Pennies

Top 5 Travel Credit Cards To Get In 2017

What Are The Top Travel Credit Cards?

2016 is about to pass into the record books, and 2017 is about to commence. One of the major strategies I’ve been thinking about as I get ready to embark upon the new year is what the best travel credit cards that might help me achieve my goals in the near future would be. I’m already planning what cards I might like to apply for to maximize my travel benefits over the next few years. Here are 5 cards that I’m seriously considering having myself or my wifedoodle apply for in 2017.

1. Chase Sapphire Reserve

When Chase first announced its new Sapphire Reserve card in mid-2016, I must admit that it piqued my interest. 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points made up what I’ve been referring to as the “Mother of All Credit Card Bonuses” and puts the Reserve at the top of my  list of travel credit cards for 2017. Unfortunately, I ran afoul of the infamous 5/24 rule with Chase and was denied getting the Sapphire Reserve in a fail of epic proportions.

Fortunately, the wife got the card, and we set up a European itinerary of epic proportions.  While I’d like to start on the bonus ASAP, I’m waiting until around February to try my luck with another application so that I can maximize the travel reimbursement to offset the hefty $450 annual fee that comes with the card. I’ve already gotten this card as of 1/4. I learned that the 100,000 bonus was getting slashed in half on 1/11, so I risked the hard pull and got approved.

2. Chase Sapphire Preferred

I already have this card, so you might wonder why I’d want another. It’s not for me. My hope is to cancel my card when I (hopefully) get its more impressive brother, the Reserve. However, the 50,000 Ultimate Reward point signup bonus is nothing to sneeze at. For this reason, I’ll have the wife attempt to cash in on this card around the time that her Reserve card is up for a renewal of the annual fee. That way, we’ll earn more than 150,000 Ultimate Rewards points this year from the signup bonuses and minimum spends.

Keep in mind that this is all subject to approval in relation to the infamous 5/24 rule.  While the two Sapphire cards might not seem like the best credit card for travel miles, the ability to transfer them to airlines like United, Southwest, British, and Air France/KLM, among others, make them a great flexible option. They’re also two of the best credit cards for travel because they don’t carry any foreign transaction costs.

If you’d like to help support this site while signing up for a credit card, you can apply for the Sapphire Preferred with the 50,000 bonus after spending $4,000 in three months. This card has a $95 annual fee, and Chase waives it for the first year if you’re worried about having to pay out the $450 that the Sapphire Reserve requires.

This is the best offer that’s currently available publicly, but I’ll also earn 10,000 points for the first five approved referrals if you apply through the link above. You can go straight to Chase to get the same benefits, but I definitely appreciate any support you might choose to give.

3. CitiBusiness AAdvantage Card

Another of the travel credit cards I want to get this year is the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Card. This card currently has a nice 50,000 mile bonus in return for spending $3,000 over three months. These miles are limited to the American Airlines AAdvantage program, and I’m looking to top these off as we go into 2018 as I have another family vacation that I’m hoping to take to Europe and perhaps a bit beyond.  Both the wife and I have recently had the personal version, so this is likely the only chance we’ll have to score a bonus in the near future because of tighter restrictions with Citi approvals (although there is also the new 40,000 bonus from Barclaycard and the AAdvantage Aviator Red card). H/T to Million Mile Secrets for this last little bit of info.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, arrived at via AAdvantage miles and Marriott Rewards points.
AAdvantage Miles and Marriott Rewards Points got me to Paris with my family to see the Eiffel Tower.

4. Starwood Preferred Guest (Personal Version)

I’ve already earned the bonus for this card, which was 35,000 StarPoints when I first picked it up. I transferred all of my points to American Airlines when there was a 20 percent bonus promotion going on, and it went along with 10,000 bonus miles because of the 5,000 bonus for every 20,000 transferred. Now, I’ll have to let my wife apply for this one. The reason? You can transfer all of the points from the bonus, currently at 25,000, to Marriott, which is my favorite hotel chain. They’ll transfer at a 1:3 rate, which means that the bonus plus the automatic spending would be worth at least 84,000 Marriott Rewards points.

