Back from Hike . . . For Now

IMAG0014Last week I returned home from my hike on the Appalachian Trail. My intention when I started the hike was to hike until I reached the end of the trail in Maine. Instead I stopped the hike after three weeks of hiking.  Based on my past hikes it appears that three weeks is about as long as I like to hike.

Even though I didn’t hike all the way to Maine I am still pretty happy with how I did on this hike. I started the hike at High Point State Park in New Jersey and finished the hike in Great Barrington, MA for a total of 193.3 trail miles hiked. There was also a lot of additional hiking (such as to and from towns, shelters, etc.) that aren’t included in this total. I completed the rest of the AT in New Jersey and all of the AT in New York and Connecticut during this hike and got started on Massachusetts.

I started the hike about 50 pounds overweight which did make hiking more difficult than it needed to be. Although I ate a lot during this hike due to the trail frequently passing close by to towns, restaurants, and convenience stores I still managed to lose about 10 pounds. Although the hiking never seemed to get any easier I think that three weeks of hiking had to have improved my conditioning at least a little bit.

I ended the hike in MA since I was mentally and physically tired of hiking, a week of rain was forecast, and it was easy to get from the trail to the Boston airport. For future hiking trips I’m going to plan ahead on the trips being about three weeks long. If I book my airfare ahead of time it will be considerably cheaper than booking it at the last-minute. My return airfare from Boston didn’t cost me anything out-of-pocket since I had plenty of travel credit with Southwest, but if I had booked the return fare in advance I could have got it for almost half the price I paid. That would have left me with enough credit to book my next flight to Boston for my next section hike. Oh well, I will chalk that up to a lesson learned and will apply that knowledge for future hikes. If on  my next planned three-week hike I feel like hiking longer it would be easy to change or cancel my flight.

I’ll post my usual beginning of the month posts over the next few days.

I’m Still Hiking

NYC Skyline from ATThis is just an update to let everyone know that I haven’t abandoned the blog. I’m still hiking and don’t have time to post while hiking. When I finish the blog will resume as normal. So far I’ve hiked 131 of the 853 miles needed to complete my journey. It has been slow going, but I’m hoping that I will pick up speed as I start getting in better shape. Since I started this hike 50 pounds overweight and out-of-shape it is taking a while to develop any conditioning. For now I’m just hiking as long as I can hike. I’ll update the blog every couple of weeks to let everyone know I’m still hiking and the blog is still alive.

I’ve included one picture from my hike. If you click to make the picture full-size you can just barely see the NYC skyline in the distance. This was the view from one of the shelters I slept at. It was an even more spectacular view at night.

Iconsumer Double Cash Back Promotion, SPG Card 35,000 Starpoints

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. I’ll have a more substantive post tomorrow. Today I want to share a couple of deals that will be ending soon.

The online cash back shopping portal is offering double cashback until the end of the month. If you sign up through my referral link we will each get 100 shares. Visit my other site Bank Bonuses to read more about the Iconsumer double cash back promotion.

The SPG American Express card is offering a 35,000 sign up bonus which is scheduled to expire at the end of the month. This is a great deal. The bonus was only 25,000 when I signed up for the card last year and I’ve already received seven free hotel nights from my card. If you use my referral link to sign up then I’ll get a 5000 point bonus for referring you as well.  If the referral link doesn’t work or you would rather receive an email with the link leave a comment and I’ll send you a referral email.

Thanks to everyone who signs up for either of the deals.


Going for a Hike

CAM00151I will be heading out for a hike starting tomorrow. I’ll be hiking in Shenandoah National Park to make up some of the section of the Appalachian Trail that I missed when hiking in Shenandoah. It is a 13.5 hour drive to Virginia from here. A few years ago I could make that drive straight through. Nowadays, I don’t think it would be safe for me to drive that long in one day. I’ll be driving 7.5 hours tomorrow and doing the remaining six hours the next day.  I’m able to get a room for free with my Starwood points so there is no hotel expense to worry about.

Once I arrive at the trail I plan to hike out and back on the trail returning to my car at the end of the day.  Then I will sleep in my car or perhaps hike in to a shelter if there is one close to where I’m parked.  My daily hiking miles will be determined by the distance between parking areas and how far I feel I can comfortably hike. I’m out of shape right now so the daily hiking miles will be low to start out. Having the car will allow me to go to town if I need more food or just need a night off the trail. I think hiking with the car will allow me to ease back into hiking.  Once I’ve returned from the hike I’ll share how it went. I think it will be a fun and frugal trip.

