Miss Bankrupt https://missbankrupt.com Just another WordPress weblog Sun, 19 Dec 2010 17:54:41 +0000 en hourly 1 Should You Be An Early Tech Adopter? https://missbankrupt.com/should-you-be-an-early-tech-adopter/ https://missbankrupt.com/should-you-be-an-early-tech-adopter/#comments Sun, 19 Dec 2010 17:54:41 +0000 admin https://missbankrupt.com/?p=586 Do you remember the old days when DOS was a marvel and Windows was a miracle? That the Apple Lisa was cutting-edge technology and you would need to sell your possessions just to be able to afford it?

We came across this article and after scanning through the old PC ads, we were somewhat shocked to discover that technology today is so much more affordable.

Picture this:

  • The Apple Lisa cost $10,000 — ten times the price of an entry-level Macbook!
  • A 10-MB Hard Disk cost $3,398; 40 times the price of a 1-TB drive! FYI, a 1-TB drive costs only $85 nowadays at its cheapest.
  • A 16-KB RAM module cost $495 in those days; today, we can buy 4-GB RAM module for only $99.

When you take a look at the stark differences, only one thing can be said: It doesn’t pay to be an early adopter.

In those days, only big businesses needed computers, and the average family didn’t have much use for them. So it took a while before Steve Jobs’ dream of having personal computers in every household became a reality. And these days, a lot of mom and pop businesses run their offices at home on the backs of business credit cards and personal ISP connections.

But what do these atrocious prices mean to today’s consumer? More than the nostalgia, there are lessons that we can take away from what we’re seeing with these technology trends:

1. It really doesn’t pay to be a “tech victim.” While there are “fashion victims” who chase fashion trends at the expense of good taste, there are “tech victims” who chase tech trends at the expense of good sense — and their retirement fund. With the speed at which today’s gadgets develop, your gadget purchase is going to get obsolete just one year later. So make sure that you buy only machines that you know you will still be using many years after you purchase it.

2. You don’t need all the features found in every gadget. Sometimes, the price tag goes up for certain features that we don’t actually need. Do you honestly need a touchscreen on your work computer? Do you really overclock your machine? Why won’t a regular Dell suffice? Would an Alienware machine really be worth the premium you’ll be paying for it?

3. It doesn’t always pay to be brand-conscious. While I love Apple, we have to be honest that a Mac is not for everyone. Let’s do a bit of a feature comparison here:

Acer Apple
While Windows 7 had been a massive improvement over the previous Windows versions, it’s still not Unix-based. Stable OS thanks to the Unix core in all Apple OS distributions.
Card reader Only USB ports in most of its machines
Optional Bluetooth Bluetooth in all its machines
Parallel port, VGA out Firewire only
More software offered for Windows Great Open Source support
If you don’t like Windows, wipe out the OS or buy an OS-less machine and install Linux on it. It works out of the box: just as soon as you rip off the plastic and turn on the machine.

We love our Macs, but we have to admit that there are some things that some people will not be comfortable living without. It’s therefore important to make not just price comparisons, but also careful feature comparisons. Maybe you’re better off with an Acer or a Dell. I, on the other hand, would miss the Exposé very badly.

5. Check for gadget redundancy. Do you really need an iPad, when you already have a workstation, a netbook, and a smartphone? Sometimes, all these new gadgets that Apple comes out with, much as we love them, aren’t really worth the investment. If you find that you barely use your e-readers anyway, how about springing for a convertible netbook instead, like a Lenovo S10-3T? It may be worth your money instead.

Some of us can appreciate Sony discount codes to use for the purchase of a Sony Vaio netbook. But some of us would much prefer the newly-released 11″ Macbook Air. The good news is that there are a lot of discounts online and off and it’s a new world where retail and electronics trends are coming together to provide the best products at the best prices for the average consumer. How easy it is to now buy gadgets on installment with our no annual fee credit cards?

It’s a good thing we’re no longer in the 80s. Despite the speed of machine upgrades (and possible obsolescence), keeping up with tech is now worth it.

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3 Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster https://missbankrupt.com/3-ways-to-pay-off-your-mortgage-faster/ https://missbankrupt.com/3-ways-to-pay-off-your-mortgage-faster/#comments Fri, 10 Dec 2010 15:58:10 +0000 admin https://missbankrupt.com/?p=582 This guest post is by Fred Leo from TheCreditCardHawk.com, a personal finance website dedicated to helping people find the best rewards credit cards. Please check out his articles on the Best American Express Business Credit Cards and Citi Mastercard Online.

