Saturday, August 1, 2015

July side hustles 2015

The great thing about doing side hustles to generate extra income is that you can hustle on your own terms.  The more hard work, time, and creative effort you put in, the more extra money you can make.  You can hustle as little or as much as you want, whenever you want.  It’s your extra money, and you can choose how you want to spend it.  Instead of focusing on what ideas don’t apply to you, try focusing on different side hustle ideas that you can implement to work for your situation.

Welcome to August, another new month.  July seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye.  When we first discovered that we were having a baby, we had no idea just how much our lives would never be the same.  The demands of a newborn are non-stop.  It seems like our little one is constantly eating and pooping.  I continue to be amazed by how much patience and dedication my wife has to nurture and raise our son.  Now that I am back at work, my wife has taken up so much more responsibility at home.  No help from grandparents and no help from a nanny.  Aside from the sleep deprivation, she is enjoying every moment she has with our son. 

Watching our son grow so fast over the last 2 months has really got me thinking about how short our time here is on this world.  Time really flies… and I don’t want to work until the day I die.  Having a son has given us an extra purpose in life - that we need to succeed for him.  My wife and I continue to work hard and save generously so that we can reach financial freedom.  Income that we receive from side hustles is the cherry on top.   

Here’s our monthly summary of side income that we have generated in the previous month of July.

Cash Back
On 7.11, I received a $10 statement credit from AMEX Offers (Spend $75 at AT&T Wireless, get $10 back)
On 7.28, I received a $20 Visa gift card from Staples rebate for purchasing Visa gift cards

Search and Win
On 7.19, I received a $5 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks

On 7.10, I received a $5 Amazon gift card from Bing Rewards
On 7.26, my wife received a $5 Amazon gift card from Bing Rewards
On 7.27, I received a $5 Amazon gift card from Bing Rewards

On 7.16, I received a $5 Amazon gift card from iRazoo

Paid surveys
On 7.27, I received a $3 PayPal deposit from PineCone Research

Side Job
On 7.13, I received a check for $275 from the local university where I teach part time.

Miscellaneous Income
On 7.28, I received a check for $39.68 from a Kaiser Permanente settlement

Rental Income
On 7.1, we received a net profit of $430 from our rental property

Credit Card bonuses
This past month, I was approved for both the Citibank ThankYou Premier and American Express Premier Rewards Gold credit cards.  Each card has a 50,000 sign up bonus points. 
I’m glad that we have been able to travel so frequently over the last few years and look forward to bringing our son on future trips with us.  We will continue to sign up for some big credit card bonuses and slowly accumulate miles and points for future use.   

Monthly Totals:
Our side hustles increased slightly in July.
We earned $30 in cash back
We earned $25 worth of Amazon gift certificates from Search and Win sites
We earned $3 in cash from paid surveys
I earned $275 from my side job teaching at the local university
I earned $39.68 from miscellaneous income
We earned $430 from rental income

All of this totals $802.68 from our side hustles for the month of July.  Are you doing any hustling on the side for extra income? 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

50,000 Membership Rewards points with the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

The latest credit card that I’ve been approved for is the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card.  The best current offer is an extremely easy to achieve 50,000 point sign up bonus after spending only $1,000 within the first 3 months.  This card earns 3x points on airfare and 2x points at restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations.  There are no foreign transaction fees with this card.

My first AMEX Charge Card
The Premier Rewards Gold card is a charge card, which means that you do not carry a balance.  All charges made within a statement period need to be paid off in full.  In my last few years of credit card bonus chasing, I have never applied for an AMEX Gold Card.  The snazzy look of this card always appealed to me, but I’ve never been a fan of the American Express Membership Rewards points program.  The point system always seemed too inconvenient and confusing to me.  Even the AMEX membership rewards points page is a mess of confusing information.  You cannot share points with anyone. 

With the availability of the recent 50,000 point sign up bonus, the AMEX MR point system is worth another look. 

How much are AMEX Membership Rewards points worth?
Some bloggers value AMEX MR points at 2 cents each point (or more), but it can be tricky to figure out the best way to redeem your points. 

Do not cash out your points
Cashing out your points provides a terrible return at 1 point = 0.6 cents.  That means 10,000 MR points can only be cashed out for $60.  Compare this to Chase Ultimate Rewards points, where cashing them out provides a return of 1 point = 1 cent.  10,000 UR points can be cashed out for $100. 

Gift cards
Membership Rewards points can also be redeemed towards gift cards, up to 1 point = 1 cent.  Gift cards include restaurants, car rental companies, hotels, and retail stores.  It’s a shame Target doesn’t seem to be on that list. 

Uber rides
MR points can be redeemed towards free Uber rides at 1 point = 1 cent. 

Online shopping
Transferring MR points to Amazon or Best Buy only yields 1 point = 0.7 cents. 

Airline and Hotel transfer partners
The most valuable redemption of AMEX MR points is going to be transferring the points to any of the 16 airlines or 4 hotel transfer partners.  To me it looks like 1:1 point transfers to the Singapore Airlines Krisflyer may be the best value.  My biggest flying fantasy is to be able to travel in the extremely luxurious Singapore Airlines Suites Class.   Transferring AMEX MR points to FlyingBlue or ANA looks very valuable as well.  AMEX sometimes offers transfer bonuses that give you better return for your point conversion. 
AMEX airline transfer partners
AMEX hotel transfer partners

$100 airline fee credit
An interesting benefit of the Premier Rewards Gold Card is that it offers a $100 airline fee credit per calendar year.  Go here to select a qualifying airline before making your purchase.  Since we are in the middle of 2015, this means that you can get two separate $100 airline fee credits before your first year of card membership (one for 2015, and one for 2016).  That’s $200 in free airline credits. 

Many people have been able to buy airline gift cards and get reimbursed for those purchases.  I’ll probably buy a Southwest or American Airlines gift card.

The Premier Rewards Gold card has a hefty $195 annual fee.  The $100 airline fee credit helps to offset the annual fee somewhat.  The first year of card membership does not have any fees, so you can test out whether this card is worth keeping, downgrading, or cancelling next year.  Working with the AMEX Membership Rewards points system can be a hassle, but there is definitely a lot of value in a 50,000 point sign up bonus.  You can read more discussion about this card and offer on Slickdeals and Flyertalk.  See this reddit post on different ways to use AMEX MR points.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I just hit my limit with Chase credit cards ☹

There’s been some anecdotal evidence and rumors that Chase has started to crack down on people who abuse their credit card sign up bonuses. 

The new Chase credit card application rule appears to be:

If you have opened 5 or more new credit card accounts with any credit card issuer within the past 24 months, you will NOT be approved for a Chase branded card (Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus or Chase Ink Cash.  Being an authorized user on someone else’s account does not count against you.

I decided to test this theory last night by trying to apply for another Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, one of my favorite personal credit cards.  The bonus on this card can be opened after 24 months have passed since the first bonus points were awarded.
I was looking forward to earning another 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points
Before applying, I checked Credit Karma and Credit Sesame to make sure my credit score was still good.    
My Credit Karma score
My Credit Sesame score
I have excellent credit history, absolutely no credit card debt.  Despite this, my application for a new Chase Sapphire Preferred card did NOT get automatic approval.  I received the following message:
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