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Regina's Personal Blog

Sunday, May 05, 2024

The Cost of the New Mastercard

I have always been interested in how credit and credit scores work.

Like most undergrad students I was inundated with credit card offers. When I had to worry about government contractor security clearances and my credit card charging habits I made sure I understood how it worked.

When I decided to leave Boeing to accept the position with GE, I explained to the hiring manager that part of the reason I wanted to leave Boeing was to increase my salary. I also explained that I had more credit card debt (~$2500) than I wanted, college loans (~$2500), and an auto loan/insurance.

The hiring manager asked if I had a problem with a life style polygraph. I said no and accepted the position when the offer letter arrived.

These numbers (my debt) seem small today, however, back then it bothered me. I lived at home the four years I was in college and my parents paid for a lot of things including my auto insurance through the family plan. This even though I had a part time job.

Other big expenses for me? My career wardrobe. That said, I have always spent money on fashion. The other, after leaving home- apartment rent and things for my apartment.

When I left home a year after my college graduation and about a year after accepting the position with Boeing, I really had no real experience with personal finance. About all I can say- I paid my bills.

Today, I continue to track my credit scores. Last Thursday, May 2, 2024, one of my credit cards sent an email stating my FICO score had been updated.

I did expect a change. I thought it would go down because of the new Mastercard and it did.

I was a little surprised by how much the score changed in that my business bank (Wells Fargo) indicated only a 9 point drop because of the new Mastercard.

I do anticipate my credit score numbers will go back up. Last year after opening a new credit account, it took less than a year.

Was the $50 reward for opening the account worth the drop in credit scores? In my opinion, yes.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Investment Yield Comparisons

I research quite a bit to ensure I am making sound financial decisions.

Case in point, recently, I searched the term "Average monthly yield on $85,000", because I wanted to ensure my $250 current monthly yield on that amount was comparable to other investment strategies.

I found a Youtube video- "How Much My Dividend Portfolio Paid Me in January! ($155,000 Account)" which led me to several other videos on the channel.

I have never been a risk taker where the stock market is concerned. My savings selections when I was employed by large corporations, mostly involved guaranteed return choices. Matching funds provided by the employers were mostly in the form of stocks and though I checked daily the corporate stock prices, did little else.

I still do not do a lot of research where stock prices are concerned (time an issue) and for some reason (probably the cost), I will not hire a financial expert in this area for assistance.

So, I have many concerns that I am not getting every dollar I can possibly get, out of my on-hand cash.

I found other content creators with similar portfolio numbers, and happy my monthly yield numbers can compete with most of these investors.

That said, my new CD (opened March 18, 2024) had its initial interest deposit this morning.

Are you researching financial related issues? I have added links to a set of robust financial calculators to the WiredPages Business & Markets page.

Note from the illustration above, the CD calculator for my first interest payment was only off by three cents.

Monday, April 08, 2024

Back to the Drawing Board

I have been working a number of projects, mostly business related.

  • Integrated an AliExpress/Amazon plugin to my OpenCart e-commerce shop (WiredShops). The interface allows me to automatically add products from Amazon or AliExpress to my shop.
  • Integrated another OpenCart plugin to enable live price updates based on options selected by the buyer for each product.
  • Applying to AliExpress for access to the Drop Shipping API to allow more control of how products are added to my shop.
  • Added a new category to my e-commerce shop, Digital Products.
  • Preparing to offer my first digital product (MS Publisher Bank Check Template) for purchase. Ordered labels, flash drives, packaging and began the product brochure.
  • Responsible for several tax return filings and happy to report I completed those tasks last week.
  • Several business related filings to the State of Maryland to update records and access new services that became available at the beginning of the year.

I am very pleased most of these projects worked out well, however I have run into several problems with shipments and access to the AliExpress Drop Shipping API.

Allow me to backup. My order for custom flash drives (40), labels (210), and packaging (100) came to $63.84. Because of my past experience with business related projects, I wanted my initial investment to justify any failings I might incur.

During the checkout process, PayPal offered a $50 reward if I applied for the PayPal Cashback World Mastercard. (Link provided does not include the reward. Reward I was offered- provided through the e-commerce organization I purchased from, via PayPal.)

I was approved almost immediately and thought the $13.84 investment to experiment with my digital product offering was something I could afford to risk.

