United Club Passes

April 2017 Passive Dividend Income

Passive Dividend Income Builds Up Slowly But Surely

The month of April is not quite over yet, but my passive dividend income for April has all arrived in my accounts.  The end of the month is one of my favorite times, because I get to tally up the passive income that I earned from dividends over the previous 30 (or so) days.

April was the first month of the second quarter. This means that fewer companies tend to pay out, which hurts my income from my 401k fund. Regardless, all of the companies that I own continued to work making money for me.

Every share that I own is an ever-so-small slice of the company that issued the shares. In effect, I own 0.0000000001 percent of these companies (or some other such minuscule number). Regardless, I love the fact that they work on the other side of the world while I’m sleeping to make me money.

Regardless of what I do in a given month, I get paid. Of course, I have a regular job and work hard to supplement that income, but it’s good to know that I have a growing stream of passive dividend income. Here are the companies that paid me in April:

Passive Dividend Income For April 2017

Taxable Account:

Coca-Cola (KO)                                                                           $3.24

Traditional IRA:

Realty Income Corp (O)                                                          $2.11
General Electric (GE)                                                                $9.60

401k

JP Morgan Equity Income R5 (OIERX)                        $0.01

TOTAL DIVIDENDS FOR APRIL 2017:                         $14.96

Yes, I earned a whopping penny from my 401k. Not terribly impressive, but better than nothing, I suppose.

Year-To-Year Comparison

Admittedly, not even reaching $15 might cause frustration for many people. However, when I look at this amount and compare it to the same month last year, I earned only $8.90 last year. This means that I increased my dividend income by 68% in just 12 months.

Increases of this size will not continue indefinitely, but they are pretty cool. They also help me build up my passive dividend income. They are important building blocks toward my goal.

I’ve now earned $105.31 so far in 2017. At this point last year, I’d earned only $33.27. This means that my passive dividend income is up 217% in just a year’s time. Pretty cool. Onward and upward.

I have to point out one thing, however. I sold all of my taxable investments over the past month, because, as I noted  previously, Loyal3 is shutting down. As this was my taxable investment vehicle of choice, I sold out and put the money into my Traditional IRA, hoping to cut my taxes for 2017 in the process.

This means that you’ll no longer see some of the common dividend payers on my reports previously. I wanted to let you know why.

I replaced my taxable holdings with more AT & T. This brings my estimated dividend income (not counting the 401k) to $398.90 for the next 12 months. I’m only one more purchase or one more dividend raise from crossing over the $400 mark. Again, pretty cool stuff.

How was your dividend income for April? Let me know in the comments. I’ve also updated my passive dividend income page so you can see the growth of my income over time.

If you’d like to keep up with my progress, be sure to sign up for updates in the email signup box near the top of the page. You can also follow me on Twitter.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional financial advisor. I intend this information for informational and educational purposes only. Perform due diligence before investing in any equities. See my disclosures page for more information.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Top 5 Ways To Redeem Swagbucks

Some of my online earnings from searching the web that allow my to redeem Swagbucks
I got some online income from searching on Swagbucks.

I’ve recently been tracking my online earnings on this site, and if you’ve noticed, one of my top earnings sources is Swagbucks.  When I started this site, my first post detailed how to earn and redeem Swagbucks.  I’ve continued using Swagbucks since then, and I’m now up to nearly $1,600 in lifetime earnings.

You can read the review above or check out this e-Book to learn more about the part about earning Swagbucks. The earning process is only one part of achieving success with Swagbucks.

The digital currency, made up of points known as SBs, can really pay off with some great redemption options.  Here are five of the best options when it comes time to redeem Swagbucks.

5. Charitable Organizations

When you’re ready to redeem Swagbucks, you can put your SBs toward a few charitable organizations. It’s possible to donate 5 SBs (essentially $0.05) to great works like Doctors Without Borders or the Wounded Warrior Project.

There are other options for charitable contributions. Additionally, you can save up 2,500 SBs and get a $25 e-gift card that you can designate to one of about 150 charities.

