September 2017: Banks, Credit Cards and Digital Storage

As we get closer to GERD (Grumby Early Retirement Day), we decided to switch both bank accounts and credit cards. We also got a great 1-year deal on digital storage. The countdown is on, and it is important to make sure that each month tells a tale of efficiency and progress. To see how our September decisions might help you, keep reading!

 

Bank Account Switch

Which is better – free cookies or a great interest rate on your savings account?

For the past 10 years or so, we’ve been using a local bank that refers to itself as “The World’s Greatest Bank“. They did often have free coffee and cookies in the lobby and displays of local artwork, but the interest rate on our savings account was .01%. If we needed cash, we could only use their ATM machines, and the fee at any other machine was $3.00. That’s a 15% hit on a $20 withdrawal! These deficiencies are increasingly important with GERD on the horizon. We are building a higher savings account balance as part of our exit strategy. And when we’re riding our bikes through small towns, we’ll need to stop at ATMs from time to time.

We found an online bank that offers both a great savings account interest rate and ATM fee reimbursement. There is no minimum savings account balance and the interest rate is more than 1%! If we need cash when we’re riding through Nebraska City, we can use any ATM machine up to 6 times/month and receive reimbursement for the fees.

When we’re ready to officially close our old accounts, we’ll stop by the neighborhood branch. Gotta get one last peanut butter cookie!

 

 

Credit Cards

Credit Cards are also an important consideration in our early retirement plan. In January we signed up for a card that offered 100,000 rewards points in exchange for a $225 membership fee and a commitment to spend $4,000 in 3 months. We front-loaded most of our 2017 charitable contributions to quickly meet the spending requirement and have accumulated another 21,000 points over the past 9 months.

Our renewal date is coming up and we decided we definitely do not want to continue with a card that has an annual fee. Our planned spend for the first year will not bring in enough reward points to justify any fees. Rather than try to figure out ways to creatively use all of our current points in the next 3 months, we are going to take the cash value – $1,200. Deducting the $225 fee, this represents a 6% reduction on our total 9-month spend. Not too shabby.

Our replacement card has no annual fee, offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases, and $150 cash if we spend $500 in 3 months (no problem). It also has the level of rental car insurance coverage we need for the rare occasions that we need to a car. Being a zero-car household, we do not have our own car insurance so this is an essential feature for us.

 

Digital Storage

Maybe this is what “the cloud” really looks like?

When we retire we’re not only going to have zero cars; we’re also going to have zero real estate. As full-time bicycle tourists, the only way we’ll be able to access our digital files from the road is to have a nice storage area on “the cloud”. As the resident luddite of the Grumby household, this just sounds like a bunch of hocus-pocus to me. I mean, a cloud is just a bunch of vaporized h2o, right? How could it possibly hold any zeros and ones?

Thankfully The Great Mr. Grumby is a technical wizard of sorts and found a great deal at iDrive. As former customers of CrashPlan we will have 2 terabytes (that’s a lot of bytes!) of data for $7 for the first year. After that, it will go up to $69/year. This means that we have enough space to become digital hoarders if we want to. When we’re on the road we’ll be able to upload thousands of photos through the iDrive app!

 

How Can Our September Decisions Help You?

Whether your savings account balance is large or small, find out how much interest you are earning. If it’s lower than 1%, maybe it’s time to change banks.

 

If you never carry a credit card balance, always pay on time, and don’t buy shit you don’t need, you are a Master of the Credit Card Game! Find a card that pays you to spend your money wisely. Check out the Mad Fientist search tool. Or, if you’re interested in travel hacking, take a peek at Travel Miles 101.

 

Being a full-time traveler is not a prerequisite for getting your digital files in order. If you do not yet have offsite backup for your important files (photos, etc.), they may all vanish when your computer crashes or gets stolen. Or when your home and belongings are damaged by a natural disaster.

 

Other Great Deals?

What benefits have you received from your credit card company?

If you use a card with mileage or reward point benefits, is the cash value equal to or greater than 1.5%?

 

 

 

 

  9 Replies to “September 2017: Banks, Credit Cards and Digital Storage”

  1. Kathleen
    October 1, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    you Guys are such an inspiration. thanks for keeping us in the loop! Super smart to check the savings rate… I cringe to think how low mine is.

