mary is also saving $500 a month into her Roth IRA. She pays tax on this money at today’s rates. When she retires she has also accrued $500,000 in her retirement account and starts to withdraw. With each withdrawal she pays NO tax. So if she had paid in $200,000 and paid tax on this, she gets to withdraw $500,000 TAX FREE.

The only gamble you are taking with this account is whether future tax rates are going to be higher or lower than today. The way governments are having to spend I think there is very little chance of future tax rates being less than today.

Most Credit Unions and banks/brokerage firms offer Roth IRAs. Best to use 401k to keep company match money in and then extra money you invest into your ROTH. Remember, don’t keep all your eggs in one basket!!! With my sense of balance I have always thought this a very apt expression.

OK, I better do some legal disclosures here, just in case. I am not a financial expert nor do I have any qualification in it. Consult a certified financial professional before changing your investment strategy. My words of wisdom are my free expression of speech and do not reflect the views of anyone I am affiliated to, whomever that might be!

Making the piggy bank virtual

I’m one of those people who likes to save for things. I like to save for new appliances, car care items (yes, those performance tires are expensive) and fun money for vacations, etc.

If I had the patience I would be en envelope stuffer – an envelope for this and one for that and stuff some twenties in it every week. I am not though and it just doesn’t feel right to have the money sitting in the house doing nothing. I have suggested to my credit union that they should let you divide your savings accounts into separate folders, so to speak. All I got from that was a suggestion to use the holiday fund account. I don’t want that though, I want my money all in one account, but kept in different little buckets.

My whines have been answered though, not by the credit union, but by this cool online site called SmartyPig (www.smartypig.com). I get to create a savings goal for my little piggy bank and it decides how much I need to save every month to reach the goal. I can have as many little piggy banks as I want and I can see them filling up and how far they have to go. Of course, what really swung it for me was that they offer 3.25% apy on the savings! Emigrant and ING online savings aren’t close to that these days.

They are FDIC insured too, for those of you more cautious types (me!) and everything is done electronically – you can even access your money whenever you want. Such a simple idea, but so effective. Now I have my little piggies for the car tires, the pet expenses, the vacation and the fun money.

I think you can also set it up so that you can let it be public – not done that but, maybe it would be nice to have that for a kid and let the relatives contribute to it for Xmas and birthdays. Don’t really want people to see how big my vacation  account is before I decide where I want to go on vacation!

There are a lot of online financial tools now available – mostly for free. I have used Mint.com to track expenditures and Wasabe.com to check my checking account purchases. I used to mainly use Emigrant and ING for online savings, but since their rates are junk right now (it’s the economy, stupid) I don’t do much with them.

The Scottish building society (like a credit union) The Dunfermline just crashed. Kind of sad to see these old institutions die because of bad decisions, but new ones will take there place. Iceland had a complete meltdown financially and a lot of UK councils appear to have lost money because of it.  The old adage of not keeping all your eggs in one basket would seem to be one that should be a standard refrain for everyone these days. Stuffing the money under the mattress doesn’t make sense, but neither does keeping everything you own in one place.

Maybe if more people take advantage of SmartPig accounts then everyone can get back to learning how to save money. My mother taught me about that at a young age – wasn’t particularly appreciative of it at the time, but it did sink in. She told me how she bought a new jacket for me when I was about 4 and got it on the never-never – pay 20p a week for 5000 weeks and it is paid off. Course, I had the thing ripped to shreds well before the 20th week! I think about that sometimes when I see people buying these big plasma TVs – have they really got the money for it or are they paying a ludicrously small amount every month for it?

Ah well, I may not have a big plasma, but my 5 year old 32″ CRT is doing just fine, thank you very much!

Tax Season

‘Tis that time of year again when we Americans have to do our taxes. Hmmm, that made it sound like I was born and bred here, I will rephrase it – ’tis that time of year again when all American tax payers must prepare to file their taxes. Just doesn’t have the same zing, but it will do!

