GoodBudget – a Decent, Unsung Budgeting App

It still doesn’t have searching in the iOS version, but GoodBudget is my favorite budgeting app.  It’s a digital envelope system.  The interface is simple:

goodbudget
(Not my actual budget.)

My wife and I can easily use it.  It syncs between devices quickly and reliably.  Categories are easily customizable, and it’s generous with 10 envelopes for free.  It’s built by a small team of developers who are slow to add features but steady in their work over the years.

It’s fast loading (under 2 seconds).  Unlike Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar budgeting app, it also works offline.  This is great when you’re trying to see how much you have left to spend in the back of the supermarket aisle where there’s no mobile signal.

Until Apple creates something better built into the Wallet app, GoodBudget is recommended.

Transferring Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP) Shares From ComputerShare to Your Brokerage Account

Update: This is all possible via ComputerShare’s web site now.  You can transfer shares for free, online, without having to call in.  You still have to wait 1-3 business days for the shares to actually be transferred though.

Let’s say you want to transfer your employee stock purchase plan (ESPP) shares from ComputerShare to your brokerage account.  Here’s what I’ve found:

 
  1. Call ComputerShare at 781-575-2727 during U.S. Eastern time business hours.  (Their toll-free number was dead the last time I tried.)
  2. Prepare for a long 3-5 minute authentication process where an automated voice tells you all about your account, v-e-r-y slowly.  Say “customer service” as much as possible.  Have your employee number, PIN #, and account number from the ComputerShare web site / statements handy.  When you do finally get to a human, they’re actually pretty pleasant to deal with, as long as you’re patient and polite.
  3. Tell ComputerShare’s rep to transfer your ESPP shares to common stock.  (Common stock shares are Direct Registration System (DRS) eligible. If you try to transfer ESPP shares directly to your brokerage, they will be denied.)  This step is required.  You can only do this over the phone, not online.
  4. Wait 1-3 business days.  Observe at ComputerShare’s web site that your shares have transferred to common stock.
  5. Login to your brokerage and select broker to broker transfer, then select “ComputerShare – DRS” when doing the transfer.  Select the option to transfer whole shares only.  (Partial shares won’t transfer.)  Attach a PDF copy of your newest ComputerShare statement.  Wait 5-7 days for the transfer to complete.

 

 
Q. Is this free?
A. Usually.  Neither ComputerShare nor my brokerage, as of this writing, charge a fee for a broker to broker transfer.  Check with your brokerage to make sure.
 
Q. Why would you want to do this?
A. In my case, I did it for several reasons, including: 
  • I wanted to get the shares out of ComputerShare using the least expensive method possible.  There are larger fees for selling shares via ComputerShare’s system.
  • I wanted to use my brokerage’s far superior (though still not perfect) web interface to manage the bulk of my shares.  Navigating ComputerShare’s site requires at least 3 button presses to get to the actual login page, where you select from 3 different types of usernames for logging in, followed by a multitude of confusing buttons to get details about what you own.  Their whole site seems like it hasn’t been updated since the mid-1990s.  My brokerage, by contrast, has one login page, one username type, and presents almost everything you need to know right away.  Their customer service is 24/7 too.

 

Q. What do I do with my shares after they’ve transferred over successfully?
A. It’s up to you.  You can leave them where they are (incurring the risk that your company’s stock will go down, potentially wiping out any ESPP savings), you can manually sell them for cash (incurring a tax and a trading fee cost), or you can automatically sell them for cash using a limit order at a price a little under the highest you’ve seen in the last 1-3 months (noting that you will still incur a tax and trading fee cost).  If you sell them for cash and you don’t need the money right away, you may want to reinvest them according to your asset allocation.

Q. Why would I want to purchase ESPP shares in the first place?
A. Check out The Finance Buff’s excellent article on ESPP shares – he goes in depth about why you might want to do this.

Q. What is ComputerShare?
A. ComputerShare is a stock transfer agent.  For more info, see Brokerage Review’s article (which also discusses their fees).

Never Pay Full Price For iTunes Music/Movies/Apps

iTunes gift cards go on sale every few months for 15-25% off at Best Buy, Safeway, ShopRite, etc.

Right now, Best Buy is offering 20% off $100 cards.  If you have a Discover card, you can get an additional 5% cash back via ShopDiscover.  This stacks with 5% off all online purchases with Discover from Oct-Dec.  That’s a $100 iTunes card for $72.

apple-gift-card.jpeg

Safeway and Vons are offering $60 worth of iTunes cards for $36.  (Valid until Christmas Day) Great deal!

You can get alerted to these deals as they happen by creating a saved search on Fatwallet’s Hot Deals forum for “iTunes card”.  Fatwallet will email you as soon as one appears.

Best Way to Redeem Discover Rewards

Turns out you can redeem your Discover card rewards for Walmart gift cards.  So if you’ve accumulated $40 cashback, you get a $40 gift card + a $10 bonus gift card, both to Walmart.

Discover Redeem Reward Sam's Club Membership Terms and Conditions highlighting Gift Card can be used at WalmartThe gift cards say Sam’s Club Membership on them, but the fine print reveals they can be used at Walmart (retail or online).  I’ve done this several times with no problems.  Good deal if you’re a Walmart shopper.