Earlier this year we heard from Chris, Liz, and MOe, about there money moves for 2023. Today they share with us what they have done since the beginning of the year.
Chris: I guess the theme of this episode is to be brave.
MOe: Take baby steps.
Chris: yeah. Absolutely. Being brave and being courageous is I think a, a really good thing for us to, to be willing to do.
Chris: This is the Penny Forward podcast, a show about blind people building bright futures one penny at a time. I’m Chris Peterson, …
Liz: I’m Liz Bottner, …
MOe: And MOe Carpenter, …
Chris: And today, we have no guest. Yes, all three of us are going to be sharing little things that we’ve discovered over the last few months, since our “Making Money Moves to Start Off 2023” episode that we recorded at the beginning of the year. I am going to be talking about my experience with a forty-dollar Android phone that I bought in preparation for our smartphone showdown financial sense event that, uh, was held recently. MOe is going to be talking about some things that she has discovered, including a money market account she’s opened, and a great experience she had with a credit card company recently. And Liz is going to talk about what it’s like to apply for and receive and use the Apple Credit Card. First thing’s first. I think almost everybody, including myself, expected that when I said that I bought an Android phone, brand-new, for $40, that I was gonna have all kinds of issues with it, right?
Liz: Well, first you said it was 39.99. So, was it really 39.99?
Chris: Well it was actually …
Liz: Then it’s not $40.
Chris: That’s true.
Chris: It was 39.88. It was under forty dollars.
Liz: Fantastic. That, that matters.
Chris: It does.
Liz: I think.
Chris: It does.
Chris: Yeah, we want to be very s very precise when we’re talking about money, uh, because those rounding errors can cause you to, if, if you’ve ever watched “Office Space,” you know what rounding errors can do.
MOe: But Chris, why don’t you tell us about your $40, or forty, and less, dollar phone?
Chris: I would love to. In fact I’d like to give you a brief tour of the phone, and then, uh, talk to you about what I’ve been able to do with it so far. So, it’s a TCL T 62 Dl or something like that, and it is locked to Total by Verizon, which is a pre-paid carrier that offers a thirty-dollar a month flat rate plan, with unlimited talk, text, and data, which is pretty cool. And uh, when I got it, I got uh, just a box, you know, it wasn’t a very fancy box, but I pulled the phone out of the box and it came with a, a charger, and a USB cable to plug into the charger, and some interesting things that you don’t get when you buy an iPhone. First of all, the back of the phone is a piece of plastic that wasn’t attached to the phone when I pulled it out of the box. Underneath the back is a sim card slot, and a micro SD card slot, so this phone has expandable memory. It comes with 32 gigs by default, but they say you can put a five hundred and twelve gig micro SD card into it. It also comes with a removeable battery. Something that we have gotten used to not having with iPhones. But uh, and, and a lot of Android phones don’t have this either, but this one does. It has a 6.1 inch screen, and it has a headphone jack. Again, something we’ve gotten used to not having on our iPhones. It runs Android 12, which is a couple of Android issues behind. They’re uh, working on the beta release of Android 14 now, so it’s, you know, a, a couple of releases behind, uh, but still fairly current. It has an 8 megapixel camera. I did discover that it does not have an NFC reader, which means that it’s not useful for the Way Around app, unless you have the separate Bluetooth Way Around reader, which MOe has and says is actually better than the NFC chip reader in her phone anyway. So, uh, but I have been able to use a few apps with it, including the BARD mobile app, and Envision AI, and uh, a couple of other things. Gmail, and Chrome, some uh, basic things like that. So I want to do a quick demo of it. I’m gonna turn it on now.
Classic Google Voice on Chris’s New Android: Device locked. 5958 PM.
Chris: And I’m gonna unlock it.
Phone: Device locked. Device unlocked. Launcher. One weather clock small.
Chris: And uh, the home screen is similar when, when you use it to an IOS device. I can flick left and right to, to go through the different things on the screen.
(Sound of click.)
Phone: One weather compact, one weather compact, 90 degrees, partly cloudy, Bloomington, MN, Thursday June twenty-second.
Phone: 5:59 P.M.
Phone: View alert.
Phone: Moderate air quality alert.
Phone: Unlabeled, button.
Phone: Google search, button.
Phone: Google search.
Phone: voice search, button.
Phone: Camera search, button.
Phone: My sites.
