I’ll be putting cool deals below. Check out often: (updated Nov 1 2019)
Credit cards: Best credit cards keep on changing. My target is to get 20% cashback on any purchase. this can usually happen with credit cards that offer you sign on bonus for signing up. Only spend the minimum amount on that card that is needed to earn bonus, and then move on to other credit card. Cards which have a large sign on bonus usually have an annual fees, but from time to time they waive these fees. You can safely apply for 4-5 credit cards per year, w/o affecting your credit score. If married, your spouse can apply for 4-5 credit cards too, resulting in 10 credit cards per year. Assuming you don’t spend more than $25K/year on credit cards, you can easily expect to make about $3K-$5K per year in credit card bonuses amongst 10 credit cards. Your major purchases using credit card should be all your medical bills ($5K/year), property tax bills ($5K – $10K/year), utility bills ($3K/ year), insurance bills ($2K/year), grocery bills ($5K/year), auto/gas bills ($2K/year), misc bills ($2K/year). No matter, what credit card you get with whatever signon bonus and with whatever % cashback, the total cashback that you can get from a credit card will not exceed $600.
- Bank of America Cash rewards bonus card: $200 sign on bonus when you spend $1K or more within 90 days. They also have 0% APR for 15 billing cycles, as well as give you 3% cashback on rotating categories (most useful one is online shopping category where you can get 3% cashback on any online purchase). They have no annual fees. https://www.bankofamerica.com/credit-cards/products/cash-back-credit-card/
- Discover credit card: They give you $150 to $200 signon bonus, as well as 5% cashback each quarter on rotating categories. They will match cashback 100% for the first year. No annual fees. They also have 0% APR for 15 billing cycles. Very good card to have.
High yields in Bank Accounts: With rates now going 2.7% for 1 year US Treasury bills and Inflation bonds at 2.8%, it’s time to start looking for higher rates (rates have since gone down to under 2% as of Jan, 2019, 30 yr treasury rates are under 2% as of Aug 15, 2019). A decent rate that you should be targeting would be something at least 1% over the short term treasury rate for 1 year bills/notes. One good website for finding highest rates is: Dr of credit . Other accounts to consider, which give decent interest rates or sign on bonus are listed on this great website hustlermoneyblog . One more website to look on is http://www.depositaccounts.com.
Trouble with most bank deal websites is that they never show you the highest rates offered by a bank on a given date, but will instead show you 100’s of banks giving mediocre rates. Most of the rates I show below, are ones that I gathered from people comments on the websites above.
NOTE: Putting money in any bank account in USA is not a good option, as FED will eventually get rates to 0% and even to negative interest rates to keep stock and housing market afloat. There is no other way to make that happen, other than with interest free money on debt. The only reason to put little money in banks is to pay your everyday bills, and to move that money around to get sign on bonuses. In an open market (not the one controlled by FED), interest on deposits would be very close to the GDP growth, since GDP growth is basically money expansion. So, if all the other money in the system expanded by a certain %, your principal should also expand by same % to be fair to you. So, interest rates will be at least as much as gdp growth in a free market. Most of the times, people will be willing to pay a premium over the gdp rate to any money you lend them, but if FED can print and lend them money at much lower rates, then of course no one needs to come and get money from you.
Best CD rate is (3.25% as of Nov, 2019): Things to watch out for is that bank/CU should not have any membership requirement, should not require you to open any additional account (like a savings or checking account), and should not do a hard credit inquiry. Remember that CDs are little risky in the sense that if you forget to close your CD at maturity, and if the bank renews your CD at end of your maturity (usually 15 days grace period), then you are in trouble. If you try to close your CD after the grace period, they will deduct interest from your previous term of CD also (basically penalizing you on a CD that has already matured), effectively resulting in very low interest rate for the earlier matured CD. Many online banks will not even inform you, nor close the CD automatically. They want you to forget about CD maturity date. So, do not open too many CDs. Open few and remain under $250K limit per CD (after interest). Everytime you open/close a CD, you lose interest of about 15 days, since banks send you check on maturity, then you will cash it out and then deposit it in another bank. So, if your CD term is for < 1 year, you lose 5% of interest. So, try to shoot for a CD term between 1 yr and 3 yr. Ladder the CDs so that you have at least 1 CD maturing every 6 months.