What about my FICO score? I did not think it would be affected as much- because of the limit offered by the new card. I only had about $13,500 in overall credit before I applied- with no liabilities. The new card provided an additional $9,000 in credit. I also justified the new card in case I wanted to acquire more on-hand shop inventory with a great cashback offering if I checked out through PayPal.

Credit ratings are based in part- on the overall amount of credit a consumer has versus the amount owed. It is also based on the number of creditors, i.e. credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, etc.

In my case, I did not want to apply for more credit, that is until the incentives became worth my while, as was the case with the one presented in this instance.

I received the labels and packaging on Saturday, April 6, 2024, however was issued a refund for the custom logo flash drives for $49.61 because the shipper did not ship.

I researched and this was a great deal for 40 custom logo flash drives for just under $50.00. To add to my dismay, the $50 I was going to get from PayPal for opening the credit account is probably not going to be credited because of the refund. I wanted to scream.

My other annoyance, AliExpress has not yet approved my access to the Drop Shipping API. Something about, I am stuck in their legal department.

Friday, March 22, 2024

MS Publisher Bank Check Template Video Demonstration

I have been researching delivery and marketing options for digital products I wish to offer, specifically the Microsoft Publisher Bank Check Template I developed several years ago.

In light of obvious security concerns, I have decided to ship rather than enable download of the Microsoft Publisher template for bank checks.

There are several required files that will ship with the package including the template file, setup files, and the readme (instruction) file. The files will be stored on a USB flash-drive and I am thinking of offering several pages of a security blank check stock that most banks prefer.

Note, Microsoft Publisher is not part of the package and is sold separately.

Yesterday, I put together a short video providing a first look at the usage of the template using the MS Publisher software.

I am still researching marketing, investment options (paper-stock, flash-drives), and the legal aspects of this offering, however, hope to be able to make available this digital product in the near term.

FYI: I have been using these templates for personal and business checks for years (since 2016) and have never had a problem with either of my banks (Bank of America and Wells Fargo).

Years ago, I researched correctly the requirements for development of this type of template. My research provides, sometimes this type of offering (bank check template) does not always work as expected.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Recent APY Gambles

Every year, for the last 3 years I have tried to open a new CD account somewhere within the first three months of the new year with savings accrued in the prior year.

This year was no different, however I took a gamble with sourcing funds I transferred from existing high yield savings accounts I hold with American Express and CIT Bank (now a division of First Citizens Bank).

The reason it was a gamble is because the AmEX savings account has a current APY of 4.35% and the CIT SavingsConnect account an APY of 4.66%.

As shown in the first graphic for this post, the new Synchrony CD has an APY of 4% over the 5 year term of the CD. If the AmEx and CIT APYs hold for longer than I expect and also assuming CD APYs stay the same, then I would have gambled wrong and lost a little in the way of returns.

I am anticipating interest rates to go down both in terms of APY and APR and I wanted to lock in a higher rate over a longer period of time for the CD.

I have several banks used for savings and right now- Synchrony is offering the best rates on the 5 year term CD.

Why hold the savings shown- in CDs and not investment options with higher returns? I can only afford to gamble with my liquid assets in the manner I have outlined in this post.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

My Costs To Maintain My Real Estate License

When I first became eligible to apply for my Maryland Real Estate Salespersons License (Feb. 2022), I began in earnest to research the costs associated with maintaining the license as a practicing buyers or sellers agent.

The first decision I made, interview with area real estate teams to be a licensed transaction coordinator rather than a buyers and/or sellers agent. Factors involved in my decision included:

  • Legal protection for my Maryland small business, QiSoftware.
  • Acquire valuable hands-on experience with real estate sales in a team environment.
  • Avoid some of the costs associated with being a real estate salesperson, i.e., insurance, MLS fees, membership fees, etc.
  • Paycheck lower however guaranteed.

Though I interviewed with two area teams for the transaction coordinator position, they really wanted me to sign up as a full-fledged buyers/sellers agent.

In my case, I felt it pointless to continue interviewing for the licensed transaction coordinator, so instead, I decided to become a referral agent with a local brokerage.

The actual costs to maintain my active real estate license as a referral agent?

Below, a snap shot from the Microsoft Money Business software I use to track all of my financial transactions (both business and personal)- for the activity associated with my Amazon Signature Visa since last November (2023). The related transactions have a green arrow in the margin.

