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Self Storage Auctions

There is a great money-making prospect out there, and you probably pass by it everyday. In non-descript complexes that dot roadways across America, we store millions of square feet of items in self storage facilities. But what happens when the bill doesn’t get paid? The stuff, usually everything in the unit at the same time, gets sold at auction to the highest bidder.

If you’ve viewed the shows Auction Hunters or Storage Wars, both of which feature storage auctions in California, you’ve seen the types of great treasures that can come out of self storage auctions. Eric Quinn, creator of the thorough e-book Storage Auction School, was able to leave his day job and pay off his financial obligations within a year of getting into the storage auction business.

You could literally find anything in self storage auctions, from valuable antiques, gadgets, rifles and collectors’ items. One of the stars of Storage Wars not too long ago remarked about his find of over $100,000 worth of comic books in a self storage auction.
And how much does the usual room go for in a self storage auction? $200-$300, with some units going for as little as $10.

While there are great yields that can be earned, you need to know what you’re doing to obtain storage auction results.There is a lot to be uncovered through the experience of learning from your errors. If you prefer to get away from some errors you can always
take advantage of the experience of others by reading some of the amazing e-books offered on the matter. The very best on the subject is probably Eric Quinn’s Storage Auction School which is absolutely jam-packed with material. His book covers how to search for storage auctions, what to take with you, things to be on the lookout for when bidding on a unit, and how to easily sell what you buy and make some money. His book also includes three months of coaching to guide you on your voyage to storage auction
fortune step-by-step.

I wish you best of luck! in your self storage auction adventures!

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February 26, 2012 Posted by | Tips | Leave a comment

Hilarious and Brilliant Halloween Frugality Idea from BFP: Recycling Candy

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

I was surfing on PFBlogs.org and found this hilarious post from Blueprint for Financial Prosperity. This is so cheap, I’m a bit ashamed that I never thought of it.

They basically would go out trick-or-treating early in the evening, and then check back in with the parents and unload the candy they didn’t like to add to the pot for giveaway to other trick-or-treaters. Absolutely brilliant!

No kids just yet, so we’ll have to wait a while to do this. Until then I’ll just have to stock up after Halloween when everything goes on clearance.

October 31, 2007 Posted by | Tips | , , , | Leave a comment

No direct deposit? No problem!

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

How many times do you see the offers from banks: “Free checking with direct deposit” or “$100 bonus when you open a new account with direct deposit”? So many bank offers and fee waivers are contingent on having direct deposit, and with good reason. Banks know that the more integrated your account is with the rest of your financial life, the more likely you will remain a customer and hopefully use other services from them. They are counting on that you are too lazy to go to the trouble of contacting your payroll department at work to have your direct deposit redirected to a new account. The same reasoning is why so many banks are now pushing bill payment services. You’re less likely to close an account if most of your bill payments are already set up through that account.

The problem with this is that there are lots of people such as the self-employed and employees of small businesses that don’t have direct deposit as an option. There are others of us that maintain multiple accounts (for instance, a local checking account for ATM access and small deposits and a high-yield checking through an online bank) and don’t necessarily want to send our direct deposit to a particular account.

Well, there is hope for those who are in this situation or that just want to take advantage of bonus offers requiring direct deposit. A direct deposit is simply an electronic transfer of funds to your account. This is usually done by a method known as ACH. The thing is that a ACH transfer to your account can be done in a number of ways besides through a company’s payroll department. Transfers from other bank accounts (either your own or someone else’s) and even from online payment services like Paypal are done by ACH as well. Unless a real person is looking at the detail of the ACH transfer, there is no real way to automatically tell if the ACH is a payroll deposit or not. Most of the time a bank will count these non-payroll transfers as a direct deposit, which allows you to avoid service fees and/or collect promotional bonuses based on the use of direct deposit.