4. Department Stores

Some of the leading retailers in America, like Kohl’s and Macy’s offer e-gift cards through Swagbucks. You can redeem Swagbucks for these gift cards that range from $10 all the way up to $250.

If you’re looking to earn a bit to offset the expense of Christmas and birthday gifts, Swagbucks can really help you out. These gift cards from leading retailers are just like cash, and you can earn them in your spare time.

Wal-Mart and Target are also great options for redeeming SBs. About 90% of Americans live within 15 minutes of a Wal-Mart. And Wal-Mart sells just..about…everything! Saving even $10 or $25 a month on groceries can really help your budget out.

Taking surveys earns Swagbucks
Earning from surveys allows me to redeem Swagbucks for PayPal cash.

3. Airline Gift Cards

If you like to travel without spending money, Swagbucks can help you out. You can redeem Swagbucks for e-gift cards on airlines like Southwest and Delta (currently offered at this writing, although American Airlines has also been featured as a reward option on the site).

2,200 SBs will get you a $25 e-gift card that can offset your expenses on a flight. Wait until you get up to 25,000, and you’ll be able to get a $250 gift card.

I’ve seen flights from Denver to LAX on Southwest for as little as $40 one-way during one of their famous fare sales. Throw in a few Hotels.com gift cards, and your trip to Disneyland could be quite a bit cheaper than you’d expect.

2. Amazon

Need I say more? AMAZON. You can literally get just about anything you want on this website. Auto parts? Check. Clothing? Check. Collectibles? Check. What started out as an online bookstore is now so much more.

When I first started earning on Swagbucks, I usually cashed out for $5 Amazon e-gift cards. These are still available, as well as higher denominations, and they can really help you out on Christmas presents.  However, they’re not my favorite redemption for my hard-earned SBs.

1. I Redeem Swagbucks For PayPal Cash

My favorite redemption option now is straight up cash. I have to take a couple of steps to convert my SBs to money in my checking account and then to my investment accounts, but it’s worth it.

I use my Swagbucks as soon as I can redeem for $25 in PayPal cash. This then ultimately ends up buying dividend stocks.  Hopefully, these dividends will go to buy more dividend stocks, so the money I earn with Swagbucks today will hopefully contribute to my income stream for the rest of my life (and possibly the lives of my kids and grandkids in the future).

If this all sounds too good to be true, it’s not. Like I said above, I’m near $1,600 in earnings with the site. You can sign up for Swagbucks here, and start earning today! If nothing else, you can earn from easy tasks like your Internet searches all without leaving the comfort of home.

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links. I obviously appreciate any support you choose to give. You can just go to Swagbucks and earn as much, but I appreciate if you decide to click on my link. 

Be sure to sign up for my mailing list or to follow me via Twitter if you’ve found this article beneficial.

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Loyal3 Is Shutting Down

Prioritize Your Finances to wind up with a suitcase of money
You won’t be maximizing your money with Loyal3 any more.

Back in 2015, I learned about a relatively new investing platform that allowed users to invest in increments as low as $10 per purchase. Additionally, you could buy partial shares, which made the opportunity even more attractive. This platform was Loyal3.  This actually got me to start investing. Unfortunately, after having used this online brokerage for about two years, I got an email that Loyal3 is shutting down.

Loyal3 Is Shutting Down

This email that I received from the company was a bit of a surprise, but not too big of one. The company did not charge any fees, claiming to make money from marketing the stock of the 60 or so companies that it provided for investors as well as the interest from holding onto cash that was not yet invested in an interest-bearing money market fund.

Loyal3 is shutting down.
Loyal3 is shutting down.

This did not seem like the most sustainable of business models, but because Loyal3 was a member of SIPC, I figured at the time that my investments were safe. I enjoyed the chance to build my investment holdings in small increments over time.

Many in the investing community advocate buying stock in increments of $1,000 or more because of fees that hurt long-term returns. This can make it difficult for small-time investors to begin the process of investing. It can also make diversification a very slow process. With Loyal3, I had as many as eight holdings at one time, built up with purchases that ranged between $10 and $200 for any single transaction.

