Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Two free round trip flights to Portland on Southwest

Last night, my wife reminded me that we should look into booking flights to Portland, Oregon to visit her family for Christmas.  We usually fly Southwest Airlines because they offer direct flights, free baggage check, and we can transfer our Chase Ultimate Rewards points into the Southwest Rapid Rewards points program.  Our son will be less than 2 years old so he gets to fly for free.

First thing I did was log into my account at Southwest.com and search the flights we wanted.  Total cost for 2 round trip tickets in points was 36,268 points and $22.40:
In order to book the tickets, I needed to transfer 36,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points into my Southwest Rapid Rewards account.  I went to ultimaterewards.com and requested the points transfer.  Then I logged out of and back into my Southwest account and the points were instantly available. 
We still have Southwest gift card credit from the American Express Airline fee credit offer and the gift card balance covered the cash portion for our flights.  And just like that our two free round trip flights to Portland were booked in less than 5 minutes.

If we were to pay for the same 2 round trip tickets with cash, it would have cost us $597.92! 
Booking flights with points is so fun and easy. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Another AT&T new activation fee waived, $20 saved.

There are few things I get excited about spending money on.  One of them is the latest iPhone.  This is one of my purchases I don’t feel bad about since there’s so much I use my phone for.  I use my phone to take pictures, for GPS map guidance, to listen to podcasts, to send emails, and much more.  I was one of those people who stayed up until midnight on the west coast to be one of the first to preorder the new iPhone 7 Plus when it first became available. 

We continue to stay with AT&T Wireless because their service coverage is excellent in our area.  I am thankful that my company reimburses me $100 towards our cell phone bill every month.  I also enjoy paying for the bill with my Chase Ink Cash business credit card that allows me to earn 5x points on the payment.  This is because I am on call for my company regularly and need excellent cellular coverage.  I would consider cheaper cell phone providers such as Republic Wireless, Cricket Wireless and T-Mobile if my company did not cover our cell phone bill.

When I ordered my new phone, AT&T offered (now expired) a $650 bill credit paid out over 24 months if you turn in a used and working iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, or 6s Plus.  This offsets a huge chunk off the cost of a brand new iPhone 7 Plus which retails at $869.  I gave my used iPhone 6 Plus to my uncle as a gift and he was very happy to receive it.  To get the $650 AT&T credit, I ended up buying a used iPhone 6 on Amazon Marketplace for $320 and then trading it in at the AT&T store.  This still allows me to save $330 ($650 - $320) over the course of 2 years, and should bring our cell phone bill down to right about $100 (paid for by my company). 

Whenever you activate a new phone on AT&T, they like to charge you a sneaky “upgrade fee.”  This year the fee was $20.  Two years ago it was $40.

I imagine most people who get their cell phone bill don’t question the balance and just pay it off.  Or they may see the $20 fee and then shrug their shoulders and pay it off.  Not me: 20 bucks is 20 bucks.
As soon as I saw the fee on my bill, I knew I had to call AT&T to ask them to remove it.  I simply dialed 611 on my phone, then spoke with the customer service representative on the line.

ME:  “I have been with AT&T Wireless for several years and just recently purchased a new iPhone.  I just noticed a $20 upgrade fee on my statement and I would like to have that fee waived.”

REPRESENTATIVE:  “Thank you for being a loyal AT&T Wireless customer.  I will be happy to credit your account an amount of $20 to offset the upgrade fee.  We value you as a loyal customer.”

My account immediately showed the credit:
That was it, a simple 2-minute phone call to save $20.

To top it off, AMEX Offers now has a promotion on my Premier Rewards Gold card where if I spend $100+ on your cell phone bill, I will get 1,000 Membership Rewards points, up to 3,000 extra points.  

This means the next 3 bill payments will go on my AMEX Premier Rewards Gold card!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

September 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 October, a brand new month.  It’s been a very fun and busy September for us. 

My father visited and stayed with us for 3 weeks.  He’s been very helpful in watching our son and dog.  Our son has grown attached to his grandpa quickly.  Every parent knows that it’s really nice having an extra set of hands to distribute responsibilities. 

Benjamin is growing so fast.  Raising a child takes a lot of energy, especially when your child runs around with non-stop energy.  
It seems like every few days, there is a new milestone: taking his first steps, saying new words, feeding himself and more.  He’s always trying to explore all the areas of our home.  He opens cabinets, flips light switches, and climbs onto everything.  He also is developing his own personality.  He is quite the little joker.

Earlier last month, I brought my family along for a 4-day visit to Las Vegas with me on a business trip.  Our son loved seeing all the new lights, colors and sounds.  We dropped by the Mirage Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat.  Ben loved getting an up close look at the dolphins and wild cats. 

He also enjoyed watching the water fountains at the Wynn. 

Here’s our monthly summary of side income that we have generated in the previous month of September.
Award Travel
No award travel redeemed this past month.  However, I am very excited about getting 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points from my new Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card!

Cash back
On 9.12, I received a $300 statement credit from Chase on my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.  I had spent $432.66 purchasing a round trip business class ticket for our son from Los Angeles to Tokyo (For international flights on Singapore Airlines, child under 2 years of age pays 10% of the full fare adult fee (each business class ticket would have cost $4,326.60 – thankfully we have points J).  Since this was a travel expense, Chase gave me a $300 statement credit for the purchase.  An awesome annual benefit of the Sapphire Reserve card.

On 9.19, I received a $15 Visa Debit Gift card for a promotion for buying Visa gift cards at Staples (Buy $300 or more in Visa Gift cards, get $15 rebate gift card).
On 9.21, I received a $100 statement credit on my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.  I bought my dad Global Entry for $100 as a gift, since he travels frequently and could use the benefit.  I received the $100 statement credit as soon as my charge cleared.  This is another awesome benefit of the Sapphire Reserve card.

Paid surveys
On 9.14, I received $5 PayPal deposit from Pinecone Research
On 9.28, I received $3 PayPal deposit from Pinecone Research

Side Job
On 9.23, I received a check for $137.50 for teaching at the local university.  I really enjoy teaching and working with the students.

Rental Income
On 9.1, I received a check for $600 from our temporary housemate.
On 9.4, we received a net profit of $430 from our rental property.

Monthly Totals:
We earned $415 cash back
I earned $8 from paid surveys
I earned $137.50 for teaching at the local university
We earned $1,030 from rental income

All of this totals $1,590.50 from our side hustles for the month of September.   With expensive property taxes coming up soon, we’ll take all the help we can get from side hustle income.  Next month we are expecting more side hustle money. 
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