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).

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Side hustles October 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 November!  Can you believe Halloween is behind us and Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year are coming up?!  How was your October? 
We had a nice month without any financial emergencies.  The stock market has been on a wild ride lately.  At one point, our investment portfolio lost over $40,000 in value in just a few days!  We’ve been investing for a long time so it wasn’t too much of a shock for us.  While there was a minor correction in the market, it’s just a normal part of market ups and downs.  A stock market crash is coming but we continue to invest for the long term.  When prices go down, we pick up more shares.
Our son loves exploring the neighborhood.  We are lucky to live in an area surrounded by parks, trees and playgrounds.  One thing we’ve noticed is that there are rarely people at the playgrounds – so we get the whole place to ourselves!  Our son enjoys the little things right now such as: slides, swings, balloons and playing in the sand. 
This was the first year our son went Trick or Treating in the neighborhood and he loved the experience of walking up to neighbors and collecting candy!  He is too picky to try eating the candy but he collects all the goodies and pretends they are treasures.  Same with our daughter, she loves the crinkling sounds of the candy wrappers.
Here’s our monthly summary of side income that we have generated in the previous month of October.
Cash Back
On 10.2, I received $10.23 deposit in my Discover Cashback Checking account.
On 10.8, I received a $20 statement credit in my AMEX Blue Cash Everyday credit card from AMEX Offers.  This promotion was for 10% cash back on purchases related in insurance.  This was perfect timing as we paid off our year of home insurance. 
On 10.13, I received a $25 statement credit in my AMEX Blue Cash Everyday credit card for cash back redemption.  This is our go to credit card for grocery store shopping.  It earns 3% cash back at grocery stores and has no annual fee.
On 10.18, my wife received a $10.37 statement credit on her new 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.  Also, she will earn 50,000 Membership Rewards bonus after spending $2,000! 

Survey Income
On 10.5, I received a $25 check for doing a medical survey with M3 Global Research
On 10.5, I received a $10 check for doing a medical survey with M3 Global Research
On 10.17, my wife received a $30 Amazon gift card for doing a survey with Amazon Preview

On 10.30, I received a $30 check for doing a medical survey with My Impact Network

Rental Income
On 10.5, we received a net profit of $430 from our rental property.

Website Income
On 10.22, I received a $125 direct deposit in my checking account from Commission Junction.  Thank you for your continued support!

Miscellaneous Income
On 10.9, my wife received a $5 Amazon gift card for getting her flu shot at work.
On 10.20, my wife received a $2.86 check from Spectrum internet as a refund for cancelling our home internet service.
On 10.28, I received a $5 Amazon gift card from MyPoints.  I earn Amazon gift cards from them for clicking on emails and doing the occasional survey.

Monthly Totals:
We earned $65.60 from cash back
We earned $95 from survey income
We earned $430 from rental income
We earned $125 from website income
We earned $12.86 from miscellaneous income

All of this totals $728.46 from our side hustles for the month of October!  What are you doing on the side for extra income?

Friday, October 12, 2018

Our $5,000+ emergency expense

Last week we had to tap into our emergency fund for a $5,000+ repair.  It all started when we noticed that our toilet was gurgling and bubbling water as we ran the washing machine.  I shot a video of it and contacted my friend who is a plumber.  He replied back right away saying that our sewer main line was starting to back up and this could become an emergency pretty quickly.  He was unable to come check out our problem because he was recovering from an injury - and recommended we have someone come over ASAP.
We did a quick search for plumbers on Yelp and called one of the higher rated companies to come inspect our main sewer line.  This seemed like a pretty straightforward job at first – we thought we would just need to have a plumber snake through tree roots blocking the drainage of the pipe.  We didn’t expect to pay more than $100 to $200.
When the plumbers put a camera into the pipe, they discovered that we had extensive blockage from big tree roots that couldn’t be removed with a snaking device.  The plumbers then had to dig into our lawn to replace a section of pipe damaged by tree roots.  They proceeded to dig a huge 5 feet wide by 5 feet deep hole into our lawn.  Our quoted price now jumped up to $1,000.
Once the hole was dug to access the main sewer line, the plumbers discovered that our main sewer line had a 20+ foot crack on the top of the pipe!  Suddenly the repair plan became much more complex.  Instead of replacing a small section of pipe, the plumbers needed to replace 25 feet worth of piping.  Our price now jumped up to $5,182.  
The plumbers did excellent work on our repair, spending almost 2 complete days on the project.  They also came back for follow up inspection a few days later to make sure there were no issues with our sewer line.  We tipped them $120 for their quality work and our expenses totaled $5,302 for the repair.  Ouch.
I’m thankful that we have a healthy emergency fund to cover major expenses like this.  Most Americans don't have enough savings to cover a $1,000 emergency.  I’m a bit bummed spending that much money all at once, but it was an absolutely necessary repair.  I’m glad we had the problem diagnosed and fixed early before things got out of hand.  In the grand scheme of things, $5,000 is not a lot of money.  We should have our emergency fund replenished in a couple of months.  And now our main sewer line has a 25-year warranty, so we won’t have to worry about any sewer line issues for a while.
It’s time to get back to saving and investing for our future!
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