Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Pinless Debit Transactions ...

For those of you that shop at Walmart and Amazon and use cash back cards or use rebate apps ...

I've discovered something interesting ... Big retailers are switching to "pinless debit transactions" * WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT * for transactions under $50. 

Why does this matter? 

As part of the Dodd-Frank "financial reform" Bill ... credit card companies were forced into (3) scenarios 

1) Chip cards 

2) No signature credit transactions below $50 

3) Transactions can run as a debit transaction if card is a debit card and transaction is under $50.

First, chip cards have been an utter failure. They don't take so long because of slow equipment, but because of all the red tape the transaction has to go through. Your card is encrypted - that encryption has to be read, verified, retransmitted, transmitted again and then sent to your retailer. If you read that like I typed it - you'll see that at one point - unencrypted info is at some point traveling the www. 

What's the point? 

Case study: While moving to Chattanooga last year I had a pretty rough going with my bank, etc transitioning smoothly. I used my wife’s chip card for two months. Her full name is clearly not a man's name. Not once did I sign or get questioned in the dozens of places I used her card. 

What's supposed to be so secure about these cards? I know the technical answer, but it doesn't pan out in the real world. The sole reason chip cards were put into place is tracking and whatever you read otherwise is just subterfuge.

Two, debit cards work privately with your bank. Credit cards work in harmony with your retailer. (And your credit card company is better at what they do) Debit cards cost a retailer 20¢ per transaction. Credit cards (on average) cost a retailer 2% per transaction. It's obvious to see why a retailer would want to force you into a debit transaction. 

And so is the way of all government - Walmart lobbied heavily in the House and Senate to get the little Trojan Horse of pinless debit transactions. Think of a pinless debit as you virtually signing your receipt. Or think of it like I do - a retailer getting to forge your signature so they can save and you can't.

Three. One small convenience is not having to sign for most transactions under $50. Well, that's nice until you realize you are now on the hook for $50 a day if a hooligan or reprobate steals your card or info. This little clause in the law has led to identity thieves stealing volumetric amounts of micro-transactions rather than stealing large sums from 100s. If you can steal 30¢ from millions, why steal $300 from 100s?

All this presents two problems:

1) You don't get cash back because cash back comes from credit card use.

2) You may not get printable receipts which results in loss of receipt submission app rebates. (I.E.,you can use your credit card in any fashion IF you use Walmart Pay. You get your 1.5% back but you don't get a printed receipt NOR WILL WALMART PRINT YOU ONE)

I've tried hard to convert to paying apps rather than swiping my card for security purposes. This is just one of the bumps I've run into.

Hope this clarified some of this for you.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

How can you © copyright something you created, drew, or wrote?

 
Know, that as an American citizen you are protected by the laws of the land. One of the most comprehensive laws is that governing copyright, trademark, and service mark.

Familiarize yourself with The Lanham Act that allows others fair use of your work. Know that copyright also has to be defended in court if challenged - and that can be an expensive and lengthy battle.

There are two low cost ways to copyright an image or written work:

Print it, or more preferably hand write it/draw it.

Put it in a manilla legal envelope, seal, and mail to yourself from a post office with a certified return receipt. On the receipt put copyrighted © poetry by [your name]

Then ...

Publish it, anywhere, especially online because it will have a timestamp.

Include your name and the © symbol and the current year.

If you regularly publish online or have your own blog, your site is protected by the nature of publishing. You do not have to include a copyright notice but it doesn't hurt if you wish to not be a victim of plagiarism or piracy.

Social media and search engines are actually very responsive to takedown notices if you can prove ownership.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A testimony...


"As for you my galvanized friend, you want a heart. You don't know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable. Back where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds, they are called ... Di uh di uh di uh  ... Good deed doers and their hearts are no bigger than yours. But, they've got one thing that you haven't got - a testimonial .

Therefore, in consideration of your kindness, I take pleasure in giving you a small token of honor, esteem, and affection. 