Phone: Play store.
(Slightly different sound.)
Phone: On, top back, in l–
(Plunk sound as if he’s reached the end of the screen.)
Chris: I have to admit that I’m not fully used to using the Android interface yet, and there’s some things that, uh, are on a different page that I don’t remember always how to get to. Like the BARD mobile app. But that’s how it is to navigate. It does do multi finger gestures, which some, uh, Android experts suggested that it might not do, and as you can tell, the speech seems to be pretty responsive when I flick around. Except–
(Phone plays a musical note.)
Phone: Screen off.
Chris: Uh, in the Facebook app. The Facebook app is really slow and unresponsive, and people who have used it on Android before have told me that it, uh, is slow and unresponsive even on better phones. But using Chrome, using BARD mobile, using Gmail, all of those things work really, really well, from what I’ve been able to tell, and uh, I think that I am incredibly impressed with what this $40, or, sub forty dollar phone is capable of doing for what it actually is. Envision AI was fun to play with, but I wasn’t terribly impressed with it. It seems like Seeing AI works better. And I don’t know if that means that I have a crappy camera, or if it means that Envision AI isn’t quite as good, but I tried to recognize text on my computer screen, something that I do with Seeing AI fairly often, and kind of got gibberish out of it. And I tried to do some things like recognize colors and, and scenes and stuff, and, and got sort of varying results, um, from good to bad. It thought my daughter was a man. So, that is kind of my experience with the, the thirty-nine dollar and eighty-eight cent Android phone that I bought. I have not chosen to activate it on Total by Verizon. I may do that, uh, I am using Visible by Verizon, which is another, kind of, similar brand with a similar plan, uh, on my iPhone. And we really like it really, really well. All three of us use it. Our cell phone bill is ninety dollars a month for three lines, and uh, it’s been a really good move for our family since we started using it back in January. So, if I do choose to activate it, I’m positive that Total by Verizon is gonna be as good, and uh, that making a phone call should, should work out just fine. Liz, MOe, any questions?
MOe: I just wanted to say that we are not sponsored by any of the companies that we will be talking about today. So, these are just our own personal experiences.
Chris: Absolutely not. That is correct, and, really the point of this episode is kind of to encourage you to be willing to try some new things. Especially when it comes to trying to work out everything that you need to be able to fit into your budget. Certainly, uh, you should know, that you may be entirely successful with a phone like this. And that you may be entirely successful with some of the things that Liz and MOe are about to talk about. Let’s switch now to MOe, and uh, MOe, why don’t you give us an update on your money market account that you opened and, and uh, tell us about your credit card experience that you had.
MOe: So towards the beginning of the year, I did open a money market account. I did this kind of instead of opening an Able account, so I know I had talked about opening the Able account, and I was still reading through things, um, but in my family, we are a household of six, and so, all of my money decisions actually impact everyone. I know that’s just how our funds work. I’m not dissing anyone that has a different family structure than ours, but all of our income between me and my husband is shared, and so, I, I just felt better doing something that was a shared responsibility, like the money market account. And because my family, or my husband, rather, is someone who prefers to do things in a more local, or somewhere where he can still go to a physical branch, we did decide to go with a local credit union that our children are part of their system. We haven’t moved our funds completely over there, but we do have the bulk of our money over there since that is where the money market account is. And that money market account took us from earning a point zero one percent interest at the bank that we were at to earning a one percent interest for, uh, and it is compound interest, and so we’ve been really happy with the difference that we’ve seen even in the short time that we’ve had that open, and just the little bits of income that we’ve made . Even though it’s not a lot, it’s a whole lot more than we were making before, and it’s opened us up to the possibility that we will be opening things maybe on a wider scale in the future.
Chris: Yeah, it’s good to take baby steps. Especially when stuff makes you nervous, and clearly, in your family, that is a, a concern. So, wonderful. I’m glad that you gave that a shot, and uh, it’s great to hear that you’re noticing the difference. Is there anything about managing the money market account, or, or using it, that you’ve noticed that you were worried about, or that surprised you?
MOe: So so far, I’ve only done the online management on the computer, versus the, we did open the fund with taking money from our bank over to their bank, so that was all in person. I haven’t linked the transactions online yet so that we can transfer things more seamlessly, but I have taken money out from one branch and put it back into our, our checking account so that we could pay a credit card bill, ’cause we did plan our summer vacation, and so we needed a little bit of those funds to pay for part of our summer vacation because our summer vacation fund was part of what went into the money market account.
