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Friday, March 25

I'm Still Here!

View from the "office" (our backyard).
What a fabulous morning in paradise!  It's currently 70 degrees and highs are going to be in the low 80s.  I slept until 7:30 today.  Usually I am up much earlier but it felt great to just roll over and get a little extra shut-eye.  I will start Ubering today at 11 AM so it's a lazy morning of coffee drinking, reading and web-surfing.


I've been driving for Uber, but mostly on weekends.  Ever since the January rate cuts, Uber has been offering guaranteed hourly earnings.  The hurdles can be frustrating since I am required to fulfill a certain number of rides per hour to earn the guarantees.  The current guarantees require that I complete two rides per hour.  This can be tough if I get a request on the beach going to the airport, which can take more than 45 minutes.  To play the guarantee game, you want all your requests to be relatively short rides.  On days when there are no guarantees, I focus on surge rates and try to avoid accepting rides when there is no surge.  As an example, last week I caught a 4.4x surge (meaning rates were more than four times the normal rate) from Clearwater Beach to the Tampa airport.  My payout was more than $70 in less than an hour.

Kitchen Remodel

This week I finally made the decision to go with peel and stick tiles for our kitchen backsplash.  I was going to do traditional tiles but I knew this would be really hard to get right.  Cutting around electrical outlets requires some skill.  Plus, even though the drywall is brand new, there are some places where the seams are a little rough and I was worried the individual tiles wouldn't stick.  These peel and stick tiles are like big stickers and I think they will be more forgiving.  I special-ordered the tiles from Lowe's and should be able to pick them up next week. If all goes well, the kitchen will be 95% done by the end of next week.  The only remaining updates will be installing a couple shelves on the wall where the window is, painting the area we don't tile and installing a light over the sink.

Hospitality Work

March is always a decent month for meetings.  This month I had two big meetings and seven small jobs.  We have a big job the first week of April.


In February we took a quick 3-day trip to Vegas.  It was so fast I barely remember what we did, only that I didn't lose much money.  In April I have three trips planned:  a day trip to New York for the Biglari Holdings meeting, a solo trip to Omaha at the end of the month for the Berkshire Hathaway meeting, and a week in Vegas and Phoenix.  My partner is from Phoenix so we will have a weekend there visiting family, with Vegas wrapped around the trip.  The flights were under $200 roundtrip each and all the rooms in Vegas are comped.  I also will redeem a voucher for a free car rental from Hertz from when I bought the Sonata.

So much is going on that I barely think about updating the blog.  Fortunately it's all good stuff that's keeping me from being on the blog.  

Sunday, March 6

My Frugal Miser - February Expenses: $5,237

I am satisfied with my February spending.  Interest expense was reduced to almost zero as I paid off the AMEX.  True, auto depreciation was over $1,100, but was due to all the driving I did for Uber and for hospitality work.  The big one was in the vacation category:  I booked two cruises on a casino offer, including one sailing from Barcelona.  I also paid for our flights to Europe.  The category also includes spending on a flight to New York for the Biglari Holdings meeting (not exactly a vacation, but where else to put it?), a quick three day trip we took to Vegas, and the $85 application fee for TSA Pre-Check.

February Expenses:  $5,237

$1,241 Auto ($92 gas, $0 repairs/maintenance, $1,149 depreciation)
$1 Bank Fees
$0 Clothing
$0 Computer
$212 Entertainment (movies, gambling, alcohol)
$153 Food
$0 Gifts Given
$89 Household/Housing/Home Repair
$52 Health and Dental Insurance
$0 Investment Expense
$15 Interest Expense
$0 Medical/Dental
$0 Miscellaneous
$9 Personal Care
$0 Subscriptions
$0 Taxes
$91 Uber/Lyft Expenses (excluding fuel and depreciation)
$51 Utilities
$3,323 Vacation

Friday, March 4

My Frugal Miser - February Income: $11,420

February was great.  All of the rental properties were occupied and current.  I was paid for three hospitality jobs and received two mystery shopping checks.  Uber increased its guaranteed hourly earnings (a result of the demand created by all the drivers who quit in January), so I drove some when I wasn't working my other jobs.  Finally, I sold two stocks, for solid short-term gains.

February Income $11,420

$1,358 Mystery Shopping and Hospitality Jobs
$841 Uber
$86 Lyft
$6,505 Rental Income
$0 Dividends and Interest (Investment Accounts)
$2,546 Realized Gains on Investments
$83 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.