Friday Flip – Fish in a Barrel Game

fishbarrel Welcome to a special Monday edition of Friday Flip. Since Friday was Christmas I pushed back the Friday Flip post to today.

As promised in the previous Friday Flip post I am sharing my worst flip of November. My intention is to share my best and worst flip every month and perhaps a couple more flips that I think are interesting. My worst flip of November wasn’t too bad of a loss. Most months will have worse flips.

The product that resulted in my worst flip for November was the “Fish in a Barrel” game that I bought at Cabela’s. I bought the game for $12.74 and sold it for $14.79. After Amazon fees of $5.88 I ended up with a loss of $3.65. This game was one of several games that I bought at Cabela’s that were on sale for 25% off. I thought the 25% off was off the marked prices, but the marked prices actually reflected the 25% discount. The difference made these slightly profitable items turn into unprofitable items. I normally wouldn’t have even bought these items with the slight profit, but I had a discounted Cabela’s gift card and wanted to use it up. Cabela’s isn’t very close to me and I had a hard time finding good products to flip so I ended up settling for what I thought were slightly profitable items. I should have returned the products once I discovered the 25% discount was already reflected in the price, but it seemed like too much trouble. This was a case where impatience and laziness cost me a little money.

Of course, my time is also valuable. An argument could be made that it really wouldn’t have been a good use of my time to return the products and then search for different products instead.

A lesson learned from this flip is to avoid low cost toys. The Amazon fees on toys eat up too much of the margin to make low cost toys worth the effort. This past month I’ve been mostly avoiding lower cost items since they usually don’t give me the best return for my time.

I Won’t Be Living in a Van in Florida this Winter

van interiorI was planning to be writing a post this month about my plan to spend this winter living in a van in Florida. Unfortunately, that plan has fallen through.

The plan started when I was offered the opportunity to work my tax job remotely this tax season. Since this  gave me the option to work basically anywhere with an internet connection I decided I would like to live somewhere warmer than Kansas City for the winter months.  I’ve also wanted to give van living another try. That led to me deciding to live in Florida in a van for the winter.  The weather would have been great for living in the van. My expenses would have been low and my job would have paid the same which would have allowed me to save money/pay down loans at a good rate. This plan has now been scrapped since I was informed there won’t be any remote tax positions this year after all leaving me without a job.  Luckily, this notice didn’t come any later since I had just that morning looked at a van that I was seriously considering buying. Procrastination worked in my favor this time.

Now I need to figure out what I’ll do instead. I’ve thought of several options but I’m not sure which -if any- of the options I will take. The first option is to just stay here in Kansas City and drive for Uber and keep working at my FBA business. This would be the easiest option.  One drawback is that although Uber and FBA should make me enough money to pay my expenses I don’t think I’ll make enough money from them to make much progress on paying down my loans or saving money. Another drawback is that I’d still be in KC for the winter and I’d really like to get out of the cold weather.

Another option is to go to Florida (or maybe Texas) anyway and figure out how to make money once I’m there. Since I don’t have certainty of the tax job income I wouldn’t buy a van. I’d make a bed in my car and live out of my car. There is enough room in my HHR to sleep comfortably, but it would be pretty cramped to live out of. One good thing about this option is that if it didn’t work out I could come back to KC and I wouldn’t be out much money.

A third option would be to live in Guatemala for the winter. I know from experience that I could rent a room for about $100 a month and would be able to live very cheaply there. The airfare there and back would negate quite a bit of the savings though.  Also, I wouldn’t have a reliable way to make money there.  Perhaps, the biggest drawback to this option is that I would be committed to staying for the winter. If I changed my mind it would be quite expensive to change my plane ticket.

One more option would be to stay in Kansas City and find another job. This would be the most practical option. I don’t like this option much though. I’d really like to get out of KC for a while this winter and I’m doubtful that I could find a job that I like ok and pays well.

I’m sure there are more options than what I’ve listed here. Let me know what you think of these options and if you have any other options to share I’d love to hear them.