Category Archives: Frugality

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.

 

 

Weight Loss Goal Achieved!

CAM00421 It wasn’t easy, but I have finally achieved my weight loss goal. As most of you probably already know I bet $3000 back in April that I could lose 30 pounds in six months. My weight loss started off fast and then plateaued for most of the summer. This last month I kicked the weight loss into high gear again since I was in serious danger of losing $3000. The last few pounds to lose were very stubborn. I was stuck with about five pounds to lose for two weeks. This week I watched my diet very carefully and exercised and was finally rewarded with meeting my weight loss goal. I would have preferred to have lost more than my goal, but just hitting the goal is still a big accomplishment. I’m celebrating meeting my goal by eating some foods I’ve been denying myself this weekend. After that I’m going to get back to losing weight. My new goal will be to get to 170 pounds which is considered a healthy weight for my height. I’m hoping I can hit that goal early next year. The all-inclusive vacation next month and all the holiday food might make that goal difficult, but I think I can do it.

I just sent the email to HealthyWage.com to claim my winnings. I don’t think they have anyone working the weekends, but I’m hoping it won’t take too long to process the winnings. I’ll let you know how the process of collecting my winnings goes and do a review of my experience with Healthy Wage once my bet has been paid.

August Safe Withdrawal Rate – 37.25%

My SWR for August was 37.25%.  While writing this post I noticed that last month I stated my SWR rate was 37.58% in the post and 35.22% in the title. I’m not sure which one of those is correct.  Depending on which is correct my SWR either slightly improved or got a little worse. I didn’t add to my savings in August, but the stock market did pretty well so I think the SWR probably improved slightly.

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 32.21 months of living expenses saved which is a slight improvement from 31.92 months saved in July. This amount went up due to the stock market rebound in August. I didn’t add to my savings 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. 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.

Doing Vegas on the Cheap

Earlier this year, I took an almost free Vegas vacation by using credit card bonuses. I still think that is the easiest way to get a cheap or free Vegas vacation, but I recently discovered a couple of new ways to reduce the cost of a Vegas Vacation. A post on the Mr. Money Mustache forum informed me of the MyVegas Rewards and Social Rewards programs that can be used to earn things such as free rooms, free buffets, free show tickets, and more.

MyVegas Rewards is a program set up by MLife which is the rewards program for MGM resorts. The basic idea of MyVegas rewards is that you can earn real comps by playing slots and table games on the MyVegas Facebook page. Playing the games rewards you with loyalty points which can be redeemed for free rooms, free meals, free show tickets and other rewards. After about a month of playing I have about 36,000 loyalty points which I could use for three nights at Circus Circus, two nights at Excalibur, or one night at New York New York or Monte Carlo.

I would suggest you join a group such as MyVegas Friends which will help you earn points faster and has guides on how to optimize your play. You might want to consider setting up a separate Facebook account for playing the game since all of the postings from the game can clutter up your news feed. Setting up a second account for games is a violation of Facebook rules so you will have to decide whether it is worth the risk that Facebook might possibly shut down the new account. Another thing to consider is that you still have to pay resort fees when you redeem for a free night. Excalibur charges about $20 a night in resort fees. Last time I was in Vegas I stayed in a non-casino hotel and paid about $35 a night so a free room is only saving me about $15 a night. I do enjoy playing the MyVegas games though so I think the rewards are a pretty good deal.

Social Rewards is a much simpler program. It is affiliated with TotalRewards which is the rewards program for Caesars Entertainment. Between these two programs you have most of the casinos on the strip covered. You get rewards for this program by sharing information about Caesars resorts and casinos on your social media accounts. You are limited to three shares a day so it is quick and easy to do this program each day. I’ve earned a little over $20 in free rewards since starting to use this program about a month ago.

Another thing to consider that I haven’t tried is legal online gaming while you are in Las Vegas. Some of the Las Vegas casinos now also have legal online casinos.  They also have online casino new jersey. The interesting thing about these casinos is that some offer a bonus for signing up online and making a deposit. The catch here is that you have to be located in New Jersey or Nevada when playing online. I think you would be able to play online while visiting New Jersey or Nevada, but I’m not sure. This is something you might want to explore for yourself.

Although these programs aren’t as great as I first thought they are still a pretty good deal in my opinion. Since IS enjoy playing MyVegas slots and Social Rewards doesn’t take much time I’ll keep using these programs. Rewards from these programs should make my next Vegas vacation very inexpensive.