- 3.5% – hyperian bank 19 month CD (nationwide). 1% over treasury rate as of Mar 1st, 2019. Best CD rate offered so far since 2018. Can open an IRA CD too. website: https://www.hyperionbank.com/home/personal/savings/cds. Expired March, 2019.
3% – 19 month CD (requires membership, cost about $35). https://www.hfcu.org/rates.html. expired July, 2019
- 3.21% – 30 month step jumbo CD (min $100K). requires membership (join cancer society for $10 to become a member), but is available to anyone nationwide. It’s the best CD as of now. (updated Aug 15, 2019, still going Nov 1, 2019): This may last for a while when I talked to the rep. It does have a hard pull for credit. https://www.kfcu.org/rates/
- 3.25% – 36 month CD. requires membership ($10 to join for anyone), and is open to anyone nationwide. 24 month CD is at 3%. This CD has been going on for a long time. https://www.psecu.com/banking/certificates
3% – 36 month CD – an OK rate – https://www.macfcu.org/become-a-member/rates/
- 3.75% – Navy Federal IRA 40 month CD. This is only for IRA a/c, and comes with $100 bonus. However, you will need to become a member, which is not easy as it requires someone from Navy to give their details to you. website: https://www.navyfederal.org/savings-season-2019/save-money.php. Reason I included IRA CD is because bonds are very expensive right now. Any good rating bond mutual funds are struggling to give you a yield of even 2.5% (which is federal funds rate or 1 month Treasury Bill). Bond funds also charge a lot higher fees, basically wiping out any interest. Stocks are in uncharted territory(at more than 100% of GDP for 5 years in a row), so this CD might be the best option, if you qualify.
- 3.15% – united bank 19 month Flex CD. (nationwide) – 0.4% over treasury rate
- 3.0% – 13 month CD for residents of Texas only. Requires checking a/c too. website: www.acutx.org . Might want to wait for a better option.
- 3.25% – 19 month truwest credit union (only for residents of Texas and Arizona). https://truwest.org. Will need to open a savings a/c in addition to CD. Best option so far.
- 3.15% – Home loan bank 19 month e-CD (nationwide). Expired August, 2018.
- Misc banks – Main street bank, tons of other banks with regional availability only. offer keeps on coming and going. Not consistent.
Best savings rate is 2.20% (as of Nov, 2019): Usually I do not plan to keep more than $50K in savings account as then it’s better to put it in 6-12 month CD which offers 0.5% more than this (you would make $200 more per year after taxes in CD account compared to savings account with a 0.5% interest difference on balance of $50K). Savings bank rates have been dropping since Jan, 2019, so better to put money in CD or rewards checking accounts.
2.2% = The only Bank I found so far which gives you free checks + ATM card (not a debit card, so not that great for taking cash out at shops) is united bank with highest interest rate of 2.2% (upped to 2.5% in Fe, downgraded to 2.2% as of July,2019) on money market account. You have to call them to get this rate, telling them that you saw this rate online in an advertisement. It appears on their website using this link, but not directly: https://www.bankatunited.com/Landing/Advantage-Money-Market .
- 2.5% – EBSB Direct: They had this offer for some time, but pulled it back a couple of days ago. Offer keeps on coming and going. No checks or debit cards, online setup is difficult, but eventually worked (was told by a rep to use EBSB – and NOT EBSB direct – website for logging in, even though you do initial setup and everything on EBSB Direct website).
- Some investment firms are offering high savings rate, but it’s tied to Fed rate, so, when fed drops rate, their rates drop as well. Ex: wealthfront, betterment, etc. However, these a/c do require you to jump hoops, to get your money withdrawn. Since log term direction of fed rates is to keep going lower, I do not see any value in these.
