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  • How to Pick the Best Credit Card for Your Spending Habits

    The following is a post from Jenna Smith. Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this post.

    There are some people, like Dave Ramsey, who insist that credit cards are evil and should be avoided at all costs. If you have a shopping problem and aren’t good at paying your bills, then yes: credit cards are not your friend right now. Otherwise, credit cards can be incredibly useful tools if you choose the right one and use it wisely. So how do you do that? How do you make sure that you get the best card for your needs and, more importantly, for your shopping habits?

    Your Credit Report is Always First

    Before you apply for any sort of monetary credit, whether it’s a credit card or a loan, it is important to check your credit and make sure that it is free of mistakes. This way you won’t allow yourself to get talked into exorbitant interest rates or crazy high fees. It is also a good way to gauge how much credit you should be seeking and if you should be trying to get credit at all.

    If your credit report is bad–if there is a lot of debt or if you have accounts that have been sent off to collections–you probably aren’t going to be approved for unsecured lines of credit. This doesn’t mean, however, that you cannot open a line of credit! In fact, opening a secured card can be a great way to start rebuilding the positive credit section of your credit report, which will help you get approved for unsecured credit later on if that’s what you want. There are several websites the show various credit card reviews detailing the pros and cons so that you can make an educated decision.

    Look at Your Lifestyle

    What do you buy? How often do you buy it? Do you love to travel and wish it were more affordable? These days your personal habits and hobbies are important factors when trying to find the right credit card. A few years ago they didn’t matter all that much, but now that there are dozens of different rewards programs out there all vying for your attention, they matter a lot. For example, if you want to be able to travel more, you’ll want to look for a card that offers you great travel rewards.

    In this vein, it is also important that you find a card that doesn’t penalize you for certain types of purchases. For instance, many cards will assign one interest rate to credit purchases made in stores and another for cash advances (and then, they don’t let you “pay off” those cash advances until all of your in store purchases have been paid because they want to get as much interest as possible out of you). Others will give you X amount of points for purchases made in certain stores and Y amount of points for shopping anywhere else. If you constantly shop at those certain stores, that’s a great deal!

    Pay Attention to the Details

    Do not choose a card specifically based on points. A lot of creditors will promise amazing points rewards but then actually redeeming those points will be a nightmare. Before you sign on the dotted line make sure you understand how the points systems work and that all of the points you earn will be redeemable. Another trick that is often used is only awarding a small amount of points until a specific amount of money has been spent. The companies do this in the hopes that you’ll rack up lots of interest-worthy debt very quickly. Don’t fall for it!

    What Are Your Payment Habits

    Are you really good about paying your bills or do you sometimes miss their due dates? Have you ever completely missed a payment? Are you bad with details? Make sure that you choose a card that won’t overly penalize you for these mistakes!

    And, of course, once you choose a card and are able to use it, make sure you use it responsibly! Don’t let the lure of points coerce you into ruining your credit!

    Morning Coffee: Downton Abbey deal, New Energizer coupons & More

    Morning Coffee - Nov 23, 2014 @ ChiefFamilyOfficer.com
    Morning Coffee is published daily and includes the best of the latest coupons, deals, and info I think you may find interesting. Prices and deals can change at any time so be sure to verify them before making your purchase. Please note this post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for using them! You can read CFO’s full disclosure here.

    ~ Today’s Gold Box Deal of the Day: Up to 55% off select Logitech Products, including mouses {is the plural for a computer mouse really mice?}, keyboards, gaming controllers and more

    ~ Today’s Bonus Gold Box Deal of the Day: Downton Abbey: Seasons 1-4 on DVD for $36.99 and Blu-ray for $39.99 {over 60% off!}

    ~ New Coupons.com printables:

    • $8 off WYB DURACELL & GOGO MY WALKIN PUP toy
    • $4/2 OxiClean Extreme Power Crystals
    • $2/1 Energizer Portable Light
    • $2.50/1 Energizer Ultimate, Advanced or Recharge Batteries
    • $1.50/1 Energizer MAX Brand Batteries {goes with B1G1 Free sale at Walgreens!}
    • $1.50/1 Energizer EZ Hearing Aid batteries
    • $3/1 Systane Brand products
    • $5/1 ICAPS Eye Vitamin Brand
    • $5/1 CLEAR CARE or OPTI-FREE Solution