Remember this my sentimental friend ... A heart is not judged by how much you love, but how much you are loved by others."

~ The Wizard Of Oz

Friday, March 17, 2017

"I think there's a danger in that we seem to only listen to the loudest voices or the articulate voices, because there's lots of humility and subtleness to one's silence or even their shyness. I feel everyone can tell you something. Few can tell you something in small terms or just gestures or even art and it mean something profound or life changing."
~ Jonathan Ive, Chief Design, Apple

Certain tick bites may cause allergies to red meat ...

Fascinating read ...


"A bite from the Lone Star tick can cause people to develop an allergy to red meat, including beef and pork. The Lone Star tick has been implicated in initiating the red meat allergy in the US and this tick is found predominantly in the Southeast from Texas, to Iowa, into New England."

Followup to FYT story about eating Angus Beef:



Thursday, March 09, 2017

Do savings apps and social media pages actually save you money?



Today marks one  year trying to see how much money I can save by using my smartphone and social media.

Here's my findings:

None of the following rebates or savings disqualify you from rewards or using other rebate apps/methods or couponing. One app (described below) will occasionally mention that the item cannot be discounted by a coupon printed outside of the store.

Ibotta:

IBotta is well worth the effort. As of last night, I had accumulated $531.38 in direct deposits to my PayPal account since March 9, 2016. 

It requires some effort, BUT out of all the apps or other methods I used it has the most healthy options and the most ways to save. I also like that I can use it like a shopping list and verify each purchase with a barcode right in the store while I'm shopping. 

Ibotta offers rebates on healthy (and occasional treat) items that I buy regularly. If these items are also on sale in the Walmart Savings Catcher app, the items can be free or a money maker. I usually make money on the healthy item of the week, especially carrots, cucumber, sweet potato, or banana. 

On the week these items are on sale/rebate - I get one item - to make it a part of a meal or as an ingredient in a dish. Usually the "Healthy Item Of The Week" is just 25¢ but a nice size carrot or a banana isn't even ¼ pound in weight - yield a savings/ money maker even at 25¢. A few times, my other savings apps have yielded the same healthy item of the week - doubling my savings.

At some stores you can link your rewards/bonus cards and savings that you've reviewed and checked in the ibotta app and they are automatically added to your rebate total. Others stores you have to take a full picture of your receipt. Stores that have a QR code (Walmart /Target) at the bottom of the receipt - all you have to do is aim your phone camera at the general direction of the code and it uploads your info. With QR code uploads on ibotta, your rebate is near instantaneous, while linked reward cards can take up to 2 days to appear.

You can "get your money on ibotta" once you've reached $20. You can get the money by PayPal or by popular store gift card via an eCard mailed to your email address. I have always chosen direct to deposit to my PayPal account.

I typically save $10 a week with ibotta

Walmart App:

You have to have the entire Walmart app to use a portion called "savings catcher". With Savings Catcher, you upload your receipt via a quick snap of your QR code at the bottom of the receipt and within 7 days, you receive what their app "finds" in price differences at other stores. 

Note some caveats about this.  The money saved can only be spent at Walmart via gift card or by loading a free American Express you are mailed (if you choose that option)

Also, DO NOT SHOP and plan to use Savings Catcher on a Friday or Saturday. Your app searches over the next three days and sales typically go off over these days so your savings will be less because the app "cleverly checks" stores as their sales expire. 

My typical Savings Catcher savings on a $100 grocery bill is about $2.50 - $4.00. Within the year, I have spent $150 on a grocery trip at Walmart and my savings total was $6.38.

Note that the credit card or the E-gift card you receive your rebates on qualifies you for the 3¢ per gallon discounted gas at Walmart gas stations.

I save about $1.50 a week with savings Catcher but I also do not exclusively grocery shop at Walmart.

