But first, let’s clear up three stories from yesterday:


Corinne: ‘I checked on the Snopes urban legends website, and they’ve got a page about this story. It appeared in a lot of newspapers but is false.’

☞ Oh, no! Could this cast doubt on other Weekly World News scoops? You mean the Bush administration might not have planned to house the homeless in clown cars?

(Ben: ‘This story reminds me of the Seinfeld episode in which George locks his keys in his car at the Yankees (for whom he works) parking lot. He wants to wait to take advantage of a free locksmith service offered by an auto club he just joined, so he leaves his car there for several days. Steinbrenner, always seeing George’s car there, thinks he’s the first one to work in the morning and the last to leave at night, so he gives him a promotion.’)


Turns out Packer spelled his first name ‘Alferd’ (thanks, all) and, in an inspired sophomoric moment, the students at the University of Colorado named their grill after him.

(‘Named after Colorado’s most famous cannibal, the grill offers everything from salads to burgers to homestyle comfort, plus lots of grab ‘n’ go items for that quick stop between classes or meetings . . . ‘)


Chris: ‘The fine print on the Visa card does indeed say that payments go to the lowest-interest item first (i.e. the balance transfer). And there is a 3% transaction fee on balance transfers. Still, not a bad way to manage some debt (if you carry a balance on other cards). Transfer balance off a higher interest rate card onto this one and then NEVER USE IT.’

Ron Sheldon: ‘I’ve been playing this 0% interest game for over two years now, but without the balance transfer transaction fee (or, at worst, a $75 maximum fee). It started in late 2003, when I ordered on Amazon my daughter-in-law’s birthday present and saw that I would get a $35 credit/rebate if I applied for an Amazon card, which I did. About two weeks after receiving the card I got a call from the fine folks that issued the card, Chase or one of those, telling me that I could take a cash advance or make a balance transfer, $50 maximum transaction fee, and pay 0% interest for 9 or 12 months (can’t remember which). ‘Sure, give me $14,000,’ the credit limit for this card that I had applied for only to get the $35 credit/rebate. Never used the card again, but the interest-free money helped with a year’s cash flow – income taxes due, annual contributions to six grandchildren’s Coverdell Education Savings accounts, etc.

‘Come mid-2004, I started receiving mail offers from other card issuers for 0% interest for 12 months on balance transfers with no transaction fee on the transfers. Why not? I transferred the remaining balance from the Amazon card to extend 0% interest for 12 more months.

‘Come late-2004 my son and daughter-in-law asked if I could loan them $25,000 to help with adoption expenses and what interest rate I would charge them. I loaned them the money at 0% for first 12 months and 5% on remaining balance thereafter until loan was paid off.

‘About this time I received CapitalOne offer for 0% interest for 12 months, $30,000 credit limit, no transaction fees on transfers – but would have to use the card for purchases at least once a month during the first five months of the account. This became a little more complicated since I didn’t have anything close to $30,000 outstanding balances to transfer, but did receive some of those special checks they send from unused cards trying to get you to borrow, 1.99% interest with no balance transfer fee if I used the checks. Problem solved. Contacted issuer of the card that sent checks, increased credit limit to $30,000, and used a check to establish a balance to transfer to CapitalOne. As soon as check hit the credit card account, I transferred balance to CapitalOne, paying the issuer about $4 in interest until transfer completed.

‘To meet CapitalOne requirement to use their card at least once a month during the first five months, I’d buy/charge a coffee on the card each month after receiving a monthly statement. Thank heaven for 7-Eleven for taking credit cards for a $1.29 coffee and CapitalOne minimum $0.50 monthly interest on these major purchases.

‘Son and daughter-in-law made monthly payments to me at amount exceeding CapitalOne monthly payment minimum and repaid the $25,000 loan in a lump sum after 10 months.

‘So, then came along Bank of NY about mid-2005 with 0% on balance transfers for 12 months with no transaction fee or monthly purchase requirement. Not knowing at that time that my son would pay off the loan as soon as he did, I transferred about $22,000 of the CapitalOnebalance to Bank of NY card so I could offer to extend my 0% rate to son until this June.

‘Now that son has repaid loan, the money sits in money market account with current APY of about 4.45%, waiting to pay off my 0% loan if I can’t roll it over.’

☞ In America, the streets are truly paved with gold.

But are we losing our way?


If you have broadband, click here (and watch Boston Legal on Tuesday nights on ABC at 10pm). If you dial up, the audio might be more practical – but, really, I think you just have to take the time to load the video.

You may not agree with it all, but it’s a point of view we all owe it to ourselves to consider.


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