This was a pretty cool deal.

But now it’s done.

What To Do Now?

Now that Loyal3 is shutting down, what is the small-time investor to do? There are some investing options that might work. RobinHood is one that comes to mind. I’ve not used this platform, but I’ve read about it. RobinHood requires investors to buy full shares, which makes the minimum investment a bit higher.

The email from Loyal3 indicated that those who choose to leave their holdings alone would automatically have them transferred to a new brokerage called FolioFirst. This new brokerage, according to the email, is just for Loyal3 clients. The offerings for FolioFirst accounts will grow to around 200 companies and funds, which is good. Then comes the bad news.

There are still free trades( at least up to 2,000 a month), but the new outfit is going to start charging a $5 monthly fee per account. The minimum investment will now go up to $25 from $10. $5 a month might not sound like much, but it would add up to $60 a year.

Let’s say that a new investor has $50 a month to invest. This fee would mean that the investor would go from paying $0 with Loyal3 to paying $60 with the new FolioFirst platform. That’s a fee that would take up 10 percent of the total investments for the first year. Admittedly, the fee would go down over time as more money gets invested, but it would slow down the growth process quite a bit.

Investors with Loyal3 also have the option of instigating an account transfer to the brokerage of their choice. Option 3 involves selling all shares and then cashing them out.

What Am I Doing?

After getting the email that Loyal3 is shutting down, I decided that I’d opt for the third option. My account has some modest gains. I figured that my $100 in gains would cost me about $20 in taxes at most. Not too bad.

Furthermore, I also took into account the fact that I’m investing for dividend income. With the current size of my account, I’d have to pay about 4 percent of its value in account fees over the next year. That’s more than the roughly 3 percent yield that I’m earning on my holdings.

I’m planning to take the proceeds and invest them into my IRA account with TradeKing. This will provide a positive tax effect because I’ll be able to cut my current-year income by the amount I invest and then save 15 percent of the investment in deferred taxes.

I am planning to make one major purchase or two smaller purchases with the proceeds. This will not have me as diversified as I was, but it will cost me a max of $9.90 in trading fees, which is much less than the $60 I’d lose when looking at the monthly fees that FolioFirst would charge.

I can also buy REITs, telecoms, and utilities that pay higher dividend yields, so my overall dividend income for the next 12 months will probably go up with the purchases.

Conclusion

Loyal3 is shutting down. This is sad in one regard. Small-time investors who are getting started will have one less option when it comes to making small purchases and not having to pay major fees.

I’m cashing out and cutting my current-year taxes by putting the proceeds into a traditional IRA. I should also see a bit of a bump in my annual dividend income as a result.

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How To Free Up Money To Start Your Side Hustle

A side hustle can help you make more money.
Photo Credit: FirmBee via Pixabay (public domain)

The following post has been contributed by Drew Cloud of the Student Loan Report.

Debt has become a way of life in the United States, with the average household now owing more than $100,000 in debt. From credit card balances to mortgages, car loans and student loans, Americans are taking on more debt than ever before. It often leads to issues in setting your priorities straight. Owing money can be incredibly stressful — and it can also make it hard for people to get out of debt. One method that many people may want to use to dig their way out of a financial hole is through a side hustle.

Those looking to start a side hustle may want to start driving for a ride sharing company, like Uber or Lyft, or perhaps they want to start selling their crafts online. Whatever their side hustle may be, they need the cash to start it up — but how is that possible if they are already in significant debt?

Freeing up money to earn money can be incredibly challenging when you are already carrying large amounts of debt. For example, the average American household has nearly $17,000 in credit card debt, over $176,000 in mortgage debt and almost $50,000 in student loan debt. With numbers like this, it can seem impossible to put together enough money to start up a side gig. But there are ways to start chipping away at that debt — and free up money to start your side hustle.