    ~ New printable coupon for $1/1 SUPERPRETZEL® BAVARIAN Soft Pretzel Product

    ~ Love & Olive Oil: Printable recipe cards and tags for gifting cookies

    ~ Hip2Save: Cheap Skippy peanut butter at Target

    ~ For the Mommas: 100 free Disney Movie Rewards points


    Banner ad via Escalate Media Network

    The 80/20 Rule of Efficient Moving

    The following is a post from Jenna Smith. Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this post.

    I’ve always been partial to the “80/20 rule,” which has many different connotations but the big one is that 80% of your return comes from 20% of your effort. In the simplest of terms, it’s doing the one or two major actions that lead to the major wins.

    Abiding by the rule, in terms of moving, puts you in a mindset so you’re not scrambling to throw things in boxes, trying to find help, and rushing out the door at the last minute. The rule gives you the ability to look at the challenge and break it down into logical steps so that it’s extremely efficient.

    In this article, we’re going after three major themes when moving:

    ·  Do-it-yourself
    ·  Hassle-free
    ·  Inexpensive

    Let’s Start with Packing

    Packing is generally the most stressful of all the moving because you are literally up-rooting your belongings, throwing them in a truck, and hauling them to a new, exciting location. When you’ve made the decision to move, you suddenly realize that you have a lot of stuff.

    From my experience, I would have to say these are the best tips for packing:

    ·  Organize each room prior to getting the boxes ready so that when you do go to get everything together you can simply keep a set of boxes per room.

    ·  Skip the boxes from the liquor store (that people recommend all too often) because they are generally small; use quality boxes you can get from places like thrift stores or bulk shipping suppliers and then cut handles into the sides to make carrying them way easier on the back.

    ·  Use every inch of space you can before loading it in the box by combining items such as shoving socks into extra pairs of shoes or wrapping glass with shirts (you get the idea).

    ·  Be aware of transporting hazardous materials, which may become lose and cause damage to your items during the transit.

    ·  Liberally use extra sheets & blankets, along with plastic wrap, to protect your furniture and sensitive belongings.

    In terms of the 80/20 rule, what we see here is that by placing 20% of your time into organizing your items prior to packing, 80% of the actual boxing and moving them to the truck becomes an ease.

    The In-Between

    While waiting for the big moving day, it would be wise to spend that time to make sure everything will go according to plan before, during, and after the arrival.

    Some of those “in-between” activities include:

    ·  Doing a thorough clean-up of the place you are leaving to ensure you get back your security deposit (or at least avoid being charged for fixes).

    ·  Set up appointment for utilities in advanced so that they arrive shortly after you get there rather than spending a few days without electricity, water, or Internet.

    ·  Make sure your references or associations are in order and leverage those contacts to see if you can score better deals on moving services, avoiding down payments on utilities, or other important services you may need before & after the move.

    ·  Hire a maid or handy-man service to visit your new destination to clean the place or repair any issues with the mechanical items like the washer, dryer, dish washer, and others.

    Our 80/20 rule comes back into play here because the 20% of that down-time you have while waiting to move can handle 80% of the nuances before you get to the new place.

    The Big Move

    Today is the day that things are going in the truck and you’re saying your goodbye’s to the old place.

    A few things to keep in mind to make it easy, cut costs, and keep it hassle-free:

    ·  Consider using a professional moving service, which will handle the truck, aid the transition thanks to helpers, and give you peace-of-mind because they are insured. Take a look at a moving service provider like United Van Lines and get estimates on how much your move will cost along with some additional tips from the site.

    ·  Take inventory of everything that is going into the truck and make sure that it stays organized the way you had set, so that when you do arrive the boxes can go into their respective rooms.

    ·  The earlier the better–plan the move for the crack of dawn so that you have additional time to stop for breaks, call utility companies, and have enough time to set up a few basic items (like the bed) before it gets too late at night.

