Saturday, June 6, 2009

Brain Teaser Question: 9 Tennis B

Nine ping pong balls and a traditional balance are lying in front of you. All balls have the same weight except for one, which is slightly heavier than the others. What is the minimum number of times you will need to use the balance to be sure you found the heavy tennis ball?

Answer to the coin flipping question: 2 (Hint:Gropu them by 3)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Chase Freedom Cuts Rewards

A few weeks ago I received a letter in the mail from Chase. The envelope was titled "Good Things are Coming from Chase Freedom" and subtitled "ENCLOSED: News about improvements to your account." Much to my surprise the letter told me that my rewards were going to be cut by June 30th.

Highlights of these improvements (used lightly):
  • The triple cash back rewards you earn on Everyday spending categories will no longer be available. Sounds like Discover Card to me.
  • The $50 bonus when redeeming $200 in Cash Back Rewards will no longer be available after June 30th. This was the best part of the Chase card!
They also told me that they have a new online store. I checked out the store to see if they had additional merchants or better discounts and the store is exactly the same.

I think it is despicable that Chase is masking a downgrade for current chase freedom users as an improvement. The masking by Chase has caused a ton of outrage and hopefully Chase will learn to be more honest with their own customers.

The Chase card has essentially turned into a Discover card since which is a big disappointment. I'm sure that Chase will see less transactions in upcoming months from Chase Freedom users as the card is now less lucrative. It is now time to move on and find another card that offers better rewards for responsible spenders.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Stimuls Plan: Stealing Our Future

As the United States economy starts to recover many in the United States are starting to see the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in new light. By the time the stimulus plan will kick in it almost certainly will not be needed. Government is simply not efficient in creating new projects and agencies. As Ron Paul said, the only thing the Stimulus plan will “not stimulate anything except for the growth of big government.” This is becoming all too apparent.

Congress has provided the perfect way for government to continue to grow in the coming years. By lowering the amount people can deduct when donating to charities we will see less donations to charity from the top tax payers, the largest donors to charity in terms of dollars donated, resulting in less goods and services provided to those who need the help the most. Can you guess who will step in to fill the space of the then delinquent charities? Yes, of course the government. We just won’t be able to pick which charities are worthy of private dollar donations. Taxes will increase and consumer choice has become even lower. One more freedom taken away one bill at a time.

The largest impact from the Stimulus plan on the worker will be the huge increase in the deficit. Taxes will have to increase to new highs as the United States struggles to pay off the deficit since it is doubtful that congress will ever see a cut in spending as a saluting. Congress members loves to show off a new program or two to the voters rather than to show how much they saved. Cost is no concern when dealing with other people’s money. The long term effects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will merely create a short term stimulus with long term dire consequences. Of course by the time we start to feel the pains of the plan there is a decent chance that this will become a new presidents problem since it can take years before the new bubble stats to burst. By rushing to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ,the Democrats were able to push their agenda with extreme haste to Obama’s desk before anyone had a chance to even read the plan. How could the members of congress vote ‘yes’ without reading what they were actually voting on. Wait, this eerily sound similar to the Patriot Act…

Sunday, February 22, 2009

California's Sales Tax Increase: Who Protects The Tax Payer?

California’s Sales Tax Increase. Just a penny…
Given California’s inability to balance the budget, the Governator signed a bill that will increase sales tax by just a penny. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s PR team has led us to think that a penny increase on the dollar is infinitely small, but this is certainly not the case. Currently I’m paying 8.25% in San Mateo for sales tax and Schwarzenegger’s bill will increase my tax;(by a penny ) placing the final sales tax will be at 9.25%. The penny increase in sales tax actually ended up increasing sales tax by over 12%! I’m certain if the media called the plan a 12% increase in sales tax there would be riots in the streets.

I’m disappointed that all of the major papers in California talked only about a penny increase in tax per dollar. An penny increase in sales tax is much more feasible to pass than a 12% increase in the publics’s eye. Apparently, the writers are all aligned with the government.

Who Protects the Tax Payer?
The impact of the tax is going to be disastrous to business. With two thirds of our economy based on consumer spending, Californians will simply have less to spend. This will cause more unemployment throughout the state as companies simply cannot hire. The California Government has just crushed aggregate demand. Tax receipts will also decrease as Californians buy goods under the table, purchase more goods online, and simply now have less to spend due to higher levels of unemployment.

Low taxes work, but high unjust taxation does not necessarily increase tax revenue. Lowering taxes increase employment as consumers can inject more of their dollars into the economy at the very time the economy most needs the consumer to spend.

The lessons of history are before us. We must execute extreme skepticism when the government announces a temporary law. So often we find that these temporary laws become permanent and slowly bound us to a road of serfdom. Of course we have to keep in mind that we should entrust the government bureaucrats with our money since they know what is best for us… right?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Credit Card Rewards Are Falling Fast!

As the economy continues to deteriorate credit card companies are reducing rewards as a way to lower expenses. The typical leaders in credit card rewards cards such as Chase have introduced new programs that are just not as lucrative. New Chase card members can only receive 3% bonus cash back on gas, groceries, and fast food purchases for the first 6 months. They really provide no incentive for users to stick with the card for a time period longer than six months.

There are less incentives to sign up for new cards. In fact many companies have really scaled back on their marketing budgets as a way to preserve capital. New customers are now consider a liability.

Companies are also lowering available lines of credit. American Expression has been known to monitor user’s spending habits via credit card transitions and try to see if the user has changed their behavior which might indicate future problems with the subscriber’s ability to pay off debt. For example, if they noticed that a shopper used to shop at Nordstrom’s is now at Wal-Mart, they might reduce the credit line. While this may not sound very fair it is something that can happen so watch out!

The best advice right now is to use credit wisely and try to limit credit card debt.