October Income – $2128.63

Here is a breakdown of my income for October.

Online Income

$646.25
Healthy Wage

$600

Interest

$7.01

Cash Back

$27.82

Amazon FBA

$5.00
Dividends $1.14
Jobs $841.41

Total

$2128.63

 

My income was pretty good in October considering I only worked a couple of weeks.

My online income was almost exactly the same as last month. I keep expecting it to go down, but so far it has been holding steady.

The $600 I won from my Healthy Wage bet helped boost my alternative income quite a bit.  It was nice to make over $1200 in income from sources other than my job.

My cashback income stayed about the same. If you haven’t joined Mr. Rebates yet you can get a $5 bonus for signing up through my referral link and I’ll make a little money for referring you as well.
Mr. Rebates

November will probably not be as good of a month for income.  I didn’t do much to earn extra income the first couple of the weeks of this month since I was in Cancun and Vegas. I will be starting another temp job next week so the month should still be decent.

 

 

September Safe Withdrawal Rate -

I’m way behind getting this up due to last week’s vacation and general laziness the two weeks before the vacation. I plan to write a post a day this week to get caught up.

My SWR for September was  39.48%. That is down from 37.25% the month before. The decrease was due to the declining stock market in September. Since I’m writing this so long after the fact I already know that the stocks recovered in October.  When I don’t add any money to my savings the only changes to my SWR and months of living expenses saved are from my investment performance and the average of my trailing twelve month’s of expenses going up or down.

My goal is to get the SWR down to 4% so the lower my SWR is the better. That goal is probably many years from being met. The 4% SWR translates into having 25x your annual expenses in savings or 300 months of expenses in savings. Once I reach that point I will consider myself financially independent.

I have 30.38 months of living expenses saved which is a slight decrease from 32.21 months saved in August.  I calculate my months of living expenses saved by dividing the average of my trailing twelve months of expenses by my total money saved.

There won’t be any big changes to these numbers until I start working full-time again in January and can contribute more to my savings.  I’m hoping in the meantime they will at least stay about the same.

My Same Day Passport Experience

You may know from previous posts that I have a trip to Cancun with my girlfriend and my mom planned for Monday. As preparation for that trip I got out my passport Thursday afternoon to add my passport number to my airline ticket reservation. I was dismayed to see that my passport had expired in September.  My first thought that was that there was no way I could renew my passport in time to leave on Monday.  This was a major bummer to say the least. Since it was already Thursday afternoon, I basically had one business day to get a new passport.

After doing some internet searching through Swagbucks I was somewhat relieved to see it is possible to get a passport in one day.  I first tried to get a passport using RushMyPassport.com.  I hated the idea of paying $350 plus the $170 in passport fees to get my passport, but it was better than the alternative of having to cancel my Cancun vacation. After filling out my passport application online , printing off my airline ticket confirmation, and going to get my passport picture taken I called RushMyPassport to get a letter of authorization per the instructions on their website.  Unfortunately, when I called them they said they wouldn’t be able to get me a passport in 24 hours and it would be Tuesday before they could get me a passport. Since they weren’t able to provide me they advertised and I paid for I canceled their service.  Getting the passport on Tuesday wouldn’t do me any good. They promised to refund the fee to my credit card. I’m hoping that they honor that promise. I’ll share how that turns out.

Now I was despondent once again.  A little more internet research showed that it might be possible to get a passport in one day at a U.S. Passport Agency. The problem there was that there are only 28 of these offices in the country and none of them are very close to Kansas City.  It turns out the closest passport agency to KC is in Hot Springs, AR.  It is kind of strange that Hot Springs,a town of 30,000 people, has a passport agency.  The other passport agencies that were within a somewhat reasonable distance to me were in Chicago and Dallas. I looked into flying into those cities, but the last-minute fares were too high and I wouldn’t get there early enough to make an early morning appointment. Hot Springs was my only hope.