Refinancing Can Free Up Money For A Side Hustle

When it comes to mortgages and student loans, refinancing may be the right choice to help you lower your monthly payment and reduce the total amount of interest you pay over the life of your loan. A refinanced loan will typically have a lower, fixed interest rate and potentially a shorter repayment term.

When you refinance your loan, you are applying for a new loan that will be used to pay off the old loan (or in the case of student loans, multiple loans). The interest rate for this new loan will be based on a number of factors, such as your credit score, income and history of making on-time payments. If you initially applied for your mortgage or student loans when you had a lower income or credit score, refinancing can be a great way to get a lower interest rate — and to lower your monthly payments as a result.

Online repayment calculators can help you figure out if refinancing will save you money. For student loans, several sites such as my own website (studentloans.net) allow you to compare rates from a number of lenders so that you can be sure that you are getting a great deal.

Personal Loans

For credit cards, you can apply for a personal loan to pay off all of your debts with one loan. This could include medical bills, balances on credit cards and more. Credit cards tend to charge high interest rates, with compounding interest. This means that the interest charges are added to the principal amount owed and any accrued interest, so that you will be paying interest on top of interest. Credit cards may also have variable interest rates that could go up significantly based on a number of factors, like if you miss a payment.

A personal loan with a low, fixed interest rate can help you get a handle on your credit card debt, making it far easier to pay off your credit cards. Loan interest rates are determined by your credit history and whether the loan is secured or unsecured, and are usually fixed for the life of the loan. If you are approved for a debt consolidation loan, you’ll make fixed monthly payments for the loan term (usually two to five years). Making a single payment each month may be particularly helpful for anyone who has a hard time keeping up with multiple payments on different debts.

Refinancing your mortgage and student loans and using personal loans to pay off your credit cards are two ways that you can reduce your debt to help free up money to start your side hustle. Once you have paid down your debt, you will then be able to more fully commit to your side gig, whether it involves setting up your own crafting business, driving on the weekends, or any other type of work.

Drew Cloud started The Student Loan Report when he found it difficult to find student loan information in one place. He now regularly writes about the latest student loan news as well as advice articles for those in college as well as for graduates working to repay their debt.

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Online Earnings for March 2017

Many, if not most, Americans live on a paycheck-to-paycheck basis. This makes it hard for most people to build up wealth. When you spend pretty much every penny that you make, it’s hard to build up a nest egg. This is where online earnings that can supplement the money you get from your regular job.

Prioritize Your Finances to wind up with a suitcase of money
Online earnings can build up a nice nest egg over time.

While many people do quite well financially, there are more that have a job that pays little. These people frequently look to the side hustle. This is the reason I started to look for ways to make money online about a decade ago.

It’s definitely helped improve my financial position over what it would have been had I not started. My online earnings have increased over time. Some months’ I’ll do pretty well; others, I’ll make less. The way I look at it, though, any extra money that I can bring in will help me build wealth over time.

Back in February, I made just above $200, which was less than the $334 that I made in January. Now it’s time to check my online earnings for March.

Online Earnings for March 2017

Freelance Writing:                   $241.55
Swagbucks:                                  $75.00

TOTAL for March 2017:       $316.55

While this amount of online earnings was less than it was in January, it was more than I earned in February. I earned from two freelance sites. I usually write about finance, but will occasionally take a job for a different topic like travel.

I’ve also gone over $1,500 lifetime earnings on Swagbucks. If you’ve not yet signed up for Swagbucks, you can do so by clicking on the previous link. You can also learn about some of the methods that I use to earn money on Swagbucks and how this could build up to a nice chunck of change over time from this short and relatively inexpensive book on building wealth with Swagbucks:

How To Earn Money With Swagbucks In Your Spare Time To Build Wealth

I’m keeping up with my online earnings to show you, my readers, how it can be done. I started making money on the Internet nearly 10 years ago, and I’ve increased this over time. You’ll probably not get rich over time, but you can earn money and supplement your income. You can make this money in your pajamas without leaving home, and it can really go a long way to helping you improve your personal finances.

