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I broke one of my rules today...



December 17, 2010 – Comments (26) | RELATED TICKERS: AM.DL2 , CRIS

I actually got a credit card!

Not only did I do that, but I paid $100 for an executive membership at Costco instead of $50 for the regular membership, even though I live a good 20 miles away and have shopped at a Costco maybe twice before under a family member's membership.

Now before the people that know me start to chastise me, hear me out.

I joined because I was buying 12 of these for family and friends as Christmas presents. They were $20 to $50 cheaper than I could find anywhere else. They also included a free Bluetooth adaptor (a $30 value). So in total I was saving $600 to $960 by buying at Costco. Most of you will chime in that I could get the same savings with the regular membership and you would be right, but...

The lady at the counter explained that with the Executive membership, I get 2% cash rewards on my purchases. ($47.66) Ok, so it less than paid for itself, but I thought while I'm here I'll buy some groceries and I'll make it a point to come back sometime later this year to make sure It was a worthy investment. Then I come across this while shopping. I saved another $700 by buying it at Costco. I also got another $60 in rewards. I probably saved another $20 in groceries and got another $2 in rewards. Outside when I was leaving I noticed that Gas was 11 cents cheaper than where I live and I was fairly close to empty. 20 gallons times 11 cents = another $2.20 and 4 more cents in rewards.

Now I haven't talked about the credit card. It has no annual fee. They give me a $25 credit for signing up. I get an additional 1% on my purchases at Costco. I also get 3% rewards for gas, 2% at restaurants, and 1% everywhere else. So I got another $23.88 on the Telo purchases, $30 on the bedroom set, about a buck on the groceries, and 58 cents on the gasoline.

Last but not least!!!! The reason that I bought all those Telos to begin with was to help my friends and family break from a government sponsored monopoly. The telcos aren't charging you a responsible price. Most of you are paying an average of $30 a month for your phone line. With these devices, you pay about a $1.00 a month to cover government taxes and 911 service.

So the plan that I profess, to live below your means and invest the rest, gets a whole lot easier! My friends and family have $348.00 less in annual obligations. That is money that they can invest in their prosperity. I am really excited when I can give out gifts like this because most of the feedback that I get from my plan is that it's too hard. This makes it easier!

So lets sum things up with a dollar value...

$600 to $960 savings on the Telos.

$47.66 dollars in executive rewards.

$700 savings on the bedroom set.

$60 in rewards for the bedroom set.

$20 in grocery savings.

$2 in rewards on groceries.

$2.20 in savings on gas.

58 cents in rewards on gasoline.

Then with the card...

I get a free $25.

$23.88 rewards on the Telos.

$30 rewards on the bedroom set.

$1 rewards on the groceries.

$1.74 rewards on the gasoline.

I saved between $914.06 to $1274.06 to help my friends and family save $4716 a year.

This has to be my best Christmas ever!!!




26 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On December 17, 2010 at 11:30 PM, NOTvuffett (< 20) wrote:

Keep livin' the dream on the cheap, should be the motto for the new American century, lol.


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#2) On December 18, 2010 at 12:00 AM, brickcityman (< 20) wrote:

The Executive Membership paired with the card is a pretty good deal...  Especially if you have a family. 


For us between the kick backs Costco gives you once a year and the kick backs Amex gives you it covers at least two maybe three weeks worth of groceries... Not to mentioned the regular savings vs. other stores.


Like everything you still have to keep your wits about you as buying in bulk is not always the best deal.  

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#3) On December 18, 2010 at 10:13 AM, 100ozRound (28.68) wrote:

An additional benefit of shopping at Costco (at least here in California) is that on top of the incredible prices on groceries, we pay no sales tax on groceries bought at Costco. San Diego sales tax is 8.75% - I buy 90% of my groceries at costco.

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#4) On December 18, 2010 at 11:13 AM, kdakota630 (29.12) wrote:

Excellent personal story, as most of yours are anyway.

I'm looking into a similar unit to that Ooma thing in Canada but haven't been able to find them at

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#5) On December 18, 2010 at 11:34 AM, familyfund2 (< 20) wrote:

I'm an organic farmer. I run a market for other organic farmers. I eat primarily local organic food grown by people I know who live within 100 miles of where I live.

