Update June 22 — The Schwab card is no longer available.
Chase vs. Schwab
Chase Freedom Plus vs. Schwab Invest First
For the last year my wife and I have been using the Chase Freedom Plus. It gives you 3% cash back in the top 6 categories for each billing cycle and 1% everywhere else. Save up to $200 in rewards and you get an extra $50 bonus! Not bad right? When Charles Schwab came out with the Schwab Invest First (flat 2% cash back at the end of every billing cycle) card I wondered which would fare better. Finally ran the numbers of my actual spending on the Chase card against the flat 2% I would have gotten back with Schwab:
|Month||Chase Freedom Plus % back||Schwab Invest First % back|
Ouch! 1.32%?! I figured I would at least be getting 2%. What happened? Well, it turns out that I should be getting closer to 2% but Chase doesn’t classify the categories correctly for many stores. For example: One of our biggest expenses is groceries but Chase doesn’t include Trader Joe’s or Stater Brothers in the “grocery” category. They’re in the “other” category which always pays 1% cash back. We made several large home improvement purchases on the Chase card in April when we bought the house but none of it went towards a category!
I suppose your results will vary depending on where you spend your money. It may not be the best for everyone, but with our spending habits we’ll get an extra %0.68 by switching to Schwab.
Schwab also has the advantage of paying you back each billing cycle meaning you have immediate access to the cash rebate and instantly start earning interest on it.
A few other differences:
|Feature||Chase Freedom Plus||Schwab Invest First|
|Rebate Availability||Wait until $200 accrued||At end of billing cycle|
|Quicken||Transactions available as they clear||Transactions available at end of billing cycle|
|Foreign Transactions||3% Fee||No fees|
|Spending Limit||No limit||No limit|
Applewood Smoked Bacon, Eggs, Pancakes, Butter, Maple Syrup, Orange Juice, Apple Sauce, and Coffee.
You can’t beat that. Thanks Kris!
2007 Mazda3 Costs
2007 Mazda3 36 month costs (May 23, 2007 to May 30, 2010)1
|New car tax||1,274||nil||nil||425||1,274|
|Jury Duty parking ticket||14||nil||nil||5||14|
|Cost per mile||$0.37||$0.51||$0.49||$0.43||$0.43|
2003 Honda-CRV 12 month costs (June 8 2009 to May 30, 2010)
Starting miles: 77810
Ending miles: 83500
|Cost per mile||$.74|
Total cost of ownership for the 1993 Ford Taurus SHO (64 months, 2002-2007). (bought used)
|Cost per mile||$0.87|
I could have sold my car for more than I bought it for. However, I expect depreciation to be much higher in the future. Depreciation calculated from KBB. Update June 11, 2010. I was right, depreciation actually increased as the car has aged. I expect among the 4th-5th year that trend should start to reverse and my depreciation expense will be lower.
You may be wondering why I haven’t posted in awhile. Well, Kris and I bought a house!
a lot of work. So far J&K Drywall fixed a lot of the drywall, hammered up the entryway, repainted the interior, and suggested some additions to the back. Dad, Kris and I laid tile (it’s still not done), Carpet Masters put in new carpet. I converted the geysers to sprinklers and I’m slowly trying to migrate to drip irrigation. Jason got our water pressure down to reasonable levels. Lately I’ve been spending the evenings spraying ants.
A few before and after shots…
And the ants have invaded our house from four different locations! I can’t figure out what they’re after, we’ll just see them swarming the coffee table, the tiled floor, etc.
I’m considering a “home and garden” category.
After reading the chapter on taxonomy governance in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 Best Practices by Ben Curry and Bill English, I started thinking about my own personal taxonomy.
Taxonomy is a division into groups or categories.1 A good example is a Library’s Dewey Decimal Classification. Tagging has become a popular means of classification in blogging and photo sharing communities. But what about the documents on my computer?
Most people keep their documents in folders. They will have a folder for each client, a folder for each class at school. Some people keep a hierarchy. An English paper is under Education -> CSUSB -> 2001 -> English -> 301. This hierarchy is how I stored my files and what also got me in trouble when I started to realize that files belonged in multiple places because it makes sense for them to be in several areas: If my brother wrote a paper on Conditional Election, should I file it under Family -> Essays -> Jon, or Religion -> Christianity -> Essays, or Religion -> Essays -> Christianity. You can see that Essays doesn’t belong under Family or Christianity and the hierarchy (in this case) is meaningless.
Metadata filesystem tagging is supposed to solve this problem.2 Instead of placing the files in folders, the theory of metadata correctly realizes that we aren’t storing hierarchical information, but descriptive data. We’re simply trying to describe the contents of a file. So I could tag the paper, “Essay, Christianity, Religion, Family. This does two things: 1) It doesn’t matter how many “tags” are given to an object (or document). The object is not duplicated. And 2) categorically searching for files is easy. This is how I’ve been organizing files the last few years.
This is a great theory, but in practice, it has failed me. First, in order for filesystem metadata to work one has to be disciplined to do it to every file. This takes time. Lots of time. Second, there are quite a few flaws in the implementation: The first I blame on Apple’s implementation because the metadata isn’t stored in the objects themselves so most backup solutions don’t back up the metadata. The second problem is tag creep. I have too many tags and I forget which ones I’ve used so I have a “money” and a “finance” tag, a “car” and an “auto” tag. If I had spent the time to develop a taxonomy this wouldn’t be an issue, but I didn’t. The thought didn’t cross my mind. Now I have a mess of inconsistent tags, half my files aren’t tagged because I don’t have time to tag them, and I’m not motivated to do so because I know when my hard drive crashes and I have to restore from backups I’ve lost all my metadata and I would have to start over.
So what do I do now? Well, now I just keep everything in the documents folder, and store any “tags” in the filename and have a workflow that pre-pends the date to the filename. I do have some high level folders that pertain more to how I got the file (or the content type) than the logical content. For example, if I scan a statement from my Schwab account it would go under the Documents -> Scan folder as “20080928 schwab statement”. I know it’s a mess but if I have to restore from backup I’ve retained the metadata in the filename.
I think tagging would be more maintainable if I developed a personal high level taxonomy (sort of a micro level taxonomy governance) instead of allowing arbitrary tag names. To see what I mean, this is how I’ve been classifying files (low level): Christianity, Automobile, Schwab, Lisp, Car, Essay, Recipe. But this is how I should classify files (high level): I would create a list of (no more than 10) high level tags like, “Religion, Transportation, Finance, Knowledge” that would have enough foresight to cover all topics and areas in the future (much like Dewey).
But who has time to do that?
I don’t. So my files are a mess, and they will stay that way. But the important thing is I know how they should be organized.