Not to be confused with its older, much smaller Maine namesake, Portland, Oregon is the Pacific Northwest’s second-largest city – the anchor of a metropolitan area some two million people strong. Thanks to its prime location in the crook of the Willamette-Columbia River junction, its proximity to the open Pacific Ocean, and its resource-rich hinterland, Portland has long been a hub of transport and industry. Back in the 19th century, the city sprang up and grew along a gentle bend in the Willamette, where its downtown core and densest neighborhoods still lie, and later spread out along the hills above its fair valley.
Longtime “Saturday Night Live” fans fondly remember Lily Tomlin’s “Ernestine,” a recurring character from the show’s formative years. Ernestine was a smug, preening phone company employee who reveled in customers’ misfortune and delighted in her own employer’s incompetence. She was, simply, the embodiment of everything wrong with the telecommunications status quo of the late 1970s.
A lot has changed since Ernestine delighted audiences. The “Ma Bell” monopoly she represented was broken up into smaller, regional companies. Automation dramatically improved line-switching efficiency and basically eliminated human operators. The cellular revolution eroded legacy landline providers’ dominance and spurred much-needed competition. And the advent of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) substantially improved the performance and usability of complex business phone systems.
The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (a Money Crashers partner) is a no-annual-fee cash back credit card with a very generous rewards program. Blue Cash Everyday offers 3% cash back (up to $6,000 per calendar year) on grocery store and supermarket purchases, unlimited 2% cash back at gas stations and department stores, and 1% cash back on everything else. Rewards come as statement credits once you hit the $25 redemption minimum. Although applicants do need very good to excellent credit, Blue Cash Everyday doesn’t require stellar credit, as is the case with more generous cards.
When most people hear the phrase “credit card rewards,” their minds immediately turn to cash back rewards. And why not? Flip on the TV, navigate to your favorite website, or drive around your hometown and you’re bound to see an ad for a cash back credit card before long.
Cash back credit cards are popular because they provide tangible, easy-to-understand benefits. Who doesn’t like getting a credit on their monthly credit card statement – or, better yet, actual cash deposited into the account of their choice?
Not all cash back credit cards are created equal though.
Given the hefty upfront costs associated with purchasing a home, most young people begin their independent lives renting an apartment. As they build careers, save money, and start families, many choose to buy a home. On the other end of the age spectrum, homeowners nearing retirement may choose to sell their family homes, downsize, and become renters once more.
Since the middle of the 20th century, the U.S. homeownership rate has fluctuated between 62% and 70%. According to CNBC, it sat at 63.4% in the second quarter of 2015, the lowest level since the mid-1960s. This decline is largely due to economic and demographic factors, such as the downsizing efforts of aging Baby Boomers, elevated housing prices in some high-population markets, and high student debt loads that prevent many younger buyers from saving enough to make down payments.
According to The Knot’s Real Weddings Study, wedding photographers and videographers cost $2,556 and $1,794, on average, respectively. That’s $4,350 – or approximately 14% of The Knot’s average wedding spend, excluding the honeymoon.
To be sure, millions of couples shell out less. My own wedding wasn’t bare-bones by any stretch, but we spent less than half the national average on professional photography and videography without compromising quality. And it goes without saying that not everyone can afford a $4,000-plus wedding media bill.
Still, there’s no way around it: Professional-grade wedding memories are expensive. If you’re fretting about how you’re going to pay for them, consider these tips for getting cheap (or at least, cheaper) professional wedding photography and videography – and seriously saving money on your wedding.
The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express is a cash back credit card with a $95 annual fee and a generous and versatile – but sometimes confusing – points-based reward system that lets cardholders redeem for merchandise, transportation, travel, and cash equivalents. With accelerated point earnings at supermarkets and gas stations, plus a frequent-spender bonus for people who make more than 30 purchases per month, this card is definitely more powerful than entry-level cash back cards such as Chase Freedom and Discover it – particularly for folks who spend heavily in those categories.
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express (a Money Crashers partner) is a cash back credit card that utilizes a complicated but versatile point system to reward users. It has no annual fee and accelerated point earnings (2 points per $1 spent) at the supermarket, plus 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.
EveryDay competes with a number of other cash back and rewards credit cards, including American Express’s own Blue Cash Everyday, Blue Cash Preferred, EveryDay Preferred, and Plenti, as well as non-Amex cards such as Capital One Quicksilver, Discover it, Chase Freedom, Bank Americard Cash Rewards, Barclaycard CashForward, and numerous travel rewards credit cards.
The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex (a Money Crashers partner) is a no-annual-fee credit card that leverages a slightly unorthodox rewards program known as Plenti, which is also overseen by American Express. Through this program cardholders earn 3 Plenti points at the supermarket, 2 Plenti points at restaurants, and 1 Plenti point everywhere else. Once you’ve accumulated enough, you can redeem your Plenti points for discounts at a number of popular U.S. merchants.
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (a Money Crashers partner) is a hotel rewards credit card with a $95 annual fee and a rewards program that revolves around the Starwood hotel family, which includes such brands as Sheraton, Westin, and W. Every purchase you make earns Starpoints, Starwood’s loyalty program currency. Starpoints can be redeemed for free nights and room upgrades at about 1,200 Starwood properties worldwide, or converted to frequent flyer miles from more than 30 airline groups.