Wednesday, October 21, 2015

5% cash back on purchases made at Amazon with Giving Assistant until November 1st

I’ve been testing out the hot new cash back site called Giving Assistant.  One unique feature this cash back site offers is that you can choose to donate a percentage of the cash you earn towards a charity of your choosing.

You can earn cash back via debit card, PayPal deposit, or check. 

The best part of Giving Assistant so far has been 5% cash back from purchases made at  No other cash back site can beat this.  You can combine this with the 5% cash back from purchases made with your Chase Freedom card.  Some users report being able to double dip by getting 5% back on purchasing an Amazon gift card, and then getting another 5% back on using the Amazon gift card to complete your next purchase at Amazon. 

Unfortunately, 5% cash back on purchases made at Amazon will expire on November 1st.  This means you still have more than a week to earn 5% cash back from Giving Assistant at Amazon.

There is a referral promotion where everyone you refer gets $5 cash for signing up.  Once they earn cash back you get $5 and there is no limit to the amount of cash you can earn through referrals.

You can sign up for a Giving Assistant account here (my referral link).  

One free night in Agoura Hills, California thanks to Starpoints

With wedding season in full effect, we have another wedding to attend this Saturday.  The wedding is located in Malibu, which is 67 miles away, and about an hour and a half drive.  At first, we thought about just driving there and then back.  Then we thought that driving 3 hours round trip was just too inconvenient.  Perfect excuse for a one night hotel stay.

While there are several hotels around the area of the wedding venue, I was glad to find out that we could book our hotel stay for free at the Sheraton Agoura Hills Hotel thanks to Starpoints.  This hotel has free Internet access, free parking, fitness center, and is located close to beaches, shops, and museums.  This hotel is also very conveniently located close to the wedding. 

First thing I did was go to to book the hotel stay.  I was happy to see that a one-night stay only costs 7,000 Starpoints.  

We saved $126 by booking our stay with Starpoints.  This gives us a Starpoint value of 1 point = 1.8 cents.  By booking with Starpoints, there are no extra fees. 

Using points instead of cash for hotel stays helps us save money for other travel related expenses.  It doesn’t get much better than free.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Two free round trip flights to Portland on Southwest

With the Christmas season coming up soon, I just booked us 2 free round trip flights on Southwest Airlines to visit my wife’s family for Christmas in December 2015.  As usual, we prefer flying on Southwest Airlines because they offer direct flights and free baggage check-in.  Our son gets to fly for free because he is less than 2 years old and will not take up an extra seat on the plane. 

The whole process is so easy. 

First I logged into Southwest Airlines to see the cost of the flight: $717.02.

Next I check how many points I would need to book the tickets: 48,000.

Then I transferred over 48,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Finally, I booked the flight!

By redeeming 48,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points and paying $22.40, we saved $694.62 ($717.02 - $22.40)!  I'm really glad we were able to book these flights with points instead of cash.  I don't think we have any other plans to fly anywhere in the near future, so it will be a good time to stock up on some more points!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Free round trip flight to San Francisco on Southwest!

Another month, another wedding
It seems like we have been attending weddings every other month.  It’s fun seeing couples so happy and in love.  It’s a great time to catch up with people, eat great food, dance, and celebrate.

I just booked myself one free round trip flight on Southwest Airlines for a wedding that I will attend in San Francisco in December 2015.  My wife has other plans that date, so I am attending the wedding solo.

Using Chase Ultimate Rewards points converted to Southwest Rapid Rewards points gave me the best point redemption value.  The cash price of a flight from Orange County (SNA) to San Francisco (SFO) would have been $102:

The cash price of a flight from San Francisco home to Orange County would have been $119. 

I’m glad that we have enough Chase points to cover this flight.  The total Rapid Rewards points needed for this flight was 12,555 with a fee of $11.20.   Since I already had 1,963 Rapid Rewards points in my account, I needed to transfer 11,000 Chase points into my Rapid Rewards account to complete the award booking.  You can only transfer points to Chase travel partners in 1,000 point increments.

The points transferred instantly and I immediately booked my flights.  By redeeming 12,555 and $11.20, I saved $209.80 ($221 - $11.20)!

The whole process of booking this flight took less than 5 minutes. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

September 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 October, another new month. Time seems to fly by as we watch our son grow up.  The little man is almost 4 months old now! 

September has been a busy month for us.  We took a road trip to San Jose and San Francisco for a family reunion.  We also took a family road trip to Las Vegas for a conference I attended.  These trips increased our normal gas expenses by quite a bit.  We also ate out a lot more than normal this past month.  Side hustles help us offset these extra expenses.

With the recent small stock market decline, investing is slightly more exciting since stocks are at a slight discount.  Side hustles help us put more money into the market.

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

Award Travel
On 9.29, I redeemed 22,896 Rapid Rewards points (converted from Chase Ultimate Rewards points) towards two free round trip flights to San Jose, CA saving us $385.60 after paying flight taxes and fees.

Cash Back
On 9.22, I received $0.45 statement credit on my AMEX SimplyCash business card.

Search and Win
On 9.1, I received a $5 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks
On 9.20, I received a $5 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks

Paid surveys
On 9.14, I received a $3 PayPal deposit from PineCone Research
On 9.22, I received a $3 PayPal deposit from PineCone Research

Side Job
On 9.14, I received a check for $275 from the local university where I teach part time.

eBay Income
On 9.20, I received a profit of $123.58 from reselling items on eBay. 
On 9.25, I received a profit of $16.02 from reselling items on eBay.
On 9.30, I received a profit of $343.77 (after eBay, PayPal, and shipping fees) from selling some old healthcare equipment on eBay. 

When reselling items, it can be tough to make a large profit.  eBay takes a 10% cut of your final sale price as well as a 10% cut of your shipping fees.  Once you receive payment, PayPal takes a 2.9% and $0.30 cut.  Then you have to pay for shipping costs to send out your item. 

I sold $3,022.50 worth of items on eBay.  But my net profit was only $483.37.  That being said, selling on eBay is very easy and safe.  When reselling products, it helps to buy popular items at discounted prices as well as purchase through shopping portals to double dip on credit card rewards.

The best time to end your eBay auction seems to be Sunday, since web traffic on eBay is the highest.  Also listings that end between 6:30pm to 10:30pm in any time zone get the most views / bids.  eBay makes it easy to clear out excess clutter from our home.  When getting rid of unused items, selling on eBay is safer than meeting someone through Craigslist or 5miles.  I still have several things at home to sell in the next few weeks.

Rental Income
On 9.1, we received a net profit of $430 from our rental property

Monthly Totals:
Our side hustles increased slightly in September.
We saved $385.60 on award travel
We earned $0.45 in cash back
We earned $10 worth of Amazon gift certificates from Search and Win sites
We earned $6 in cash from paid surveys
I earned $275 from my side job teaching at the local university
I earned $483.37 eBay income
We earned $430 from rental income

All of this totals $1,590.42 from our side hustles for the month of September.   Are you doing any hustling on the side for extra income? 
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