Though I do not need a website to renew my real estate license, I did register the domain to maintain a web presence for this service area and the related marketing efforts.

The current yearly cost to renew the domain registration is shown below.

Why pay about $200 biennially to renew the license if you are only looking to refer clients? I wanted this professional license and want to keep it. I hope some day to be in a better position to use the license as I originally intended, however right now my legal concerns outweigh my desire to actually assist clients with their needs in this area.

Home ownership is perhaps one of the most expensive purchases a couple or individual will have. Legal issues can and do come up. I have done my research. Right now, I cannot afford any legal issues- I could have avoided.

Saturday, December 02, 2023

Was the Twenty Dollars Worth It?

In late October, I wanted to purchase a gift for an upcoming birthday. I had the option of using a credit card, the existing balance in my PayPal account, or opening a buyer's line of credit with my PayPal business account and getting a $20.00 discount on the purchase.

I chose the latter because of the $20.00 discount. I do have credit cards that offer rewards, however the rewards did not equal nor surpass the $20.00 savings by opening the new line of credit.

I made the purchase on October 25, 2023 and paid the entire balance off on October 29, 2023 when the bill came due (had until November 22, 2023 to make the first payment).

I was also happy to add another creditor to my credit profile, in that credit reporting agencies indicate part of the reason my credit scores are not perfect- is because I do not have installment loans nor a mortgage.

I was a little concerned about the hits my credit scores would take with a new credit inquiry. This because, late last year when I opened two new credit cards, I noticed that though my scores initially went down, were almost back to where I started by late summer of this year.

The following illustration shows my current credit scores from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. If you zoom on the graphic- you will see the recent score history from each organization.

Keep in mind, I never carry a balance on my credit cards, nor will I with this new line of credit from PayPal Buyer's Credit.

Was the new line of credit worth the slight dip in my scores? Yes. I received a $20 credit on the purchase and a new creditor who will show every month that I am never late.

Do you want to ask, "What are you going to do, now that Mint is closing its doors?" I have not decided. That said, I am going to miss Mint.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Checks & Balances

Because of a banking irregularity when I opened my first business checking account (Oct. 2004), I use the many resources banks and services like Intuit offer to ensure these institutions see my banking activity in real time- across the board.

Some of the online banking resources I use, include:

  • Bank of America (personal checking & savings accounts) allows aggregators to access all of my linked accounts providing current account balances and transaction activity for each account.
  • Intuit's Mint also uses aggregators to access each linked account which provides the linked account balances and transactions.
  • In total, I have 5 different banks for checking and savings accounts. Only one is used for business banking. All of these banks are linked so that I can easily transfer funds to open a new CD or an existing account.
  • I also have credit cards with Chase, Amazon (store card, Synchrony), and CitiBank and link my personal and business checking accounts to the banks that provide the cards- for easy online payments.

I love online banking, and have convinced those who I help to manage their assets, that it is the way to go. That said, my influence insofar as others and their finances- does not extend to services like Intuit's Mint. In general they seem to feel their financial data is not Mint's business.

In my case, I have to worry about the business side of finance as well as my personal finance, however because I am a sole proprietor prefer to maintain tax related finances under the same category (I do not use a business EIN).

That said, I do maintain separate checking and savings (Wells Fargo) accounts for my business finances. All of my other bank accounts are with other banks and are all personal accounts.

I am a good record keeper, in that I like all accounts accurate at all times. I spend about 20 minutes daily checking and updating, online accounts, Excel spreadsheets and two Microsoft Money files. In total, I have 17 bank accounts and manage well over thirty.

So how do I keep up with financial accounting activities? Online banking, Mint, Excel and two versions of an old software package called Microsoft Money. If even a penny is missing, I have to reconcile the books.

The first illustration below, provides payments made to several of my interest bearing accounts for September 2023 as reported by Microsoft Money, Bank of America, and Mint. In total, I had $212.44 deposited as interest payments to various accounts. Each reporting instrument agrees with this total.

The second illustration, shows the 'to date' interest payments made to my accounts for the month of October 2023. I am expecting an additional $42 (or so) in interest payments for the month of October.

I like knowing my financial well being is known by all. I do not mind the transparency. I never really understood what happened with my first business checking account, however I did contact the legal authorities on the issue.

