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Happy Chinese New Year!

The tail of an ox says, “Time goes, time comes.”

· Creole Proverb

Gravity

As one of my Civil Engineering friends used to remind me…

Shit flows down hill!

So when you’re trying to get action, start at the top and let “physics” help achieve a speedy resolution… or more plainly put.

Quick to criticize

Personally I believe it’s fine to be quick to criticize; however, you should be just as quick to praise — and fully prepared to weather the repercussions for your comments.

Amazon dot com

In general I find Amazon.com a good place to shop.

Prices there are fair, selection is good, shipping is reasonable (often free), and with an Amazon/Chase credit card you can score a good bonus.

However (isn’t there always a catch)…

I find Amazon Market Place shopping to often be a less than satisfying experience.

I’m sure there are some vendors there that are fine, in fact I know there are; but you can buy from them direct through their own web sites.  And there are some individuals who sell on Amazon Market Place that are fine.  But you’re going to find the bad apples if you buy much there.

To Amazon’s credit they do have an A-Z guarantee when doing business with merchants through Amazon.  But even Amazon must realize that the more business you do on Amazon Market Place the more likely you are to get burned since they limit you to five lifetime refunds under their A-Z guarantee.  Yep that’s right, a person who places an order every day can get five, and a person who only places one order a decade can get five.

So if Amazon won’t really stand behind merchants in the Amazon Market Place, why do they expect you and me to buy from the… oh that’s right — I use a credit card, and I can open a charge dispute myself, I don’t need Amazon’s A-Z guarantee at all, but since I know they don’t stand behind Amazon Market Place I’m likely to take my business elsewhere.

Maximizing Cash Back

Many credit cards offer cash back awards (or other awards) just for using the cards.

You should familiarize yourself with each card’s bonus cash back, and try and use the card that pays you the most back (yes, consider the closing date and how long you will get the use of the credit card company’s money as well, but at the moment you can’t really get much interest back on your money, so the only real concern there should be cash flow).

Many credit card companies also offer bonus points if you use the shopping links on their web site (generally you have to sign into their online account management, and often you have to explicitly register you card).

Some credit card companies require you to always launch the shopping experience through their web site, others will recognize the merchant once you’ve registered the card — and may of those will also pay you bonus cash back at brick-and-mortar stores once you’ve registered your card.

The bottom line is, you have to read and understand each card’s reward program, and you have to be diligent in exercising the program.

So how much cash back did I get last year?  $1981 — and no,  most of that was not at 1% back; over half of it was at 3% and much of it was at 4% and 5%, and a little was at 10%!   And the really great part of it was, a lot of that was from paying cell phone bills, telephone bills, gasoline, groceries (all at least 3%)… or money I would have spent regardless.  The fact that much of my discretionary spending was done at places offering great prices and bonus cash back just sweetens the pie!

Happy New Years!

Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps.
The sleeper must awaken.

· Frank Herbert