Chris: Cool. And how about the credit card experience that you wanted to talk about?
MOe: So actually, I just signed up, it’s not my first credit card, but it’s probably the first credit card that I’ve signed up for by myself completely, and got it all set up completely by myself, and I signed up for the Chase Freedom Flex card, and when I signed up for this, I was in the process, I had been approved, I had the thing, and it’s like, “Create your online account.” And of course, as things do, I filled in all the information, checked all the boxes, and the “proceed” button would not click through. And I eventually lost that page, and was unable to continue with the online creating an account process, but I was able to find a “help” number, got the customer service to let me create an account, and there, from there, I was able to talk to that individual and asked if they had any accommodations for the visually impaired and blind. And they said, “Well, I don’t know specifically what we have, but I’ll send you off to our ADA department.” So, I was able to talk with their ADA department, and I have a request in for either a, braille on the credit card itself or a braille sleeve to go over the credit card. So I’m excited to hear if any of that goes through. I haven’t heard yet, but it’s just exciting to know that they were able to at least suggest even anything that would make the process of using their card better.
Chris: I’m excited to hear how that goes too, because I also have several credit cards with Chase. So, if you’re successful at that, I probably want to give them a call and make those same requests. So thank you for that piece of information. And again, we’re not sponsored by Chase, but know that these things are available to you, and that it never hurts to ask, and, it uh, it’s great that staff are trained to help to get you to the right department, to get the answer, even if they don’t know the answer themselves. That’s uh, a really positive sign, and I’m excited to hear more about that when you get your new card.
Liz: What I would say, though, Chris, you say you might wait until MOe receives her card before you call, but it may actually be worth calling yourself and investigating to see if you have a similar response in terms of what you are told. Because maybe you will, and it’s awesome, but maybe you won’t. Uh, so that actually might be worth doing before MOe even gets her card, or her sleeve, or whatever it is that she’s going to get.
Chris: That’s a fair point, and uh, I may give that a shot. We’re getting close to convention season, and I’m really … really busy right now, so I don’t know if I’ll get to it, but uh, you’re, absolutely right. I wouldn’t have to wait.
MOe: Right, and it’s part of that convention season, just traveling, as an independent person, which was one of the reasons I wanted to open this card. Just so I could separate my spending when I’m by myself from my family’s spending. Well, since I think we’re done with, uh, talking about the things I’ve done, Liz, why don’t you share with us about the Apple account?
Liz: Sure. Before I do that, I just want to kind of give a general update on what I had spoken of in our previous episode earlier in the year, uh, related to, I believe I had mentioned my Able account, and that is still going, and I am still contributing, and I have been able to watch it grow, and that’s been really exciting. Uh, recently, I have applied for, and received, and started using, the Apple card. And it was a decision that I decided to go with after talking to a colleague, and then other people as well, in terms of getting their experiences with using the card, and I was very, very pleased with the entire process from the initial application to using the card, and activating the physical card, and using the electronic card. The process is done completely in the Wallet app, and approval takes a very short time, mere minutes, to be honest. Uh, at least that was my experience. And I was approved, and was able to start using it electronically, and you don’t have to request a physical card, but I wanted one, for the times that I might want to use the card, and I’m not in a position to be able to use Apple Pay because of the merchant not accepting that. And so I did receive, uh, the physical card the other day, and without too much trouble, was able to activate it. The instructions guided me through that process, and once I was able to figure out what they meant by “hold the phone near the envelope,” there were several envelopes that I was dealing with. Uh, the packaging is itself in an envelope, and the card is in this cardboard type envelope, and then that, in and of itself, the card, the … you open up the cardboard envelope, and there’s yet a third envelope, that I believe is what they were talking about in terms of holding your phone towards that envelope at the bottom and it will activate the card, and it did. Um, I did not require assistance, although could have gotten it if I had needed it. There was a way to get assistance if I did not have success with activating the card with the instructions. But I have been successfully able to use the card, uh, with Apple Pay, and I have also received the cash back that, with every transaction, you receive a certain percentage of cash back, depending on the eligibility of that transaction. And I have received some of that, and it’s small, but it will add up, and I’m very pleased with my decision.