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March 2017 Passive Dividend Income

Passive Dividend Income Builds Up Slowly But Surely

Yet another month has come and gone. I don’t like new months for one reason, as they seem to be coming more quickly as I get older. I do, however, enjoy them for another reason, because they give a great chance to look back. One of the best things to look back over is passive dividend income.

As you might already know, I’ve decided to embark upon a path of building a growing stream of passive dividend income. The strategy involves buying stock in a few high-quality companies. These companies have many employees who work hard every day.

They also tend to make lots of money, and part of the money that they make comes back to me in the form of dividends. These are cash payments that I can use for pretty much whatever I want. At this point in life, I’m using them to buy more stock. Which leads to more dividends. Which leads to more stock. And on and on this virtuous cycle should go.

Passive Dividend Income for March 2017

March was a great month for earning dividends. I had several companies and funds that paid out in the month. One was even unexpected. Kraft-Heinz switched up from paying out in the first month of the quarter to the third month. It’s no big deal, but it does make my first month income look smaller. Oh well, first world problem, for sure. Here are the great companies that paid me passive dividend income during the month of March:

Taxable Account

Unilever (UL)                                                                           $0.33
McDonald’s (MCD)                                                             $2.79
Kraft-Heinz (KHC)                                                               $1.72

Traditional IRA

Southern Co. (SO)                                                             $16.80
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)                                               $8.00
Realty Income Corp (O)                                                   $2.11

401k

JP Morgan Equity Income R5 (OIERX)                  $2.23
Cohen and Steers Realty Shares (CSRSX)            $8.18

TOTAL FOR MARCH 2017:   $42.16

Year-to-Year Comparison

When adding up all of these dividend payments, they come up to $42.16 for the month of March. This is an increase of nearly 210 percent over the $13.62 of passive dividend income that I received in the same month last year.

My dividend income  for 2017 is now up to $90.35 for the year. I was at a little less than $25 at this point last year. My $42.16 in dividend income would have bought me just north of 2 hours of freedom in March, based upon my estimate of needing $20/hour of passive income to keep up my standard of living without full-time work. My monthly passive dividend income page that tracks my progress over time has an update with this information.

How was your dividend income for March? Let us know in the comments.

If you’d like to keep up with my progress, be sure to sign up for updates in the email signup box near the top of the page. You can also follow me on Twitter.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional financial advisor. I intend this information for informational and educational purposes only. Perform due diligence before investing in any equities. See my disclosures page for more information.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

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How To Prioritize Your Finances

The following contribution comes to us from Dave Chen.

How to Prioritize Your Finances

Your finances are a crucial part of your life. Without them, you would not have a place to live, you would not be able to afford to drive your vehicle, and so on. Your finances need to be properly managed to ensure that you do not wind up in a huge debt hole without a way to climb out. Below, we will provide you with some tips and steps to prioritize your finances.

Of course, you want to make sure that you ALWAYS pay your obligations first because you need a place to live, and sacrificing this to put money into your savings account does not make much sense. Okay, let’s take a look at the tips now.

Prioritize Your Finances to wind up with a suitcase of money
Prioritize your finances, and you could wind up with a suitcase of money. Image via Pixabay.

1. Pay Off High-interest Debt

The first priority is for you to pay down your highest interest debt and also any dangerous debt that you may have. You need to tackle these first  because they will hurt you and stick with you if you do not. Many people do not know what debts to consider as dangerous debt. These debts include those with high interest rates, tax liens, debts in collection, and so on.

Pay-day loans, credit cards, high-interest car loans, and high-interest personal loans need to be paid off immediately. The longer you wait to pay them off, the worse off you will be. You will accumulate interest on this debt at a rapid rate, and the sooner you pay it off, the better – you will save thousands.

Pay off credit card debt to get finances in order
Pay off high-interest debt to get your finances in order. Image via Pixabay.

2. Save For Retirement

You want to retire at some point, right? If so, you need to think about your future and start to save for retirement. The longer you wait, the more money you will need to put away. For example, if you do not start saving for retirement until you are 40, you may have to put away half of your salary to be able to have a nice nest egg when you retire.

