Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Our Cathay Pacific first class experience flying HKG to SFO

We just returned from an international trip to Tokyo, Taipei, and Okinawa.  Thanks to American Airlines AAdvantage miles, we were able to fly home on Cathay Pacific’s first class.  Here is our experience flying Cathay Pacific first class.

Even before boarding the plane, we got to check out The Wing First Class Lounge at Hong Kong International airport.  This was hands-down the best airport lounge that we have ever been to.  The furniture was extremely stylish and comfortable.  Servers are constantly walking around serving you free drinks like champagne, wine, hard alcohol, water, and various juices. 

We had dinner in the large dining area, which is serviced and catered by The Peninsula Hotel.

As usual with airport lounges, there was a buffet with various hot foods, salads, and desserts.  I was impressed to see a carving station with freshly sliced hot turkey.  This being said, we found the buffet food to be very lacking in taste. 

The dining area also offers an a la carte menu, which really is the way to go for freshly prepared food.

I ordered the sautéed king prawns with spinach cream, blackcurrant chutney and prawn butter.  Definitely high-end restaurant quality.  I enjoyed the prawns so much that I ordered it a second time.

My wife ordered the braised marinated beef cheek with red wine sauce and potato gratin.  Also high-end restaurant quality.  Her beef cheek was extremely tender and flavorful. 

After we ate we went to check out one of the Wing’s 5 cabana rooms.  The room was very spacious, and included everything a hotel room would have: showers, bathtub, sink, private bathroom, daybed, desk, toiletries, fresh towels, and robes. 

The cabana room was almost as big as our hotel room at the Sheraton Miyako hotel in Tokyo.  We took a nap on the bed and then freshened up afterwards.  Because there are only 5 cabana rooms, they kindly ask that you stay no longer than 1.5 hours, so that other guests can use the facilities.

After freshening up in the cabana room, we were ready for our flight!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

October Side Hustles 2014

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.

Welcome to November, the start of another brand new month!  It’s also time for another summary of our side hustles from the previous month!  Did you have a good Halloween?  Have you been meeting all of your financial goals?

November is going to be a very busy month for us.  We will be traveling to Tokyo, Taipei, and Okinawa over the next 2 weeks, with extended layovers in Honolulu, Hong Kong, and San Francisco.  We hope to have an eventful and safe trip!  All of our flights have been paid for with frequent flyer miles and credit card points!  Our Tokyo stay will be paid for with Starpoints.  We will be staying with family in Taipei.  And we have found a great airbnb home to stay at in Okinawa.  This still leaves a lot of food and entertainment expenses for us to cover.  Side hustles help to cover all of these costs.   

This past month I have done a lot more teaching and consulting work on the side.  It’s been the easiest way for me to bring in extra income.  I love to teach and find that it is a lot of fun and very fulfilling.  Do you have a particular set of skills?  Are you knowledgeable in something that others are willing to pay for?  You can turn your expertise into an extra source of income. 
I’ve also decided to give most online surveys a break, with the exception being PineCone Research surveys.  PineCone Research surveys are very short, take so little time, and pay out quickly.  Also, PineCone Research sends us great test products from time to time.  I won’t be doing any more e-Rewards, Opinion Outpost, iSay, Survey Savvy and other surveys for a while.  Sometimes the surveys just get too boring and time consuming. 

Not all of the following side hustles may be applicable to you.  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.  Here’s our monthly summary of side income that we’ve generated in the month of October:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

New 401K maximum contribution limits for 2015

The IRS announced some exciting news today regarding retirement accounts.  Starting in January 2015, the maximum contribution limits for your 401K or 403B tax-deferred retirement accounts will be increased to $18,000.  If you want to max out your 401K and you get paid bimonthly, you just need to divide $18,000 by 24 for a deposit of $750 per pay period. 

If you’re over age 50, you can now contribute a maximum of $24,000 per year.

While not every working individual can afford to save the maximum 401K contribution amount, it’s certainly a goal to reach for.   Start by saving up to the company match, and then slowly increase your contributions 1% at a time, every pay period.  It took me two and a half years before I could start maxing out my 401K.       

You can read the IRS announcement here.  There’s some good discussion about the new 401K contribution limits on the Bogleheads forum here.

It’s a shame that the IRS did not increase the contribution limits for traditional and Roth IRAs.  Not every worker has access to a company 401K, and the current limits for IRA contribution of $5,500 ($6,000 if over 50) a year is ridiculously low.  Hopefully we will get an increased contribution limit for our IRAs in the future. 

If you are getting paid to work, you should be thinking about your retirement.  Otherwise, you will either work until the day you die or hope to live on social security and government assistance.
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