Saturday, December 1, 2018

Side hustles November 2018

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.

Once a month (usually on the 1st), I like to post a short summary of our personal and financial situation for the previous month.  Here I’ll share some of what’s been going on with our lives and our side hustles. 

Welcome to December!  Did you all have a memorable November?  I can’t believe that we are now starting the very last month of 2018. 
We ate so much great food this past month.  We had office potlucks, Thanksgiving with family, and celebrated Thanksgiving with friends.  Our biggest highlight was taking the family to Sea World in San Diego.  Our children got up close and personal with orcas, dolphins, sea turtles, fish, sharks and more.  Since we have season passes, we visited Sea World two days in a row!
Our daughter is now 11 months old and she will turn 1 next month.  She's crawling around, babbling quite a bit, and starting to stand up.  Time really flies and we must cherish every moment we have.
The rest of the month was filled with plenty of walks around our neighborhood and visits to the playground.  I love that our son gets simple joy from playing on the slides, swings and sandbox.
Here’s our monthly summary of side income that we have generated in the previous month of November.
Cash Back
On 11.1, I received $10.23 deposit in my Discover Cashback Checking account.
On 11.5, my wife received a $9.14 statement credit on her AMEX Gold card.  Part of this card’s sign up bonus is 20% cash back on restaurant purchases up to $100 cash back within the first 3 months.
On 11.9, I received a $13.23 statement credit on my AMEX Blue Cash Everyday card.
On 11.11, my wife received a $5.24 statement credit on her AMEX Gold card.
On 11.11, my wife received a $10 statement credit on her AMEX Gold card.  This was for the $10 dining credit AMEX provides once each month (up to $120 a year) at participating restaurants.  This was credit for food purchased at delicious Shake Shack.
On 11.12, my wife received a $7.47 statement credit on her AMEX Gold card.
On 11.14, my wife received a $11.30 statement credit on her AMEX Gold card.
On 11.16, my wife received a $3.30 statement credit on her AMEX Gold card.
On 11.21, my wife received a $0.45 statement credit on her AMEX Gold card.
On 11.21, I received a $1.45 statement credit on my Sapphire Reserve card from Yelp Cashback.  Just link a credit card and make normal purchases – any affiliated with Yelp will earn you extra cash back on top of your credit card rewards.
On 11.22, my wife received a $1.93 statement credit on her AMEX Gold card.
On 11.22, I received a $0.25 statement credit on my AMEX SimplyCash Business card.
On 11.30, my wife received a $6.10 statement credit on her AMEX Gold card.
All of these little statement credits came at a great time, while we were on vacation to San Diego eating out and ordering takeout.

Survey Income
On 11.5, I received a $40 check for doing a medical survey with M3 Global Research
On 11.22, I received a $15 gift card for doing a medical survey with E-Rewards Medical
On 11.27, my wife received a $3 Amazon gift card for doing a Amazon survey.

Rental Income
On 11.5, we received a net profit of $430 from our rental property.

Side Job
On 11.2, I received a check for $187.50 for teaching at the local university

Miscellaneous Income
On 11.6, my wife received a $10 Amazon gift card through her work for participating in a walking challenge.

Monthly Totals:
We earned $80.09 from cash back
We earned $58 from survey income
We earned $430 from rental income
I earned $187.50 for teaching at the local university
My wife earned $10 from miscellaneous income

All of this totals $765.59 from our side hustles for the month of November!  I’m curious to find out how much total side hustle income we will generate for 2018.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

FWOTW: Getting our Keurig working again

It’s time for another frugal win of the week (FWOTW) post!  We have owned a Keurig coffee brewing machine for over 5 years and it’s never let us down – until 2 days ago when it decided to stop brewing hot water and coffee!
While K-cup Pods are extremely convenient to use, we figured out a long time ago that purchasing K-cup Pods was a waste of money.  The tiny amount of coffee used in each K-cup costs the equivalent of $40 per pound!  That’s over 7 times the cost of the delicious ground coffee we get at Aldi.  K-cups are also bad for the environment since most people do not take the time to disassemble the K-cup to properly recycle it (the foil lid needs to be removed and the coffee grounds emptied).
So why do we continue to use our Keurig machine?  While the Keurig is sort of a glorified hot water dispenser, it’s still extremely convenient to use.  We purchase ground coffee at Aldi and fill our reusable K-cups to brew coffee at home.  The reusable K-cups are eco friendly and easily washable.  We can fill any type of coffee grounds we like into the cups and enjoy easy to prepare coffee at home.
Back to the story.  When our Keurig machine stopped brewing coffee, my first thought was: “we’ve had 5 good years with these machine and it’s time to throw it away!”  My next thought was: “can I fix this myself?”
A quick Google search on “Keurig not brewing coffee” took me to a few good blogs on how to troubleshoot our device.  The most common reasons for a Keurig not brewing include: clogged needle, need to descale, air bubble, clogging of water line, or improperly sealed parts. 
I have to admit, I had no idea we were supposed to descale our Keurig every 3-6 months from calcium buildup!  Keurig has instructions on how to use their descaling product but I learned that we could also descale our Keurig with white distilled vinegar we had in our pantry.  Basically you fill the water reservoir halfway with vinegar and keep running the machine until the reservoir is emptied.  Then you run the machine with water only to flush out any remaining vinegar.  
After descaling our machine, I cleaned out the needle with a paperclip and cleaned out the pipes by blowing them clear with a straw.  Voila: our Keurig was running smooth as new again!
Bonus FWOTW: we did not do any Black Friday shopping this year since we weren’t interested in anything.  Remember that saving 30% off something you don’t need isn’t really saving money. 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

50,000 bonus points and $100 with the new American Express Gold card

American Express has recently revamped their Premier Rewards Gold card, improving benefits and features quite a bit, as well as increasing the annual fee.  If you spend a fair amount of money eating at restaurants or grocery shopping, this may be the best new card for you. 
The new AMEX Gold card earns 4x Membership Rewards points at US restaurants and US supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year).  The Gold card earns 3x Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or on  There is a $120 dining credit, which allows you to earn up to $10 in credits every month when you pay with your Gold card at participating partners (Grubhub, Seamless, Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Shake Shack).  The Gold card keeps the $100 Airline Fee Credit, which still seems to work for airline gift cards (Southwest is what we usually purchase).  This card also does not charge any foreign transaction fees.
For a limited time, the new American Express gold card comes in a limited edition Rose Gold metal card until 1/9/2019.  If you are approved before 1/9/2019, you are also eligible to receive 20% statement credit, up to $100 per Card account on purchases made at US restaurants during the first 3 months.
The current sign up offer for the American Express Gold Card is 50,000 points after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months.  This card does have a $250 annual fee, NOT waived the first year. 
With the 50,000 point sign up bonus, $120 dining credit, $100 dining bonus, and $100 Airline fee credit, it’s easy to get significant value out of the card the first year.  Since I previously owned the Premier Rewards Gold card, I was not eligible for this sign up bonus.  My wife was eligible and she was excited to apply for (and get approved for) her Rose Gold card!  This is now our new go to card when it comes to restaurant purchases (replacing the Chase Sapphire Reserve card).
You can sign up for your Gold or Rose Gold card here (my wife will earn referral credit if you sign up for through this link).
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