The easiest way to simulate a direct deposit is by using another account you control that offers free outgoing transfers. Online savings accounts like ING Direct (click here for info on getting a referral for a $25 bonus), Emigrant Direct, or HSBC Direct all allow this. A few banks and credit unions offer this service free of charge as well. Some people have also successfully used PayPal transfers to simulate a direct deposit.

There is a lengthy thread on Fatwallet discussing this concept and compiling user experiences simulating direct deposits using various methods with different banks. I would caution that you SHOULD NOT CALL the bank and ask if whatever method will count, as they will almost always tell you no and it may tip them off to look for such activity on your account.

October 30, 2007 Posted by | banking, Tips | , , , | 2 Comments

My Coke Rewards: The point of these points?

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

I drink a lot of Diet Coke. I start each morning with one. Another for lunch, another for dinner. Usually at least two to get me through the afternoon.

As many of these as I drink along with my obsessive-compulsive personality, it is no wonder that I am a fan of the My Coke Rewards program. Unique codes are printed inside caps and packs of cans which can be collected and redeemed through their website for various reward items. Over the last year or so, I’ve accumulated about 2600 points, of which I’ve redeemed 1875 points for 3 $25 Visa gift cards.

The codes on 20 oz. and 2-liter bottles are worth 3 points each, the codes on 12 packs are worth 10 points each. But an interesting wrinkle is that you can only entered 10 codes per day, which has created an opportunity for folks like me. There is an active community of traders over on SlickDeals who trade the 3 point codes for 10 point codes at a significant discount (usually 6 to 1). A lot of the traders offering the 3 point caps scavenge caps from college campuses, sports stadiums, and other venues where large numbers of 20 oz. bottles are sold and consumed. Since they can only enter in 10 of those codes per day, they trade for higher point value codes so they can accumulate more points.

Is it really worth my time to trade and enter codes? Probably not, but it makes for an interesting and profitable break during the day.

If you want to get started collecting points, let me know and I can refer you. Don’t want to collect the points? Send them to me! Use the email link to the right to request a referral or donate your codes.

BTW, big thanks for all the codes, Wes!

October 29, 2007 Posted by | Tips | , , , , | 3 Comments

Neat tip on tipping – Easily detect unauthorized tip adjustments

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Here’s a great tip on tipping, just in time for the weekend. Over in the FatWallet finance forum, a discussion has developed around bars and restaurants fraudulently altering credit card receipts, usually to increase the tip amount. There is some debate as to how widespread the problem is, with some folks saying that it is happening all the time, and others saying they have never seen it or only encountered the problem rarely. Of course anytime you bring up tipping you get a long debate on the merits of tipping, what amounts are appropriate, and whether those encountering this are seeing it because they are crappy tippers. However there have been a few nuggets of wisdom shared, with probably the best one being offered up by the user “Technologist”:

I had this happen to me ONE time many, many, MANY years ago…. and devised an easy way of finding these on my credit card statement. It costs me a little money, but saves me lots of time reconciling.

Say the bill is $22.57. Add 15% tip ($3.38). Total is $25.95. Add (or subtract) cents until last number equals the sum of the individual numbers to the left of decimal (the 2 and the 5). In this case, I add 2 cents to make the grand total $25.97. When reconciling, I immediately see the 2+5=7, and know that nothing funny happened. Any small dollar tip addition stands out, the only way around “my system” is if the establishment adds an outrageous tip (multiples of 9 dollars).

It isn’t foolproof, but it works for me. Oh, the reason I said subtract above is so I don’t take the cents above 99, and cause the dollars to increment by 1… it would throw off the system.

Pretty cool application of the classic control concept of the checksum. I would actually alter this slightly to make the cents equal to the sum of the digits of the dollars. For instance, if I figured by total after tax and tip should be about $123, I would adjust my tip so that the total was $123.06. Here is the illustration of the concept:

123.06: 1 + 2 + 3 = 06

Notice how the sum of everything on the left of the decimal is equal to the number on the right of the decimal. This makes it a little easier to manage, especially when you have larger bills where the sum of the digits will be greater than 10. This will allow you to detect an obviously altered amount on your credit card statement without having to refer back to the original receipts.