Are Fuel Rewards Saving a Good Deal?

There are a lot of different fuel rewards programs that can help you save money on gas. These programs are not always a good deal though. It doesn’t make sense to spend dollars more on groceries to save pennies on gas.  Many people do not act rationally when it comes to saving money on gas. For some reason lots of people are more interested in saving money on gas than they are on saving money on other stuff. You need to do the math to determine whether the a fuel reward program is good for your particular situation.  For example, I have a small car with a small gas tank so it only takes about ten gallons to fill my tank which means I don’t get to take full advantage of fuel reward savings.  If I get a reward for ten cents off a gallon then I’m only saving a dollar on that fill up. If I’m only buying things I would buy anyway then this is an okay deal, but it isn’t anything to get excited about and it definitely isn’t enough savings to buy something I don’t need just for the fuel reward.

A grocery chain near me recently had a deal where you received twenty cents off a gallon when you bought a $100 gift card to selected merchants.  That would be a $2 savings for me. The max savings would be $4 since the discount is good for a maximum of twenty gallons. This might seem like a good deal on the surface since you’re paying regular price for the gift cards.  Being a tight fisted miser though, I don’t pay full price for gift cards. Taking a look at GiftCardGranny.com I see that $100 Home Depot gift cards are on sale for as little as $89 , a $100 Sears gift cards can be bought for $92 , and a $100 Olive Garden can be bought for as little as $90.  Depending on where the card is being sold, you can also go through an online cash back portal such as Mr. Rebates, Ebates, or Top Cashback for even more savings. Buying the cards at the grocery store for the fuel rewards would cost you money. A possible exception would be if you had a credit card that paid 5% back on groceries, that is why you have to do the math for your particular situation.

These fuel rewards are also usually only good at certain gas stations. If you do not have one of these gas stations close to you then the fuel rewards become less of a good deal. The IRS estimates the cost of operating a car at 56 cents per mile, at that rate it doesn’t take much extra driving to use up $2 of fuel reward savings.

Another great way that I currently save on gas is with my Chase Freedom card  (referral link) which is offering 5% back on gas purchases this quarter.  All of that being said, I do use fuel reward savings programs. I just make sure that I don’t spend extra or go out of my way to do so.

Save on Airfare with the Southwest Hidden City Trick

The hidden city trick to save on airfare has been around a long time and it works especially well on Southwest Airlines.  The idea behind the hidden city trick is that sometimes it is cheaper to book a flight from City A to City C with a stopover in City B then it is to book a direct flight from City A to City B. For example, in June I traveled from Kansas City to Las Vegas.  It was cheaper for me to book a flight from Kansas City to Salt Lake City that changed planes in Las Vegas and just stay in Las Vegas then it was to book a flight (including the same flight that went on to SLC) direct from Kansas City to Las Vegas.  I saved a couple thousand points by booking the flight this way.  When the flight landed in Vegas I just told the gate agent at the new gate that I wasn’t going to get on the flight.  The agent was fine with that, the airline employees do like to know when you are not going to get on a flight since they have to do a passenger count.   Some airlines don’t like hidden city ticketing and have rules against it.  If you violate their rules there is a chance they could suspend your frequent flyer account or impose other penalties. Southwest used to explicitly allow hidden city ticketing.  Although they no longer explicitly allow hidden city ticketing they don’t have a rule against it and don’t seem to mind it being used.

If you do use the hidden city trick you need to make sure you carry on your luggage since otherwise your luggage will end up in City C while you are in City B.  Also, it is best to book two one-way fares rather than a round-trip when using the hidden city trick since some airlines will cancel your return flight if you don’t complete the outgoing flight.  You should always book one-way flights on Southwest anyway since their round-trip fares are just a combination of two one-way fares. By booking two one-way flights you have more flexibility if you need to rebook your flight.  For example, if you see that the return fare has gone down you could cancel and rebook just the return fare to save money. If you had a round-trip fare you would have to cancel and rebook both the outgoing and return fare which doesn’t always work since the outgoing fare may have gone up in price.  By booking two one-ways if either of the legs of the trip go down in price you can save money by canceling and rebooking.  This doesn’t work on most airlines, but it does on Southwest which is why the hidden city trick works especially well on Southwest.  There are lots of other tricks to saving money on airfare.  What are some of your tips and tricks for saving on airfare?