Sam’s Club: Free 3-Month Membership Extension (or Full Refund Upon Cancellation)

sams200bSam’s Club is offering all of their members a free 3-month extension if you fill out the linked form by March 31, 2018. This is in response to their sudden closure of 63 Sam’s Club locations (about 10% of all stores).

Alternatively, you can cancel your membership and receive a full refund via electronic gift card within 7 days (I want to say you can use this at Wal-Mart, otherwise where would you spend it? Just pay the 5% surcharge?) or mailed check within 6 weeks. If you take the free extension, you can still decide to cancel with free refund later.

50% of American Households Don’t Own Any Stocks At All

Here’s another stat to add to your knowledge. For roughly half of Americans, the stock market’s record highs don’t help at all, according to a recent Washington Post article. This chart shows that half of US household have no exposure to stocks, either directly or indirectly:

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Direct vs. indirect. The academic paper by Dr. Wolff of NYU was a bit confusing with their terminology. From what I read, “direct” stock ownership means owning individual shares of stock. “Indirect” stock ownership includes “mutual funds, trusts, or various pension accounts”. Here, the term “pension accounts” include defined contribution accounts like IRAs, 401(k), and 403(b) plans. However, assets in defined benefit plans, which is the more traditional definition of the term “pensions”, are not included under “pension accounts”. Social Security is also excluded. Got that?

In theory, you don’t need to own stocks to have a comfortable retirement. You could have a mix of other resources like Social Security, private company pension plan, bank deposits, bonds, whole life insurance, commercial property, residential rental property, and so on. However, I’m willing to bet there is a healthy correlation between owning one and owning multiple forms of these productive assets.

Financial freedom means owning enough productive assets to get off the treadmill of work, spend, work, spend. I know there are probably good reasons why many people have trouble finding the money to invest in stocks. I don’t have an easy fix. However, one small tip for those on the margin is to get that spark and start viewing such assets with desire. The same desire as a nicer car or kitchen remodel. I get excited when I buy another chunk of VTI or VXUS. Others get excited when they acquire another rental property. Find a way to start your snowball.

Big List of Free Consumer Data Reports (1/2): See Your Confidential Credit, Banking, and Payday Lending Data

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Links updated for 2018. Since these are available every 12 months, it is a good idea to check these near or around the same time each year. A lot of companies make their money by collecting and selling data - your personal data. In the past, it … [Read the rest]

Markets Rise and Fall: Is Your Portfolio Ready For Both?

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It would be great if you could invest in things with high and reliable returns, going up and up consistently like clockwork and without worry. Unfortunately, that's usually the sign of a Ponzi scheme. The chart above illustrates what you have to … [Read the rest]

What If You Invested $10,000 Every Year For the Last 10 Years? 2008-2017 Edition

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Instead of just looking at one year of returns, here's an annual exercise that helps you look at the bigger picture. You may know the 10-year historical return of the S&P 500, but most of us didn't just invest a big lump sum of money a decade ago, … [Read the rest]

Best Interest Rates on Cash – January 2018

Short-term interest rates are rising. Megabanks make billions by pay you nothing for your idle cash. Here is my monthly roundup of the best safe rates available, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. Check out my Ultimate … [Read the rest]

Navy Federal Credit Union 0% APR No Balance Transfer Fee Promotion

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) has a limited-time promotion where both new and existing NFCU credit cardholders can get 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months. You must transfer a non-Navy Federal credit card balance before February 28, … [Read the rest]

Citi Simplicity Card Review: 0% for 21 Months (1.75 Years), No Late Fees, No Penalty Rates

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One of the most common New Year's resolutions is to pay down debt. Rewards-earning credit cards may not be optimal for those carrying balances and thus more impacted by 18% interest rates than a relatively puny 2% back on purchases. Our … [Read the rest]

H&R Block Desktop Tax Software 2017: Fed + State $20 (1/4 Flash Sale)

Deal of the Day again 1/4/18. The benefit of "old-school" desktop tax software is that it doesn't require your Social Security Number and financial details to be stored in the cloud. Here's a limited-time deal on H&R Block Tax Software 2017 … [Read the rest]

CIT Bank Review: Premier High Yield Savings 1.55% APY, 11-Month No Penalty CD 1.55% APY

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Update: Premier High Yield Savings now up to 1.55% APY, with no minimum balance requirement ($100 minimum to open). CIT Bank (not to be confused with Citi Bank) has become one of the larger online-only banks with a multi-year history of competitive … [Read the rest]

S&P 500 Monthly Total Returns 1990-2017: First 14-Month Win Streak

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I mentioned in my 2017 asset class roundup that the S&P 500 went up every single month in 2017 and how that was the first time that had ever happened. According to the WSJ Daily Shot, the S&P 500 is actually on a 14-month positive streak. Here's a … [Read the rest]

Discounted Apple iPhone $29 Battery Replacement: Available Now

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In case you missed it, Apple disclosed that their operating system slows down the phone in some cases if the battery gets too old. As part of their official explanation and apology, Apple has reduced the price of a OEM battery replacement to $29, … [Read the rest]