Paying off your mortgage before it’s due is the dream of every American. The sooner the better, in most cases. Many would say that if they won the lottery tomorrow, they’d pay off their mortgage the day after. The good news is, it’s actually possible for just about anyone to pay off their mortgage faster. Here are three ways to get the job done.

First: Understand How Mortgage Amortization Works

Amortization is the process which covers the life of the mortgage loan and calculates interest for each payment as the principal shrinks. So over a 30-year time span, the interest payments versus the amount being paid towards the actual cost of the home begin to change positions on the ratio teeter-totter.

In the beginning, most mortgage holders are paying more interest than principal on their loan. As the principal shrinks over time, however, the interest does as well. So payments of $1,000/month might, on Day 1 of the loan, be 80% interest and 20% principal, but by Day 9,000 (nearly 25 years into it), the ratio may be 80% principal instead. This example, of course, is simplified and over-exaggerated for illustration, but this is basically how amortization works.

For most homes, the interest and the principal are roughly at a 2:1 ratio, so your home at $100,000 will actually cost you almost $200,000 in total payments. In most cases, the faster you pay it off, the lower that interest is (in dollars).

Second: Increase Payments

The quickest way that any homeowner can pay off that mortgage faster and save thousands in interest is to make more payments. This can be done by either increasing monthly payment amounts or speeding up the payment schedule. If your monthly payment is $1,000, boost that to $1,250 instead. This means you’re making 3 extra payments every year. Your mortgage will be paid in 24 years, or six years early.

The other option is to increase the payment schedule. Move it from a monthly to a bi-weekly, for instance, and you’ll probably keep the same overall monthly payment, but will increase your payment towards principal since interest should still be compounded monthly. This will mean lower interest overall.

Third: Refinance, But Don’t Raise

The third option is to refinance and lower the rates. Just don’t fall into the trap of adding more debt to the overall mortgage in the process, whether it be by consolidating other debt or lowering payments and then not applying more to the payoff. The best advice is to refinance at a shorter term. Many will find that with the lower interest rate and lower principal, since your equity is now free, will mean payments on a 15-year loan might be on par with their current payments on a 30-year loan.

Refinancing is not a simple decision, however, and should be done with the advice of a solid financial adviser.

No matter how you do it, speeding up the payoff on your home is going to be in your favor almost every time.

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How to Get a Car Loan After Bankruptcy https://missbankrupt.com/car-loan-after-bankruptcy/ https://missbankrupt.com/car-loan-after-bankruptcy/#comments Tue, 07 Dec 2010 02:43:22 +0000 christina https://missbankrupt.com/?p=574 It is not generally recommended to get a car loan right away after bankruptcy, but sometimes things happen. In 2008 I was driving a 1998 Ford Explorer, which by the way I pretty much adored. It worked perfectly for getting used to driving in the snow and I was able to store tons of junk in it. I also liked feeling big and higher up. I know, these are not features one should look for in a vehicle. It should be obvious I am not a car girl.

This Explorer was in my father’s name, so the payments I was making was not helping my credit. We were also entering the great gas crisis when gas was supposedly going to reach $4 or $5 a gallon. A lot of money went into gas for that Explorer and the mileage was horrid. I started to notice small things going wrong (like the check engine light and other things I have no knowledge of ) and decided I should try to find something else.

What Car Lenders are Looking For:

Credit History -
I had filed bankruptcy in 2006 and had credit cards all in good standing. There were no late payments, judgments or any negatives on my credit report except for the bankruptcy that occurred two years earlier. Lenders look at whether your payments have been made on time, how many are paid off and the number of inquiries on your report.

Employment and Monthly Income

I was employed at a law office for 2 years at the time. I had no other income. The length of time you have been employed reflects stability and whether you are able to pay a loan.

Down Payment

I had a $1,000 down payment from my tax refund. Lenders typically suggest putting down at least 10% of the price of the car for a down payment. If you have a bankruptcy on your report, try to have the highest down payment you can. If you are able to, save up until you have one that is sufficient.
You can still get a loan with a low down payment, but this will sometimes result in a higher interest rate and even owing more on the car than it’s worth. Post bankruptcy filers are already susceptible to higher interest rates from the start.

