Do This: Log Into Your AT&T Wireless Account to See if the Price of Your Plan Dropped

If your cell phone carrier is AT&T, I recommend logging into your account at to see if the monthly price of your plan dropped.  If the price did decrease, it will literally take you two minutes to make your changes and save significant coin.  

AT&T Wireless: You Won't Get Any Complaints From Me
Yesterday, I logged in to change my auto-pay credit card's expiration date and, to my surprise, was immediately given an option to select a new price point for my shared mobile plan.  For the same plan of two iPhones with shared 2gb of data, unlimited calls, and unlimited texts, the price decreased from $140 to $90 a month.  For the exact same plan! Again, AT&T lowered the price of our plan by $50 a month and even gave me the option to back-date the change a month.  Yes, please!

I read about the price cuts a few weeks ago, but hadn't checked to see if the changes applied to me, a customer still under contract.  I assumed they wouldn't and boy was I wrong.  

I've never seen any service provider voluntarily offer a price reduction in such a customer-friendly manner.  Kudos to AT&T and apologies to its shareholders.  

Read This: Thoughts on How to Pay for Starwood Stay

With a two-night stay at Le Parker Meridien in New York City coming up this summer, I did some points vs. cash analysis to figure out the best way to pay for the hotel.  I thought I'd share my analysis.

As a Category 6 SPG property, the stay will cost 40,000 SPG points (20k per night) or $715.00 after taxes using a wedding rate.  Based on this, I narrowed my payment choice to three options: Starwood Points redemption, charge to my SPG American Express, or charge to my Barclay Arrival MasterCard.  

A new notes before I get to the chart: 
  • I have enough SPG points to last me a couple years based on historical trends.  Likewise, I have enough Arrival points to cover the trip.
  • How/Why I calculated "Points per $3.95":  I basically pay for points because I can get more value from using the points vs. buying the points (4/5 of a penny or much less per point).  I do this using Bluebird and Serve accounts and it's a bit complex.  If you want to read more on this, I recommend reading some of the Frequent Miler's posts on the subject.  
  • I have SPG Gold status, which provides three points per dollar on hotel stays.  The SPG Amex earns two points per dollar on eligible Starwood hotel charges.  The Arrival card earns two points per dollar on any charge.  
  • I didn't include using Chase Sapphire Ultimate Rewards points because the reservation options for this hotel were screwy and I was afraid I'd be stuck with a sub-par room if I used this option.
Here's my chart (it's a little ugly because I wasn't planning on sharing it).

Chart: I'm not sure this will make sense to other people
So, which option do you think I chose...

Answer: I'm going with the Barclay Arrival option.  Here's why:
  • Lowest in Overall Cash Cost.
  • Earns both good SPG and Arrival points from the charge.
  • Finally, while it's not included in the analysis in the chart, I don't like the 1.8 cents per point value from using my SPG points.  I like to get at least 2 cents per point out of using SPG points.  
That's it.  I just though I'd share.  Does this make sense to anyone else? 

Buy This: Toilets with Flat Tank Cover

This is a quick, learn-from-my-mistake tip.  If you're in the market for a new toilet, you want to buy one with a flat/level tank cover.  

About 18 months ago, we bought the Toto Ultramax 1-Piece toilet for a bathroom renovation.  It's a fine toilet except for one problem:  The tank cover isn't flat/level.  

Note the location of the bubble in the horizontal level
If you like to keep items, such as a tissue box or - heaven-forbid - reading materials, on top of the toilet, the sloped tank cover of this toilet makes it difficult as the items will slowly slide off onto the ground.

And that's the tip.  Unless you want to find your tissue box or other toilet-stored things on the floor morning after morning, buy toilets with flat tops.  

Do This: Save Money on Valentine's Day Flowers

First image when googling "flowers"
Flowers, especially on Valentine's Day via a retailer like 1-800-Flowers, are a rip-off.  I know.  However, when it comes to Valentine's Day, birthdays, and other holidays, the cost is a small price to pay to show a loved one that you adore them, appreciate them, etc.  That being said, there's nothing wrong with saving a little money on your flower purchase.  

Below is a quick step-by-step approach to save some money (approximately 36%) on Valentine's Day flowers, in this case from

  1. American Express: This will only work if you have an AmEx, but log into your account and check your "Offers for You".  You should find a $15 off $50 offer for a purchase from 1800Flowers.   Save the offer to your card.
  2. Plink: Make sure the 1800Flowers offer is loaded in your plink account and you'll get 600 plink points for a $50 purchase.  500 points gets you a $5 gift card to merchants like Amazon.  If you have an AmEx and followed Step 1, make sure your AmEx is linked with your Plink account since you'll be paying for your flowers with that card.  If you don't have a plink account, follow this link and you'll get 300 points when you sign up. 
  3. Mr Rebates:  Go to and search for 1800flowers.  You'll see that the site is offering 15% back on your purchase (not including delivery fees), which is the highest rate of the cash back portals.   Follow the link to 1800flowers and choose your flowers.
  4. Online Coupon: Before checking out, add the coupon code REBFIVE to take 5% off the cost of the flowers.  This coupon code should stack with the Mr Rebates cash back. 
  5. Pay: Be sure to check out with your AmEx with the saved $15 off offer and/or linked plink credit card.  
The Math
To wrap it up, here's the math.  Let's say you buy a $60 arrangement with a $20 delivery fee and no tax.  
  1. Take 5% ($3) off the $60 cost of arrangement and you're down to $77 with the $20 delivery.
  2. Mr. Rebates will return you 15% of the $57 ($8.55) for the arrangement.  Now you're down to $66.45.
  3. AmEx gives you a statement credit of $15 for your purchase with your AmEx card, dropping the cost to $51.45.
Bottom line: You decreased the original cost of $80 to $51.45, a 36% savings!  Plus you scored enough plink points to redeem for a $5 Amazon gift card.  And, of course, you made your significant other a happy lady/gentleman!

Use This: Ebates and Amazon to 3% On Clothing and Baby Items

I just checked Ebates and noticed that they're currently offering 3% cash back on clothing and baby items from  Personally, I'm not buying clothes on Amazon, but I buy a ton of baby stuff from there.  If you're in the market for baby items (or clothes) set up an account at Ebates and start using the cash back portal to earn 3% cash back on your purchases.  Combine this Ebates 3% cash back with 2-3% from credit card rewards and you're saving a good percentage on your purchases.  
Ebates Coupons and Cash Back
I wish I knew about this before some recent purchases.  Note exclusions are Diapers, Wipes, Bathing, Skin Care, Monitors, Toys, Formula and Food.  I'm not sure how long this 3% will last, but I do know Ebates is the only cash back portal with Amazon deals.  If you need instructions on how to use cash back portals, check out my primer on Cash Back Portals for Online Spending.