Saturday, October 07, 2023

Been Busy- This Is Only A Summary

Lately, it seems I have been working one project or another. Quite a few of the issues involved updates to existing software or applications, like the recent changes to programs to handle my Amazon affiliate links.

In addition, with all of the research related to content creators I have also noticed some interesting ideas I thought I would look into.

I like business, so I tend to checkout what other small businesses are doing in as far as income streams or side hustles.

One area I thought interesting, Youtubers discussing their in-depth financial situations and offering their Microsoft Excel templates via Etsy shops to help maintain budgets. Some of these Youtubers appear to be doing very well in this area.

Years ago, when I wanted to cut more operating costs, I decided I would no longer order bank checks which I seldom used. Instead, I created Microsoft Publisher bank check templates for both my business and personal checking accounts. I discuss this in this July 2016 blog post.

After I began using Microsoft 365 I converted the templates to the later Publisher version (discussed here), so I now have templates in Microsoft Publisher 2000 & 365.

Earlier today, I created a more generic Publisher bank check template and automated the update of the check numbers. The versions I use, require manual update of the check numbers, however as I have already indicated, I seldom write checks.

I will discuss this project later in more detail- after I finish with the video.

Yesterday, after lunch, I worked on perfecting my banana split.

Also watching videos from these creators...

I have more projects and videos coming up....

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Love It- When Plans Come Together

I have been working several projects, including:

  • Integration of a Google-certified Consent Management Platform (CMP) to all of my sites and subdomains, i.e., WiredPages, It's Personal (this blog), etc.
  • MS Access Database to maintain my Amazon affiliate links & stores
  • Researching and setting up a new Certificate of Deposit (CD).

The first project listed above- was actually completed earlier today so let's start there.

For several months, the home screen of my Google Adsense account has shown the following notice.

Several years ago, I integrated the CloudFlare interface to all areas of my sites to handle the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law that came into effect in May 2018.

CloudFlare is not a Google-certified Consent Management Platform (CMP), the reason the notice began to appear several months ago on the homepage of my Adsense account.

So from the above list of certified CMPs, I chose Quantcast because I have been using the service for years on all areas of my sites to track traffic and other statistics, and thought it was the natural choice for my needs.

Quantcast allowed the option to show the popup message and dialog options to only EEA and UK visitors to my sites, so those in other areas including the U.S., will not see the message nor options.

The second project listed above, MS Access database to handle affiliate links was completed on Sunday. I am pretty pleased with how this project turned out, and happy I have a more efficient way to maintain and provide my Amazon affiliate data. See the upper sidebar of this blog (under Amazon Stores) or the WiredPages Libraries page for illustration of what the new database provides.

The last project, setup a new savings CD- was actually completed on August 22, 2023 when I noticed the APY on a 16 month term CD jumped from 5.10% to 5.25%. I had transferred the funds from two of my checking accounts a few days earlier and hoped the APY would increase. It did, and I set it up.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Financial Matters, Youtube Monetization Update, Healthier Meal Planning

Over the past month, I have noticed shorter term CD APYs are on the rise. Over the last two or three years, 5 year CD APYs were higher, so I setup several CDs to take advantage of the rates banks were offering.

This week I will setup a new 12 month CD with an APY of 5.10%, and hope the accounts I am transferring the funds from will not be needed for an emergency in the next month or so.

Since I am discussing financial issues, I do have some good news- my FICO scores are on the rise again. After I applied for and obtained two new credit cards last year my credit scores went down. Reference this post or the finance category of this blog where I provide ongoing details about my credit scores.

On my journey to monetize my Youtube Channel, there was also more good news, I now only need 500 subscribers rather than 1000. (This is rather a giggle at this point. Someone indicated my subscribe button does not work, however I tend to be rather sporadic with video uploads.)

I have also started planning and making healthier meal choices.

I am particularly happy about a green beans recipe (I use garlic powder rather than garlic cloves) I found, which I add to sauteed chicken breast.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

If it is not one thing, it is another...

Every morning, I check my sites, various site analytics, and my current financial picture.

As I have discussed in recent posts; CD Shopping Update and mid December 2022 post, I have been tracking annual percentage yields (APYs) for 5 year CDs offered by two of my banks hoping to take advantage of rates in the 4.2-4.5% range.