Chris: Now, you do everything with the card through the wallet app, right? So, when you …
Chris: When you have to make a, a credit card payment, do you also do that through the Wallet app?
Liz: You do. Yes.
Chris: Wow! And have you made a payment yet?
Liz: I have not, uh, but I have found the button, which is very prominent once you select the Apple Card in the, in your wallet app, there’s an option to make a payment, so it’s, it’s very … it’s very up in front in terms of being visible on, on the screen. And if you need to call customer service, or chat with them, or “message them,” I think as the app puts it, it’s, it’s available in the app as well. I’ve not had to use that at this point, but it is there.
Chris: That’s really neat. And Apple has a really good track record with its own apps being accessible, so I’m guessing that the experience in the Wallet app is, is just as good as everything else Apple.
Liz: So far so good, yes.
Chris: Well that’s great. Nothing is ever perfect, unfortunately, I, I wish it were, but uh, that’s, that’s really good to, to hear. Was there anything that you were nervous about before you decided to, to sign up for the card?
Liz: Just the idea of having yet another credit card. I don’t have that many, but I don’t like having a lot of accounts in general, because I feel like the more accounts you have, the more people can potentially find them, and do bad things with them, but really and truly, it does help with building credit to diversify and have, in this case, multiple credit cards. Uh, so, I just, and it, it’s literally free money that you get when you use the card and get the cash back. So that’s really what did it for me. Apple does have a savings account that can be set up along with the card. I have not yet done that, uh, but I could do that if I so chose.
Chris: Yeah, that has a, … over four percent interest rate. So it’s a, it looks like it’s a really good deal. I’ve done some reading about it and I’m a little bit intrigued about it myself, but I just applied for a, uh, an American Express card earlier this year, and uh, if you have taken our “Concerned About Credit” course, you know that applying for too many new cards, or too many new lines of credit in a short period of time can bring your credit score down. And uh, I don’t really need it right now, so I’m going to hold off for, for a while, and, and uh, maybe think about it say, next year, after, after I’ve, I’ve spread those applications out a little bit longer.
Liz: One thing that I’ve also done recently, which has me kind of pausing with setting the savings account up as well, is that I did convert, my savings account is now a money market account. And so any money that I might want to transfer in there, I can do that, and it, it gets more percentage of interest than it otherwise would. So, …
Chris: Yup. Yup. Although, uh, you know, be aware that a money market doesn’t always have a higher interest rate than a savings account.
Chris: But sometimes it does. Um, MOe is a good example of that. Where she, she got a higher interest rate than her savings account by, by switching to a money market account. So, uh, …
MOe: And it’s not the highest percentage you can get with a money market. It was just the highest from the companies that I looked at. Actually, I said it was one percent, it’s 1.45 percent ’cause it has gone up with the, uh, current, like I said, it is with a credit union, so they were able to actually, I think it was in May, we got bumped up to 1.45 percent.
Chris: Okay. Yeah. That’s, that’s great. Yeah, those things do fluctuate, and one of the benefits of the high interest rate environment that we are in right now is that we are seeing higher interest rates on savings accounts and money markets and things like that than, than we would have this same time two or three years ago. Uh, but we talk about that in other places and we don’t need to go into a ton of detail here. Well, Liz, MOe, it was really great to hear all of your experiences, and uh, to catch up with, with both of you. I don’t have any specific plans from a financial perspective for later in the year that I can think of, although we did spend sixty dollars on a can of paint to, uh, paint a, a railing that was looking really bad outside of our house, and we decided that we liked the color, so we’re also gonna paint our front door, and, and our garage door that color. But I don’t see that as being a particularly significant move, except to say that my wife Kelly has never considered herself to be a painter, and she was really nervous about painting. Because it wasn’t something that she had done a lot of. But now that she’s done it a few times, she’s, she’s uh, gotten to be a lot more comfortable with it, and, and uh, it’s a great way to save money if you learn a skill like that yourself, because we, we have in the past paid people thousands of dollars to do our painting for us because we were nervous about screwing it up ourselves. So again, I guess the theme of this episode is to be brave. It, it can often, work out.
MOe: Take baby steps.
Chris: Yeah. Take baby steps. Paint a railing, paint your front door, uh, go and see if you can find a little higher interest rate, apply for a credit card, you don’t necessarily even have to use it, but, you know, maybe you just have it, or, …
Liz: But, with that, though, you want to make sure, I think, that you apply for a credit card that you will use, and that will be affective for you in terms of maybe what it might offer with rewards and things like that, um, and it’s, it can be hard to kind of figure that out, and not every credit card is, is the right credit card for every person.
