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Posts about Financial Planners

Maybe the best freebie of 2013 happens Saturday in St. Paul

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: October 4, 2013 - 10:22 AM

It may be the best deal that you encounter all year.

In today's business section, I write about a free financial planning event happening at the Wilder Center in St. Paul Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The vast majority of Americans (79 percent) do not currently work with a financial planner, according to a Franklin Templeton survey in 2012. But nearly half of Americans not working with an advisor said that they would consider it.

What's holding them back? It's often too little or too much money. Some people who make big bucks manage it poorly and are too embarrassed to admit it to a professional. Those having difficulty making ends meet may think any attempt to save is futile.

Organizers at the event say that there is no situation that they won't try to help and they'll do it free. They can't magically fund a college savings plan or erase someone's $50,000 in credit card debt, but resources there can take the first step toward such a goal.

In addition to certified financial planners offering free one-on-one advice sessions, there will also be representatives from Habitat for Humanity, Neighborhood House, Family Means, AccountAbility MN, Goodwill Easter Seals, and the City of St. Paul mortgage foreclosure dept.

For more details, click on the link above. If you want help with refinancing, budgeting, retirement savings or choosing between a Roth 401(k) or a regular 401(k), no question is too small. Take a step to clean out the cobwebs from your financial house. 

And let me know if you don't find it worthwhile, but I think you will. I'll be there too.

Wells Fargo offers a freebie, not a fee-bie: Free credit score, report

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: March 22, 2012 - 7:55 AM

Large consumer banks are often known for "nickel and dime" fees on personal accounts, especially checking. So it's a pleasant surprise when Wells Fargo, which recently added a $7 monthly fee on customers' checking accounts in six Western states, offered Minnesotans a free credit report and credit score.

Okay, the free credit report is no big deal because we're entitled to a new one annually anyway at Annual Credit Report.  The real perk here is the free credit score, which is not included as a freebie in Annual Credit Report. It normally costs $12 to $20.

To take advantage of this offer, you have to go to Wells branch and pick up a brochure with an access code in it. Then  go to the Wells Fargo site, plug in the access code and a bunch of personal info such as SSN and birthdate, and you'll get the report and the score. I was never asked for a Wells Fargo account number at the bank or online. That makes me wonder if this offer is open to anyone, not just WF customers. The promotional materials say, however, that the offer is open only to Wells Fargo customers.


If you aren't sure how to interpret your credit score, here's a helpful explanation. A credit score above 700 is more important than ever. Insurance companies, mortgage lenders, housing rental agencies, and potential employers now use credit scores routinely.The score in this offer is from Experian VantageScore, which range from 300 to 850.


The offer is good through April 15 in select areas, including Minnesota.


Citicard delivers $500 bonus, as promised

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: February 28, 2012 - 4:09 PM

In January  I blogged about a credit card offer from Citicard that I couldn't refuse: Spend $3,000 in 90 days and get a $500 bonus. In cash, not merchandise credit. I called Citicard trying to uncover the fine print, but they assured me that I would get a $500 check if I spent the $3,000 in 90 days on the no-annual-fee card.


Last week I hit the $3,000 mark, thanks in part to a small remodeling project. I called Citi customer service and asked to have the check sent. The rep surprised me by congratulating me and saying she would order the check right away. Even though I have not even paid the full $3,000 yet, my check arrived yesterday.


Kudos to Citibank for offering a generous bonus without any strings attached. It's a no-annual fee card and the interest rate was a reasonable 16.99 percent, even though I will pay off the balance in full.

I'm sorry to say that the offer expired in December, but check some of the other offers at Spokeswoman Beverly Harzog recommended several cards that are still available including a Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit card which gives you 50,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 within the first three months. The points can be redeemed for a $500 check or $625 toward travel expenses. But it has a $95 annual fee but is free the first year.

