How quickly spam comes…

On Wednesday, June 27, land got transferred into our name. However, despite the deed clearly naming us “Peter S. Cooper, Jr.” and “Jessica Jane Cooper”, the registry of deeds indexed us under “Peter S. Cooper” and “Jessica Jane”, omitting the final part of each of our names. I don’t think that this is really a big deal, since it’s just the indexing to find us and not the legal name of ownership (as far as my understanding goes).

Two days later, on Friday, June 29, at my parent’s house (next door), arrives a letter from Pioneer Oil, addressed to “Jessica Jane” and “Peter Cooper”, labeled with “Welcome to your new home”. As far as I can tell, they must get a data feed of new land transfers and try to market to them, assuming that land transfers must mean a new house, or something like that. We received similar postal spam when getting the land that our house is on. The fact that it went next door is somewhat interesting, but that was probably the only address listed on the deed. I also found it interesting that the names on it were hand-written and that it was metered with full $0.41 first-class postage. (I of course, wrote “Refused” on it and put it back.)

So, I’ve put in my parent’s mailbox today a temporary change of address form, for 6 months, for “Jessica Jane”, to go from 190 Berry Corner Rd. (my parents’ house) to 194 Berry Corner Rd. (our house). Since it’s temporary, we won’t get the slew of mailings from people the post office sends permanent address changes to. Since it’s a change of address, Standard Mail being sent to “Jessica Jane” at 190 will be discarded instead of forwarded. And if first-class mail gets sent to “Jessica Jane” at 190, it will be forwarded to us at 194, but we can refuse it and it will actually get sent back to the sender. (After all, there’s nobody here with last name “Jane”.)

My bank is encouraging interesting spending habits

So, my bank this week launched a new checking account product, where as long as you (1) get e-statements, (2) get a direct deposit or withdrawal at least once a month, and (3) use your debit card at least 10 times in a month, you get a phenomenal 6% APY on the checking account. (If you don’t meet the requirements, you get a reasonable-nowadays 0.5% APY for that month.) The first two requirements I already meet, of course. Meeting that last one will require some effort, because currently I use my credit card for all my day-to-day purchases (and several automatic recurring bills) due to its nice cash back program. However, being able to have my main savings in my main checking account simplies my finance tracking, and I think if I use the debit card on small purchases and the credit card on large purchases I’ll end up earning more than I am now, if only slightly.

The really interesting thing to me, though, is that it purely counts the number of transactions, without paying any attention to the dollar amount. Thus it encourages me to do tricks like pump my gas a third of a tank at a time, stopping the pump and then restarting it by swiping my card each time, to artificially bump up my transaction count. In theory I could just meet my quota by pumping a dollar’s worth of gas 10 times, and then using my credit card like I always have been.

How tough can it be to buy land?

So, about a month or two ago now, we decided to buy a bunch of my parents’ land from them. This should be about as simple a process as a land transfer could be, since we have an agreed-upon price, and we’re not planning on building on the land. However, we’ve had issues with one thing after another, as the plans have gone to the Planning Board, who required some corrections from the surveyor, who did so and sent it back to the Planning Board, who approved the plans but didn’t have enough people there to sign it somehow, and then it eventually got signed and sent to the lawyer, who tried to take it to the Registry of Deeds but couldn’t record it since somehow they don’t have an updated signature list of the people on the Planning Board since the elections that were at the start of May.

So, we’re hoping that it will actually get recorded this week, but that’s that we’ve been thinking for the past several weeks, too.

In the meantime, there have been at least 3 other land transfers that we know of that have happened since the May elections (which only changed one person on the board), all of which got recorded with no problem. It looks like part of the problem is that my mom (who is on the Planning Board) of course didn’t sign our land transfer (conflict of interest and all that, quite reasonably), and so since she did sign the other ones there wasn’t a problem somehow.

So, it appears that my mom’s signature is required for anything to happen in the Town of Charlton.

Inefficiency as a feature

I have a Prime Money Market account at Vanguard, which is where I keep my emergency fund as well as money that I’m accumulating throughout the month for large monthly expenses such as my mortgage. It pays a pretty good interest rate, and is handy for automatically funding my Roth IRA there as well.

So when I need to transfer money from the money market account to my bank for something like my mortgage, I really have two options:

  1. Do an electronic ACH transfer. This has my money leave my money market account at the end of the business day and arrive in my bank account two business days later. In-between, the money is somewhere in the ACH system and not earning interest in either account.
  2. Write out a check, and physically bring it to my bank. The money gets credited to my bank account immediately, and there’s a delay before the check clears my money market account. In-between, the money is in both accounts earning interest. The money market account has no fees whatsoever for checks, and even the checks themselves are free.

So, if I write a check, I can get it to my bank a bit later, plus it earns interest in my money market account for a few more days than if I were to do an electronic transfer. The interest earned from being able to wait a couple days before doing anything plus the time for the check to clear, on an amount of money the size of my mortgage payment, can easily exceed a dollar and can hit over two, especially if there’s a weekend involved.

Now, I really like living in an electronic era, where my money is purely just numbers in a computer somewhere. Yet, I find myself writing checks, purely because its inefficiency causes more interest to accumulate. I’m not sure if mailing a check to the bank costs more or less than my gas and time stopping at the bank on my way home from work, but either way it’s less than the interest earned by using a check.

Send it back!

My hobby web site on sending junk mail back to the Post Office is rather quickly climbing the rankings on Google for relevant queries. It’s kind of fun watching the analytics data and watching people find my site for some very relevant search queries. This project is partly ending up being an experiment in creating a site about an obscure topic and seeing how people find it, which is kind of interesting in and of itself.

What I did last weekend

On Saturday I was the head judge of Magic Regionals in Hartford. We had 189 players, and despite some mishaps that made things take longer than I’d like that probably weren’t avoidable, it worked out alright, and was a good experience for me.

On Sunday I went bowling with my family, and it was a lot of fun. After playing bowling on the Wii more and more and doing pretty good at it, I wanted to go out and play some “real” (that is, candlepin non-virtual) bowling. It was enough fun that it may be something my wife and I do more often.