Pair Starwood With Marriott

I’ve never done this before, but I’m thinking of attempting to get one of the vacation package deals with Marriott that give a week at a nice resort (hopefully in some tropical location in Hawaii, Mexico, or the Caribbean) and some frequent flyer miles to get there in addition to the hotel stay. I would recommend going directly through the Starwood site to get this card. I could refer you, but I think that the flexibility of the points is better than the two nights you’d get from my referral, so I won’t even give it. If you’d like to build up some Marriott points, however, feel free to check out my link to that deal by clicking on the Twitter link like the example above. Again, I appreciate any support that you decide to give the site.

Also, if you’re not yet a member of the Marriott Rewards program, you can get 2,000 bonus points for each of your first five stays for a possible total of 10,000 bonus points by letting me refer you to the program. You should let me know you want referred in the comments of this blog (you have to give your email address to post a comment), and I’ll send the email.

Then you can also apply for the Marriott Rewards Premier card. You’ll get 80,000 points, which is the current standard offer, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll get 20,000 points for the referral. Again, I appreciate any support you feel free to give me.  I would also point out that there is the possibility for 5 points on the first $30,000 of spend in the first year with another link, but the 80,000 points for $3,000 in 90 days is easier to attain and you could earn even more signup bonuses from other programs during the same year.

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.

5. American Express Gold Card (Personal Version)

The last of the travel credit cards I’m looking at is the American Express Gold. This card does not come with a massively huge signup bonus at this time. It’s only 25,000 Membership Rewards points, but Amex waives the annual fee of $195 for the first year and the minimum spending level is $2,000 in three months to earn the bonus. This will pair quite nicely with my recent acquisition of my first business card, the Amex Blue for Business.

I’ve avoided Delta after having been pretty much locked into them because of geography for about three years in the fairly recent past. I also ignored them because of their reputation of having a loyalty currency derisively known as SkyPesos by those in the travel rewards community. However, I recently did a few searches and found quite a bit of low-level availability to Europe…in the summer even. This made me rethink the value of Membership Rewards, and since neither I, nor my wife, has had many Amex cards, I decided it might be time to start collecting them.

Other Options?

These are only five of the travel credit cards that I’m considering this year. There are others the I might get depending on what comes down the pipe. Perhaps Amex will offer another 70,000 bonus on the Delta cards, or the Alaska Airways cards will increase their bonuses to 50,000.

Maybe a card issuer will come out with a card that no one yet knows about that will have a bonus that even eclipses than the “Mother of All Credit Card Bonuses” of the Sapphire reserve. My goal is always to find the best credit card for travel miles at any given time. These five applications are not set in stone, but they are definitely on the radar. What cards might you want to get this year to help fund your travel goals? Be sure to let us know in the comments

Disclaimer: You can go into serious debt with travel credit cards. I recommend only using them if you can pay them off in full on a monthly basis. Otherwise, the interest charges eat up the travel or cashback rewards. Apply at your own risk.

Pennies

Offsetting the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s Annual Fee

Earlier this year, I wrote about getting rejected for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and its bonus that I’ve since started calling the “Mother of All Credit Card Bonuses” because of having too many recent accounts opened in my name.  Luckily, however, my wife was able to get this card because she had not run afoul of the infamous 5/24 rule that Chase has instituted.

This led to our getting enough bonus points to book a round-trip flight with stops in four European cities on United Airlines for only $165–and most of the points came from this one signup bonus of 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the top five travel credit cards for 2017, but the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee is quite high.

The big downer for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, however, is the massive $450 annual fee. This would cause many people to take pause. If you time your application and travel purchases right, you can also do much to alleviate this annual fee. You can actually get a $300 credit for travel each calendar year (defined by the statement end date). This means that you could possibly actually earn $150 in free travel for the first year you have the card, in addition to the huge sign-up bonus. I was running down to the wire, but as the article linked above regarding booking our tour of Europe noted, I still had to book a flight from Prague to Lisbon.