Tomorrow, February 1, 2023- no matter where the rates, I planned to open the new CD. This morning I was a little more than surprised to learn that APY rates were down with American Express, the bank I wanted to use. I am not sure exactly when the rate dropped, but it went from 4.25% to 3.75%.

I was so busy Monday (January 30, 2023) morning, three trips to different area markets, Columbia, MD to my business address, and then the post office to submit a permanent forwarding address for my business- that I may have missed an update on APY rates later in the day.

In addition, in the afternoon (Monday), I had several calls to Maryland taxing agencies concerning business mail I picked up earlier in the day.

On Friday (January 27, 2023), the van I use to do most of the chores would not start. Yes, I do have other vehicles available, however I allowed the van that would not start to annoy me.

Lucky for me, I noticed a charger my brother used once and I purchased something similar not long after. I used the charger to start the van, and then reconditioned the battery (button on the charger), however did not do any of the shopping I planned for Friday. I waited until Monday. I was so happy I could get to all of my shopping and Columbia that I was not going to do anything but handle issues that came up.

Translated, the (AMEX) bank CD rates going down did not jump up and scream like all of the mail from my business address.

This morning, wide awake and happy most of my business issues were resolved, I got back on track and discovered I missed the CD American Express bank rate change that was lower.

Before eight this morning, I opened the new CD with Synchrony for 5 years at 4.30% and directly set up an external transfer from the American Express savings account to the new Synchrony CD account.

I decided not to bore you with some of the details, however to change a business address in Maryland seems so hard I believe they want me to ask an attorney to do it. I set up the business, I am not sure why I need an attorney to change the address. That said the Comptroller of Maryland (taxing authority) had no problem updating the address when I sent Form 109-B MARYLAND CHANGE OF ADDRESS FOR BUSINESSES in October 2022. One of my calls on today- spoke with Brittany. I also registered with bFile the interactive business tax filing service even though I have had no sales since setting up my ecommerce shop. I file something known as a ZERO Return each quarter.

When I check the APY rates tomorrow morning, I am not going to scream if Synchrony's rates are higher.

By the way, I think all girls with vehicles should have automotive accessories in their garage similar to these in my garage.


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

CD Shopping Update

In an earlier post, I discuss the fact I was shopping for a new certificate of deposit (CD).

I wanted a 5 year CD and noticed at the time, two of my banks Synchrony and American Express were both offering the term lengths I wanted at 4.30% and 4.25% respectively.

Since then, I have been waiting for those rates to go up. In mid December (2022) just after I posted the entry, the Fed raised interest rates by 50 basis points, however my banks held at the yield rates previously offered.

I thought maybe by the first of January my banks would offer new rates. No, both held with the same rates. Today is the 24th of January and to date- all the reports I have received, suggest at the end of the month the Fed will again raise interest rates by 25 basis points.

Though I am not counting on rate increases from either bank for the 5 year CD- by the first of February, I am hoping. That explained, in recent weeks I have moved/transferred funds from other accounts to be ready to open the new CD on the first of next month.

Note from the above illustration, I decided to use American Express rather than Synchrony which currently has a lower yield rate than the other bank. Why? I already have two 5 year CDs with Synchrony, with each having more capital than the funding amount (~$15,000) of the new CD.

Not counting the new JP Morgan Chase Visa, American Express is my most recent bank and used for high yield savings. I opened the HYSA account with AmEx on February 2, 2022 with an initial deposit of $2500.

Mint recommended the savings account with American Express and my research indicates their rates are very competitive in several areas. I really did not want to transfer funds from AmEx to fund a CD someplace else. In my case, though I have several banks, only Synchrony offered a competitive rate on the 5 year CD to that being offered by AmEx.

Monday, December 12, 2022

I had a nice weekend...

As expected, Sunday (December 11, 2022), my TransUnion credit score was updated and increased slightly according to the report offered through Mint.

Reference this discussion about why I was a little annoyed about the credit reporting. I continue to feel the TransUnion score is a little too low.

For the past week or so I have been shopping for a new Certificate of Deposit (CD). Since I already have accounts with financial institutions offering some of the best rates, my research only involves monitoring rates being offered by two of my banks, American Express and Synchrony.

The Federal Reserve will be issuing new data on rates, I think- December 14, 2022, so I am waiting to see if the reports hold concerning a 50 basis point increase. This increase could have an effect on new rates my banks are willing to offer.

