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Wednesday, June 22

Simple, Amplified

Maybe my mind isn't as sharp as it used to be, but lately I've been feeling overwhelmed by complexity.  Most of the complexity surrounds my finances.  I have too many accounts, and Quicken is no longer reliably downloading my transactions.  I've been working hard to streamline things.


I had two credit card accounts that I rarely used.  I called Citibank and converted one of those cards to the Double Cash Card.  I like how straightforward the card is:  I get 1% cash back when I make a purchase, and 1% back when I pay my balance.  I closed the second card completely.  Soon I will close my Chase Ink Business card.  Now that I can ean 2% cash with my Citibank card, the only benefit of the Ink card is the 5% cashback on office supplies and cell phone bill.  That isn't worth the $95 annual fee.

Clutter Control

We are working hard on getting rid of unnecessary material things.  I don't like to be distracted by my belongings.  This includes the wardrobe, where I am paring back clothes I no longer wear, decor around the house, which just collects dust, and tools, which I own a lot of from working on rental properties.  Since I have transitioned most of the rental properties to management companies I no longer need a lot of the tools I have come to own.  I'll be donating a lot of things, with the goal of taking everything to a charity drop off some time in July.

Other Areas

Several few months ago I closed out my UPS Store mailbox.  I save a decent amount in fees and no longer feel the need to make a special trip to the store to check my mailbox.  I also got rid of one of my computers.  Finally, I am trying out the Nutrisystem diet to simplify my food choices.  Once I learn proper portion control and develop a habit of eating right, I should be losing weight and will start buying healthier food from the grocery store.  We have been eating out less when we aren't traveling and I hope to continue cutting back on restaurant meals.

Sunday, June 19

The Week Ahead

We returned from Nashville on Thursday.  I picked up three Chevron shops on the way home with $20 bonuses on each.  That covered all the gas for the trip.  On Thursday night I worked a pharma meeting and Friday morning I drove for Uber and Lyft.  Then on Saturday I completed 31 BP audits in Ocala and Gainesville.  I was on the road from 6 AM until 11 PM, so today (Sunday) I stayed home.  We hung gutters and installed a rain barrel on the back porch, I planned my next BP route in Orlando, and we bought groceries.

Tomorrow I will drive for Uber.  Monday mornings are usually busy.  Then an oil change before I take the rental car to Orlando to work on the BP route.  I have to turn in the rental car Tuesday PM and am trying to put as many miles on it as I can.

On Saturday I am leaving for Las Vegas.  I am traveling solo this year and my flight leaves from Orlando, which was cheaper than leaving from Tampa.  The boss is letting me park my car at his house while I'm gone.  This will be my second year working the Las Vegas conference.  The client specifically requested me as the lead, so I was able to negotiate a higher salary this time.  I will be gone a full week.  Since I love Las Vegas I am really excited to be going, even though most of my time will be spent working.

Sunday, June 12

Hospitality Work in June

Today we are Nashville-bound.  We drove from Tampa Bay to Decatur, AL last night and stayed at the Doubletree.  The hotel is $63/night and is about two hours south of Nashville.

I've been aggressive in picking up hospitality jobs this month because the convention season is just about over.  The Nashville job is an easy one (26 hours over 4 days), but I am only being paid $600 (my partner is receiving $400 on top of that), which includes travel expenses.  We rented a car ($125/week) and other than this one hotel room, I am redeeming hotel loyalty points the rest of the week.

Last week I worked five full days in Sarasota and Orlando.  It was for the same client but two different conferences.  Again, the long commutes really wore me down, but the pay wasn't high enough to book a local hotel.  On some of the events I work, the client has requested local talent, so there are no travel accommodations.

Wrapping up the month, I head to Las Vegas on the 25th to work a large conference.  I worked this meeting last year and really enjoyed it.   The client requested me for this one, which improves my compensation.  My flight is covered and even after paying my other travel expenses (fortunately I had enough comp room offers to cover all my hotels) there will be a healthy amount left over.

I also have over 100 BP mystery shops scheduled for June and July.  These are filling in any gaps between hospitality work.  June is going to be SOLID!

Sunday, June 5

My Frugal Miser - May Expenses: $2,287

May was a mixed bag on the spending side of my personal finances.   I lost money gambling on the cruise ship the last day of our cruise.  Losing 14 consecutive hands in blackjack makes you question how the Shufflemaster can't be rigged!).  My food spending looks high because I bought a $200 Groupon gift card as well as a 28 day supply of Nutrisystem, neither of which I have consumed.  All the other categories were in line with expectations.

May Expenses:  $2,287

$968 Auto ($61 gas, $4 repairs/maintenance, $411 depreciation, $492 for 6 months insurance)
$0 Bank Fees
$7 Clothing
$0 Computer
$1,184 Entertainment (movies, gambling, alcohol)
$408 Food
$8 Gifts Given
($11) Household/Housing/Home Repair (returned an item, so income this month)
$52 Health and Dental Insurance
$0 Investment Expense
$70 Interest Expense*
$0 Medical/Dental
$0 Miscellaneous
$2 Personal Care
$0 Subscriptions
$0 Taxes
$49 Uber/Lyft Expenses (excluding fuel and depreciation)
$209 Utilities
($660) Vacation (redeemed Carnival gift cards, so income this month)

*Interest expense includes student loans and the loan on my car.  As both rates are below 2%, I am completely comfortable paying the interest each month and investing the money that I would otherwise use to pay off these loans.

Friday, June 3

My Frugal Miser - May Income: $8,167

May was a decent month.  I collected rent from all but one property.  I also started driving for Amazon (future income from Amazon will be lower as the company overhired by about 300 drivers).   Hospitality work was steady.

May Income $8,167

$1,293 Mystery Shopping and Hospitality Jobs
$36 Uber
$43 Lyft
$970 Amazon Deliveries
$5,748 Rental Income
$0 Dividends and Interest (Investment Accounts)
$0 Realized Gains on Investments
$76 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.