Little Rishi

.....a blog about personal finance, motivational stories, deals, and special offers

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Sunday, May 31, 2009
Wii and iPod giveaway at ChristianPf.com
To celebrate it's second anniversary, ChristianPf.com, an excellent blog site, is giving away a Wii and an iPod Nano (8GB). To enter for Wii, you simply need to create a post mentioning about the giveaway on your Web site, and post a comment, listing the URL of your post. For iPod Nano, you need to tell your Twitter friends about the giveaway.

For complete details, see:

ChristianPf.com: WII and iPod giveaway

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posted by Little Rishi @ Sunday, May 31, 2009   0 comments

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Weekend Quote - Future
The past doesn’t equal the future.

- Anthony Robbins
posted by Little Rishi @ Sunday, May 31, 2009   0 comments

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Thursday, May 28, 2009
How to find unclaimed property?
The BusinessWeek article discusses billions of dollars in unclaimed property being held by different states and how people can claim title to their property. For example, the Bureau of Public Debt has set up TreasuryHunt.gov where people can search for a missing US Savings Bonds by the original owner's Social Security number. The article also provides other useful info for claiming unclaimed property:
Most people don't realize that even if the original holder of a bond has died, their heirs can still redeem it. Heirs can download a series of documents from www.treasurydirect.gov that enable them to state their relationship to the original owner and send in a copy of legal documentation, like a will or estate agreement, that proves it. Anyone who knowingly provides false information on these forms could potentially be brought up on perjury charges, according to the Treasury Dept.
As for unused gift cards, in many states, firms are required to turn over any unused balances in expired gift cards over to the state. However, some firms are getting smart in trying to keep the money to themselves.
Companies are getting smarter about unclaimed money, too. Many are establishing separate gift certificate companies in states such as Virginia, Ohio, and Arkansas that don't require unclaimed gift certificates to be transferred to the state where the parent company is incorporated. "So companies get to keep the difference," says Carter in Delaware. "The amount of gift certificates we receive has dropped dramatically."
Listed below are some of sites you can check out for finding unclaimed property:
  • NAUPA - Also, called Unclaimed.org, this site is operated by National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, a non-profit organization affiliated with the National Association of State Treasurers and the Council of State Governments

  • MissingMoney - this is a free site to check for unclaimed property

  • MissingMoney.com: State Sites for Unclaimed Property - this page at MissingMoney contains links to the appropriate contact departments in different states for unclaimed property/assets

  • TreasuryDirect - U.S. Federal Investments's Web site to search for missing or lost U.S. Savings Bonds for free

  • HUD -This is the US HUD's site to check for any refund on part of insurance premium if you had a HUD/FHA insured mortgage

  • PBGC - Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation offers "Missing Participants" service to locate people who may be owed certain benefits under the defined benefit pension plan but whose company's pension plan was transferred to PBGC

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posted by Little Rishi @ Thursday, May 28, 2009   0 comments

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Sunday, May 24, 2009
Weekend Quote - Laziness
Laziness travels so slow that poverty soon overtakes it.

- Benjamin Franklin
posted by Little Rishi @ Sunday, May 24, 2009   0 comments

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Is renting the way to go now?
The 24/7WallSt.com article talks about the potential consumer shift to renting instead of buying houses. Reason? People don't have to worry about falling prices.
What has been lost in the review of home buying and renting habits is that some people who own a home will decide never to buy one again. The reaction to losing so much money on what is the largest investment many people will ever have will be, in many cases that they will not come back to the real estate market again. People who have suffered through anxious months not knowing if they will be able to pay their mortgages may decide that it is not an experience they want to repeat.
Personally, I favor home ownership but agree that renting may be a better option in many situations. Renting a house gives you much more flexibility if relocating. In addition, you don't need to worry about falling housing prices, property taxes, and maintenance. Especially in the current environment, where a person may lose a job and need to relocate as part of a new job offer, renting can definately save lots of hassles.

For complete article, see:

247WallSt.com: Will Renting Be The Undoing Of Home Prices?

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posted by Little Rishi @ Tuesday, May 19, 2009   0 comments

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Sunday, May 17, 2009
Weekend Quote - Success
The person who gets the farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore.

–Dale Carnegie
posted by Little Rishi @ Sunday, May 17, 2009   0 comments

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Thursday, May 14, 2009
Free Webinar: STOP Giving Your Money Away to the IRS
Infusionsoft and The Optimal Financial Group are co-sponsoring a free webinar at 2 PM and 7 PM EST. The webinar will last for about 1.5-2 hours and go over some of the ways business owners can save taxes. According to the email I received after registering, the Webinar will go over the following:
*How to pay thousands less in taxes and enjoy more of your hard-earned money just by knowing which entity is best for your business (hint: this isn't a one-size fits all solution and this is where 75% of business owners go wrong!)

*How to throw your fear of IRS audits out the window when you know about these incredible techniques!