Recently, I have been doing a lot of research into financial planning and routinely monitor investable assets that can be moved into high yield savings accounts and/or CDs. I use two versions of Microsoft Money (business and personal versions) to track these assets.

Yesterday, I decided I needed a summary spreadsheet, so I would not have to log into the separate Money files to see the data. I developed an Excel spreadsheet for this data summary.

This weekend, I planned any number of projects, however because I wanted to watch the full first season of "Injustice", a series out of the UK, I did not get to everything I wanted to do.

That said, playing with this Excel Spreadsheet and some of the underlying formulas was kind of fun.

Saturday, I also made a western omelette for breakfast.

Lately, I have been preoccupied with financial news and tech layoffs ( It was a nice weekend, doing fun and interesting things. Going to get back to work in just a minute...

Sunday, December 04, 2022

FICO- I am less annoyed now.

My observations with my personal credit reports began shortly after I moved away from home after graduating from college. I think the one thing most undergrad students know, on campus there is a concerted effort to have students apply for credit, and I did.

My parents gave me a gas credit card when I was in high school, so until that point, that was all the understanding I had to have about credit.

While in college, I lived at home, however had a part time job and attended as a full time student. My credit profile began while in college and quite frankly looked good. Creditors loved me.

Early, in my four year journey for my undergrad degree, I think my parents wanted to ensure I was serious about college. So one semester they requested I take out an education loan (only for that semester's fees) with my credit union (Tower Federal Credit Union). I also took out a new car loan in my sophomore year.

My parents paid all of my living expenses while in college, except the payments on those two loans. Including my auto insurance. During my high school and college years, you would not believe how many times my car was hit, while parked in front of our house.

The year I started my first professional job, I purchased a little two seater with a higher insurance premium. This was in September 1981. In December 1981, my relatively new car was hit while parked in front of my parents house. My auto insurance was high, however always paid through the family policy. These accidents, though no fault of mine, were paid through the family policy however my cars were always registered in my name.

When I moved away from home (June 1982), a year after graduating and acceptance of my first professional position (Boeing), I began to look into credit. I cannot now remember why, however I still remember the credit reports I ordered from the credit reporting agency on occasion.

When I left home, I had more expenses including my own auto insurance policy. Maybe I should have had more expenses before I left home. I did have a low interest college loan, several credit cards, and my new sports car loan, but that was all by the time I moved in 1982. Other loans had been paid off while in college.

The other thing I understood about my credit rating- because I was a defense contractor with a top secret security clearance, I wanted it to remain in the good range.

All of this to explain- why I began looking at my credit ratings early in my professional career. When I wanted to purchase a new home, I set about ensuring my credit rating would be inline with what a mortgage company would accept. And they did.

If I had problems early, it was because I was spoiled as related to credit and had to learn somethings quickly, after I left home.

As a matter of fact, 3 and a half years after first signing with Boeing, I decided, I wanted a career change and looked at different positions. General Electric, explained they would like to hire me, however they would need a lifestyle polygraph. I explained to the hiring manager that I had no problem with the lifestyle poly, however one of the reasons I wanted a career change was I wanted more in the way of salary and also explaining the minor issues I had with debt. He said, there would be no problem with the debt issue and I said there would be no problem with the lifestyle issue. I accepted the position with General Electric.

I left the position with General Electric because it was not what I expected it to be. Boeing had perks that GE did not offer, e.g., my own office, phone, business cards, etc and GE was different. I wanted a more formal setting like I had with Boeing and Rockwell International offered the perks I was used to. I accepted the Rockwell International offer 6 months later. I was with Rockwell for 10 years.

So why am I discussing this? Last night I received an email from the bank that extends credit on my Mastercard (Citi Bank), explaining my FICO score had been updated.

I was a little concerned given my recent observations with the TransUnion reports provided via my Mint account. Mint updates my credit score every 7 days or whenever they receive updates to my credit standing, e.g., new cards added, new inquiries, etc. Applying for credit does impact FICO scores. In 1983 or so, when I first started researching my credit reports, FICO scores were not used. Back then I wanted an "R1" with a lot of months with the same rating- for each credit item on the report.

Today the FICO score offered by my Citibank Mastercard uses Equifax and their latest rating is shown below.

Last night, I was relieved when I took the screenshot shown above. This morning, I checked Mint (TransUnion), and wanted to be annoyed with the screenshot shown below.