Your retirement account will ultimately determine whether or not you will live in poverty when you retire. The less you save, the more government help you will need, and the longer you will have to work.

To help you determine how much money you should save, if you were to save $500 per month for a period of 20 years and earn 10 percent on the money, you would save about $380,000 for retirement.

3. Create an Emergency Fund

What would you do right now if the roof on your home caved in? What about if your vehicle’s engine blew? These are things that you need to think about and consider. Many people do not have any type of emergency fund set up, and this means that they have to forgo some of the things they need because of it.

An emergency fund will cover three to six months of all of your living expenses in case the worst situation ever happens. For many people, this means more than $10,000. You should start putting extra money into this account and leave it there. Even if you save one or two percent of your income yearly, you could easily reach a target of $500 per year or so.

4. Go Over Your Expenses

If you already live paycheck to paycheck, the only way that you will be able to have room to save would be to sit down and think about your expenses and then look at them from an unbiased view. If you have a cable bill at $200 and your car insurance is another $200, you may want to cut back on the cable and talk to your agent about a better rate.

You need to explore areas where you may be paying too much and then try to lower the cost. In addition, you should eliminate any expenses that you do not need. On top of this, there are ways to make extra money that can help handle these extra expenses.

Start to Prioritize Your Finances Today

If you are ready to get your financial future into focus, now is the time to do it. We have helped you above by letting you know what we think you need to prioritize first when it comes to your finances. You should focus on the highest interest loans you have because these loans can throw you into a crazy whirlwind of debt, especially if you only make the minimum monthly payments each month. Quite often, this may be private student loans taken out to pay for college. Even more often, these rates can be much higher than federal options.

From there, you should then focus on your retirement, your savings account, and setting goals for yourself. Now is the time for you get a head start and get on the right financial track by starting to prioritize your finances.

— Dave Chen is young professional working in the engineering field. On the side, he skiing, hiking, and writing about all things personal finance at MillenialPersonalFinance.com.

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Free Honeymoon With Two Credit Card Bonuses

Weddings can be a pretty expensive proposition. The average cost of a wedding in the US is more than $26,000, although most people spend less than $10,000. I guess the multiple Kardashian weddings skew the number up. After spending all of that money on a wedding, who wants to spend lots on a honeymoon? Yet many Americans do. They don’t have to, as there are ways to get a free honeymoon.

I Did Not Get A Free Honeymoon

I recently wrote a post related to how I got involved in travel hacking.  It was quite eyeopening to learn that I could travel for pennies on the dollar. However, this knowledge came a bit late for my own honeymoon. My honeymoon was probably the last major trip I took at full price. Had I known about the ease of scoring frequent flyer miles, my trip to Cancun would have been quite a bit cheaper.

A free honeymoon to Puerto Vallarta is possible.
A view of the pool and ocean and the Puerto Vallarta Marriott, photo by author

You Can Get A Free Honeymoon

Through the use of travel hacking, you can get a free honeymoon. All that it takes is a couple of strategic credit card signup bonuses. I do want to note that by free, I’m referring to highly discounted flights and hotel rooms. Food, ground transportation, and attractions would require more than the two signups that the title suggests. There are taxes on any flights that you can’t get around easily without certain credit cards that give credits for purchases. Additionally, there is the possibility that the hotel will charge a resort fee.

Get The Starwood Preferred Guest Card

Until April 5, 2017, the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card (link with higher signup bonus good until April 5, 2017) is offering a 35,000 point signup bonus with 25,000 paid out after spending $3,000 within three months and another 10,000 paid out after spending an additional $2,000 in the first six months on the personal version. You’d need to spend $5,000 and $3,000  over the same time frames to get the same bonus on the business version. **Please note that you cannot get this bonus if you’ve ever earned it before.

This 35,000 bonus is the highest that anyone has ever seen for the great card. With the recent merger between Marriott and Starwood, it may disappear in short order, so the time to apply is now.