What I Ended Up With

I went to the car dealership searching for an SUV but quickly found out that I wouldn’t be able to afford one. This was the time right smack before everyone started dumping SUV’s so if I had waited I probably could’ve gotten one cheaper, but then I wouldn’t have had the Explorer paid off. The good think about my timing is that they paid what I owed on the SUV, which was more than it was worth at the time, especially when a few months later no one wanted SUVs.

Instead, I selected a car that was only a year old and asked them to put in a sun roof. That was my only other requirement. I know. Silly. My dad went with me when closing on the car because I wanted him to look at it. After going back and forth with the car dealer with statements like “dude really. I’m a single mom. I cannot pay that monthly payment”, I got the payments down to what I could manage. Before running my credit, I did mention that I had a bankruptcy. I also mentioned that I banked with the local credit union. To my surprise, he came back with a great loan from the credit union with an interest rate of 8.94%. We were all shocked of course but I remember the car salesman saying “I don’t know. For some reason they love you.” And to be honest, after my experience with a different small town bank (and I wasn’t even asking this one for anything) I have to admit I love my credit union right back.

As with the post where I listed the credit cards I have received after my bankruptcy, I will say that situations vary. I do not advise anyone to go through car dealerships that approve you right there regardless of your credit history. You are almost always going to end up with a bad deal and an extremely high interest rate. Waiting, if you can, is always the best way to go. I also learned from this experience to stick with your terms. If your monthly payment cannot be more than 200 or 250 than do not waiver and make sure the car dealership knows that. Yes, you can squeeze in another 50 without starving, but if you don’t have it in the budget, don’t do it.

Also, take your dad. If you don’t know cars you need someone with you that does. If anything, for moral support, but most of all to show the salesman that you aren’t falling for any wonky gadgets. Even with a bankruptcy, my experience with the car dealership went well, and I will return for my next car. You never know, you may find a lender that loves you too.

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Hooters MasterCard Review https://missbankrupt.com/hooters-mastercard-review/ https://missbankrupt.com/hooters-mastercard-review/#comments Fri, 03 Dec 2010 06:00:59 +0000 christina https://missbankrupt.com/?p=568 hootersHooters is friendly! That may seem like a typo or really bad grammar…but I thought I’d fill you in on the Hooters credit card. If you know already that you would be mortified whipping out a credit card with the Hooters owl and HOOTERS in big, bold print, then don’t even read this.

If, however, you have filed bankruptcy and are credit card hunting, you may qualify for the Hooters MasterCard. It is an unsecured credit card and is widely known among bankruptcy filers for giving larger than normal credit lines to people that have filed bankruptcy. It isn’t a great card, but when you’re in the process of repairing credit, it’s not so bad.

The Basics

This card is issued by Merrick Bank. There is no annual fee or any other fee for the Hooters MasterCard and the APR is determined by the individual, mine as a post bankruptcy filer is currently 21.45%.  A little over a year after my bankruptcy was discharged I was approved for a credit line of $3,250.00. I have heard of people with bad credit getting more and I’ve heard less. Be aware that if you get the message that your application is being considered, it really is. This does not mean you’ll be denied as many many applicants get the letter of approval.

Other features:

• No Annual Fee (for qualified applicants)
• Zero Liability on unauthorized purchases.
• Cash Advances at over 900,000 MasterCard ATMs
• Credit Building Opportunities

Rewards Program 

Surprise! The Hooters MasterCard has a rewards program. You will earn 5 points for each dollar spent on Hooters purchases and one point on all other purchase. The points you can earn are unlimited and never expire. You can redeem the points for gift cards, merchandise or cash back that is posted to your account.

hooters.gift

Obviously, this is not a great card. I didn’t see too much merchandise I’d be interested in and I probably eat at Hooters once a year. It is a good card if you have bad credit or have filed bankruptcy, simply because you have a good chance of being approved eventually. I want to mention that it does state that those who are “well qualified” receive large credit limits and low interest rates so it may be a great card even for those with great credit.

It is also one of the few cards available that includes a rewards program. Remember…just because you have credit it doesn’t mean you have to use it. I would suggest not going crazy with the Hooters MasterCard. Use it and pay it off. At least you have an open trade line with a significant credit line to help in credit repair.

