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Tuesday, October 31

Keeping Busy! (Dallas bound)

October has been quite a busy month.  I accepted a route of 138 BP mystery shops with locations across the state.  I spent three days this week on the east coast, mostly around Melbourne down to Port St. Lucie.   The route has also taken me to Ocala and the Orlando area.  I have 48 shops left to complete the route:   16 in south Florida from Palm Beach to Homestead and the rest from The Villages through Ocala and Gainesville and north from there.  It's questionable whether this was the best use of my time.   There is a completion bonus of almost $1,000, so I have no choice now but to finish it.

In addition to mystery shopping, it's been a busy month in the meeting industry.  We worked a 5 day Tampa meeting, a 5 day Orlando meeting, and several 1 or 2 day meetings.

Today we are flying out of Orlando to Dallas for another 5 day meeting that starts tomorrow morning.  It sucks having to drive two hours to the airport, but I saved enough on the flight to make it worth it.  We worked the same meeting at the same hotel last year.  The hours are long but the work isn't too bad.

Even though I haven't had a day off in October, and have routinely put in 80+ hour workweeks, it will all be worth it in November:  Carnival offered me a "Pack and Go" cruise rate we couldn't resist.  After the hurricanes, the company reconfigured some cruise destinations, and I suspect this caused some cancellations they wanted to fill.  Including taxes and port fees, we paid $400 total for an 8 day cruise.  Even better, we are visiting all new ports this time.

With the cruise, another Vegas trip lined up for December, and the upcoming holiday season, November and December should be easier months.  The income focus will be on finishing the BP route and making Amazon deliveries.  I only have a couple of day meetings scheduled and don't expect anything larger to pop up until January.  I have a vacant townhouse and should have a second vacant property at the end of the year, so I'm not ruling out a trip to Birmingham if I can make it work.

Thursday, October 5

My Frugal Miser - September Expenses: $3,629

I should have been more frugal last month.  Things got out of hand in Vegas after one too many drinks and I lost a lot of money playing blackjack.  What sucks is that I was ahead $700 before that and then gave it all back and then some.

I received an unexpected refund from the hospital where I had my sinus surgery, but I also received an unexpected lab bill that I have yet to pay.  I want to find out if those two transactions are somehow related.

Food and gas were affected by our evacuation during Hurricane Irma.  We went to Birmingham for a few days until the power was restored at my house.  Since the power was out for several days, I had to throw out all the food that spoiled.  Interest expense was the hard-to-borrow interest I pay for shorting Sears stock.  One day, if they ever file for bankruptcy, this will all be worth it and I will have a nice gain.  Clothing was also on the higher side.  For the meeting work we do, I have to wear professional clothes, and needed to replace some of the dress shirts that were stained.  Last but not least, utilities were higher as we switched cell phone providers.  I sold my Pixel at a loss and also had two cell phone bills.  The good news is my monthly phone bill will go down by at least $50/month.

September Expenses:  $3,629

$621 Auto ($193 for gas, $428 for new tires)
$0 Bank Fees
$102 Clothing
$13 Computer
$1,126 Entertainment (movies, gambling, alcohol)
$480 Food
$0 Gifts Given
$50 Household/Housing/Home Repair
$0 Homeowner's Insurance (annual payment)
$28 Health and Dental Insurance (prepaid 2017 health insurance premiums in December 2016)
$0 Investment Expense
$783 Interest Expense*
($404) Medical/Dental (income)
$0 Miscellaneous
$5 Personal Care
$35 Subscriptions
$0 Taxes
$111 Sharing Economy Expenses (tolls, car washes, etc.)
$436 Utilities
$244 Vacation

*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.  In August, I paid $1,070 to E*Trade for "hard to borrow" interest on a short sale of Sears Holdings stock. 

Tuesday, October 3

My Frugal Miser - September Income: $9,812

September was a mediocre month for income.  I continued to get steady work from Amazon making deliveries.  I did not do much mystery shopping, but yesterday I signed on to a major project that will mean higher mystery shopping income in October and November.

Rental income is still lower than it should be.  I have one tenant who hasn't been paying rent (the primary tenant passed away, so this will continue until she moves out).  Another property became vacant at the end of the month.

September Income: $9,812

$543 Mystery Shopping and Hospitality Jobs
$65 Uber
$0 Lyft
$0 Postmates
$3,271 Amazon Deliveries
$5,242 Rental Income
$140 Dividends and Interest (Investment Accounts)
$553 Realized Gains (Losses) on Investments
$0 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.