The press in general gives a bad name to tax season – doom and gloom and worry and frantic ‘all-nighters’ being pulled. Maybe if you are self-employed that is the case, or maybe if you are doing the company tax forms. For the average person though (with a job!) it isn’t so bad.

I like tax season because I always get a chunk of money back from the government. I know, I know – people are always saying you should change your with-holdings so that you don’t get anything back otherwise its like an interest free loan to the government.

This is very true, but I don’t miss the money since I never receive it and I always look forward to doing my taxes!

I did change the state with-holdings though and I owe the state of Massachusetts a whopping $1 – cost me as much for postage!

PS: You can all send your congratulations for me to pass onto Bailey – he passed puppy graduation last week!!!!

Another fine mess…

What really has surprised me has been the speed at which this downturn has taken hold. I was not surprised by the housing market bust because the ever increasing prices to salaries was unsustainable. The rate at which this has brought everything else down though, is quite amazing – in a scary kind of way!

I guess now it is all a confidence game. If I don’t think you can pay me back the loan, then I won’t lend to you. Isn’t that a novel thought! Maybe if the bankers et all had kept their heads and used this same rule of thumb to start with we wouldn’t be in such a mess.

A few years ago I was amazed at how blase people were with money. The 20 something working in McDonald’s making $10 an hour and he buys a BMW.  Maybe I am just a child of the eighties, but it seemed every time I was about to graduate from one course or another, that the UK was in a recession. I paid attention. I saw what happened, what people did and what happened to people and I tried to learn the lessons. I didn’t ever want to land myself in the situation of owing more on my mortgage than the house was worth and then not being able to sell it and therefore not being able to move to where the jobs were.

This whole credit house of cards has just been waiting to fall. At the same time though, the economy does need credit made available. Course, now all the banks who risked the money on sub prime and bad debtors are facing the music and don’t want to lend any of their precious cash. So the companies can’t get credit, the customers don’t buy, the companies have layoffs and there are no customers left.

And where does the media play a role in all this? As usual they hype everything and make everyone get really scared. “The Great Depression is back”, etc. Well, if you weren’t scaring all the consumers they might still be buying stuff which would keep your manufacturing industry going and there might be a bit of credit around. Even I  haven’t been spending as much as usual and I have no reason to have really changed my habits, just hearing everyone bleating on about tightening their belt has changed my habits too. I have money I can spend, but I am not. I don’t have any credit card debt because I was always responsible. I never took an equity loan on my house.

My mother taught me well and of course, I’m a Scot and we are frugal creatures! No point flinging out the 32″ TV so I can get a flat panel HD 1080p LCD when the 32″ is working fine. That is a waste. Wait until the 32″ goes phitz and then research and purchase the best deal at the time. Prefereably on a 0% credit card so my savings can keep earing interest while I pay of the card. Simple!

Pay yourself first, then your bills and then you see what is left over – that is your spending money. Companies need to do the same – paying yourself first though is called inward investement. Like the bailout plan using it to create jobs via infrastructure building. You are not just spending money, you are investing it for the future too.  A better high speed internet connection for every home in America not only creates jobs in laying the lines, but enables other jobs for those that can then use the high speed connection to do better business.

Wow, Monday morning sugar rush from the donut I just had I guess. Oh yeah, when did it go from being a doughnut to a donut or a tyre to a tire? I figured these were maybe just American spellings, but when I was back in the UK a few weeks again I saw a sign in a shop that said Bakery and Donuts. Aahhh. Admittedly it was in an ASDA which is owned by Walmart, so maybe that was why.

So I guess we will get through this mess somehow eventually. Och, now I am depressing myself! So anyway, my Mum arrives over from Scotland on Christmas Day for a few weeks. She doesn’t know I have a new puppy yet, so hopefully it will be a pleasant surprise for her! I think for her Xmas present I will book a session for us with a photograher and get our potrait done. There – that will keep some area of the economy rohbust for a week or so!

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!!

My new puppy Bailey, went to see Santa

My new puppy Bailey, went to see Santa