Thursday, August 28, 2014

Using SPG Cash & Points to stay at the Sheraton Boston Hotel

My wife’s upcoming business conference in Boston
I have already booked free round trip flights to Boston for my wife on American Airlines.  We used 42,500 American Airlines miles and paid $11.20 in taxes and fees.  This has saved us a total of $543.80 on flights (conservative estimate of value).

I was happy to find out that her business meeting will take place at the Sheraton Boston Hotel, which coincidentally is a Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) property. 

The Sheraton Boston Hotel has rates that are quite expensive for the nights my wife needed hotel stay.  The cash price for staying at this hotel is minimum $353 a night, the prepaid rate.  A two-night stay would have cost $706 to stay at this hotel!  While there are many hotel or airbnb options close by the Sheraton Boston Hotel, it doesn’t get more convenient than staying at the same site of the conference.

The Sheraton Boston Hotel is an SPG category 5, which means that it costs 14,000 Starpoints for a free award night, and 28,000 Starpoints for 2 free nights.  Expensive. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Free flights from Okinawa to Los Angeles

Okinawa aquarium: we can't wait!
It’s been very tricky finding and redeeming American Airlines AAdvantage miles for award travel home.  American Airlines does not directly fly from Okinawa to Los Angeles, which means that we could not just book our award tickets online at AA .com.  In order to redeem our miles, I would need to contact the American Airlines telephone booking service at 800-882-8880.

I tried calling the AA telephone booking service several times asking for availability of award flights from Okinawa (OKA) to Los Angeles (LAX).  Every time I called, the reps would tell me that they could not find any award availability.  The reps kept asking me to try again in a few days.  I didn’t understand why there was no award flight availability for us.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Free round trip flight to Boston (for my wife)

When I found out that my wife had an upcoming business conference in Boston to attend, the first thing I did was to try to find the best redemption of miles to pay for her flights. 

I checked my usual airline carriers: American, United, and Southwest.  I found that American Airlines offered the best value for the flights she wanted to take.  This was great because we have a ton of American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

“I can’t afford to save for my future right now, I’m already struggling to make ends meet.”

Don't become an old man, filled with regret.

The Federal Reserve Board recently found that 31%, nearly one third of American adults had no savings or pension to help them afford retirement.  The survey also found that 19% of adults between ages 55 and 64 had no savings.

What are these survey respondents going to do about retirement? 

Many said they planned on working full or part-time in their retirement years.  25% of survey respondents had no idea how they could afford retirement at all. 

If you don’t save for your future, you will one day reach retirement age with no money.  Your excuses won’t matter by then.  Do you want to be filled with the regret of not saving more during your working years?

Have you started saving for your retirement yet?  If not, what’s your excuse?

The most popular excuse I’ve heard:

“I can’t afford to save for my future right now, I’m already struggling to make ends meet.”

Sunday, August 3, 2014

5 free hotel nights in Tokyo

We are putting together the details of our upcoming trip to Japan (and Taiwan).  This is where our Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Starpoints come into play.  We make many purchases with our American Express SPG card wherever AMEX credit cards are accepted.

This helps us to slowly accumulate Starpoints, 1 Starpoint per $1 spent at a time.  The SPG card only earns more Starpoints when making eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts participating in the SPG program (up to 5 Starpoints per $1).  Even though earning Starpoints takes more time, each point is extremely valuable.  Starwood also allows family living in the same address to combine and share points. 

Sheraton Miyako Hotel Tokyo
Located in the center of Tokyo in Shirokanedai, a district renowned for its greenery, the Sheraton Miyako has been called the “oasis in the center of a large metropolis.”  This hotel is an SPG Category 4.  There are some nice benefits like free high speed wifi, free shuttle service to surrounding areas, bathroom bidet, and the famous Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Bed. 

Paying for our hotel stay with cash
If we were to book our 5-night stay in Tokyo with cash, it would cost us at least JPY 21,489 per night after charges and taxes.  21,489 JPY converts to $209.49 USD per night.  If we were to pay for this hotel stay in cash, a 5-night stay would have cost of $1,047.45!  That’s a lot of money that we would rather use on food and entertainment. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

July 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 August, the start of another brand new month.  Are you meeting your financial goals?  Are you swimming in the deep end of debt?  Are you barely making ends meet, living paycheck to paycheck?  Or are you on the fast track to reach financial freedom?

Earning on the side is a great way to pay off debt, earn more income, and save more money to invest. 

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 July.  It’s been a big month.
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