Paris Vacation and Other News

paris eiffel tower There haven’t been many posts this month since I started my tax job. I know a lot of people work full-time jobs and keep blogs going, but once I’m done with a day of work I don’t feel like doing anything. I procrastinated so long there is no point in doing my net worth post this month because it is almost next month. Starting this week I will have one day off during the week and Sundays off. My plan is to do any blogging on my weekday off. The job is going about as well as could be expected.  The main thing I don’t like about this job is that I have to be there forty hours a week. That is a problem with about any job I would work. Next season I might be able to snag a remote position. I think the job would be a lot more palatable if I were able to work from home. The main reason I’m working this job is to build up a nice cushion of money. I didn’t have any specific plans for using the money other than a hope to travel some this year.

I now have something to spend that money on. Last week I booked a flight for me and my GF to Paris where she will stay ten days and I will stay twenty-three. The Paris trip came about due to there being some super cheap flights from Boston to Paris. I was able to book a round-trip ticket for $324. I booked the flight through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal using my Sapphire Preferred card which gives me 1.5 my points when they are used for travel. That meant I only had to use about $215 worth of points to book the ticket. I was able to book both of our tickets using my credit card points and I still have enough points left for another $1500 of travel. Most of the points came from the very generous credit card sign up bonus. Credit card spending for my FBA business helped boost my points quite a bit as well. We’re using Southwest points to get from Kansas City to Boston.  I now have to come up with a plan to cover our hotel for the trip. My GF and I both just signed up for a credit card that will give us each two free nights. That will take care of four nights so we’ll need to cover six more nights. I’m considering booking a place through AirBnB. Their prices are pretty cheap compared to a hotel and they would be very convenient. There is still plenty of time before I have to decide on that.

In addition to the flight and hotel there will be the cost of seeing the various sights, local transportation, food and other stuff. I’ll try to get deals on that stuff too. Since I got such a good deal on airfare I can probably splurge a little on that stuff and still have a relatively low-budget vacation so I won’t worry about getting deals too much. If any of  you have tips on what we should and shouldn’t do while in Paris I would love to hear them.

Back to Work and Other News

customerserviceI started at a new document review job this Thursday. I had been waiting for the document review company I worked for previously to contact me. I hadn’t yet heard from them on Tuesday and decided to search a couple of job sites online. I found a couple of document review jobs and submitted my resume for both of the jobs. One of the companies emailed me later that day offering me a job and the other company contacted me on Wednesday offering a job. Since the job for the first company was only scheduled for a week and the job at the second company is predicted to last through the summer I accepted the job with the second company. On Friday the document review company that I’ve worked for in the past contacted me about a new project.  I had to let them know that I’d already started at another company. I found it slightly amusing that I waited two weeks without hearing anything and as soon as I accepted a job I was offered jobs at two more companies.

There are a couple of good things about my new doc review job. One is that they are open 7-7 Monday through Friday, 8-6 on Saturday, and I can work my 40 hours whenever I want to during that time frame. If I wanted to I’m allowed to work up to 60 hours a week. Since there is no overtime and I find 40 hours a week to be enough work for me it is extremely unlikely I’ll ever work 60 hours a week but it is nice to have the option. Another nice thing about this job is they have a casual dress code. As in it is okay to wear shorts and a t-shirt casual. This is the first doc review job I’ve worked that had that casual of a dress code everyday. It is nice to be comfortable while I’m working.

The drawbacks to the job are that it is very boring just like all the other doc review jobs. I can listen to music or podcasts while working which does help alleviate the boredom. The other drawback is that it is thirty miles from my house. That is a longer commute than I’d prefer. The traffic hasn’t been too bad yet so at least the commute isn’t stressful. It is just time-consuming.

Next month I will be attending the Missouri Solo and Small Firm Conference. I’m hoping I will learn enough there to be able to start my own law practice. Or at least learn enough to start the process of opening my own firm. Doc review jobs here pays $22-$23 an hour. Before law school I would have thought that was a great rate of pay. Now that I have six figures of debt that level of pay just doesn’t cut it. If I’m going to be able to pay off my student loan I need to make a lot more money. I’ll let you know how the conference went after it is done.

That is all the news I have for now. I probably won’t be writing much the next few weeks since I generally don’t feel much like writing for the blog when I’m working full-time. If there are any topics you would like me to write about let me know and I’ll eventually write a post on the topic.


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.

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.

Changes Coming…How Can I Improve Tight Fisted Miser?

Traffic to this blog has been steadily declining the last couple of years and is a little less than half of what it was at its peak. Reader engagement has dropped to almost nothing. My post about getting hit by a car only got a couple of comments. In the past a post like that would have gotten at least a dozen comments. I’d also usually get multiple comments on almost every post. The decline in traffic and comments isn’t entirely unexpected since blogging much less of a priority the past couple of years. I’d like to change that now since it doesn’t make much sense to continue blogging if nobody is going to read my posts.

In 2012 I received a lot of criticism on a post about using the income based repayment plan to repay my student loan. Although I try not to let internet bullies bother me, the insults and disparagements did get to me. That led to fewer posts and to self-censoring my posts to avoid more criticism. I think that might have contributed to the blog’s decline in traffic and comments.

I also recently discovered a widget was redirecting some of my traffic but I don’t think that was having too big of an effect on my traffic and comments. If you have had any trouble accessing this blog please let me know and I will try to fix whatever is causing the trouble.

I do have some ideas for changes to TFM. I’m hoping the changes will actually be improvements. Last year, most of my posts were income, expense, or SWR posts. The income and expense posts will continue since I like them. I’m not sure many readers care about them though. That is why I intend to write more posts on ways to save money or money. There will be at least one post a week with actionable advice on one of those topics. The first post will be up Wednesday. I’m also planning on changing the theme and writing about paying down my student loan. Please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions on how I can improve this blog.