    With the 80/20 you are spending about 20% of your budget to go toward professionals that will handle 80% of the heavy lifting and transportation which creates real efficiency.

    What are some of your ways to create efficiency in the moving process?

    Reminder: LAUSD Choices Application due tomorrow, Friday, November 14, 2014

    Choices Application 2015-2016

    If you are hoping to get your child into an LAUSD magnet school for the 2015-2016 school year, you need to make sure you’ve submitted your Choices application by tomorrow, Friday, November 15, 2014. You should also submit an application if you want to build wait list points to increase your chances of getting into a magnet school in the future.

    The easiest way is to apply is through the eChoices web site.

    Good luck!

    Review + Quick Giveaway: NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto

    I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto. I received products to review, and will receive a promotional item to thank me for my participation. All opinions are my own. Read the full CFO disclosure policy here.

    Nescafe Dolce Gusto Review + Giveaway - chieffamilyofficer.com

    Allow me to introduce you to my new friend, the NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto:

    Nescafe Dolce Gusto Review + Giveaway - chieffamilyofficer.com

    This little machine has stopped me from making daily trips to Starbucks! I was sent the most popular machine in the Dolce Gusto line, the Genio, which has a compact, space-saving design. With its 21-oz reservoir, the Genio can make 3 cups of coffee, and is a recipient of the 2014 Consumer Reports Award and the 2014 Gold Edison Award. The package that I received included three of the 19 varieties – Morning Blend, Cappuccino Ice, and Chococino. The Cappuccino Ice was definitely our favorite. My husband and I polished off the box before I could take a video and now this is all that’s left:

    NESCAFE Dolce Gusto review & giveaway - chieffamilyofficer.com

    Here’s why the coffee is so good:

    Each beverage is made using only high quality ingredients, like specially selected coffee beans that are perfectly roasted and ground specifically for each drink. The milk is all natural and free of hormones and preservatives, giving it a clean, creamy taste.

    The custom scroll wheel and flow stop capabilities on the machine allow the user to adjust the strength and amount of coffee. Grounds are precisely tamped into each innovative, airtight capsule as if done by a professional barista, and each capsule is sealed to preserve freshness for up to a year. Coffee is delivered to the cup without ever coming into contact with the machine, meaning you don’t have to rinse the system between beverages.

    The Dolce Gusto is a coffee house quality machine designed with a 15-bar pressure system, which is comparable to those used professionally at coffee shops. Professional-caliber pressure works by very quickly and evenly distributing water over the coffee grounds, bringing out a bolder, more full flavor. And, superior pressure creates a velvety layer of crema, the rich froth that’s the holy grail for espresso aficionados. Pressure differentiates NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto from its competitors, and the SmartCapsule technology calibrates the right amount of pressure for each drink for optimal flavor.

    Here’s my Genio in action:

    As you can see, the Dolce Gusto is incredibly easy to use, and it works really quickly. I could have just added milk or cream to the coffee, but I love the Morning Blend + Chococino combo. That layer of foamy crema really sets the Dolce Gusto apart from every other homemade coffee I’ve ever had. My only complaint is that I can’t find the capsules in stores – but they are at least available online at Target, Amazon, and the Dolce Gusto website.

    Thankfully, Amazon lets you Subscribe & Save to Cappuccino Ice, so I can make sure I never run out. (I know it’s “Ice” but I like it hot too! So it will be perfect in the winter as well as summer.)

    And did I mention that with the Dolce Gusto, I no longer make a daily run to Starbucks? It’s really that good, plus it’s super fast – the machine warms up while you’re popping in the capsule, and it takes less than a minute to produce your coffee. And clean up is just as easy, since all you have to do is pop out the capsule and throw it away.

    Learn more about the Dolce Gusto via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

    You don’t have to be green with envy because I get to give a Dolce Gusto away! But enter now, because this is a very short, very special giveaway that ends at 12am PT on October 29!

    WIN IT!

    One lucky CFO reader will win their very own NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto system. To enter this giveaway, just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below:

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    RSS and email readers: Click here to reach the form.

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