How I Offset The Chase Sapphire Reserve Annual Fee

I searched on Expedia.com for flights and the date that I wanted because the aggregator shows just about any flight that you can take on any airline. For a bit, the best price on this trip was a $127 direct flight on TAM Airlines, a Portuguese carrier. Just a couple of weeks ago I ran the search again, and a $95.50 flight on Czech Airlines came up. I snagged it and dutifully used both my wife’s and my Delta  Skymiles frequent flyer numbers in the process. I’m not a huge Delta loyalist, but I try to get every single mile or point

I can and I figure that I’ll be flying Delta at some point in the future for one of the trips that I have planned after 2017. It took awhile for the charge to go through, but when it did, it automatically refunded.  Furthermore, while doing a bit of traveling to visit family for Christmas, I had to stop at a hotel. Thanks to the remainder of the $300 credit, I paid a whopping $6 for the night, all while earning some Marriott Rewards points in the process.  Here’s a graph that shows we completed the credit for 2016.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Travel Credit of $300

I’ll have to stop at a hotel on the way back. Marriott will be the chain of choice, because one more stay before January 15 will result in the regular points for the stay, a credit for the night since the $300 calendar year rebate clock will start over again, and 5,000 bonus points that are a part of Marriott’s Fall MegaBonus. That’s what I call stacking rewards that are beneficial to my both my bank account and my rewards account. How have you been able stack rewards like this? Let me know in the comments.

Pennies

Earning Money in Pajamas With Real Estate

One of my favorite sayings is that passive income is the best income.  Passive income is money that you don’t have to put any effort toward earning. It’s money that you get just by waking up in the morning. Passive income would definitely be a form of earning money in pajamas. You might wonder where that idea of earning money in pajamas and real estate investing would come in.

You Can Make Money in Real Estate

When most people think of investing in real estate, they think of the common slumlord who owns a property or ten that they bought to make some money of some poor, unsuspecting college student or fast food employee (sometimes these demographics are one and the same).  This is definitely one way that people have made money in real estate–buy a property with other people’s money and then have your renters pay the loan back. After the property gets paid off, the rent that hopefully continues to come in becomes a solid cash flow, or if you don’t want to continue to deal with renters, you can sell the house off and pocket the cash. At least this is how it’s supposed to work.

Real Estate image. Wikimedia Commons via GregoryJ77, Public Domain

You Can Make Money in Real Estate, But…

Many landlords find that they can make money at times, but there is the issue of finding people to rent out the property, or more importantly, the right people to rent out the property. Some renters will stiff their landlords and fail to pay on a regular basis. If you’ve bought the house and still owe on it, this lack of cash flow from derelict tenants can lead to negative consequences for your budget. Then, if this problem becomes habitual, you might find that it’s necessary to evict the renters.

I don’t know about you, but getting the courts involved does not really sound like passive income to me.  Furthermore, renters are less likely to treat your property with care. Many landlords have found that they have to clean up big messes when their renters move out, be it voluntarily or in a more forcible manner. Some of this cleaning might require some  light construction work. I’m not terribly handy, nor do I like cleaning up messes. How then did I come to decide that I’d like to become a landlord?

Enter the REIT

As I’ve been noting in recent months, I’m investing in equities in an attempt to slow down how much I have to work for money as more of my money goes to work for me on a daily basis. If landlording sounds like a lot of work, it doesn’t have to be. I’ve decided that my real estate investments (at least outside of my own personal residence) will come through Real Estate Investment Trusts, otherwise known as REITs. These companies own properties that they then rent out to make money. The REITs that I’m investing in directly have businesses that tend to sign multi-year leases with annual increases built in as renters. I’ve owned some shares of Omega Healthcare Investors (OHI) for a few months, and I just pulled the trigger on 10 shares of Realty Income Corp (O) this past week.

Both OHI and O pay out healthy dividends at this point. They are also on sale from the levels that they were at in the summer. Additionally, the dividends that these REITs have been paying have also been growing on a regular basis. Where most companies who increase their dividends on a regular basis do so annually, Omega Healthcare Investors has been increasing its dividend on a quarterly basis for the past few years, and Realty Income has been announcing multiple increases each year. Additionally, Realty Income pays out every single month, much like a property that I’d own outright.  That’s 12 payments a year. I’m planning to build up the position over time, so my income should grow from a small beginning.