MobiSave:

Although most of the rebates on this app are smaller (10¢ each) ... I like this app the most. Each week, items you'd buy anyway are listed in the rebates section. You check the deals BEFORE you enter the store and upload your receipt with 24 hours via the app. Since MobiSave is a a partner with PayPal, funds, no matter what the amount are automatically added to your PayPal account. Since I use a PayPal card for ALL of my purchases (and get 1.0% back) this is a nice extra bonus. I usually save about $1 a week with this app - which amounts to an additional 1.5% of my grocery bill.

Recently, I purchased some protein enhanced, gluten free spinach and cheese tortellini pasta through this app  and got $1 back + ibotta had a dollar back on the same. The pasta, which creates several meals (even standalone) was at Walmart for $2.48. The Walmart Savings Catcher found it on sale for $1.79 at Publix. The item was a money maker.

I save about $1 a week with MobiSave.

Savingstar:

I like this the least of the apps I use regularly because the savings are typically structured like:

Buy $25 in Sargento cheese get $5. You typically have 30 days to build up your money. I'm just not a fan of things that aren't instant. LoL

This app does occasionally have great discounts that can be stacked with store promotions such as Lay's Potato chips, pilsbury products, and Progresso soup. 

The cash out threshold is only $5. 

I typically save about $2 a week with this app

Checkout 51:

This app features 51 items a week to receive discounts/rebates on.

This week I got $1.50 back on Del Monte fruit cups that my daughter eats every morning for breakfast.

This app had Nutella over the summer for $4 back and Walmart had it on sale for $3.88. (I later found out that Nutella sales had dropped because they were purchased by Ferraro who immediately put artificial ingredients in it to bring down costs)

This app has great deals but the cash out is horrible. After building up $20 or more, you get a check mailed to you. I "ordered" a check for $21.75 two weeks ago and got it in the mail yesterday.

I have cashed out $108.75 in a year's time with this app.

This app occasionally will mention that you cannot use other physical coupons to get the rebate.

The only other caveat about this app - it is run directly by a marketing company and your receipt is sold to third parties (without your personally identifying information attached) - this bothers me a bit.

This brings me to coupons dot com. 

Absolutely do NOT use this app, the website, or anyone that partners with them to print coupons.

This MARKETING COMPANY actually steals your personal identification information and sells it. 

I did an experiment with coupons dot com. I noticed that I was getting telemarketing calls to my cellphone in the following days after using coupons dot com each time I used it. So, I hooked a house phone up to my DSL line and put that number as "my verification phone #" to receive my coupons. Sure enough, the next day my phone rang - a telemarketing call about cruises, then another about listing my business with google. This would be okay with me if I knew they were doing this BUT, the fine print under the box you enter your phone number says (quoted) "We will not use your number for any other purpose and will not sell your number to a third party."

Using coupons dot com will also affect the coupons (that may be better) that will print for you at the register of some stores.

Using this method of couponing is very very tempting, but trust me, it's too risky.

I had to stop following the Facebook page Krazy Coupon Lady after she personally responded on one of my posts about using airline credit cards to get discounts on airfare. She was lying in her post (that was sponsored by Southwest may I add) and I caught her. She insisted in several posts she was correct. I copied and pasted from the southwest website and she still denied me and said I was wrong. So, I called southwest, recorded the phone call, used the customer service call to transcribe a message on my iPhone and copied and pasted the phone conversation to the thread. She STILL said I was wrong and that if you signed up (using her link) you would get 2 free airline tickets to anywhere in the country for free. Anyway.  Caveat Emptor - don't believe everything you read on Facebook or the internet or anywhere.

For my online shopping, I run everything through my MyPoints account. This portal gives you between 2% and 15% back on most every purchase from most every website.

I often go through MyPoints to go to RAISE dot com where I buy discounted gift cards. MyPoints gives you an additional 2% back on gift cards purchased there. I go to RAISE to get Walmart and Lowes eGift cards that I can use immediately after purchase. I get 1.5% back using my rewards MasterCard. Sometimes I can order online, using my discounted eGift card, going back through MyPoints and save again.