MOe: And I really want to stress that if you are not able to handle having a credit card, if you’re not able to pay that balance off, or if you just think you might not be able to, it might not be the right solution for you.
MOe: I’m a person that’s very on top of that, and I’m, I took over having our credit card that we had between me and my husband a couple years ago, and it’s never had an interest payment since then, so I feel comfortable taking over on my own credit card.
Chris: Certainly. Or, you know, as another example, give something cheaper a try and see how it works out. It doesn’t always work out. Sometimes cheaper is, is not necessarily better, but cheaper is not necessarily worse either. And sometimes, uh, something that might be cheaper might do the job good enough for now. If uh, you’re trying to make ends meet, or, or achieve a goal. Again, all of these are just examples, and you’re gonna find in your own life things that you’re going to want to try to do, or you may be thinking about trying to do, and I, I want to give you some encouragement to, uh, maybe try those things. Not without some forethought and some planning, and certainly it’s a good idea to get other people’s opinions, maybe do some research ahead of time to make sure that you’re making the right decision, but don’t let yourself get paralyzed either by feeling like you need to, uh, make the perfect decision. Because, uh, as with many things in life, there is, is not always a perfect decision. And uh, …
Liz: There is never a perfect decision. (Chuckle.) In my opinion.
Chris: Yeah, that’s probably true. I think that’s probably true, but uh, sometimes there’s, uh, sometimes there’s uh, a lot of different, really good decisions. And being brave and being courageous is, I think a, a really good thing for us to, to be willing to do.
Chris: Liz, MOe, any final thoughts?
Liz: Be brave, take that next step, whatever it might be. If you really want to take the next step in being independent, more independent with your finances, then do it.
MOe: I think my final thought is, if you want anyone to just voice what you want to do just so you have another ear to give you an opinion, we are here for you, and just send us a message at
Chris: Well thank you both for that, and thank you both for being here.
Liz: Thank you for being here.
Chris: Thank you so much.
Chris: Uh, we are recording this right before the ACB and NFB conventions start off, so, by the time this gets released, we will either be at or have been at the conventions. So, wish us luck, or, uh, keep in touch, and, and uh, we’ll talk about what our first experience exhibiting at the two major blindness conventions was like. ’cause this is something that we as an organization are bravely trying for the first time. And if you happen to hear this while the convention’s going on, and you happen to be at the convention in person, uh, stop by our booth. We’ll be at ACB and NFB, not all of us specifically, but we have groups at, at both conventions, and, uh, we would be happy to meet you in, in person while you’re there. And! If you are interested in hearing more content like this, I hope that you’ll visit our website,
where you can find blog posts, other podcast episodes, and, you can join to take advantage of our self paced online courses, weekly members only group chats, and access to one on one financial counseling. We are offering memberships for ninety-nine dollars a year or 9 dollars and 99 cents a month, and, while supplies last, if you sign up, you could receive some thank you gifts. If you sign up for a yearly membership, you will receive a battery bank that can be charged up in the sun, and you can use it to charge your phone, or a lot of your assistive tech, and a retractable, universal, USB cable, which can be used to charge your assistive tech. Both of those things have the Penny Forward logo on them, so you literally can’t find them anywhere else. If you are only able to afford the 9 dollars and 99 cents a month plan, though, don’t worry. We’ll still send you the USB cable as a thank you gift for joining. ’cause we value your membership just as much. And if you’re on the fence and you just want to try us out, we now offer a free, that is free, at no charge, guest membership, where, for a limited time, you will be able to access all of our online courses, and get early access to the Penny Forward podcast. Again, all of that is available on our website
The Penny Forward podcast is produced by Chris Peterson and Liz Bottner, with assistance from MOe Carpenter. Audio editing and post production is provided by Brynn Lee at
transcription is provided by Anne Verduin, and the music is composed and performed by Andre Louis. Penny Forward is a 501 C 3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to help blind people navigate the complicated landscape of personal finance through education, mentoring, and mutual support. For all of us in the Penny Forward community, I’m Chris Peterson, …
Liz: I’m Liz Bottner, …
MOe: I’m MOe Carpenter, …
Chris: Thanks for listening, and have a great week.