- Misc banks: Many offer good rates, but they have withdrawal limits per day and per month, do not give you checks or ATM card, so only way to get your money back is bank to bank transfer. This account becomes more like CD since once you put money in, with all the limits and no debit card or checks, it will take you couple of months to get all your money out. One such example is: Customers Bank. Some banks do a hard credit pull (which affects your credit score, and also each credit pull should earn you $300 or more, or else you can open a credit card and get that $300 for each credit pull. So, definitely not worth at all to open accounts at banks, that do hard pull). One such example is: Northfield Bank.
Best Checking account rate is over 4%:
But these come with a lot of catch. I’ve recommended them in past, because savings account and CD had rates below 1%, and these checking accounts were the only ones that offered you over 2% in interest rates. But now with rates on the rise, since 2018 these high yield checking accounts are not worth it. They require you to do multiple things each month in order to get higher rates, and then they cap you on the max interest that you can earn every year. Absolutely not worth it, unless they are giving you $500 or more every year in interest compared to the highest rate savings account (never going to happen). Update: As of Nov 2019, savings account are all under 2%, while checking accounts can get you 4%. So, better to put short term money in checking account, instead of savings account, before you can accumulate enough to park in a CD.
- https://www.affiliatedbank.com/personal/accounts/checking/kasasa-cash/ => This checking a/c gives you 4% on $50K, with 12 debit card transaction (no mimimum per purchase), and 1 direct deposit, with online statements. However, only open for residents of texas. Proceed with caution as I have no idea of when they might change their rates. It looks too good to be true for a long time !!
https://www.origin.bank/ => 4% APY on $40K with 16 debit card transactions. No direct deposit but 1 ACH required. However, only open for residents of texas. Also, rates guaranteed until June, 2020. Discussion here: https://www.doctorofcredit.com/tx-ms-la-origin-bank-performance-checking-4-apy-on-balances-up-to-40000-direct-deposit-not-required/. Expired July 31, 2019.
Best Bank bonus:
Usually I’m a big fan of bank bonus, as you can get a lot more effective interest by getting bank bonus instead of chasing yields. However, many of these bank bonus offers require you to desposit handsome amount (avg $10K) in bank and leave it for 6 months or so, while giving you almost nothing in interest. If you are not getting an effective rate of over 5% with the bank bonus (or getting a bonus of over $300), I do not even consider it worth your time and money switching banks. Bank bonus deals are most beneficial when fed interest rates are close to 0%. The link below all bank bonus offers and is updated daily: https://www.hustlermoneyblog.com/best-bank-promotions/
Many of the offers are expired or don’t exist, but some decent deals can still be found in today’s high interest (2% as of Aug, 2019) environment. These include banks which offer you $250 or more for opening accounts with direct deposit, and with no other qualifying activities. However, they do tax you on the bonus. Stay away from the banks that do hard credit pull, unless they are compensating you for that by offering you a lot more:
https://www.firstbanklubbock.com/home/personal/checking-savings-cds/checking => only for residents, who are within 30 miles of their branch (All in Lubbock), so it’s not statewide for Texas (I was initially misinformed), so basically useless. Looks doable with $350 bonus, and 2% APY for platinum checking with only $7500 in deposit for 6 months. Even if you leave $10K for a year, you still get effective rate of 5% ($350 bonus + $200 interest). DD required to get full $350 (else you get only $280). Expires 09/03/2019. https://www.salemfive.com/open/ => nationwide. checking a/c with $250 bonus. Requires a hard credit pull. But has no monthly fee. Need direct deposit totaling $1500 + 50 debit card transactions. Not worth it, as many banks regularly pay $300 for new bank a/c with soft credit pull. https://www.usbank.com/content/usbank/splash/checking/checking-offer-summer19.html => available in 30 states, open easy checking a/c for $300 bonus. Requires 2 direct deposits totaling $2K or more + online banking. To waive monthly fees, just keep $1500 minimum in the account. Beware, there are lots of complaints about people not getting their bonus. Expires 09/04/2019. https://www.simple.com/offer-v1 => Need to open 2 a/c for $500 bonus. Need $10K in deposits, but they do pay 2.02% interest. Expires: 07/31/2019. Read a lot of negative review, where they may not finally offer the bonus at all. Not worth chasing.