 

     
 
   
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My Credit Cards After Bankruptcy https://missbankrupt.com/credit-after-bankruptcy/ https://missbankrupt.com/credit-after-bankruptcy/#comments Mon, 29 Nov 2010 05:14:28 +0000 christina https://missbankrupt.com/?p=516 Many people wonder if they will be able to acquire credit after filing bankruptcy so I thought I would share my experience. Believe it or not, it was fairly easy to start fresh, I think creditors actually look at people that have filed bankruptcy as people that suddenly have no bills and can therefore afford more credit.

The Chapter 7 was discharged January 2006, here is the list of credit cards I have been approved for and the dates. I did not acquire any new credit until more than a year after my bankruptcy was discharged.

  • WAMU (Chase) 10/2007
  • Barclays/Juniper 10/07
  • Dillards 10/07
  • Hooters 10/07
  • Walmart 11/07
  • Kay Jewelry 10/07
  • Target 10/07
  • HSN 11/07
  • Capital One 07/08
  • Orbitz Capital One 04/10
  • Best Buy-HSBC 4/10
  • Macys 4/10

I received a loan from my credit union for my car which was purchased in February of 2008 with an interest rate of 8.94% which is pretty good for a bankruptcy filer. I think it helped that I was a member of the credit union and also waited 2 years after my bankruptcy was discharged to try to get the auto loan.

Please be aware that I do not use all of these cards and the ones with balances are being paid down. I do think that acquiring all of this credit even though I am managing it thus far, could’ve been a huge mistake.

Also note that for the most part, these are unsecured credit cards, but most are still subprime credit cards. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to qualify for American Express or Discover cards which is the ultimate goal that I have in mind. I’d rather trash all of these cards for one great card. If you notice, I kind of went on an application spree in 2007 which may have hurt my credit at the time. There were quite a few inquiries that would remain on my credit for 2 years and doesn’t really look good to other creditors.

My point though, is that you can acquire credit post bankruptcy if you are able to just hang on for a little bit. I think my options may have been even better if I had waited another year, although my car loan is probably as good as it gets for me. Don’t sell yourself short with really, really bad credit cards unless you absolutely have to. You could save yourself a lot of trouble and money if you can wait until you qualify for better offers.

I have only posted a review of the Walmart credit card but will be working on reviews for the rest so that post bankruptcy filers can get an idea of what they may be offered and may qualify for.

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The Difference Between Secured Cards and Prepaid Cards https://missbankrupt.com/secured-and-prepaid-cards/ https://missbankrupt.com/secured-and-prepaid-cards/#comments Thu, 18 Nov 2010 03:07:06 +0000 christina https://missbankrupt.com/?p=564 Bankruptcy filers and consumers with bad credit that are looking for options to rebuild their credit scores will usually need to start out with a secured card or a prepaid card. If you are finding that you are not being approved for unsecured credit cards you will probably need to try a secured card in order to build your credit for a while. I waited over a year after my bankruptcy to even try to get a credit card but there are times when people with bad credit need a credit card right away and can’t wait until they are approved for an unsecured card. It is important when rebuilding that you know the difference.

Secured Cards

Secured cards are beneficial not just for those with bad credit but for anyone with no credit who needs to establish a credit history. Secured credit cards require a cash deposit or “security deposit” that is held as collateral. The minimum required varies by the credit card but is typically around $200 or $300. Most of the time, your deposit it the amount that is your credit limit. For instance if your deposit is $200 you will have a $200 credit limit on your card. Oftentimes secured cards allow you to deposit amounts of as much as $5,000.

You would use your secured credit card just as you would any card and you make monthly payments on your balance or pay it off. The deposit is simply held in the event that you default and then it is used to pay the balance on the card. Any amount not used is usually refunded whether you pay off the card or cancel it. Payments are generally reported to the credit bureaus as well, thus helping you build or rebuild your credit.

Prepaid Cards

Prepaid cards are similar to secured cards, as they are available to those with bad or no credit histories, but are not as beneficial in rebuilding credit. Prepaid cards usually do not report to credit bureaus, so you’re essentially just paying for a card to use when needed for purchases, but it won’t help out your credit much. There are some prepaid cards that do report so you may want to ask first if it is a goal you have in mind.

