V.me by Visa

Visa has joined the digital wallet game, joining PayPal, PayPass, and Google Wallet, with V.me by Visa. To be clear, you do NOT need a Visa card to use V.me; your V.me account can store Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover cards. Visa has said that they have signed with over 50 financial institutions, combining to service over 55 million people. Online merchants, such as 1-800-Flowers are also on board with V.me.

Unlike Google Wallet, though, V.me is only for online payments made through your computer, tablet, or mobile phone. In the future, V.me plans to allow you to pay via mobile phone in stores, give you customized deals, and help you create a budge and track spending.

Get Social Security Statement Online

Ever since Social Security Administration (SSA) stopped mailing out annual Security Security statements last year (March 2011), the only way to get it was going to your local SSA office.  Definitely not easy or practical for someone living far from an office.

This year the SSA agency resumed mailing them to people once they reach 60, but younger workers were left out. In response to peoples’ complaints, Social Security created an online portal where taxpayers can create an account and view their social security statement online.  It’s relatively painless and the whole process takes about 3-4 minutes.  You need to create an account and answer some public database questions and you’re good to go.

Click here to create and view your Social Security Statement.

2012 Bank Holidays

The following table are the bank holidays in the US for 2012.  Most major banks and local banks follow the Federal public holidays.  There are some exceptions like Commerce Bank/TD Bank where they are open for customers’ convenience.

Monday, January 2, 2012 New Year’s Day
Monday, January 16, 2012 Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Monday, February 20, 2012 Washington’s Birthday
Monday, May 28, 2012 Memorial Day
Wednesday, July 4, 2012 Independence Day
Monday, September 3, 2012 Labor Day
Monday, October 8, 2012 Columbus Day
Monday, November 12, 2012 Veterans Day
Thursday, November 22, 2012 Thanksgiving Day
Tuesday, December 25, 2012 Christmas Day

Facebook IPO today – May 18, 2012

The biggest social media network, Facebook, is going public today.  Facebook IPO is breaking all sorts of records from the most volume for a new IPO to the biggest IPO for a tech company.  It is the second biggest IPO ever in the US after Visa.

The stock symbol for Facebook will be FB.  It is priced at $38 and went as high as $42 before touching back to the initial price.  Do you think it will fare better than some of the recent IPOs like LinkedIn and Groupon?

2011 4th Quarter Estimated Tax due on January 16, 2012

The last estimated tax payment (4th Quarter – October 2011-December 2011) for 2011 is due on January 15, 2012.  Make sure to have your payment postmark before January 16, 2012 (Monday) or else you will have to payment penalties to IRS.

Estimated tax is the method used to pay tax on income that is not subject to withholding. This includes income from self-employment, interest, dividends, alimony, rent, gains from the sale of assets, prizes and awards. You also may have to pay estimated tax if the amount of income tax being withheld from your salary, pension, or other income is not enough.

Estimated tax is used to pay income tax and self-employment tax, as well as other taxes and amounts reported on your tax return. If you do not pay enough through withholding or estimated tax payments, you may be charged a penalty. If you do not pay enough by the due date of each payment period you may be charged a penalty even if you are due a refund when you file your tax return.

New Citibank Thank You Rewards Program

Citibank instituted a new rewards program for their Citibank checking program.    For the most part, the new rewards program requires 1 Direct Payment and 1 Bill Payment.  Previously, if you had the Citibank you Account you could have earned a maximum of 800 Thank You points per month if you have 7 or more qualifying products or services.  If you had a Citigold account, you could have earned a maximum of 1200 Thank You points.

With the new system, Citibank Account customers can earn up to 1350 Thank You points per month.  Citigold customers can earn up to 2100 Thank You points.  Getting the maximum 2100 monthly points is out of reach for most people as you need to have mortgage and home equity line with Citibank.  The new system became effective as of December 11, 2011.

For more information contact your local Citibank branch or visit this link.

2010 Federal Tax Return Extension is Due on October 17, 2011

For those who file a tax extension for 2010 Income Tax, the deadline is fast approaching.  You have until October 17, 2011 (Monday) to postmark your tax return to IRS and State Tax agencies.

IRS Logo

Remember, an extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. You should have estimated your tax liability when you filed Form 4868 and pay any balance due when you request the extension.

US Unemployment Rate Tops 9.8% in September 2009

The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent in September 2009, the highest since June 1983, as employers cut far more jobs than expected.  The Labor Department said Friday that the economy lost a net total of 263,000 jobs last month.  Over 500,000 unemployed Americans gave up looking for work.  Had they continued searching, the official jobless rate would have been much higher.