I was at an appointment a few weeks ago, and afterwards wanted to stop for a bite before the two hour drive home. I stopped at a small place called Delta County Market and asked if they had any local or organic products and was told (this happens alot) "Yes, over there." After looking "over there" and asking again the clerks got together and learned that not one thing in the store was either local nor organic.

I stopped at another place and, after a duplicate experience, decided it was a waste of time to stop at every place. Two hours of driving, and not one single place caught my eye as a likely spot.

My companion wanted to stop at Walmart (I can't remember why it had to be Walmart). While she was inside the "Supercenter" I went to the grocery section and asked if they had any local organic food. The clerk said (wait for it) "Yes, over there". I looked and didn't find any.
   As I passed the checkout aisle one of the checkers who had noticed I was walking back and forth asked if I needed anything. I asked "Etc", she replied "Etc".
   I went back to the grocer section and asked a white man in a tie and 'Etc/Etc'.  He then told me to go speak to the stocker and he would help me.

Now get this. The stockers name is "Phillipe`" and he doesn't speak english. Luckily I speak a bit of farmer spanish from working in the fields with the migrants, and asked Phillipe` if there was any local organic food.
   His eyes went glassy and you could see the joy drain out of his face. It seemed he knew I knew the answer and why I bothered asking anyway. In his best english he replied, 'No, Mexico, Brazil. . California'. He paused and looked around the cavernous Supercenter, looked at me one more time, and went back to work.

On my way to find my friend a police officer stopped me. Apparently an employee had seen me wander back and forth and thought I needed checked out. So I tell the whole two hour experience to him.
   Cops love me. They can tell I am one of the good guys. Still by then the Walmart management had shown up. I wink at the policeman and run my skit at the Supercenter's manager.
    Bet you can guess how that went. I ask this guy, "Hey, I'm wondering, is there anything in this place that's locally made or grown?", and he says (I swear), "Yes, over there". 

By now there is a small crowd gathering of employees and customers and they are starting to separate themselves into friend and foe camps (the pro-walmart camp was noticably overweight to obese as a demographic and outnumbered the 'he's got a point' camp 10:1). The last thing I remember about that scene was a female hispanic thirtysomething electronics department manager looking around with a dazed look on her face and saying "It's sad, really". My eyes followed her's and I could not even see two walls of this enormous muti-acre supercenter.

I can't guess how much product equity was in that store at any given time, or what percentage of the local economy runs through there. The only thing local I can think of in the whole store was the tax break walmart got to build it.

I grow 90% of my food, and trade food for another 5%. I've never been inside a Costco. But now I know where to find a really cool phone. 

Thanks Chris, and all others, for doing what you do.

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#6) On December 18, 2010 at 11:42 AM, ChrisGraley (28.67) wrote:

kdakota I couldn't find it on the Canadian site either. You might be able to buy it at the US site and have it shipped though.

If not, here is the company's site. They are definately worth the investment.

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#7) On December 18, 2010 at 11:48 AM, Valyooo (33.61) wrote:

You couldn't get it on ebay or amazon for cheaper?  That is very surprising

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#8) On December 18, 2010 at 12:02 PM, ChrisGraley (28.67) wrote:

100ozRound that must be a big savings. I lived in CA for about a year so I know how bad the taxes get. How did they get this tax-free status?

San Diego is a beautiful place, and I envy your weather right about now.

Taxing food is just plain wrong! It's a sign that your State government cares absolutely nothing about you. They pick the most regressive tax that they can find! They might as well tax air!

If some liberal wants to make my day, jump in here and defend a tax on food. I dare you.


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#9) On December 18, 2010 at 12:14 PM, ChrisGraley (28.67) wrote:


Costco has a ton of organic food and it's reasonably priced. You should check them out some time. The Kirkland brand, (I think that is their store brand), Has more organic food than non-organic. I was pretty impressed.

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#10) On December 18, 2010 at 12:17 PM, kdakota630 (29.12) wrote:


I checked their site and I was going to contact them to see if it was possible to use the unit in Canada but couldn't find a contact link, so I think I'm going to see if I can find something comparable here.

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#11) On December 18, 2010 at 12:17 PM, ChrisGraley (28.67) wrote:

Valyhoo, I needed 12 so Ebay wasn't an option. I did find Amazon selling them for the same price, but without the Bluetooth Adaptor.

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#12) On December 18, 2010 at 12:25 PM, ChrisGraley (28.67) wrote:

kdakota, you might want to check out Ebay.

I found them there for about $185.