I went over the TransUnion report trying to understand why there might be so much difference between the two scores. I have written notes on the screenshots I am using in the illustration below:

I am not sure why the Mint credit report does not show the Citi Mastercard payments on 11/04/22 and this might be a factor as to why the rating is lower. That said, Mint's aggregation process used to stay up to date with all of my financial accounts and related activity- does reflect the payments to Citibank on November 4, 2022.

I am hoping all of this updates early next year, reflecting more positive scores across the board. Even if it does not, I will have learned more about how modern credit ratings are derived. See this post- FICO Realities and Recent FICO Activity for more about my recent credit activity.

I thought of a title for this post, after I had written it.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Recent FICO Activity

In a recent blog post, I discussed issues I noticed with my FICO score when I applied for the Amazon Store Card.

This post provides a bit of an update in that my FICO score, as reported by Mint- as of November 9, 2022, based on the TransUnion VantageScore® breakdown, increased by 7 points to 766 from the low of 759 after the application process for the Amazon Store Card.

What happened on November 9, 2022? There was another credit inquiry from Chase Bank because on that day I applied for the Amazon Signature Visa Card. So why did it go up? I am researching all of this.

Why was I applying for credit cards, anyway?

  • Credit reporting agencies contend negative data because I did not have enough debt or credit cards. Only one Mastercard and several personal & business debit cards.
  • Rewards on existing Mastercard not as attractive as offerings from other banks.
  • Amazon Signature Visa offers rewards, not the Amazon Store Card I applied for on Oct. 6, 2022. In both cases I received Amazon Gift cards when my applications were approved for a total of $160.00.

Why do I share this type of information? I need total transparency. Odd things happen to me. Recently (Sept. 30, 2022) I received two invoices via PayPal claiming I owed $299 each for something to do with Microsoft applications. Had no idea why those invoices were sent to me.

When I tried to have Paypal correct these issues, they indicated I could just ignore them. That said, the invoices are still showing on my dashboard and I cannot seem to report I did not order any software from Microsoft.

I use PayPal for my ecommerce shop, and most other payment options. I have had some pressure to switch (not sure why since I get no hits on WiredShops), however, my business bank and other payment options are not as cost effective as PayPal at this time. I am not sure if this is why I have noticed more odd issues than normal.

Prior to that, for some reason, Facebook decided QiSoftware was no longer a legal business entity. Instagram thinks QiSoftware is a business, my banks, PayPal, etc. all consider QiSoftware a business entity. Facebook recorded QiSoftware as a business entity in 2008 when I first joined.

In June 2022, they decided QiSoftware was not a business. I can ask them to reverify, however during the time of the verification process I was getting strange calls on my business line from characters with heavy accents. It may have been one of those calls that determined I was not a legit business, however I am not sure what happened. Just not in the mood to argue about this with Facebook. After I have my banks and Maryland update my business address I will look into this again.

I should also provide, in April 2022 QiSoftware was again verified as a business on Facebook and then in June 2022 for some reason they requested a reverification. It failed. If you are a Facebook developer you may know they do this a lot with applications. Why do you need those permissions, etc? I can easily prove QiSoftware is a business entity so I was surprised they did this.

Other minor issues that seem odd. Decided at this time, I want full transparency.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Business Moves

I am always looking for cost cutting business moves, so last month when I decided to move my business address from Columbia, MD to Hanover, MD I knew I had several tasks to complete- in preparation for this change. Cost cutting? Since I reside in Hanover, MD I am making the trip to my business address much shorter.

My original attempt to notify the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation of the address change failed because I used the wrong form and did not remit a $25.00 payment to have the amendment recorded. The check was debited from my business checking account on November 10, 2022.

Another of my business cost cutting moves? In July 2016, I decided because I seldom write checks, to start printing my own for both my business and personal checking accounts. I discuss my custom check templates in this July 2016 blog post. See the image below for more on the blank checks I ordered.

Recently, I mentioned the keyboard on my Acer Windows XP Netbook is malfunctioning, so I am moving tools to other platforms. I developed the custom check templates using the Publisher version that came with Microsoft Office 2000 Professional version. Happy to report, had no problems converting the custom check templates from Office 2000 Publisher to Microsoft Office 365's Publisher version. See the illustration below.