The difference between a prepaid and secured card, is that when you use a prepaid card, you are actually using the money you have loaded onto it. It’s very similar to a debit card in that manner. Once the amount runs out, then you reload the card. You will not receive a monthly statement as with unsecured cards.

You may think that because of bad credit or a bankruptcy that you don’t have a choice and have to take the first card that you are approved for. It is essential when shopping for either a secured credit card or prepaid card that you are aware of the fees that are involved. Both may have a number of fees from activation fees to monthly fees. Make sure you shop around and choose the one that is the best for you and what you would like to accomplish.

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Walmart Credit Card Review https://missbankrupt.com/walmart-credit-card-review/ https://missbankrupt.com/walmart-credit-card-review/#comments Wed, 17 Nov 2010 02:34:34 +0000 christina https://missbankrupt.com/?p=561 I will guess that the Walmart credit card would be considered a bankruptcy friendly credit card, just because it’s Walmart and Walmart loves some broke people. I generally love Walmart right back.

I was approved for the regular Walmart card about a year after my bankruptcy was discharged. I have not used this card much as I can’t find much reason to use it except to add more debt to my slightly sloppy financial picture.

Walmart offers a store credit card and a Walmart Discover credit card. If you must have a Walmart credit card, I would definitely try to get the Discover, but if you’ve filed bankruptcy, Discover is not usually very forgiving or bankruptcy friendly. Here is the comparison of the two cards:

walmart

As you can see, the only clear benefit to having the Walmart store card is that you save 3 cents per gallon at participating Walmart gas stations. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen one of these, and to be honest didn’t know this was a benefit of the card. The interest rate on both cards is 22.90%, which in the case of the store card and saving 3 cents on gas, makes it not really worth it. At least with the Discover version of the Walmart card there is a rewards program that consists of 1% cash back.

If you noticed at the top of the graphic, you can receive $20 if you get a card now and spend $100. Still don’t think that’s worth it. The few times that I have used this card, I make sure I pay it off. I am keeping it for the open line of credit, which helps my debt to credit ratio a little, but as I said, I still don’t see any real reason to have this credit card. There are other cards that would give you cash back on all purchases, even Walmart purchases, and would probably be a better deal.

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How to Fix a Late Payment on a Credit Card https://missbankrupt.com/how-to-fix-a-late-payment-on-a-credit-card/ https://missbankrupt.com/how-to-fix-a-late-payment-on-a-credit-card/#comments Sat, 13 Nov 2010 06:05:47 +0000 christina https://missbankrupt.com/?p=558 Well, as hard as I try to stay on top of my credit card payments, it is inevitable that one will be missed or forgotten. In my case it was a payment for Walmart which I never use and can’t remember why I did. Of course I forgot I even had a payment to make until it was too late.

By the way, that Walmart credit card is pretty useless. But I’ll cover that some other time.

If you are ever in a similar situation and have accidentally missed your credit card payment, it’s not the end of the world. Unless you “forget” a lot, then those late payments are wreaking havoc on your credit report.

Here are a couple fixes that have worked for me, so far:

Call the Creditor ASAP

As soon as you realize you’ve missed the due date, call the creditor on the phone. Don’t email and wait or write a letter. This will take far too much time. Call the creditor and let them know of your error (or if it’s their error, if it is) and apologize. It seems like a bunch of beggary I know, but sometimes acknowledgment and a simple “I’m sorry, I completely missed it,” go a long ways.

Ask the Credit Card Company to Remove the Late Fee

I’ve done this maybe twice and it both times they have removed any late fees. Although I am aware that it is my fault and I deserve the late fee, it doesn’t hurt to ask and has saved me some money.

Ask that the Payment is Not Reported as Late

This doesn’t always work, after all the payment was late, but you never know. Besides if you catch the missed payment early enough, it won’t be reported as late anyway.  Most companies don’t report a late payment until it is past 30 days. If the payment is still reported as 3o days late, it won’t harm your credit much. 60 days late probably will, but I doubt a payment is accidentally missed when you get to 60 days. As I noted in the beginning, if your payments are consistently late, it will damage your credit report, but one payment a year may not.

