Saturday, November 24, 2018

FWOTW: Getting our Keurig working again

It’s time for another frugal win of the week (FWOTW) post!  We have owned a Keurig coffee brewing machine for over 5 years and it’s never let us down – until 2 days ago when it decided to stop brewing hot water and coffee!
While K-cup Pods are extremely convenient to use, we figured out a long time ago that purchasing K-cup Pods was a waste of money.  The tiny amount of coffee used in each K-cup costs the equivalent of $40 per pound!  That’s over 7 times the cost of the delicious ground coffee we get at Aldi.  K-cups are also bad for the environment since most people do not take the time to disassemble the K-cup to properly recycle it (the foil lid needs to be removed and the coffee grounds emptied).
So why do we continue to use our Keurig machine?  While the Keurig is sort of a glorified hot water dispenser, it’s still extremely convenient to use.  We purchase ground coffee at Aldi and fill our reusable K-cups to brew coffee at home.  The reusable K-cups are eco friendly and easily washable.  We can fill any type of coffee grounds we like into the cups and enjoy easy to prepare coffee at home.
Back to the story.  When our Keurig machine stopped brewing coffee, my first thought was: “we’ve had 5 good years with these machine and it’s time to throw it away!”  My next thought was: “can I fix this myself?”
A quick Google search on “Keurig not brewing coffee” took me to a few good blogs on how to troubleshoot our device.  The most common reasons for a Keurig not brewing include: clogged needle, need to descale, air bubble, clogging of water line, or improperly sealed parts. 
I have to admit, I had no idea we were supposed to descale our Keurig every 3-6 months from calcium buildup!  Keurig has instructions on how to use their descaling product but I learned that we could also descale our Keurig with white distilled vinegar we had in our pantry.  Basically you fill the water reservoir halfway with vinegar and keep running the machine until the reservoir is emptied.  Then you run the machine with water only to flush out any remaining vinegar.  
After descaling our machine, I cleaned out the needle with a paperclip and cleaned out the pipes by blowing them clear with a straw.  Voila: our Keurig was running smooth as new again!
Bonus FWOTW: we did not do any Black Friday shopping this year since we weren’t interested in anything.  Remember that saving 30% off something you don’t need isn’t really saving money. 

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?
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