I called their automated reservation line and managed to make an appointment for 9am on Friday.  By the time I got all of this done it was a little after 5pm on Thursday. I called my girlfriend and let her know we needed to make an emergency road trip. Luckily, my girlfriend is cool and didn’t freak out about the situation.  It was about a seven hour drive to Hot Springs so we needed to get on the road.  It was about 2:00am by the time we arrived in Hot Springs, checked into a motel, and got to bed.

The next morning I arrived at the passport agency about fifteen minutes early for my appointment.  It took a couple of minutes to get through security and then I was able to meet with a passport agent after waiting just a couple more minutes. The agent was very nice and it only took about five minutes to go through the passport renewal process.  She told me I could pick up my new passport at 2:30pm.  I was momentarily frightened when I heard “Tuesday” instead of “2:30.”  After she repeated the time, I was greatly relieved. I left the passport agency office at about 9am which was when my appointment had been scheduled. The expedited passport renewal process was extremely efficient.

I returned at 2pm to the agency to pick up my passport.  Although the passport pickup form stated to not arrive early to pickup your passport I decided to see if my passport was ready after noticing other people entering the agency. I was in luck and was able to meet an agent immediately upon entering the office and she had my passport.  I was extremely happy to receive my passport and know that I’d be able to go on my vacation.

If you need a passport in one day it is possible if you go to one of the U.S. Passport Agencies.  Some of them require proof of imminent travel and there is no guarantee that you will be able to get an appointment though.  It is much smarter to check your passport ahead of time so you don’t have to get a passport at the very last minute like I did. I’m incredibly lucky that I checked my passport when I did or it would have been too late. If I had discovered my passport was expired on Friday I wouldn’t have been able to make it to a passport agency in time to get the new passport. The whole ordeal of having to drive seven hours each way, get a motel, and being stressed about whether I’d actually get the passport or not could have been avoided if I had just checked my passport when I booked the airline tickets.  If you have any upcoming international travel make sure you have a valid passport.

Healthy Wage Paid Me – Healthy Wage Review

hwcheckI am happy to report that I received my check from Healthy Wage this week.  Now that I have received payment I want to share my thoughts on the entire Healthy Wage process.

Things didn’t start off too great with Healthy Wage. On their website you have to enter your information like you are making a bet in order to see what the bet would pay. I placed several different fake wagers in order to see what the different payouts would be. It appears that the maximum you can win is $600. After a certain point larger bets just mean that you will get your own money back plus the $600.  Even though I could have won the same $600 with a smaller bet I’m glad I bet $3000 since the fear of losing that money was a major motivation to lose the weight.

The problem I had with making my healthy wager was that I intended to bet $3000 that I would lose 25 pounds in six months. I thought that was the bet I placed and even wrote a post stating that was what I had bet. It wasn’t until a couple of days later that I noticed in my Healthy Wage account that they had my wagers as being to lose 30 pounds in six months.  Apparently, one of my test wagers ended up being my actual wager rather than the wager I had actually intended. The wager process needs to be clearer and it would be nice if they would send you an email confirmation stating the terms of your bet.

During the six months I just had to weigh in once a week or so to show my progress. These weigh ins didn’t have to be verified so they were easy to do.  There isn’t really much interaction with Healthy Wage between the initial weigh-in and the final weigh-in so everything was fine there.

You have a two-week period at the end of the bet to do your final weigh-in.  I was still losing weight to get to 30 pounds lost when the weigh-in period began. I managed to lose the last of the weight a few days into the weigh-in period and went to my local gym to get my weight verified.  After I had my weight verified my girlfriend and I went to Pizza Ranch to celebrate. That probably wasn’t a wise move, but I did enjoy indulging in some of the foods I had been denying myself.

