Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Turmoil all around us

It’s not difficult to read and hear about everything going wrong all around us.  Turn on the radio, turn on the television, open your web browser and you’ll see it.  The police are going around shooting African Americans and getting away with it.  Protests are erupting with violence.  Lone terrorists are going around blowing themselves up and taking innocent lives with them.  ISIS is recruiting people all over the world to spread terror. 

Times like these make me re-read these great articles written by some of my favorite bloggers:

The Low Information Diet by Mr. Money Mustache.

It is discouraging to constantly hear about terrorist attacks, homeland violence, and political controversies.  It is so easy to get desensitized to all the turmoil in our communities and around the world.  It seems like shortly after you get riled up and angry from the news you just read, another breaking tragedy occurs somewhere else in the world.

Despite how the media and news outlets would have you believe, we live in the most peaceful era in the history of mankind.  Technological and scientific advances are making our lives better.  Medical breakthroughs are helping us live longer than ever.  The future is bright.  

You can sit around and spend your time getting sad, upset or afraid over things you have absolutely no control over.  Or you can do something more useful with your time.  There are people and communities that we can influence.  You can volunteer your time and energy into helping others and changing their lives.  You can give to the charities you support.  I would try to focus on yourself and the people around you that you can directly influence first, instead of dwelling on the suffering around the world.  You can still choose to stay informed about what’s going on, but there is no need to bear the burden of the world’s sadness alone.  Worrying about the world takes away from your best potential.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Free one-way flight from Taipei to Japan on Air Japan for my dad

Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine in Kyoto.  We are looking forward to visiting this beautiful place!
For our upcoming Tokyo trip in March, my father is going to meet us in Japan.  He lives in Taiwan and we wanted him to join us on our family trip.  We had extra Chase Ultimate Rewards points and I didn’t want to make him pay to come visit us.  Ultimate Rewards points transfer over to United Airlines miles with a 1:1 point transfer. 

I logged into my United Airlines account and found the perfect direct flight for him to travel from Taipei (TPE) to Tokyo (NRT) via Air Japan.  He will be flying in to meet us at the Narita airport in Japan when we arrive.  The flight costs $352 if paid with cash or 15,000 United points and $15.50 if redeeming for award travel.  Paying for the flight with points gives us an over 2 cent value per Ultimate Rewards point.

Since I already had 1,000 United Airlines miles in my United Airlines account, I only needed to transfer 14,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points over.  I used my Ink Plus card for the transfer.  The process was instant and I was able to book my father’s free flight on my iPhone in less than 10 minutes. 
I was then able to book the flight on my phone through the United iPhone app. The process couldn't have been any easier.

Sharing our points with family helps us all save money.  We’re looking forward to our first international trip as a family!  After taxes and fees, we've saved $336.50, which we can use towards hotel / Airbnb stays and entertainment.

Friday, July 1, 2016

June side hustles 2016

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 July,
As usual, the month of June just seemed to blow past us.  Time is so precious and it definitely motivates us to work hard to save and invest for our future.  We enjoy our jobs, but we definitely don’t want to be working forever.

The big news of the month is that our son turned 1 year old! It’s amazing how fast he’s growing.  Every week or two he hits a new milestone or has a new development in his motor and verbal skills.

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

Award Travel
On 6.1, we redeemed 327,250 KrisFlyer miles and paid $169.26 for two round trip Business Class flights!  This saves us a conservative amount of $1,524 after taxes and fees. 
On 6.10, I redeemed 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points and paid $15.50 for a free flight for my father to join us in Tokyo when we go for vacation next year.  This saves us $336.50 after taxes and fees.

Cash back
On 6.26, I received a $25 statement credit on my AMEX Blue card from AMEX Offers (spend $100 at Staples and get $25 back)
On 6.26, I received a $25 statement credit on my AMEX SimplyCash Business card from AMEX Offers (spend $100 at Staples and get $25 back)

Search and Win
On 6.8, I discovered that both of our Swagbucks accounts were deactivated!  I’ve read that sometimes Swagbucks decides to deactivate accounts when they deem that the customer is not profitable enough.  They were probably mad that we kept earning free Amazon gift cards for minimal work.  Oh well, we have better things to do with our time.  It was good while it lasted.  If you have unredeemed points, I suggest cashing them out whenever you have enough for gift card credit.

Paid surveys
On 6.5, I received $5 Amazon gift card from Pinecone Research.

Side Job
On 6.20, I received a check for $275 for teaching at the local university

Rental Income
On 6.4, we received a net profit of $430 from our rental property.
On 6.1, I received a check for $600 from our temporary housemate.

Miscellaneous Income
On 6.2, I received checks totaling $77.12 for disputing my property value for calculating property tax.

Monthly Totals:
Our side hustles continued to bring in extra income for us in June.
We saved a conservative estimate of $1860.50 on airfare due to using points to pay for our flights
We received $50 worth of cash back
I earned $5 worth of Amazon gift cards from Pinecone Research
I earned $275 for teaching at the local university
We earned $1,030 from rental income
We earned $77.12 for disputing our property value for a reduction in taxes

All of this totals $3,297.62 from our side hustles for the month of June. Not a bad month!  It’s getting harder to find more time for these hustles, especially while trying to make time to spend with the family.  Every hustle counts. 
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