While this number of points might not sound as impressive as some other cards that might be offering 50,000 or even 100,000, it can actually provide even more value.

When I first started reading travel hacking websites a few years ago, this card was the number one recommendation for everyday spending. Users of the Starwood Preferred Guest (personal and business versions) can transfer to just about any airline that has a frequent flyer program. These points transfer at a 1:1 ratio in most, but not all, instances.

A Room at the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino in Oranjestat
You could use your points for a room like this one that I enjoyed at the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino.

Transfer Starwood Points To Marriott

Those who transfer in 20,000 point batches get a 5,000 mile bonus. This results in what is effectively 1.25 miles per dollar spent, which is a pretty good deal.

However, for the strategy that I’m recommending, you’d want to transfer these points to Marriott Rewards. Marriott recently bought out Starwood, and those who have an account with both programs can link and transfer back and forth between them. Starwood points are worth 3 Marriott Rewards points each.

If you spend the required $5,000 to get the 35,000 bonus points, you’d also earn at least 5,000 additional points at one point per dollar of spending. These 40,000 would then equal 120,000 Marriott Rewards points.

If your spouse-to-be has not earned the bonus before and you still have some wedding expenses coming up, you both could possibly get the bonus by applying before April 5. These two bonuses would equal 240,000 Marriott Rewards points, and you’d be set. I’ll show you how below.

Sign Up For the Marriott Rewards Card

If you’ve only signed up for one of the Starwood cards, your second application should be the Marriott Rewards Premier card (sign up the the highlighted link–I may receive bonus points if you do, and I’d definitely appreciate your support–this is the highest offer currently available so you lose nothing by using my link).

This card offers an 80,000 point bonus after spending at least $3,000 in the first 90 days after your application. This will result in at least 83,000 points. 80,000 of these points will come from the bonus, and the additional 3,000 Marriott Rewards points will come from meeting the minimum spend.

You’ll earn one point per dollar spent on everything outside of restaurants and travel. These purchases earn two points per dollar.  Additionally, purchases at Marriott properties earn five points per dollar.

If the Marriott Rewards Premier Card is your second card, you’d now have at least 203,000 points after transferring the points from the Starwood card. If you both decide to get a Starwood card and then get the Marriott card, you’d then have more than 320,000 points should you be able to meet the required spend.

This is where it gets really, really interesting and where the free honeymoon comes into play.

Get A Marriott Vacation Package

Marriott is pretty unique among loyalty programs, because it provides the option of getting a week at a hotel AND frequent flyer miles. For 200,000 Marriott Rewards points, you could stay a week at any of their category 1-5 hotels and get 50,000 miles in most domestic airline programs (as well as a few international ones).  These miles could get you to many places throughout the continental United States, including California and Florida.

The 320,000 points that you could get should you choose to get two Starwood cards (one for you and your significant other) and a Marriott card would get you 7 nights in a category 6 hotel and 120,000 miles. This would be enough miles for a trip to Europe for both of you in economy class. You could also get 7 nights in a category 7 hotel and 100,000 miles, which would be enough for a trip to Hawaii if you can find availability.

If you both got a Starwood card and a Marriott card, you’d have more than 400,000 Marriott Rewards points available, and that would score you a week at just about any Marriott property in the world and some lower level Ritz Carlton properties.  You can search the various Marriott vacation package options at the Marriott site.  These options open the possibility of a free honeymoon to just about anyone who has solid credit.

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Online Earnings For February 2017

Some of my online earnings came from Swagbucks
I earned some of my online earnings from Swagbucks.

I’ve decided that it would be a good idea to track my online earnings this year. I used to do this when I started my site a little more than four years ago, but dropped out of the habit. I’ve since started tracking passive income from dividends. I believe that passive income is the best income, and that dividends are the best form of passive income.

Passive Income Does Not Build Itself

However, to build up passive income, I need to earn income from active work. This is necessary because passive income does not create itself. It’s a function of earning money off of capital invested in anything from pork bellies to gold to stock in great companies.