For the record, I have only encountered this issue once, and that was on a Domino’s Pizza delivery. I found the discrepancy of $1 about six months after the fact, so needless to say I didn’t bother to follow up on it.

October 12, 2007 Posted by | Tips | 4 Comments

Ask me (almost) anything!

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Is there a personal finance question that you want to know the answer to, but were always afraid to ask? Well, today is your lucky day! Here is my offer to you, my loyal readers: ask me (almost) anything! Just leave your question as a comment to this post, or email your question to me at billyoceanseleven@sbcglobal.net .

Here are a few conditions to keep in mind with this offer:

1. None of the advice I provide constitutes professional advice. If you need professional advice, you shouldn’t be looking on the internet, you should be calling a qualified person in your area. However, if you just want to educate yourself, you’re in the right place.

2. I will answer most personal finance and frugality questions, unless it is something I really know nothing about. I’ll also answer off-topic questions if I find them sufficiently entertaining.

3. It may take me a few days to answer your question, so don’t be surprised if you don’t get an immediate response.

October 1, 2007 Posted by | Tips | Leave a comment

What’s in YOUR trash can?

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

I’m a big fan of shredders. I love the things. Besides the obvious benefit of keeping my personal information away from prying eyes, I find it quite therapeutic. There’s nothing like coming home from a long day at the office and shredding the day’s unimpressive credit card offers. If I had a really stressful day, I’ll find a credit card to put through the special credit card slot on my shredder just to release some tension.

Apparently my brother-in-law is not a shredder aficionado like me. I say this because as I was going to throw away something in the kitchen, I see my brother-in-law’s Chase credit card statement staring up at me. Yikes! My obsessive-compulsive personality couldn’t take it – I went and shredded it myself. If the immigrant guy who comes around each week and steals the aluminum cans out of the trash wanted he could have my brother-in-law’s name, billing address, full card number, and credit limit information. I didn’t look to see if there were the cash advance checks on the second page of the statement (there usually are), but think of the damage that could be done with those things, especially knowing what the credit limit on the account is! Most places now also require your expiration date and security code to process a transaction, but it is still rather scary.

So the question to my readers – what’s in your trash can? If you are just throwing those statements and other personal papers in the trash, it isn’t a question of if but when someone uses that information for a shopping spree. One of the best investments you can make is a good cross-cut shredder. Make sure the annoyance of bad preapproved credit offers and those cash advance checks that each of the major issuers send out on a nearly daily basis doesn’t become someone else’s quick score!

Today’s Update: Today would have been a good day to be an identify thief! Thrown in the garbage today unshredded were two pre-approved credit card offers, two credit card statements, and an IRS notice with social security number noted in three places. Is it perhaps time for an intervention like you would have for an alcoholic or crackhead?

September 27, 2007 Posted by | Tips | , | 4 Comments

Milestone – 10,000 hits! A look back

4/22/08 Update:  The FreeNEzy.com website written about in this post appears to have been sold and under new management, as documented on this recent post. While this change in ownership does not change any of the events that have occurred previously with this site (and my friend never got his reward), there is currently no evidence we are aware of that the new owner has continued any of the fraudulent practices previously associated with the site. As always, use caution when dealing with this or any other site.

Well, as of the end of the day on September 20, this blog should be up to 10,000 hits! It is quite a momentous occasion, and I appreciate all of you that have spent some time at my little rest stop on the information superhighway.

Since I started this blog, I have made over 100 posts, some more popular than others. Here’s a quick look back at some of my favorite posts, some which you may have missed.

Scams

I’ve posted about three big scams on this blog, and two have solicited comments from the scammers themselves.

