Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Side hustles April 2019

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.  While I don’t often post articles, I am committed to documenting all of my side hustle income.  Here I’ll share some of what’s been going on with our lives and our side hustles. 

Welcome to May!  Did you have a good April?  This last month has been our most entertaining month of the year. 
We started the month off with a 4 day visit to San Diego.  On the way to our Airbnb, we visited Legoland.  We have definitely gotten the full value out of our Legoland passes.  It’s awesome to be able to visit the amusement park on Thursday since it is quite empty, with no wait for any rides.
In San Diego, we went to Sea World two days in a row.  One of the days, our son wanted to spend most of the day just playing with the toys in the gift shops.  Since we have season passes to Sea World, we did not feel any rush in getting through as many rides, shows and exhibits as possible.  We patiently waited as our son spent much of his time just playing with sea creature toys.
I’m glad we found a nice Airbnb for our stay.  It was nice having so much space, free parking, and it felt like a home away from home.  On our last day in San Diego, we went to visit a beach for the first time.  Our kids got a chance to run around on the wet sand and splash in the water.  We had a blast!
We recently purchased annual membership to the La Habra Children’s Museum for $80 for our family.  We’ve already gone 3 times this month!  There are fun little kid activities spread throughout the museum including: carousel rides every hour, full sized dinosaurs, an area to dig up dinosaur bones, an interactive garden, a play kitchen, a play supermarket, a costume dress up section, train village, and taxidermy room with fish and insects.  The museum is a 15 minute drive from our home and has free parking.
The rest of the month was filled with other fun activities like dinner at friends’ homes, Easter egg hunt for the kids, going for walks around our neighborhood and playing in the playground.  This entire month has been an adventure for our kids.  Since our children are growing so fast, we want to spend as much quality time as we can with them. 
Here’s our monthly summary of side income that we have generated in the previous month of April.
Award Travel
On 4.29, I redeemed 91,600 Chase Ultimate Rewards points with my Chase Sapphire Reserve account towards free round trip flights for my family to Portland, Oregon worth $1,374.  We are going to visit the in-laws and have them see their grandkids.  I’m really glad we have a large stash of credit card points that we can spend towards free travel.   

Cash Back
On 4.1, I received $10.23 deposit in my Discover Cashback Checking account.  This is 1% cashback from paying our rental property with my Discover debit card.
On 4.1, I received a $10 PayPal deposit from Mr. Rebates shopping portal.
On 4.4, I received a $4 statement credit on my Freedom Unlimited credit card from Chase Offers.  This was 5% off dog food purchases.
On 4.5, I received a $50 statement credit on my AMEX SimplyCash Business card from AMEX Offers.  This was 10% cash back for purchases made at Staples.
On 4.11, I received a $1.02 statement credit on my Chase Sapphire Reserve card from Chase Offers.  This was 10% off a pie at Coco’s Restaurant.
On 4.15, my wife received a $10 statement credit on her AMEX Gold card.  This was the $10 AMEX Gold dining credit for spending money at Shake Shack.
On 4.27, I received a $10 Amazon gift card by redeeming some old points from my Lexus credit card.  It cost 1,350 points but I’m glad I could drain the point balance from my account as this is not a credit card I use much. 

Rental Income
On 4.5, we received a net profit of $450 from our rental property. 

Survey Income
On 4.8, I received a $15 check from E-Rewards Medical for completing a medical survey.
On 4.8, I received a $10 check from E-Rewards Medical for completing a medical survey.
On 4.8, I received a $25 check from E-Rewards Medical for completing a medical survey.  Yup, 3 checks from E-Rewards Medical on the same day!
On 4.17, I received a $40 direct deposit into my checking account from GLG Survey for completing a medical survey.
On 4.30, my wife received a $35 Amazon gift card from Amazon Preview, a company that pays for surveys.

Miscellaneous Income
On 4.18, I sold an old Apple watch strap on Macrumors for $27. 
On 4.19, I sold an unloved watch on Reddit Watch Exchange subreddit for $450.  This was a watch I purchased on a whim but then decided I really didn’t need.
On 4.23, my wife sold an older unused clothing steamer online for $30.  We haven’t used this in over a year as we no longer steam our clothing.
On 4.23, I sold another unloved watch on Reddit Watch Exchange subreddit for $785.  While I love watches, I don’t need a large collection of them.
On 4.30, my wife sold an unused bluetooth speaker online for $10.It’s great to be able to reduce clutter around our home and increase side income at the same time.  Selling all this stuff makes us hesitant to purchase random items in the future.

Monthly Totals:
We saved $1,374 on award travel
We earned $95.25 from cash back
We earned $450 from rental income
We earned $125 for completing online surveys
We earned $1,302 from selling unused items in our home.

All of this totals $3,346.25 from our side hustles for the month of April!  It’s been a great month of side hustle income for us.  More importantly, it's been such a fun month with the family.   

Sunday, April 28, 2019

FWOTW: Saving money off my dental procedure

It’s time for another frugal win of the week (FWOTW) post! 
One of the most frustrating things about medical and dental insurance claims is how confusing it can be to sort out the billing.

Since I have history of dental problems, I made sure to sign up for a premium PPO dental plan through my employer each open enrollment.  My wife also adds me to her PPO dental plan through her employer.

I had a root canal performed by an endodontist in December 2018.  The total billed amount from the specialist was $1,660.  My copayment was $100, and I thought that took care of everything.  4 months later, the specialist office and the 2 separate dental insurances finally finished processing the claim.  I just received a bill for $90.80, which was quite a surprise.

The first thing I did was contact the billing specialist at my endodontist office to make sure that I really owed the $90.80 balance.  After she went over all the charges with me, it was time to pay the bill.  Here’s how our conversation went:

Her: How would you like to pay your balance – check, debit or credit card?

Me: Can I get a courtesy discount?

Her: <pause>  Um… sure I can offer you a 5% discount for paying in full.

Me: Great, here’s my credit card number!

I ended up saving $4.54 just by asking nicely!  While this is not a significant amount of money, every bit helps along our financial journey.  I’m often surprised how many discounts you can get on services just asking nicely.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Over 450K invested

Our investment accounts have now hit another financial milestone, surpassing $450,000 in value!  This includes money in our 401Ks, Roth IRAs, taxable accounts, and 529.  This does not include money in our checking accounts, savings accounts, home equity or rental property equity.
As we continue on our journey towards financial freedom, we have been focusing more on being in the moment and enjoying the time we have available. Years ago, we did a lot of the heavy lifting with improving our finances by cutting our expenses dramatically, and slowly increasing our investment contributions, sometimes as little as 1% at a time.  This has created a snowball effect of our investments compounding aggressively over time.  Our investments are simple and our contributions are automatic.  Our money continues to make more money for us.
We just got back from a 4-day trip to visit San Diego, and it was a nice surprise to see our investment account balance after coming back from our vacation. 
It’s been amazing watching the growth of our investment accounts over the last few years.  Here are some of our other previous investment milestones:
June 2, 2014: 100K
March 12, 2016: 200K
June 5, 2017: 300K
July 15, 2018: 400K 
Our investments haven’t changed much since we first began saving.  We invest in index funds that track the US stock market (63%), international stock market (27%), and US bond market (10%).  Index fund investing allows us to diversify our portfolio and keep our costs very low.
While we have hit a new all time high in our investments, this could all change in an instant.   Regardless of stock market volatility, we stay the course with our investments by consistently contributing through stock market ups and downs.  We know that there is no way to accurately time the stock market; so we just hang on for the ride. 
How is your financial freedom progress going?
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