Archive for the ‘tips’ Category

Fico 800?

February 13, 2008

My goal is to get a Fico score of 770 (which seems to be the lowest “A+” by an article on  I went to a used car dealership yesterday which had the best price on  I had to get my wife into a safe car.  I don’t think I can put a dollar amount on her safety.  So, yes we bought an 11K used car.


The dealer asked what my fico was. Proudly, I stated, “720 on Experian and 710 from Fico.”  Then when he ran the report a 670 came out.  HUH! I knew I opened up a few account recently, but couldn’t imagine that dropping it by 40-50 points.  Then he told me that they use an Auto-2 Fico score which is about 30-40 points lower than your regular fico.  The reason for this he stated was that you can’t run off with a house on your shoulder.  However, you could take off with a car to a chop shop.  So the number for ‘Auto-2’ is more conservative.  Whew!  I’m glad I knew that.

I also in passing who recently came in with the highest fico score.  He stated that some guy came in with an auto-2 of 800 which meant his regular fico is about 840.  He said that he had about 50 accounts all open and paid on time.  Plus, he was young – mid-to-late 30s.  Very impressive.

Today I applied for a loan as I was not happy with what the dealer stated that he could get us – 12.99% for 60 months with no prepayment penalty.  The best Bofa could do for me was 20%.  I turned him down – felt good, kinda like that commercial.  I told him that I’d be back later with a better fico score.  Also, I asked him what it takes to get an 850 fico and he said that he’s been doing this for a long time and he made it seem like there was a better chance of spotting the lochness monster than a “perfect” fico person.  He said that you have to have more than just credit card accounts as debt.  You need auto and mortgage and very old accounts to get the score up there.  So, I’m not sure that I’ll be able to get it up there this year.


Got hit with ATM/Identity Fraud

February 13, 2008

My account got hacked. Someone in Eastern Europe took out $475 ($300 Euros, the ATM max for the day?) out of my checking account, plus 4.75 for a foreign transaction fee.  I immediately called up and shut off the debit card.  I’m not sure if it’s because I used a “dirty” atm in a shady part of downtown, my paranoid mind thought it might’ve been the teller at the bank who was jealous of the $20K I deposited into the account as I took a loan from my folks at 2% to buy a car for my wife.  However, later on I said that I should apply for a loan instead of paying cash as coming across 20K is pretty hard.  I would like to put that towards a rental property.  So anyway, back to the fraud…


I asked them what the solution was as I had “lost” $480 out of my account and had some auto pays for my credit cards coming up.  They referred me to another department that gave me a provisional amount until they investigate it.  You have to ask for it.  I found some good info by googling ‘atm fraud’.

Coming out of Avoiding Negative to Gaining Positive mode

January 5, 2008

I was hesistant the other day to put purchases on my SWA credit card because I didn’t want to go back into a credit card debt.  So I put a few things on there (gas, groceries,etc) and immediately paid it from my checking account.  Now that I got a lot of the 16% debt down (see previous blog), I am aggressively putting all my bills on there and including my wife’s bills so I can get free airline tickets.  Basically, I gotta spend $16K/year to a free ticket.  Which is basically a 2.5% return on purchases.  I valued the ticket at $400 because of the flexibility.

This is in essense passive income because I’m spending the same amount as I would have otherwise, but now I’m getting something back.

Let me know if you find a better cash back card.

End of Debt Consolidation Tunnel Starting to Emit Light

January 4, 2008

Today was a breakthrough that gave me a little bit of piece of mind.  I was supposed to pay about $350 tomorrow for my Bofa CC which had about $9K on it.  I missed the payment last time and it knocked me back a bit mentally.  But they went from $135/mo to  nearly $400.  I paid $130 a few days back which they vollied back to me with a 5 extra day grace period, but was still insistent on the full amount.  I started my hsbc card a few days back along with my 2nd wamu and 2nd chase cards.  Then the hsbc card came in the mail approved (0% til 12/08)!  Then I logged onto the bofa acct and about $2400 was paid from my wamu 1 cc.  So the nervousness about that amount instantly vanished.  The balanced dropped down to about $6K.  Then transferred another $2.5K to my hsbc which should go through w/in a week or so.  So interest per year went from $1800 to $1400 (monthly: $156 to $121) on just the 16%.  I’ve got 2 more pending cards with 0% hopfully approving soon.  I’m assuming that together it’ll be about $5K.

So then I will transfer the remaining bofa debt to the $4.7K debt on the usaa (limit $13K) and then transfer all that back to the bofa at 5% for the life of the debt. Then that will be my highest interest rate.  Not bad eh.  It all happened within one month.  Well, not really, as I spent the whole year making sure I paid my cc’s on time which allowed my fico score to go up by 100 points.  That allowed me to get the 0%s.  My debt ratio is about 40%.  If my second wamu card comes through, then I’ll use it for my checking overdraft and not really put anything on there.

Also, I told my wife that I will transfer her 18% over to one of my 0% cards, but that doesn’t look possible right now.  I can put it on my 5% card in about a month.

I can’t believe that this is just a simple game of chess.  Not at all like playing Kasparov.

Why did I neglect this for over a decade?!?!?!?

Coming soon to

January 1, 2008

I just bought it.  I was so surprised that it was available as all 3 and 4 letter URLs were sold out by the early 2000’s – even funky combos like  So, I still need to find hosting.  Will keep you posted.  Financially, I was a bit hesitant on spending an extra $8 or so a year to keep the url private, but with all the detailed financial info, I thought it would be a good idea.

Oh do you like my new graphic I put up there?  I made it yesterday and then found out that you can’t make any money here.  Of course, “Sisyphus B. Anthony” will travel to the new site.


Can’t make any money here!!!

January 1, 2008

I just found out that you can’t put google adsense or any income streams on  So I will keep writing in my journal, but will not post here and once I get a site set up, I’ll post the link here.  There are no readers here, so I’m not that concerned about it.  It’s a lesson learned from

Debated With My Wife Regarding Finances

December 31, 2007

I offered my wife 20% for my half of the rent $425 (which equals to about $0.24/day). I didn’t want the emotion attached as if I’m a loafer husband who’s not pulling in the dough, so that’s why I offered double of what she could get with her money anywhere else.  She currently has about $3K sitting in a bank account earning about 0.25%.

She argued that I’m always on the edge every time prop tax comes around and questioned why I didn’t get a part-time job.  I told her that I refused to get a minimum wage job which is a waste of time. Instead I would rather put that time towards building a passive income system.

She works as a waitress like almost every other actor in town, but it’s not sustainable.  She makes decent income and can save, but it’s not what she wants to do.  So I told her that we’re at the opposite ends of almost everything we do – which is an excellent opportunity to see what the other person is doing and learn from them.  She said it breaks her heart to see me not having money. I told her that it breaks my heart that she’s working til 1am and coming home in the cold dark nights alone.  But didn’t fight and just kept each other in check to make sure we’re doing the right thing with our time.  This set up is so much better than both of us being in the same boat and not seeing a different type of life.  I told her that she has to learn about passive income every single day – whether it’s real estate, stocks, google adsense, etc.

Many of our friends land commercial gigs which pay about $20K for just a day’s work.  She even landed one recently, but you don’t start learning about what to do with the money ONCE you have the money.  You have to start learning BEFORE you have that money.  Usually what happens is that you get that kind of money and then you end up trying to save it and then six months later you realized that you worked less and spent all that on bills – like it happened to one of our friends just recently.  She moved into a nicer apt instead of setting up a system.  So, now she’s worse off than BEFORE she got the $20K because she lives in a ‘nicer’ place, but doesn’t have any more of the $20K to pay for it.

Also, we don’t have a system for food.  We usually go out and get something to eat when we have nothing in the house.  We should have at least 4-5 healthy choice frozen dinners as a back up.  We don’t like eating those things, but when we have no home cooked meals, we can dig into that which costs about $2 a pop – compared to $15 for two by going to a fast food restaurant.  We’ve been buying bags of beans and rice which is really cheap and easy to make and always readily available.  Another thing that really clicked for me in terms of cooking –  not sure if I mentioned it before – is to make gourmet food at home for about $5.  Usually when you cook pasta or something, it’s cheap and tastes cheap.  However, we started making fresh fish which at a restaurant would cost you about $25/plate.  We can make that for $3 at home.

Whew! No late fees

December 30, 2007

I just check the BofA cc and they did not charge me a late fee, but did put another payment due on 1/5 for 254.  hopefully the balance transfer will go through by then.  Also they have a 4.99% balance transfer so after the 6 months if I don’t find more 0%, I can transfer it back to that.  I have a $13.5K credit limit so all of it can go there. well, ideally most of it will be paid off by then.

Google Adsense
All day yesterday I spent time adding content to my website in hopes of getting google adsense, amazon affiliate, etc on there.  I got it up to about 20 pages which is the minimum that previous article I linked to stated that adsense was looking for.

Now, I’m going to learn about SEO, and making money from blogging.

Hiding From Debt Doesn’t Work

December 30, 2007

12/30 – 11am – I kind of pulled an ostrich with its head buried in the sand when it came time to find out about the situation with the BofA cc on the 29th. I knew it was due, I only had $130 go through as a payment when the minimum was 390.  Even though I put a balance transfer of 2500, I knew it wouldn’t go through for days even though electronically it could’ve been done in a matter of seconds, but they just want to make you sweat.

Tip: One thing I’ve been doing recently is opening every piece of mail that comes in before I set it down in my pile of ‘to do bills’.  Before I would go weeks sometimes months not opening mail, esp bills.  I guess I figured that I knew the approximate amount and also that I could pay online.  However, one time it bit me hard in the butt.

I paid off a large amount of debt at once on my Discover card about 8 years ago.  I opened the invoice once after that and saw a zero balance due.  So for several months I did not open the invoice.  Immediately after paying off the amount, I got a Discover Cashback Bonus Award check. I signed it and cashed it like I had been doing previously for several years and didn’t think anything of it.

The check actually was not a check, but looked identical to their cashback check and in essence was a switch of my phone companies without a third party verification – SLAMMING.  My friend was living with me temporarily at the and was calling his wife who lived out of the country.  With the phone plan before the slam, he was getting about 30 cent/min, after the slam, it was at $2/min!!!  So needless to say, after a few months, I got SLAMMED!  I wasted hours on the phone with discover and, but eventually refused to pay for the $2K bill.  I offered to pay the amount it would have been at the regular rate, but they refused nothing but the full amount they wanted to steal from me.  It affected my credit for a while, but (tip) I wrote a one-line ‘defense’ in my credit report using teenage txt msg lik riting 2 kep da ct dwn as they would only give me about 100 characters to explain all that.

So, moral of the story?  Open every bill before you put it down.

Why Don’t The Schools Teach Personal Finance?

December 30, 2007

I watched a homeless news show/doc on TV last night and wondered why a mother and daughter who works would stay at a motel b/c they were homeless.  I can’t picture a motel going for any less than $30/night even in the worst neighborhoods of LA.  That totals to about $900/mo.  I live in an studio apt that’s only $850/mo in a nice part of town.  I just cheeked craigslist and found many at ranging from $400 – $600 in LA.  That’s ridiculous, as they have no stove or fridge.  It might be that they don’t have the proper credit to get an apt, but it stated that they had many relatives with whom they spent some time with.  I’m sure one of them could have co-signed for them.

One thing they keep saying is that everyone is about one paycheck away from homelessness and it can happen to anyone.  I keep thinking about that esp now when I’m not getting my regular check because the tenant will move out by tomorrow and this is the worst time to find new tenants.  My property manager said that next time he’ll do a 13-month lease so it won’t end up at this time again next year and instead will be in January – which is easier to rent.

I still can’t believe that personal finance is not taught in school and stuff that you’ll never use like Algebra is taught repeatedly – and I have been teaching and tutoring math and physics for years – I only use it in teachings, never in real life.  The first thing I’m teaching my kid is about FICO score, etc.

I think is an awesome way which is based on the incredible Grameen bank which allows people to help themselves.  I have a hard time with charities as it’s not self-propagating.

I still can’t get over the fact that the homeless lady on the news was spending more than I was per month on rent.  I just don’t get it.