Set Up Automatic Payment

I don’t have an automatic payment set up on my cards because even though I am a strictly online person, I don’t have enough confidence in my financial situation to set up a regular monthly payment. This method of payment helps a lot of credit cardholders to stay on top of their payments though without worrying that they may accidentally miss one.

Things come up and it’s a simple mistake that I would guess is fairly common, unless you pay your credit cards off every month. I haven’t gotten to that point yet. If you’ve filed bankruptcy, you want to make sure you stay on top of your payments though to prevent ruining the credit history you’ve work so hard to repair.

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Orchard Bank and Credit Cards After Bankruptcy https://missbankrupt.com/orchard-bank-and-credit-cards-after-bankruptcy/ https://missbankrupt.com/orchard-bank-and-credit-cards-after-bankruptcy/#comments Thu, 11 Nov 2010 05:44:37 +0000 christina https://missbankrupt.com/?p=553 It seems that as soon as people file bankruptcy, they want to know how to start repairing their credit. Usually credit cards are the first and easiest way to start this process. The Orchard Bank MasterCard and Orchard Bank Visa are popular credit cards that are specifically geared for those with poor credit and those that have filed bankruptcy.

Most people post bankruptcy will want to start out with a secured credit card. Many secured cards include a ton of additional fees just to have the credit card, including monthly fees, annual fees, membership fees, and application fees. Orchard Bank offers subprime credit cards with less fees than most others.

When you apply with Orchard Bank you will answer a few personal questions before your credit is even checked to give you an idea which card you would be prequalified for. Then you can decide if you want to apply for that card. You could be prequalified for an unsecured credit card.  Here is a chart with the various fees and credit cards that Orchard Bank offers:

orchard cardsBecause of this prequalification process, you don’t risk having a hard inquiry on your credit report for a credit card you don’t want.

Another thing to look for when shopping for a credit card post bankruptcy is to make sure, whether secured or unsecured, that the credit card and any payments you make are reported to the credit bureaus. There are many secured credit cards that do not report, which would not assist in repairing credit and would simply be a waste of money.

All in all, Orchard Bank is recommended for post bankruptcy filers and those with poor credit because of the minimal fees for subprime credit cards. Additionally, Orchard Bank is an extremely large and reputable bank which is an important factor when trying to repair your credit.

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SafeCell Cell Phone App Rewards Safe Drivers https://missbankrupt.com/safecell-cell-phone-app-rewards-safe-drivers/ https://missbankrupt.com/safecell-cell-phone-app-rewards-safe-drivers/#comments Tue, 26 Oct 2010 04:47:13 +0000 christina https://missbankrupt.com/?p=551 Although it isn’t quite illegal in every state, (yet), texting, emailing, facebooking or just talking on the cell phone while driving is unsafe. Everyone knows that. For some reason it is still hard to not peek at that text when it comes in or ignore the phone call even though we’re pretty sure it isn’t important.

The SafeCell App for cell phones seems to have figured out a way to keep drivers from using their cell phones while driving and earning rewards at the same time for gift cards for places like Macy’s, Apple and Amazon. As soon as your car is moving at a speed faster than 5 mph, your cell phone will be disabled and you will earn rewards points. Every 500 miles is $5. If you’re a passenger or for some reason really, really need your phone you can turn the app off, but you won’t earn the miles for the rewards. There is an Emergency Call button if you need to make an emergency phone call as well. Additionally, you can set up the app to give callers a message or text that says “the person you’re trying to reach will return your call is driving and will receive your message upon reaching their destination.”

Sure, it seems sad that we can’t stop using our phones long enough to wait until we aren’t driving. Drivers survived a very long time without cell phones or the ability to make phone calls on their journies to work. If the sheer safety isn’t appealing enough to you, maybe the opportunity to earn rewards for gift cards from popular retailers will be.

The SafeCell App is currently available for $11.99 for lifetime access and updates until December 2010 when the $11.99 will only cover an annual subscription fee. As someone that uses only the free apps, I would still say that SafeCell is worth it, if only for breaking a bad habit. Most of us can also rack up a lot of miles for those rewards which would definitely exceed the cost of the subscription.

You can purchase the SafeCell App if you have an iPhone or Android and they are working on a version for the Blackberry. I would recommend this app for anyone that wants to break the habit of texting or calling while driving. Safer drivers and gift cards? Pretty much the best collabo ever.

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