- Chase bank: usually does $300 checking bonus + $300 savings bonus for a total of $600. Requires you to deposit $15K or so in savings account. Still OK, as you get over 5% return, if you close a/c just after 6 months. Can be repeated over every 2 years or so. Wait for this particular offer to pop up, and don’t bite on any other inferior offer. This offer is still going on as of Aug-Dec, 2019.
- Citi Bank: they will usually send you targeted “60K thank you points” bonus, if you have credit card with them. This offer is better than their cash offer, as points are not interest, and so no 1099 is sent out. However, they still require you to deposit decent amount (anywhere from $10K to 50K).
Deals website: The best website I’ve found out for deals is slickdeals.net . Almost always, you will find deals here, which are among the best available. Especially look for deals under “popular deals” section. If you are looking for something specific, just put that term in the search box. It will show all such deals for the past 10 years, so you will know if the present deal is a good deal or not.
Cash back website: These websites give you cash back from 1% to 10% of the purchase price, whenever you buy something from an online website. The only requirement is that you access the online website through the link posted on these cashback (CB) websites, your cart must be empty at time of purchase and purchase should be completed within an hour or so. cashbackholic lists all the cashback websites for a given merchant, so you can use this website to decide which one is giving you the maximum cashback. Two of the popular and reliable CB websites are Ebates and topcashback . These websites explicitly state how much CB you’ll be getting, along with the exclusions that apply, so don’t use these without reading the fine print for exclusions. Many other websites do not list all their exclusions, but won’t pay you later because it was an excluded category as per their internal rules. Ebates and topcashback are very explicit in listing all their excluding, so if they haven’t excluded a category for cashback, means you will get cashback for it. I personally never had any issues. CAUTION: Some travel websites change their prices when going thru a cashback portal, so definitely check prices of merchants both with and without going thru cashback portal.
Gift Card website: You never need to buy giftcards at full price for any store in USA (i.e Walmart, BestBuy, JCPenney, Kohls, etc). giftcardgranny.com is a very reliable website for searching other websites which buy and sell giftcards (GC). Best places to buy is from ebay (merchants = payapal, svm. etc, not from individuals), staples.com, kroger, heb or other grocery stores. They usually run promotions once every couple of month for Kohls, jcp, macys, bestbuy etc, for 20% off, so look on slickdeals for that, or your local grocery store website/app. Also note, that any other discounts that the merchant has, are valid with GC, irrespective of the discount that you enjoyed on GC itself. So, there’s nothing to lose. The only caveat is that cashback from most websites is not eligible when using GC, so buy GC which have at least 20% discount, else it’s not worth the hassle. Also, credit cards give you extended warranty, price protection, etc, which are not available when using GC. 3rd and most important things is the risk that you carry with GC of getting hacked or lost, so buy it only when you plan to use it soon.
Calling Cards to India from USA: If you are looking for cheap calling to India, the free way to call is by using skype or google talk or whatsapp or viber or multiple other apps on phone. If you want to call without using any app, your best bet is t-mobile as it has introduced $10/month unlimited calling to any mobile phone to India and many other countries, provided you have their cellular plan in USA. It’s eligible for 15% corporate discount (through your employer or elsewhere), plus you have to pay taxes around 15%, so in net you will pay $10/month with taxes. Corporate discount has been reduced to 12% for existing customers as of 2019, and not offered to new customers anymore. They have also introduced unlimited free SMS to India from USA, as well as unlimited data+sms from most of the countries in world to USA (including while you are in India) also for free, so a t-mobile plan may also be an easy and cheap option for those wanting to dial the India number directly from your cell phone. If you have a family plan with 5 or 10 lines, you still pay only $15/month for all lines combined, so per phone line it’s $1-$3 per month for unlimited calling to India. UPDATE: This promo has expired as of 2019, but people who are already signed up are “grand fathered”, and so will keep on receiving these perks, until they switch to another plan or cancel service. I use Skype for calling family in India.
Gold/Silver: If you want to buy physical gold/silver, you have to be willing to pay a premium over market price. This is because dealers selling gold/silver need to make some profit. The biggest markup is in coins, as they are small, and are also used as collectibles. Bars have lower margin, as their only value is what you can get by melting them. Higher the weight, lower the markup. Buy gold/silver bars with 99.99% purity in 1oz or larger quantity as they will have the lowest markup. Also, most of the companies charge 3% extra for paying with credit cards. Remember that while buying and selling gold/silver, you can expect to lose 5% each way compared to market/spot price, so to break even, the price of gold/silver has to rise 10% over what you bought it for. A very decent place to buy gold/silver is through silvertowne and apmex stores via ebay. Don’t purchase from these dealer websites directly as they not only have high markups but will also charge about 3% for paying with credit cards. Instead purchase it through ebay. They don’t charge shipping on most of their listings, markup is low at around 5% even for coins and they don’t charge extra for paying with credit card. Cashback websites give you 1% cashback for buying these coins on ebay. Trick is to buy it only when the markup is < 3% for these coins over the spot price. This happens about couple of times a year. You can find when this happens by searching on slickdeals.net or signing up for ebay emails. Your target with any investment should be that if you sell that investment immediately, you should not incur any loss. It’s possible to get close to that by buying gold/silver using the strategy above (pay 3% above when buying, get 5% in cashback from credit card (depending on credit card), and then lose 3% when selling it to apmex.com or to a local shop). NOTE: You should never buy gold/silver coins from Indian jewellery store or any other local store as the markup is insane, and you are guaranteed to lose money.
Pizza: If you are like me, and love eating pizza, you should never need to pay more than $6 for a large pizza. It’s possible to do it with papa johns pizza, dominos, and sometimes with Pizza hut. Here’s how:
- Buy papa johns giftcard from amazon, groupon, ebay or local grocery store when they go on sale for 20% or more. Frequently, papajohns website sells $25 GC with free pizza (worth at least $6). Groupon will sometimes sell $25 GC with 2 free pizza (worth at least $12). Dominos giftcards also sell for 20% off on these sites (usually on ebay via paypal and on newegg). I haven’t seen pizza hut GC on sale.
- Now, buy pizza for 50% off using coupons. Best website for finding coupons is Pizzacodes . They give you codes on a a store to store basis for Papa john’s, Dominos and many others by just providing your zipcode. You can also find codes on slickdeals be searching for “pizza”. I’ll also put the codes in “live” section of my website whenever I can. Papa johns usually go on 50% sale for $7.50 large ($12 regular price for 1 large), dominos for $6 large ($12 regular price for 2 medium, or $8 for 1 large), pizza hut for $8 large ($10 regular for 2 medium)
- Sign up for rewards with each of them. papa rewards which gives you 1 point for every $5 spent. For 25 points (accumulated after spending $125 in total), you get a free pizza which amounts to about extra 4% off. Best part is that they have offers few times a year, where you can get free pizza for fewer points, so best to save points for those offers. Points do not expire, so why rush to use them. Dominos and pizzahut alos give points, but they are less valuable. However, all 3 of them keep on devaluing their points every now and then, so probably 2-3% is more resonable value of their points.
- Dominos pizza are best, followed by papa johns and the last is pizza hut (based on my personal preference). Thin pizza are lot better tasting than thick (regular or pan), but give you less value for your money. XL pizza give you best value, while medium pizza are worst from value standpoint (area per $)
HairCuts: Try Greatclips hair salon when they have promo for $10 or less (you will need to sign up online, so that they can send you coupons in mail if you don’t get any). Or Groupon will have deals for haircuts under $10 most of the times. JCP usually runs Kids haircut for $10 during summers. Or local training salon will also cut hair for $5 or so, however they are cut by students under training (under supervision of trainer). Cheapest option is to buy $10 hair clippers (from grocery stores, drug stores, department stores), and ask your family member to cut it for you, and you cut theirs. Pays for itself in 1 cut by saving you TMG: Time, Money and Gas !!