Starting around 2008, I began earning a bit of extra money online. I took a big pay cut to start a job that I really wanted. There was the possibility of this job becoming a great career, and it did. However, the financial remuneration at the time was not the best. I had a new and growing family, and I had no desire to work retail if I could avoid it I therefore started to focus on online earnings so that I could make money without leaving the house outside of my day job.

This effort started to pay off nearly immediately, and I’ve not had to go back to working in retail or fast food to make ends meet since. Some months I make more; some months I make less. Regardless, the additionally money outside of my day job has really helped my standard of living. I made money online via two different avenues during the month of February 2017.

Online Earnings For February 2017

Swagbucks:                                                               $25.00
Freelance Writing:                                               $176.87

Total Online Earnings, 2/17:                          $201.87

This was less than the $334.60 that I earned online in January, but it was still a nice little bit of income that helped me toward my overall financial goals of building up passive income. Part of the money that I made in February went toward buying quality dividend stocks that should pay me passive income for years into the future. Hopefully, I’ll make more in March that can help propel me further. I’m hoping that both my online earnings and my passive income will snowball in the future.

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Passive Dividend Income for February 2017

Passive Dividend Income Builds Up Slowly But Surely
The month of February is not quite up, but I’ve already gotten all of my passive dividend income payments for the month.  I always enjoy looking back over the month that was and add up my dividend earnings. Dividends are my favorite form of passive income because they come in whether I have work or not.  As I’ve said many times before, passive income is the best income.

I own some great companies that pay me on a regular basis. These companies sell their wares around the world every day. They have workers who are dedicated to serving their clients, and I’m not one of them.  These workers show up to do their jobs when I don’t have to. I have weekends off, but companies like Starbucks (SBUX) sell coffee each and every day in just about every time zone known to man. This is a really cool concept that allows me to build wealth.

Passive Dividend Income For February 2017

I earned multiple payments in February 2017. Three companies and one fund paid me basically for existing. Without holding you in suspense any longer, here is my passive dividend income for the month that was:

Taxable Account:

Starbucks (SBUX)                                                   $1.12

IRA

Realty Income Corp (O)                                      $2.11
Omega Healthcare Investors (OHI)         $31.00

401K

JP Morgan Equity Income RF (OIERX)     $2.33

TOTAL dividends, 2/17                                   $36.56

By looking at my passive dividend income for February, I was able to earn $36.56. I like to compare my income on a year-over-year basis, and in February 2016, I earned $6.27. This was more than $30 less than my earnings just one year later, which means my passive dividend income grew by more than 500 percent in just one year. I have to say I’m happy with this result. However, I don’t assume that this will continue indefinitely.

It’s evident that OHI was my biggest payer for the month. I don’t really like the outsized income that I get from one company, so I’m hoping that I can diversify more so that my income is not so dependent upon one company.

When I add my January income to my income from February, I’m now up to $48.19 in passive dividend income for 2017. It was June before I passed this amount of income in 2016, so I’m definitely thrilled with this progress

Hours of Freedom Earned

I like to track how much freedom my dividend income provides me each month. I have a forward estimated dividend income of $322.95 for the next 12 months. This means that I now have about 16 hours of freedom built up for the next 12 months.

I argue that I would need to earn $20 an hour to maintain a similar standard of living to what I currently have. This figure is arrived at with the assumption that I would not be paying toward retirement or Social Security. Additionally, I would have fewer expenses associated with work like an occasional meal out and commuting.

16 hours of freedom is the equivalent of 1 hour, 20 minutes a month. If I look at my income from February only, it would have nearly bought me 2 hours of freedom. It’s not quite the 170 hours that I’d normally work for a month, but it’s a start.  I enjoy looking at the upward trend, however.

How was your passive dividend income for February? Let us know in the comments.

If you’d like to keep up with my progress, be sure to sign up for updates in the email signup box near the top of the page. You can also follow me on Twitter.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional financial advisor. I intend this information for informational and educational purposes only. Perform due diligence before investing in any equities. See my disclosures page for more information.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons