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Archive for December, 2006

2006 Credit Card Usage Totals

December 31st, 2006 at 03:03 am

I just compiled all of our credit card statements for 2006. One of the forum threads made me do that because I wanted to see our total charges for the year. Here's the breakdown.

Marriott Visa: $25,173.77
AOL Visa: $5,879.22
My Discover: $413.83
Wife's Discover: $309.75
-------------------------
Total: $31,776.57

To look in terms of rewards earned, with the Marriott card, we earned 27,698 reward points. That's enough for up to 4 free nights with points to spare. Even the cheapest Marriott runs about $69/night + tax, so those points are worth over $300. Add in the free AOL service we earned (until they stopped charging) and the cashback we got from Discover and our total rewards were probably in the $500-$600 range. Not such a bad deal.

Lucrative online surveys - sometimes backfire

December 30th, 2006 at 02:43 am

As you know, I'm a physician. One of the few perks of that occupation is that I am frequently invited to participate in market research surveys which pay quite well. While most people are doing online surveys to make a few dollars, I'm doing ones that pay $50-$100 for surveys that I can sometimes zip through in 15 minutes or so.

Even so, I ignore 80% of the invites I get because some of the surveys are so incredibly boring and tedious that if I'm not in the right frame of mind, I can't stand doing them.

I decided to do one tonite while we were all sitting around watching tv. They said it would take about 35 minutes and pay $70. The opening screen said there would be about 50 questions. The questions weren't numbered and there was no progress bar indicating how far along I was in the study. So I got started. The format was incredibly boring and tedious, but I kept at it for what seemed like a very long time. Eventually, my family and I decided to play a board game, so I took a break. When I came back, I continued the survey and began counting questions. After 50, I stopped reading and just clicked randomly to see if there was an end to this torture. After 75, I just gave up. I e-mailed the survey company to tell them their survey was faulty and had no end. I also told them that I felt I was entitled to some compensation for the huge amount of my time they had wasted with their defective survey. I've done a lot of surveys for them, so I'm curious to see if I get a response, and, more importantly, if I receive a payment.

This is the first time anything like that has happened, though, so it is probably some software glitch. Oh well. Such is life. Earlier this week, I got checks for $60 and $80 for other surveys I have done recently, so I can't complain too much if once in 10 years something like this happens.

I'm never selling my house!

December 29th, 2006 at 07:41 pm

Ok. I've decided to take the plunge and start blogging. I don't know how often I'll add entries, but when the mood strikes me I will.

On to the topic at hand...

My mother is in the process of selling her house. She has lived there since 1955 and has never sold a house before, nor have I. We bought our home in 1994 and I remember what a pain that was. Well, selling is even worse. The house was put on the market June 1 with a realtor. One day before the realtor's contract was to expire, he received an offer. To make a long story short, the potential buyer was preapproved for a loan but turned out to have almost zero money to his name. He wanted my mother to finance the purchase. Even the realtor said that was crazy, so that deal fell through.

House goes back on the market with a new realtor. Many more people view the house, at least 40 I think. Finally get one offer. Again, the buyer is preapproved for a mortgage. Settlement was scheduled for today. My mother got a call from the realtor 2 days ago that the guy got turned down for the mortgage, so that deal has fallen through.

On her own, my mother had contacted a guy who advertised in the local paper that he buys houses. On the phone, without seeing the house, he made her an offer. She explained that she couldn't sell it to him yet as it was under contract, but she'd keep him in mind. He called her a few times over the weeks to see what was up. Finally, knowing the latest deal was done, we met with him yesterday. He still wants the house and came with contract in hand. I wouldn't let her sign it until her attorney reviewed it and we settled some other issues with the realtor. All of that got done. The buyer altered the contract based on the attorney review and my mother will be signing it today. So at this point, closing is supposed to be sometime on or about 1/31. We'll see what happens with that.

My mom is 76 and still pretty sharp and this has been outrageously stressful and draining for her. I can't imagine what kind of ordeal it is for someone older or infirm or less educated.

After I got home from meeting with the potential buyer and showing him the house, going to the lawyer to have the contract reviewed and going to the realtor to get a release from her contract, I came home and told my wife that we are never selling our house. We will live there until we die or we will give it to charity if we ever decide to move. It just isn't worth the hassle. Actually, what I'd probably do is call one of these guys who buys houses, just like my mom did. Even though the deal isn't done yet, the process is much more streamlined. The house is being sold as is. No inspections or certifications. No mortgage contingency. No prior home sale contingency. Just an outright sale. Why can't the deals all be that simple?

There! I've done it! My very first blog entry. I hope to post more soon.