*Enjoy privileged status when you pay less taxes because you know about the tax loopholes members of Congress designed just for themselves (most accountants have zero clue about this and don't realize ANYONE can use these same loopholes)!

*And much, much more!!!
To register for this webinar, go to:

STOP Giving Your Money Away to the IRS

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posted by Little Rishi @ Thursday, May 14, 2009   0 comments

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Free Sample from Walmart - Bodycology® hand soap/lotion/mist
For a limited time, Wal-Mart is offering a free sample. For details, see:

Free Sample - Bodycology® hand soap/lotion/mist

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posted by Little Rishi @ Thursday, May 14, 2009   0 comments

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Free magazine: BusinessWeek
For a limited time, RewardsGold is offering a free annual subscription.

For details, check out:

RewardsGold: BusinessWeek magazine

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posted by Little Rishi @ Wednesday, May 13, 2009   0 comments

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Getting another bank fee waived
While talking to my father recently, I found out that he ended up paying $85 in "Statement Rehandling Fee" to Provident Bank. Reason? Apparently, the bank had been sending monthly statements to my father but they had been returning back to the bank as non-deliverable. For almost two years, they been deducting $5 per month from my father's account. Since my father doesn't use Provident Bank much, he didn't notice the fee until he went to the branch in April 2009. My father told me that he thought that he had informed Provident Bank about updating his address when he moved but apparently, the bank was still sending statements to the old address. To avoid further charges, he went to the bank and closed his account.

When my father told me about it, I went with him to the Provident Bank branch near our house. Fortunately, my wife also has a account at that bank and we have used that branch a few times to deposit/withdraw money. I met with the one of the representatives there and told him about the situation. He looked at the system and found that my father had indeed provided them with his updated address but for some reasons, the statements were still getting send to the old address. However, he mentioned that since the account is closed, the bank may not credit $85 back. In addition, he mentioned that in case of any amount discrepancy, we are supposed to notify the bank within 60 days. Before we could say anything, he himself said that since we were not getting the statements, it wasn't our fault that we didn't notify the bank within 60 days. He put in the request for opening the account, and crediting the $85 in fees.

After about 2-3 weeks, my dad's account was opened but no amount was credited to our account. We went to the branch again and met that person. Fortunately, he remembered us. He took our info again and told us that he will talk to his branch manager. A couple of days later, we checked the account and lo and behold - $85 was there in the account!

Lesson learnt:

It pays to talk to the bank to see if the charges can be waived. As mentioned in one of my previous posts, if the fee was due to an infrequent mistake, chances are they will waive the fee.

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posted by Little Rishi @ Tuesday, May 12, 2009   0 comments

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Sunday, May 10, 2009
Weekend Quote - Belief
The turning point, I think, was when I really realized that you can do it yourself. That you have to believe in you because sometimes that's the only person that does believe in your success but you.

- Tim Blixseth

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posted by Little Rishi @ Sunday, May 10, 2009   0 comments

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Getting discount on air travel
Pentagon Federal Credit Union is paying 5% cash back on your first $4000 of airfare purchases per month to its Visa Platinum Rewards card holder. The offer came at the right time for us as we are planning to take a trip to visit our family over the summer. The offer is valid for purchases made by July 31, 2009.
*** Airfare purchases must be made between May 1, 2009 and July 31, 2009 to qualify for 5% cash back promotion, thereafter such purchases receive 1.25% cash back. Earn up to $200 cash back per month on airfare purchases. Fuel purchases for airplanes and boats receive 1.25% cash back.
I have had the card for quite some time and am pleased with it, since it gives 5% cash back on gas purchases, 2% cash back on supermarket purchases, and 1.25% on all other purchases, while carrying no annual fee. After getting the Schwab Visa card, which gives 2% on all transactions, we've limited the use of Penfed's Visa card to primarily for gas-related purchases but I like the fact that Penfed automatically credits the cash back each month, reducing the outstanding balance.

For more info on Penfed's credit card, see:

Penfed Visa Platinum Rewards card

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posted by Little Rishi @ Wednesday, May 06, 2009   0 comments

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How long does it take to get a police clearance certificate from India?
Since most of my family lives in Canada, I am also applying for Canadian permanent residency under the Federal Skilled Worker category and have started putting together all the necessary documentation. Since I live in the US, I need to apply to the Canadian Embassy in Buffalo, New York. One of their requirements is to submit police clearance certificate from every place where you have lived 6 months or longer since the age of 18. For us, this means getting police clearance certificates from not only all the states in the US where we have lived but also from India. Since I live in the US, that means getting it from the Indian Embassy.

Since the Indian Embassy in Washington, Dc was closest to us, I went there personally on April 6, 2009. I haven't been there in a long while but the place seemed to have changed. For starters, there's no parking allowed at the Embassy lot which meant spending extra time and money in locating the parking.