The first scam posting was about Reservation Rewards. Reservation Rewards is a supposed subscription service that thousands of consumers are unknowingly enrolled in by making purchases at sites such as Chadwicks.com. The victims don’t figure out they have been enrolled until they take a closer look at their credit card statement and see the monthly recurring charges. I posted about this scam here and here, and then posted a response received from them and my rebuttal here.

The second scam I have posted about was the FreeNEzy.com scam. This is a GPT site that the owner promoted on Slickdeals.net forums under false pretenses, and then failed to deliver awards that were earned to several users. One of the users was a good friend of mine, which is why I am so interested in this particular scam. I initially posted about the scam in April on this post, and then just recently received a response from the scammer, which I posted and rebutted here.

I have also posted about the Buy.com and Connect3D rebate fiasco. Buy.com earlier this year heavily advertised several computer memory products marketed under the brand name Connect3D, all with inflated prices but large rebates which in many cases made the items free after rebate. Buy.com also promoted the items in question as being “free” after rebate. However, the rebates were to be fulfilled by the manufacturer, which has since fallen off the face of the earth. Buy.com, who apparently thinks paying for cheesy ads on cable TV is a better use of funds than taking care of existing customers by honoring the rebates IT advertised, has completely stonewalled customers seeking payment from them. This leaves thousands of consumers, including myself, out for the amount of these rebates as no one will “put their balls on the table” (sorry, inside family joke) to make the customers whole. I posted about this initially here and posted the follow-up received after complaining to the California AG’s office here.

Other favorite posts

Managing Stacks of Gift Cards – In this post I tackle the problem of managing the huge stack of gift cards that I have accumulated from gifts, work functions, and various promotional offers. Also making a cameo appearance is Hammy the Squirrel from “Over the Hedge”, which still remains one of this blogs most used search terms.

Tips to Make Sure You Get Your Rebates – I share my system for keeping up with all the mail in rebates I take advantage of. With these things, organization is key to success.

Economic Refugees from the State of Louisiana – Although probably one of the least read posts on my blog, it is still one of my favorites. I talk about how most of us originally from Louisiana living elsewhere are not refugees from Katrina but are economic refugees who fled Louisiana years ago in search of real opportunity and a decent standard of living. I also discuss how because of corrupt politics and ineffective state and local governments business is avoiding Louisiana like the plague.

Thanks again to everyone how reads this blog!

September 20, 2007 Posted by | About, Scams, Tips | Leave a comment

Who visits Slickdeals.net and Fatwallet.com? It may surprise you!

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Frequent readers of my blog know I am a big fan of Slickdeals.net and FatWallet.com. I reference deals I have found there all the time. I even did a long write-up comparing the two in the early days of this blog. But who really uses these sites? Is it just a bunch of folks scraping to get by who deal to save every penny they can?

Based on the demographic information provided by Quantcast.com, most of the audience of these sites is solid middle-class in income. Slickdeals is ranked higher than FatWallet (#3599 vs. #5533), but in most ways the demographics are very similar. The audiences of both sites skew slightly male, have more than average percentages of households with annual incomes in the $60-100k range, higher than average percentages of 25-34 and 35-44 year olds, as well as higher percentages of users with college and graduate level educations. Both sites also have much higher than average percentages of Asian users: Fatwallet at nearly three times the average and SlickDeals at nearly 3.5 times the average. You can find the profiles here and here.

This paints the picture of the average user of these sites being middle to upper-middle class, as well as relatively young and well-educated. Certainly not the type of person struggling to make ends meet. It may be surprising to many, but is consistent with the observations of the book “The Millionaire Next Door”, which illustrates that most millionaires in this country don’t flaunt their wealth and are actually more frugal than the rest of society, which helps explain how they amassed their wealth in the first place.

In case anyone is curious, this humble blog is also listed on quantcast.com as well! Based on this report, we are burning up the charts with over 2000 unique hits per month and are ranked at #684,364 overall!

September 7, 2007 Posted by | Deals, News/Trends, Tips | 10 Comments