Last year I cashed out $250 in gift cards on MyPoints - paying for about half of my Christmas gifts.

This may shock you but in all, I have received $27,000+ in total benefits MYPOINTS in the 15 years I've been a member.

If you are popular on social media or have a big friend circle, most all of these methods offer referral bonuses. You could get $100 or so by the end of the month like I did when I first signed up for these apps/website portals.

If you have any questions about couponing or discount apps, I'll try to answer them or get you the answers.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

The 7 Types Of Friends You Need ...



The 7 Types Of Friends You Need ...

It's healthy to have a handful of best friends with different perspectives.

Here are the 7 types of friends you need.

1) Friends who make the effort.

I have one friend who, although he is swamped with his career, never fails to reach out via text, email or phone every few days, no matter what else is going on. Even if it’s simply something succinct — like “just wanted to touch base and say hi” — I truly appreciate these signals that I’m being thought about and that our friendship is important. 

2) Friends that are forgiving.

I also appreciate a friend who is forgiving. I’m not saying that someone should forgive offenses quickly; or superficially. It takes time to forgive. But if too much time is taken, bad feelings fester, and the friendship may never get back on track. No one is perfect and a true friend will understand that.

2) Friends who are genuinely happy for me when something good happens.

I’m fortunate enough to have at least a few friends who are sincerely and openly happy for me when something nice occurs. (You’re probably wondering ... shouldn’t every kind of friend be happy for others? You’d think so, but that’s not always the case.) Friends who are genuinely happy don't exhibit jealously. They are truly thrilled about my accomplishments. They watch and revel in my glory - without any inkling of bitterness - and I do the same for them. Friendship is a two-way street.

3) Friends who are upbeat.

You know the opposite of this type. Some among us ruminate over every little problem in their life again and again (I occasionally rut). The difference is making at least one move to change a situation. Debbie Downers are contagious. They bring me down. Misery loves company and downbeat friends generally are more interested in your bad news than your good news. People who are positive and motivated and optimistic (but not not superficial) and who lift up those around them are worth hanging on to. I have one friend who never fails to compliment me on something — even if it’s just “wow, are you still running? You look great!”

4) Friends who are up for anything.

I have friend who loves adventure and who has a daughter that is the very definition of genius. With genius and adventure comes curiosity. Since I run a town news source, I occasionally get bizarre photos and stories submitted for consideration. One day, I had a picture submitted to me through Facebook message of flaming meteorite that had crashed into a nearby field - a picture by happenstance while photographing the nearby mountain range at sunset. I texted this friend and the next day we were out looking for a crashed UFO or other curiosity in that field. It was fun. Nothing turned up but my dog loved it. I loved it. My friend and her daughter loved it.

5) Friends who are authentic.

This is the steadfast friend who is anything but pretentious — the one who’s not afraid to see you without any constraint. They're not ashamed to showing you their true self — or seeing yours. They're “real” and honest and will tell you the truth when asked their opinion. When your behavior is questionable, there is a fine line between expressing concern and expressing judgement. A true friend will tell you the truth — and will let you know they’ll always be on your side no matter what decision you make even if, in their opinion, it’s the wrong one. 

6) A friend that holds you accountable

A friend that holds you accountable is a friend indeed. Sometimes we need an extra angel on the other shoulder. This isn't the type of friend that judges you; it's the type that you consider to be wise in their path; successful because they've made good decisions.

This type of friend should pray for you and with you about your discernment of people and situations. 

7) A friend that's as passionate about your hobbies and interests as you are.

Be it hunting, sewing, creating crafts, technology and gadget interests - or politics. Someone that can inspire ideas or encourage you in something you enjoy, simply by discussing it with you, laughing with you, is a huge help in your path to happiness.