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Saving Money in Pajamas with Credit Cards?

One of my favorite pastimes is travel. I’ve had the good fortune to visit a wide range of countries over three different continents. I’m hoping to get to more next year. I’ve also been on trips to Hawaii and California at prices that most people could only dream about. For example, I got tickets to LA from my home in the Midwest for a whopping $11.20 each. I also got three of my five nights at a Hyatt House hotel for $0. I paid for two nights out-of-pocket.

How do I do this? I use points that I’ve earned from various credit card bonus programs. This is not for everyone. People with bad credit will not get approved for a card. People who tend not to pay off their bills in full every month should not get approved for a card. Those who only buy what they can afford and then pay it off every month can get some great awards. There are several different options that can help you get to the destinations that you’re looking to get to.

1. Airline or Hotel Co-Branded Cards

These cards are tied to a specific airline or hotel. For example, Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt all have their own credit cards that give you a certain number of points per dollar spent. They usually pay bonus points when used to pay for a hotel room at the hotel company that the card represents. All of the major US airlines have a co-branded card (or cards) that can help you get to the destination of your dreams quickly, be it Orlando or Oranjestad. Of course trips to exotic locations like Australia or Tanzania might take more points, but they can be had. I’ve flown to Aruba, Denver, and LAX on miles, and I’ve stayed in Honolulu, Aruba, and Anaheim on hotel points.

2. Flexible Point Cards

These are the gold standard amongst those who are really travel hackers. Cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Citi Thank You Premier fall into this category. Chase, Citi, and AMEX all have their own point systems that allow you to transfer your points into a chosen travel partner (or get cash back). For example, Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred at a 1:1 rate to airlines like United, British, or Southwest, among others. They can also get transferred to IHG (Holiday Inn), Marriott, or Hyatt at the same rate. Only certain Chase cards work like this. I used these cards for my recent trip to see Mickey and Minnie, and they saved me over $1,000. If you’d rather have cash back, some of these cards will offer a bonus of up to $500 after meeting a minimum spend over 3 months. Of course, if you have to pay interest to get the bonus, it’s not worth it, so make sure that you can pay off your account IN FULL each month before applying.

3. Cash Back Cards

These cards come in two major varieties. One is the straight cash back card. The old Discover It card would fall into this category. Basically, users get 1% cash back for every dollar spent and 5% cash back on various rotating categories each quarter that can involve merchants like gas stations, travel, grocery stores, restaurants, etc. The other form of cash back card is the travel reimbursement card. The Capital One Venture Miles or the Barclay World Arrival Mastercard would fall under this category. These pay a cent or two back for every dollar spent, redeemable for a statement credit on travel expenses.

Before getting these cards, it’s important to remember that credit cards can be a very good employee, but they can be a very bad master. Do not go applying for credit cards if you have a propensity to be a spendthrift. If you’re fairly frugal, you pay off all of your bills every month, and you can avoid the temptation to spend money you don’t have just because it’s on plastic, these cards can help you save money on travel or get some cash back on a regular basis. They can get be a great way to get into debt, but they can also be a great way to get some great experiences for a fraction of what you’d otherwise have to pay.

For more information on how to game the system, I regularly read popular travel blogs like

The Frugal Travel Guy and Million Mile Secrets, among others.

Apply at your own risk, but if you’re disciplined, these cards can really pay off.

Saving Money in Pajamas with Haircuts

Building wealth requires making enough income to put a bit away each month. It’s usually a very long-term proposition that can literally take decades.  As I’ve already stated in another post, a dollar a day can really add up over time to be a substantial sum when compound interest and dividends come into play. I’ve pointed out that sites like SwagBucks and CashCrate can help you earn money on a regular basis. I’ve earned well above a dollar per day, much of it passive, from these two sources over the past three years.

Another source of building wealth is spending less than just about everyone else. A good way for men to save money is through haircuts. This advice might not work as well for women, as a standard set of clippers will not help them look all that great. Most guys have no problems cutting their hair really short. Of course, never cutting hair at all can also save money on haircuts.

I read an article on the Mr. Money Mustache site late last year about cutting your own hair and saving some serious bank. When I walked by a set of clippers with a number of different guards that allow you to manage different lengths for your hair and beard in WalMart while visiting family over Christmas break, I decided to pick it up. I’ve gone with a very short hair style in recent years (after going for over a year without a haircut back in 2010), so I figured I didn’t have much to lose. The cost for this clipper set from Wahl (which plasters that it’s made in the USA on its packaging) was a whopping $37. With tax, it came up to about $40.

I figured that I spend about $16 per haircut when a tip is figured in, and I only got one about every 3 months or so. Having my own set of clippers and a mirror could help me get my hair cut more frequently at a fraction of the cost. I would be ahead after just three haircuts, and I’m already at that point. Every time I cut my hair from this point on is just simply gravy, as the clippers amortize to a very small amount. For example, if I get 100 uses out of the clippers, I will pay about $0.40 per hair cut plus a few pennies for electricity. That’s way cheaper than $16 a pop that I would currently pay someone else to cut my hair, and that cost will probably go up with inflation in the next 10 years. I remember paying about $6 25 years ago. Those 100 hair cuts would have cost about $1,600 and many hours in a barbershop. Now, I’ve already spent the $40, and it only takes me around 10 to 15 minutes to crop my top.

Those $1,600 will probably add up to much more than that over time if invested in a mutual fund. Furthermore, I won’t have to sit in a barber shop or salon for many hours waiting around to get called to the chair. While I can’t really recommend this for women, most men could save quite a bit of money in this manner. A few smart moves like this to cut expenses can go a long way toward financial freedom. You could even use your earnings from CashCrate or Swagbucks to pay for your clippers, and that would compound the power of earning money in pajamas.

Earning Money in Pajamas–February Earnings

I continued in my goal of earning money in pajamas during the month of February. As I noted previously, it is important to set goals when trying to earn funds online. As noted in the previous article, I’ve set a goal of making $5,000 from my online activities during 2013.

Here is the latest earnings report for the month of February. Please note that I have also have additional money that I earned during the month that should come in at a later date. Again, I earned the most money from freelancing.

My earnings from freelancing came to $184.62 for the month.I also earned a total of $70.77 from HubPages.

The total for the month was $255.39.

When the earnings for January are added to this total, I have earned a total of $442.70. The money is starting to add up, and I’m trying to diversify my earning streams. Hopefully, I’ll be able to reach my overall goals. Do you have an earning goal for this year? How is it going? I’d be interested to know.