Bank of America Revises Bank Fees

Staring this October 19, Bank of America will allow current customers to turn off the ability to spend when their account hits zero thus eliminating overdraft fees.  Next June, the bank plans to limit the number of times each year that current customers can overdraw their accounts when using a debit card at a store.  Bank of America will also allow new customers choose whether they want overdraft protection when they are opening their account.


Chase Bank Cutting Overdraft Fees

JPMorgan Chase, the parent company of Chase Bank, just announced it will be eliminating some overdraft fees altogether and trimming other fees.  Chase Bank will stop charging fees when accounts are overdrawn by less than $5. Chase’s overdraft fees are $25 for the first fee each year, $32 for the next four and $35 after that.  Chase will also cap the number of overdraft fees it charges a day to three.


Average Mortgage Rates for September 2009

The average mortgage rates in US Metro areas for September 2009.  The mortgage rates are near all-time lows.  With housing market somewhat stabalizing, $8,000 first time home buyer credit and low mortgage rates, now might be a good time to buy a home for those who qualified.

Average mortgage rates and points in the top 10 markets
Fixed 15-year Fixed 30-year 5-year ARM
Market Rate Points Rate Points Rate Points
New York Metro 4.73 0.30 5.45 0.36 5.29 0.20
Los Angeles 5.21 0.06 5.71 0.08 4.84 0.28
Chicago 4.80 0.15 5.40 0.13 5.06 0.18
San Francisco 4.84 0.08 5.43 0.22 4.52 0.33
Philadelphia 4.70 0.13 5.44 0.27 5.20 0.36
Detroit 4.72 0.28 5.32 0.34 5.09 0.10
Boston 4.64 0.10 5.34 0.10 4.68 0.06
Houston 4.59 0.47 5.44 0.34 5.13 0.13
Dallas 4.65 0.44 5.36 0.38 5.06 0.69
DC Metro 4.47 0.61 5.23 0.52 4.38 0.71
Brm National Index 4.74 0.25 5.41 0.27 4.94 0.32
Average mortgage rates and points as of survey date 9/4/2009. Source: Bankrate

American Express and Discover to Eliminate Overdraft Fees


Starting October 2009, American Express and Discover will eliminate the over the limit fee.  This move comes 6 months ahead of the new credit card rules that would eliminate such overdraft fees.  More companies are expected to follow suit.  Ironically, American Express announced today they will increase the purchase APR for some borrowers.

New Credit Card Fees – Be Careful

As the new credit card laws goes into law next year reducing the revenues for major banks and credit card companies, more companies are looking for creative ways to add fees to cardholders.   Fifth Third Bank (53 Bank) began charging a $19 fee if cardholders have no account activity in the last 12-months.


Chase has introduced $30 annual fee for its popular Freedom credit cards for certain cardholders.  Citibank has quietly rolled out a policy where certain credit card borrowers who pay late are subject to “reinstatement fee” to be able to redeem accumulated points for rewards. The fee is set to $0 as Citibank is laying out the foundation to charge cardholders in the futures.

Credit Union Customers hit with Overdraft Fees

Big national banks are known to hit customers with overdraft fees, bounce checks, ATM Charges and late penalty charges.  In 2008, banks collected over $35 BILLION dollars just from overdraft fees.  Now Credit Unions are getting into the act.


Traditionally credit unions offer lower fees and better support for its member.   But with dwindling revenues, more credit unions are getting creative in generating more revenues from their customers.   Last year the credit unions earned $6.6 billion in overdraft income nearly one-fifth of the $36.7 billion earned in all financial institutions, according to Moebs Service report.

Another 5 Banks Shutdown – Total 69 Banks Closed in 2009


FDIC announced another 5 bank failures on July 31, 2009.  We still have 5 months to go in 2009 and already 69 banks have failed.  At this pace, total bank failures will reach pass 100 banks this year

Bank Name Amount of Asset Closing Date
First State Bank, Altus, OK $103 Million July 31, 2009
Integrity Bank, Jupiter, FL $119 Million July 31, 2009
Peoples Community Bank, West Chester, OH $705 Million July 31, 2009
First Bank Americano, Elizabeth, NJ $166 Million July 31, 2009
Mutual Bank, Harvey, IL $1.6 Billion July 31, 2009

New Federal Minimum Wage 2009 Going Up to $7.25 per hour

The new federal minimum wage was increased to $7.25 per hour effective as of July 24, 2009.  The change reflects the third and final installment federal minimum wage increase as amended under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).


Most States follow the federal minimum wage with few exceptions .  California ($8.00), Washington DC ($8.25), Illinois ($8.00), Massachusetts ($8,00) and Washington ($8.55) all have State minimum wages higher than the federal.

Alabama, Georgia, Nevada, Wisconsin and Wymoning have no minimum wages or set below the Federal minimum wage guideline.