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#13) On December 18, 2010 at 12:38 PM, 100ozRound (28.68) wrote:

It's been raining the last few days.  But hey, at least it's not a blizzard!

I have no idea how it's tax free.  Maybe becuase they qualify as a wholesaler?  All I know is that the taxes charged on my receipt is always much less than 8.75%.  It's closer to 1%.

Maybe it's the same way at grocery stores?  I'll have to check next time I go to a standard grocery store.

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#14) On December 18, 2010 at 12:58 PM, ChrisGraley (28.67) wrote:

kdakota the unit will work in Canada. (It works off of your internet connection.) What I'm not sure about is if they have Canadian area codes.

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#15) On December 18, 2010 at 1:05 PM, kdakota630 (29.12) wrote:


I'll be honest that I'm not tech-savvy enough to know how it works so my main concern is making sure I keep the same phone number.  I checked and they won't ship it to Canada, so I'm wondering if the phone number/area codes is an issue.

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#16) On December 18, 2010 at 1:15 PM, ChrisGraley (28.67) wrote:

It might be the issue kdakota. When I help set these up for my family I'll check to see if they have Canadian Area codes.

What is your area code kdakota?

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#17) On December 18, 2010 at 1:22 PM, kdakota630 (29.12) wrote:


Thanks.  I'm in 519.

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#18) On December 18, 2010 at 1:25 PM, Valyooo (33.61) wrote:

Why couldn't you buy 12 on ebay?  It only takes a few minutes to bid on 12 items, faster than traveling to/registering for costco.  I still love costco, but e shopping seems the way to go for electronics

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#19) On December 18, 2010 at 1:26 PM, familyfund2 (< 20) wrote:

"Clubs" with "memberships" have different "rules". Maybe that's how they do the 'no tax' thing.

I personally think maybe they should not tax unprepared food, but tax prepared food. I also think there should be zero tax on 'poverty level' incomes.

Costco, Walmart, Superstores and conglomerates seem like a neccesary  and obvious progression in efficiency. The problem is; I can use that set of 'logic' to rhetoric any scenario.

I wonder if it's possible to have most of both without giving up one or the other?

for instance.

Second, there are tremendous economic benefits. According to a study by the New Economics Foundation in London, a dollar spent locally generates twice as much income for the local economy. But when businesses are not owned locally, money leaves the community at every transaction. According to a 2007 study by Project for Public Spaces, there is a 3 to 4 times multiplier affect to local economies by farmers markets and the vendors they attract


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#20) On December 18, 2010 at 1:35 PM, 100ozRound (28.68) wrote:

Off topic - Chris, did you see that First Majestic is now trading on the NYSE as AG?  It's no longer on the pinks so I can now buy it!

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#21) On December 18, 2010 at 1:49 PM, simplemts (< 20) wrote:

100oz, you also live in San Diego?  I'd love to get some stock tips from you some day or have a discussion.

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#22) On December 18, 2010 at 1:55 PM, 100ozRound (28.68) wrote:


Where do you live in SD?  Hit me up on my blog so we don't hijack this one.

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#23) On December 18, 2010 at 1:58 PM, kdakota630 (29.12) wrote:


Why did you need First Majestic to be off the pink sheets to buy it?

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#24) On December 18, 2010 at 2:11 PM, 100ozRound (28.68) wrote:


My broker wasn't filling my order for some reason so I just gave up.  I was too lazy to open up an account with a broker that could get me filled.

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#25) On December 18, 2010 at 3:50 PM, ChrisGraley (28.67) wrote:

@Valyhoo, Well I would have to bid on several different auctions and pay several different vendors and several different shipping charges and have several different worries. I like shopping on Ebay as well, but it didn't seem practical in this case.


 Not to mention that fresh food tastes much better than the stuff that's picked too early and artificially ripened that you find in most stores.

@100oz Yep I noticed that too. The management of that company is top notch.



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#26) On December 20, 2010 at 12:06 AM, op456op (< 20) wrote:


Did you review the Costco reviews of the Ooma? For me there are enough negative review issues that I would hesitate before purchasing a dozen for gifts.

 I did look at Amazon reviews too and out of 1002 reviews there were only 69 1 star reviews compared to 674 5 star reviews so hopefully you'll have no problems with them either.

Online reviews being what they are have to be taken with a grain of salt and perhaps the issues are overblown.

Best of luck and Happy Holidays




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