The buffet celebration almost turned out to be a costly mistake. I did my verification weigh-in on Saturday and Monday I received a notice that Healthy Wage wanted me to do a second weigh-in.  I certainly understand that when there is this much money at stake that they want to be sure everything is legitimate.  The tone of the email seemed overly accusatory though and the statement that they often require a second weigh-in contradicted the information on their site that states that they rarely require a second weigh-in.

The first place they chose for me to weigh-in was over three hours away.  I’m not sure what they were thinking there.  After contacting them I was able to get a weigh-in scheduled at a gym in Kansas City. Luckily, I had only gained a couple of pounds from my weekend indulgences and was easily able to lose that weight again before the second weigh-in.

After they received my second verification weigh-in they did quickly send me an email stating that I had won and that I would receive my check in about a week.  My check did arrive in about a week. I was quite happy with the speed of settling the bet after my weight had been verified. Overall, I was pleased with the Healthy Wage process even though they do have some things that need improvement.  I would make another Healthy Wager since I still need to lose another 30 pounds, but once you have won one Healthy Wager you cannot make another one.

September Income – $1692.21

Here is a breakdown of my income for September.

Online Income

$646.75
Achievemint

$25

Interest

$5.20

Account Bonuses

$75

Cash Back

$35.80

Mystery Shop

$43

Amazon FBA

$50
Dividends $19.87
Medical Study $700.00
Jobs $91.59

Total

$1692.21

My income was pretty good in September considering I had very little job income.  The job income was unexpected since it was a final paycheck from a job I had back in 2008. It took them a while to find me.

I didn’t do a very good job of tracking my Amazon FBA income in September. I’m guessing I made about $50, but that might be a bit high since most of the stuff I sold made only a small profit and some items were sold at a loss.

I received some bonus income from the Motif referral bonus and the Betterment referral bonus.  Unfortunately, the Betterment bonus has ended. If you want to sign up through one of my referral links they are in the sidebar. If you want more information on the Motif bonus feel free to email me or leave a comment. I’m going to try to make more money from  referral bonuses. I like them because they make me money and make money for my readers as well.

My cashback income stayed about the same. If you haven’t joined Mr. Rebates yet you can get a $5 bonus for signing up through my referral link and I’ll make a little money for referring you as well.
Mr. Rebates

September was the last month of the medical study so I won’t be getting any more checks from that. Those checks did help my bottom line quite a bit. I have worked the first couple weeks of October which should result in a reasonably good income for October.

 

 

September Expenses – $1743.67

Here is a breakdown of my expenses for September.

Household $408.45
Entertainment $19.68
Transportation $90.19
Food $181.83
Student Loan $106.00
Travel $258.40
Phone $26.81
Health $652.31
Total $1743.67

 

My September expenses were high, but that is mainly because I had a dental procedure that was about a $600 expense. If you take that away my expenses were fairly close to my target of $1000.

My food expenses were way too high.  That was mainly due to having expensive meals during my hiking trip on the Katy Trail. I should have done better there, but when you’re walking there aren’t a lot of restaurant options. I did eat out way too much the first half of the month which made my weight loss harder than it needed to be.

Travel is the other expense that I don’t always have.  A big part of that was $114 I spent on a hotel during my hike.  That was more than I wanted to spend, but where I got off the trail there wasn’t any camping and only a couple of hotels were within reasonable walking distance.  It didn’t occur to me until later that I could have taken a taxi to a cheaper hotel and still come out ahead. Oh well, I will know better next time.  I also prepaid some of the expense for our trip to Cancun next month.  This vacation is not going to be as cheap as I originally thought.  It will still be a great deal though.

Entertainment expenses were my only low-cost category. This was because I had purchased a movie gift card the month before and we only went to the movies once.  My entertainment for the month was mainly watching lots of football.

This month I will have dental expenses and travel expenses again so it will not be a low-cost month.  I should at least be able to lower my food expense.  Although it will be a higher expense month I’m okay with it.  It isn’t worth letting my dental health suffer just to save money.

Extreme Frugality – How to Live Well on Very Little