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Saturday, February 6

Our $250 European Cruise

Talk about hitting the jackpot:  On our cruise in December, I thought I was lucky when I hit the "Lucky Ladies" while playing blackjack.  The $1 bet paid out $1,000.  I ended up coming home with enough money to completely pay for our cruise.

My luck didn't stop there, apparently.  This week I received a phone call from my Carnival personal vacation planner, Michael.  Michael called to review the details of my new casino offer.  I could choose from over 300 cruises and pay just $125 per person, plus taxes.  Even better, I could select as many cruises from the list as I desired.  We don't gamble much, so I'm very surprised by this offer.  Besides a few hours of video poker, I played maybe 8 hours of low limit blackjack during our last 7 day cruise.  And ZERO slots.

12 Day European Cruise from Barcelona for $250

With taxes, I paid $420 for a 12 Day European Cruise, which sails in August, prime season..  Look at that screenshot up top:  The regular price, before taxes, starts at $1,549 per person for an interior room.  We are saving almost $3,000 on this cruise. We have booked an exterior room with a 4*3 window.  It's on the Carnival Vista, a brand new ship that sets sail in April.  The Vista will tour Europe for a few months before sailing to the United States.  In addition to the great rate, I receive a $100 onboard credit with the offer and a second $100 onboard credit for being a shareholder.

An added bonus, Delta Airlines honored what it says was a mistake-fare.  When I first looked at airfares, I found a round-trip flight from Atlanta to Barcelona for $769/each.  But when I went to book the flight, the fare increased to $1,774 each.  I called Delta to complain, and after escalating my concerns to a supervisor, the airline honored the original fare.

We also booked a second cruise out of Fort Lauderdale.  It is an 8 Day Eastern Caribbean.  Two of the four ports it will visit are new to us.  I bought tickets on Megabus leaving the morning of the cruise and departing the day we return, so no hotel or other travel expenses will be required.  This will be a super cheap cruise all things considered.

Thursday, February 4

My Frugal Miser - January Expenses: $1,900 (really $1,256)

January was decent.  Over the last several months I bought several gift cards, mostly to restaurants.  I already reported those gift cards as expenses, so the actual cash outlay for food last month was under $100.

I stocked up on wine, increasing the entertainment line.  But I also paid off the AMEX, so January is the last month where I will pay exorbitant interest expenses.  I paid $900 to replace a crown.  I didn't like how the old one fit.  Finally, my health insurance went down after I re-assessed my ACA eligibility.

January Expenses:  $1,900

$(1,057) Auto ($41 gas, $0 repairs/maintenance, $674 depreciation, +$1,643 gain from sale of Aveo, +$130 refund of auto insurance policy for Aveo) income this month
$25 Bank Fees
$0 Clothing
$0 Computer
$234 Entertainment (movies, gambling, alcohol)
$89 Food
$0 Gifts Given
$133 Household/Housing/Home Repair
$51 Health and Dental Insurance
$0 Investment Expense
$161 Interest Expense
$900 Medical/Dental
$644* Miscellaneous
$0 Personal Care
$0 Subscriptions
$0 Taxes
$158 Uber/Lyft Expenses (excluding fuel and depreciation)
$291 Utilities
$270 Vacation and Recreation

*My discontent continues with Quicken.  Long story short, I tried to reconcile one credit card account, and it created chaos and serious errors.  In order to balance the account, I created a $644 miscellaneous charge.

Tuesday, February 2

My Frugal Miser - January Income: $11,693

Starting this month I plan to add investment income to this report, which I haven't done before.  I haven't done this before because activity in my brokerage accounts doesn't show up on the same income reports in Quicken as my other sources of income.  More of my income will be coming from investments as I sell off my rental properties.

January was a strong month.  Uber and Lyft didn't drop their rates until the second week of the month, so I still had a fair amount of income from ridershare activity.  I also did a hospitality job and was paid from the mystery shops I did over the holidays.  All rental properties are rented and current.

January Income $11,693

$1,327 Mystery Shopping and Hospitality Jobs
$990 Uber
$577 Lyft
$6,485 Rental Income
$1,047 Dividends and Interest (Investment Accounts)
$825 Realized Gains on Investments
$442 Other Sources

  • I don't include transactions in my retirement accounts.  This includes rental income, dividends and capital gains and losses.
  • I include merchandising and hospitality work in the mystery shopping category since the companies that I shop for provide this extra side work.