Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Credit card tricks: Auto pay in full

Here's some information more people need to know about:

You CAN set up automatic credit card payments that pay your ENTIRE credit card balance.

The HOW TO is below....

I was ready to drop my credit card company because their website's only automatic monthly payment option was for the minimum payment. I wanted to pay the full balance automatically. I had called my credit company numerous times, asking if an automatic "pay in full" website option was available. Their response was, "No, but that is a frequent request."

I did some web research and found out that my credit card company DID have an automatic "pay in full" service all along but they simply didn't offer it online. Not once did the credit card company offer this service over the phone when I called to ask about the online payments, but that's another story.

How do you do set up automatic payments in full?
Some credit cards offer this option on their payment pages. If yours doesn't, call your credit card company and ask for them to send you an automatic "pay in full" form in the snail mail. The form (I haven't received it yet) according to other folks on the web, requires you to attach a voided check.

Research before you sign
I have learned that the "automatic payment in full" option may cost money. Fortunately, my credit card offers this free, as a "courtesy service."

Why do the credit card companies make this information so difficult to find out?
Credit card companies make money off of missed payments and partial payments. They don't want to make it easy for you to automatically pay off your credit card each month. Then, more people would do this and they'd lose revenue.

Where did you find out about this?
First, I found this blog post where someone discusses the same situation. Then, I found this discussion on FatWallet.com.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Overhead Lighting: What's next in artisan-inspired home furnishings

I'm convinced that the big thing in home furnishings is (you read it here first) OVERHEAD LIGHTING.

Hipsters of the '00's agonize over their Benjamin Moore choice, spend hours on the DWR website and even source switchplates for their room makeovers, but when it comes to lighting, the s.o.p. is to grab some Target floor/table lamps and not to turn on the overhead. EVER.

Shoot, even design*sponge talks about their crappy ceiling fixture.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of way cool lights out there, but...

1. $ - Really hip lighting is expensive (just check out this other design*sponge post)
2. Installation - Painting is easy. Electricity can scare novices.
3. $ again = Most non-designer lighting flower hell
4. DIY - Fewer people have the guts to attempt to make their own milk bottle chandelier

So, my prediction is that, starting in '08, a few boutique houses and artists will begin offering great overhead lighting for decent prices AND the figurative lightbulb will literally appear overhead for middle to high-income 20- and 30-somethings.

Here's to wishful thinking!


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Apartment Therapy overload

Apartment Therapy, I love you and I hate you. You are my new HGTV, and, damn it, I like it. We don't have cable TV anymore, so I've started spending time with you, an edgier, quickly-updated home improvement timesucker.

You are far more time consuming than HGTV ever was, damn you, with your archives and links and photo galleries. When that fabulous House Hunters show was over, I'd just turn off the TV. But you, Apartment Therapy, you force me to click-click-click night after night, while the guy who sleeps on the other side of the bed has to suffer with his a pillow over his head.

You first sounded your siren song while I was down. I should have known enough to turn away quickly, but alas it was love at first sight. I was frustrated about the living room, how it was so long and so narrow and we had too much furniture...Oh, you've heard it all before.

You've taught me so many terms, given me virtual tours of so many houses, shown me that I truly am an incompetent interior decorator. And, for that, I am grateful.

So, as an homage to you, I have created something that is quite familiar with your genre - a list. A list! On the internet? Why, yes.

So, without further ado, a list I could have only put together after guidance from a wise teacher: Apartment Therapy...

Liz's list of annoying interior touches:

1. Chalkboard paint - It's so '96
2. Anything from DWR (Yes, we do own a set of lime green DWR armchairs but we did procure them at the warehouse sale tres cheap.)
3. Anything from IKEA
4. Those damn annoying (Well...I DO like the Keith Haring Blik ones) wall stickers - They're Holly Hobby wallpaper borders of the 2000's.
5. How IKEA chic has TOTALLY replaced Pottery Barn chic.
6. Clustered photographs on a wall (Silly me, I actually want to do this in our house)
7. Subway tile and built-in floor-to-ceiling shelving (Who am I kidding? i LOVE subway tile and built-ins)

And, while I'm on a roll

What I do like about Apartment Therapy:

1. Everything, even everything on the aforementioned "annoying interior touches" list
2. AT's love of small spaces, simplicity and/or sensory overload
3. The fabulous slideshows
4. The term BoMo - bohemian modern. This is the look I am still hoping to recreate in the guest bedroom...someday.
5. How AT allows me to live vicariously. I don't really need to spend hour upon hour leafing through the CB2 catalogue, soaking up design*sponge, attending flea markets and going trash picking when I can just spend time admiring the finished products on AT.
6. How it inspires me to fix up my place, which, after two years, doesn't feel as put together as our first home should. Perhaps AT's editors would find the moving box that's used as a coffee table in our guest bedroom to be a charming touch. I'll call the style BoNo: moving box nouveau.


Friday, December 28, 2007

2008 trends

2005 was the year of prefab hipster materialism (vespas and IKEA)
2006 was the year of shop local
2007 was the year of buy handmade
2008 will be the year of collaborative crafts

Monday, November 26, 2007

Google checkout is AWESOME (from the purchaser's perspective)

My first experience with Google checkout was awesome. I bought a print from BlueFlipArt, which, I think, I found on Dooce's links list. (I haven't been able to find Dooce's links list since she redesigned.)

The process was TOO easy. I somehow - and this is the scary part - I don't remember when - I put my credit card info into GoogleCheckout. So, I picked the print I wanted (this one, in case you're wondering) and I clicked buy. The page changed to show me a total and to say that it was going to use my card with card number x and I clicked ok (or buy, or something like that.)

This reminds me of Amazon's 1-click shopping, pioneered so many years ago, but the beauty was that I'd never shopped at BlueFlipArt before and it already knew me. (Oh, and speaking of Amazon, I don't know when they redesigned, but for perhaps the first time EVER, Amazon is uncluttered. Of course, I'm having difficulty getting to them as of 3:20 p.m.)

I guess you could say the same about buying something via PayPal, which I also did this weekend, but for some reason, the PayPal process wasn't as quick or efficient. It was basically the same thing but a crappier user interface perhaps.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Honeybaked Ham and Biggs - a great combo

Honeybaked Ham makes, among other things, a mean turkey breast. It's a great dinner treat and if there's any left, it works well in lunches, too.

Unfortunately, Honeybaked Ham's retail locations just don't work for me - I live in Hyde Park and scooting over to Kenwood by 7 p.m. isn't convenient.

So, perhaps it's for folks like me that Honeybaked has teamed up with Bigg's, my local grocery store. I am a loyal Bigg's shopper - there's something about Kroger that rankles me.

I know I'll be buying more Honeybaked products soon!


Friday, January 19, 2007

From Liz: Consumer Reports' faux pas

I used to be a Consumer Reports devotee. We've turned to their ratings before making some of the biggest purchases of our life: our car and our daughter's carseat.

Now, I'm not so sure I can trust them.

I don't mind a rare retracted report. I was surprised, but what got to me is the fact they shoppped out the testing.

So much for my vision of the Consumer Reports organization, which I guess down deep I knew was too good to be true: people in lab coats and goggles carrying clipboards and peeking over bubbling Pyrex flasks.

From Liz: I love Dogbone Art

Laura's Dogbone Art is cute done right.

She sells on Etsy, but check her out through her primary URL, Laurasdogboneart.com.