In the above referenced blog post, I mention I use the Sunset version of Microsoft Money for Business (no longer available online for download). I used GNUCash for many years, however had too many issues so decided to use Microsoft Money for Business instead.

I mention this because I have been researching Quickbooks both as a developer and for use with my business, and believe I have the most cost effective solution for my business and personal finances.

One of the big advantages of Quickbooks over Microsoft Money for Business, is its ability to interactively communicate online with all of your banks to ensure account synchronization. I use both the Net Worth service offered by my personal primary bank (Bank of America) and my online Mint account to ensure all of my banks align with my offline copy of Microsoft Money for Business.

At this time, I do not mind I have to input some of the data to MS Money. Recurring debits, transfers, and deposits are automated, however a lot of the data is not. Bank of America and Mint use automated processes or aggregators to access real-time account balances from external account references.

I also use the non-business Sunset version of Microsoft Money to maintain financial and tax information for someone close.

I have to say, without Microsoft Money the cost to maintain these financial records would be a lot. I have cash assets that I need to be able to move quickly, especially now with the Fed's moves on interest rates. I am able to maintain this financial data effectively and efficiently with the Sunset versions of Microsoft Money.

Below, an illustration of some of the accounts and features I use with my version of the Sunset version of Microsoft Money for Business.

When will the business address change go into effect? The state has not updated the online business information, however I have begun to add the new address to some of the many areas I will need to update.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

FICO Realities

Since early September (2022) I have been experimenting with online surveys to determine whether they are a viable source of income. In my case, I have decided they take up a little more time than I can afford, however will help out with gift purchases for the upcoming holiday season.

That said, the following chart shows the Amazon Gift Cards I have claimed since September...

Friday, August 26, 2022


The general idea of my financial planning is to save every penny possible, only allowing for business and limited social expenses, i.e., birthdays, holidays, and every now and again a treat.

For legal reasons, which I am not going to reiterate in this post, I also like my financial picture to be totally transparent.

This- the reason I provide the illustration below of the "overview" of my Mint account, showing a redacted accounting of all of my active financial accounts.

If this is meant to be a transparent overview, why is the illustration redacted? Legal authorities, businesses, agencies (e.g. Maryland Real Estate Commission) and higher education institutions can all easily verify the information I am providing, so I mean transparent in that regard.

Recently, I have had a series of appointments with one or two of my banks for a couple of reasons. One, I needed a notary and two, I have a 5 year CD that is about to mature.

You will note from the above illustration, most of the financial institutions I deal with are primarily online service providers. Wells Fargo and Bank of America have local branches that I visit on occasion and represent the institutions I use for both business and personal checking and savings accounts respectively.

Interest yield rates are going up, and my business bank no longer charges as much for the monthly service fee and has also lowered the amount I need to maintain to avoid the fee altogether. So I no longer need to maintain a $10,000 CD with the bank to avoid the monthly service fee and I wanted to ensure the CD would not automatically rollover when it matures next month.

I also needed a notary for some legal documents. I made three appointments and attempted one walk-in (UPS Store in Hanover), before I finally had my document notarized. I was surprised by how hard this was, especially, in that I made appointments. The last bank appointment worked.

I have no choice at this time but to save money and try to find the best rates possible. I really cannot afford a financial planner (for market investments) so as with everything else, I learn what I need to learn and do it myself which means in my case, no risky investments.

Some of my recent issues rather surprised me, so I thought I would note it for the record. I mainly do things like this for legal authorities.

Saturday, July 09, 2022

Not so quick, that might really be a deal.

Do you ignore promotional emails? I get probably- as many as anyone else, and I must admit my cursor stays on the delete button when checking the mail.

That said, on June 13, 2022 I noticed the subject line for the email highlighted in the graphic below and decided to have a look.

When I opened the email to investigate, I found the following offer.

So the next day, I decided to use my personal checking account (Bank of America) app rather than my business checking account (Wells Fargo) app to deposit the rewards check from the credit card company. I made a video of the mobile deposit.

The last time I received a credit card rewards check was 3 years ago after I purchased my new camera. I normally deposit these infrequent cash rewards checks to my business checking account, however, because of the rewards offer from my other bank, decided to change my routine and use the other bank.

The bank stated the $10 rewards deposit would be within sixty days, and showed up this morning as a deposit made yesterday.

Needless to say, I am not going to be so quick to delete promotional emails in the future.

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