    • Mrs. Grumby
      October 2, 2017 at 8:12 am

      Thanks Kathleen! It was pretty easy to switch banks, so if you find that your current rate is too low it’s worth the time to make the change. :o)

      • Kathleen Mattson
        October 2, 2017 at 10:07 am

        I got an Ing Orange account ages ago (they later were bought/merged/whatever with Capital One) because it has a higher interest rate. I automatically xfer $1500 per month into savings — $500 into each of my 3 savings accounts. Inspired by your blog post I looked at the numbers: my two WF accounts earn .03% interest, but my Orange account earns .75%. So just by changing which savings account I use, I’ve made a big difference.

        There are SO MANY things I need to… it feels good to have taken this step. Thanks for motivating me to do that!

        • Mrs. Grumby
          October 3, 2017 at 7:11 am

          That’s great! Glad you already had one account with a higher rate. Every little step you take adds up to big number.

          Thanks for your comments!

  2. October 6, 2017 at 6:07 am

    Great post, Mrs. G. And great advice. We’ve been with Bank of America for 11 years now, and we know we can get a better deal. The same goes for our credit cards. Haven’t investigated cloud storage yet. Since we hope to travel for four or five months out the year, it’s probably time we put this on our radar. Also, I’m curious about what the Grumbies are going to do for an internet connection while on the road. Will you guys purchase a hotspot? Let me know when you get a chance. And give my regards to the birthday boy. Libras are amazing people. You got lucky corralling him.

    • Mrs. Grumby
      October 6, 2017 at 8:58 pm

      Mr. Groovy! Happy belated birthday to you. Mrs. Groovy and I are definitely lucky to have such outstanding spousal citizens as you and the other Mr. G.

      The Grumby internet plan du jour is to use wifi at libraries and cafes whenever possible, and to otherwise use one of our mobile phones as a hotspot. Right now Mr. G. is looking at a T-Mobile plan that would give us 2 lines and unlimited everything for $60/month. This plan is available to customers who are 55 years old or better.

      Look forward to hearing more about the Groovy travel plans. That’s so great that you enjoyed your trip to MT and that you were able to spend time with Jillian and the fam. We’ll take a look at your Trash Talk with Ms. Montana video this weekend.

      Thanks for stopping by. Mr Grumby thanks you for the birthday wishes. :o)

      • October 7, 2017 at 6:32 am

        So cool, Mrs. G. Yes you and I are dang lucky!

        We’re certainly “better than 55” to get that T-Mobile deal. I’ve never looked at anything other than Verizon since that is the best for our home location. But it’s something to think about as we travel more and $60/month is pretty good for unlimited everything. I know there’s way cheaper, too, but I don’t want to mess with keeping track of usage due to limits, or dropping calls.

        When you drive do you use your phone for maps? We ended up renting the GPS on our trip which seems like a sucker move. Except our old Garmin no longer updates maps and our phone batteries drain like crazy using maps. Still, with renting at an airport for 11 days, including GPS and all the airport taxes we got a good deal at under $450 with Budget.

        • Mrs. Grumby
          October 7, 2017 at 9:40 am

          Hi Mrs. Groovy,
          Mr. Grumby here. We use our cellphones and a USB charger and Google Maps for road trips in the car. It’s not perfect but our old Garmin Was difficult to keep updated. On the bikes we will use an old iPhone and an app called RidewithGPS. It works well for cycling but not sure it would be as good for driving.
          The cell coverage issue will be interesting to watch. The competition has gotten fierce lately, which is good for customers, and I hope there are even better deals in a few months. I am in a free unlimited plan with Sprint through July of next year. Well, it’s $3.21 per month for taxes, but unlimited data and everything is otherwise free. Coverage is good here in Oregon but not sure how it is elsewhere. One thing that intrigues me about the T Mobile deal is their coverage is supposedly almost as good as Verizon, but a lot cheaper. Remains to be seen I guess.

          Hopefully we will have a chance to meet you on the road somewhere or when we get to the East coast on our bikes next fall or winter. We’d love to help eradicate the trash with you guys.
          Thanks for reading.

        • Mrs. Grumby
          October 7, 2017 at 9:44 am

          Hi Mrs G,

          The real Mrs. Grumby here this time. $450 for 11 days including GPS and airport tax is a great deal! Who did you go through to rent?

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