After parking my car, I went inside the embassy around 10 AM. The room was completed crowded. After taking my number, had to wait almost couple of hours before my number was called. I had already filled out the application forms and submitted it along with 4 copies of passport photos. I also had to turn in my US passport as well as my old canceled Indian passport, along with a fee of $20 each for my wife and myself. Since I didn't want to come again to pick it up, I paid an extra $20 to the Embassy so that they could mail me the police clearance certificate and our passports when they were ready.

I was told by the woman at the counter that the police clearance certificate will be ready in 5 days, after which they will mail it to the address I had provided them (I had to fill out a USPS envelope). However, we received our package in mail on May 5, 2009 - so it took slightly over 4 weeks to receive the certificates and our passports.

If I have to do this all over again, I will avoid going to the embassy in person. It's much easier, less time consuming, and less costly to simply mail the documents along with the appropriate fee, and have the embassy send the information back to you when ready. For us, it took about 4.5 weeks to get the package but I have heard from friends in Canada, that it can take up to 45 days to get police clearance certifcates from the Indian Embassy in Toronto. While I had to turn in my passports to Indian Embassy in Washington, DC, am not sure if I could have simply submitted a copy of the passports. In Toronto, I have been told that you don't need to submit passports - you can just submit a copy of the passport with your application. The embassy will verify your passport later at the time of pickup.

Anyways, am glad I got the certificates in a timely manner. The certificate was dated April 13, 2009, so they are already one month old. I believe the Canadian Embassy in Buffalo requires that the certificates must have been issued within last 3 months. Fortunately, I still have some time to put together the documents before the July deadline.

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posted by Little Rishi @ Wednesday, May 06, 2009   0 comments

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009
How to get bank fees waived?

Recently, I had initiated a bank-to-bank ACH transfer from my Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) to Presidential Bank account. The money was supposed to be withdrawn from my checking account at DCU. However, while initiating the transfer online from Presidential Bank's Web site, I mistakingly selected Savings account at DCU. Result? When Presidential Bank tried to withdraw the money, it did it from Savings account at DCU where I didn't have sufficient funds. As a result, the transaction got rejected and DCU charged me a $30 non-sufficient fee (NSF).

To make matters worse, Presidential Bank automatically tried to go through the transaction again the next day, and again, the transaction got rejected due to insufficent funds. I learnt the hard way that if a ACH-transfer transaction is rejected for the first time, the bank automatically processes that transaction again the next day. However, the result in my case was that DCU hit me with another $30 fee since I still didn't have sufficient funds in that account. So the net result of these two transactions was that I got hit with $60 fee by DCU. Fortunately, Presidential Bank didn't charge any fee for rejected transfer but it did suspend my DCU-Savings account for future transfers. I removed the suspended account from list of approved bank accounts for transfer and hopefully, will be able to add it back at a latter date.

I called a DCU rep and told her about my error. Initially, she mentioned that DCU only refunds such fees in case of error on DCU's part. I told her that it wasn't DCU's fault, and it was I who had entered the account info incorrectly. I politely asked her again if she could waive it. Fortunately, she told me to hold on while she talks to her manager. In a few minutes, she came back and told me that based on my history with the credit union, they have decided to waive both $30 charges but it's only for this time only. I thanked her for waiving the fee.

Lessons learnt were:

1. Be careful before initiating bank-to-bank ACH transfers to ensure all information is correct, and there are sufficient funds in the account.

2. In case a bank has imposed a fee, it always pays to call them and see if they can waive the fee. The thing I have learnt over the years is that you need to be polite rather than demanding when speaking with customer service reps. These reps already have had enough of disgruntled and angry customers, and they appreciate if someone talks to them politely.

Banks aren't required to waive such fees because that's part of the way they make money, and especially so since it was mistake on customer's part. However, in most cases, if you have had a good history with a bank, and hadn't had such issues regularly, banks will waive the fee. But you need to careful not to have NSF or other such transactions frequently.

3. Visit the bank's branch and talk to a service rep. In many cases, service reps at the branch will be willingly to waive the charges. If a branch is not located nearby, then it's better to call and speak to a rep; avoid emailing unless that's the only available option. With emails, it gets much easier for banks to send a standard reply, explaining why the fee can't be waived. However, it's still worth a try, if it's not possible to visit a branch or contact the bank via phone.

In my case, since DCU branches are not located in my state, I had to call them. The entire conversation with the DCU rep took less than 10 minutes but it was nice to have $60 credited back to my account.

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posted by Little Rishi @ Tuesday, May 05, 2009   4 comments

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Sunday, May 3, 2009
Weekend Quote - Desire
Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.

—Epicurus
posted by Little Rishi @ Sunday, May 03, 2009   0 comments

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Saturday, May 2, 2009
Free subscription to the Forbes and Conde' Nast Traveler magazines
For a limited time, RewardsGold is offering free subscription. For details, check out:

RewardsGold: Forbes and Conde' Nast Traveler magazines
posted by Little Rishi @ Saturday, May 02, 2009   0 comments

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Favorite Quote
"Work is worship".
                - Author Unknown
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