 Harzog also mentioned several $200 cash back offers going on now. Chase Freedom Visa the $200 back if you spend $500 in the first three months. A Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa card offers the same deal.  One caveat: You have to have really good credit to qualify. A score of 700 minimum and maybe even over 760 in some cases, said Harzog.


Free and low-cost resources for couples with money issues

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: February 10, 2012 - 4:06 PM



In Saturday's article about couples finding a way to talk money, I mentioned ways that couples can start the discussion. But if you want to explore the issue even further, here are some resources to prime the pump.


Books: “For Richer, Not Poorer: The Money Book for Couples” by Ruth Hayden ($14) is available online and at her website.

“First Comes Love, Then Comes Money: A Couple’s Guide to Financial Communication” ($14) by Bethany and Scott Palmer.


Free or nearly free tips: Moneyworkbook includes a free online test for determining each of your money personalities.

For Love and Money: 150 Financial Tips for Couples by Kathleen Gurney and Ginita Wall ($5). Questions for couples while dating, living together, newlyweds, starting a family, relationship skills for financial success and remarriage. Download tips here

Go here for free quizzes on money personality, financial relationships and questions for dating or engaged couples.


: Hayden also offers classes for a fee for couples held on the St. Catherine’s campus in St. Paul. Sign up at her website. The popular classes are filled until the summer sessions.


Non-profit debt counselors: LSS Financial Counseling in Minneapolis, St. Louis Park and St. Paul (1-888-577-2227) or Family Means (651-789-4014) in Stillwater, Minneapolis and Minnetonka.


Local classes

Credit card offer: Spend $3K and get a $500 cash bonus. Good deal?

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: January 13, 2012 - 3:06 PM


Fifteen  years ago frugalistas used to switch long distance carriers willy nilly when offered $50 or $75 to switch. It was a bit of a hassle but hey, it was 50 bucks. More recently, banks such as TCF have been enticing new customers by offering something a lot better than a waffle iron--$100. There a few hoops to go through such as buying checks and maybe even signing up for direct deposit, but generally the most onerous part is the 30 minutes it takes to open the account.


In early December Citibank sent me an offer I thought was too good to be true. Sign up for a no-annual-fee Citi Dividend World Mastercard and get a $500 cash back bonus if the cardholder spends $3,000 in the three months after application. I scoured the fine print looking for a catch and found none. There are other perks too including 5 percent back on purchases that change quarterly. One percent back on all other purchases.


Can I spend $3K in the next 90 days? Who couldn't? The trick is to do it without buying unncecessary stuff.  I'm now charging nearly everything on the card, even the measly $10 purchases and doctor visits. I'm not willing to charge stuff under $10 yet. It makes me feel a bit pathetic charging $2.09 at Taco John's on Tuesdays when three crispy tacos are 69 cents each plus tax.  

If I can't charge $3K by the end of March, there is a Plan B: Charge the first half of my property taxes to Hennepin County. Anyone can charge their property taxes, but there is a handling fee which will cost me about $80 I think. If the

property taxes put me over $3,000 and I get a check for $500, I still net $420. I'm happy.


In case you're wondering, the interest rate on the account is 16.99, but since I plan to pay off the balance each month, it's not something I seriously considered.

So how good is this deal? I think it's a great one, but it's premature to celebrate. I don't have my $500 check yet. I'll keep you updated on my spending and the rewards.

Beverly Herzog, a credit expert at said that the offer I received is no longer available, but she found several others. A Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit card gives you 50,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 within the first three months. The points can be redeemed for a $500 check or $625 toward travel expenses. But it has a $95 annual fee, free the first year.

Herzog also mentioned several $200 cash back offers going on now. Chase Freedom Visa the $200 back if you spend $500 in the first three months. A Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa card offers the same deal.  One caveat: You have to have really good credit to qualify. A score of 700 minimum and maybe even over 760 in some cases, said Herzog.

This is the best offer I've ever gotten from a credit card. I think it's a slam dunk deal. I'll let you know if it all works out. Would you accept such an offer if it showed up in your mailbox?



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