REITs Can Pay Nice Yields

I’m getting a dividend yield of nearly 4.5 percent on O and nearly 7.5 percent on OHI. I don’t have to find renters. The management of these companies do that for me. I don’t have to clean up for tenants who move out. The companies will do that for me. Finally, I don’t have to evict anyone. The companies will do so should it come to that point. I don’t have to do anything related to management of the property. I get all of the benefits of being a landlord (as well as some of the risks) without actually having to deal with most of the hassles that come with the territory. Of course, there are risks with any investment, but I feel that the passive income that I’ll hopefully be earning while sitting in my recliner or in my office for years or decades to come will pay off big in the long run.

Disclaimer: Long O and OHI, I am not an investment professional. Information on this site is intended for educational/informational/entertainment purposes. It is NOT a recommendation to buy. Please do due diligence before investing in anything at all. 

Reminder: If you’d like to be entered into my drawing for an Amazon.com e-Gift card code that’s closing down on Christmas Eve, be sure to sign up with my email list via MailMunch. This is the popup that shows up when you first visit the site. If you’re interested in the rules for the Amazon giveaway, be sure to check them out here.

 

Pennies

$10 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Welcome to those visiting from my interview that’s the latest installment of Investment Hunting’s interview series.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. We’re about halfway between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m thankful for many of the blessings that I have in life. This year has been pretty good so far, and I’ve been able to take a couple of trips that were enjoyable cultural experiences.  I’ve also seen my dividend income grow exponentially.

View from balcony at CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta–by me

In keeping with the season of giving, I’ve decided to give a $10 Amazon e-Gift card to one lucky winner. This can be used toward a present for yourself or someone else. I’m actually going to be cashing in some of my earnings from Swagbucks, and you can earn e-Gift cards or cash by signing up at the site and completing various easy tasks like using their search engine or playing videos while you’re watching TV in your pajamas (or a business suit if that’s how you roll).  You won’t get entered into this giveaway by signing up for Swagbucks, but you can start earning points toward other e-Gift cards or PayPal cash if you do decide to sign up.  Please note that if you sign up with my link, I may earn a commission on your earnings.

Entering the actual contest is going to be pretty easy. All you have to do is sign up to get updates from the website via MailMunch. This is the pop-up that asks you to sign up after you’ve been on Earn Money in Pajamas for a few seconds. I’ve you’ve already X’d out of the pop-up, you should be able to leave the site and come back to get another chance.  Sign up. That’s it. Here are the rules for the giveaway:

Contest Duration:

The contest will run until 12/24/2016 at 11:59 pm GMT. Anyone who signs up before this deadline will be eligible to win.

Contest Prize:

One Amazon e-Gift card code that’s worth $10. The total value of the prize is $10. The winner will be responsible for putting in the code on their own Amazon.com account.

Odds of Winning:

The odds of winning are 1 in however many people sign up for my email list via Mail Munch before the deadline.

How will the winner be selected?

I will count up the number of entries received by the Christmas Eve deadline. Then I’ll input the number of entries into an online random number generator. The first person to have signed up on Mail Munch starting today will get assigned number one. The second will get assigned number two, and so forth. The person whose number comes up will get an email from me informing them that they’ve won. If they do not reply within 48 hours after I send the email, I’ll get another number from the random number generator and repeat the process until I get a winner who responds.

What will you do with my email address (AKA privacy)?

By signing up, you agree that you give Earn Money in Pajamas permission to use your email address for two possible purposes. The first is to get updates from Earn Money in Pajamas.  The second is to put you into contact with opportunities to earn money and/or travel/cash back points (for example Chase or Amex referrals). Names and email addresses are all that might be shared under this arrangement. I appreciate your support.

Pennies

November 2016 Passive Dividend Income

Another month is in the books. November 2016 has come and gone. While I’m not terribly happy that the wind is kicking up from the north and bringing cold weather, I am happy that some great companies continue to provide me with money from dividends that I can deploy to buy more income. Over time, I hope to build a nice stash of dividend-paying stocks that could take care of a nice portion of my expenses each and every month.

One of the greatest things about dividends is the fact that they come in whether I work or not. I had a few days off for Thanksgiving, but the companies that I own continued to do their thing, earning revenue that will hopefully be turned into profits, that will in turn come my way in the form of additional dividends. I have made a few sales to pay off some debt over the past couple of months, so I did not get as many dividends as I would have expected in November.  Additionally, Starbucks, which usually pays out in the second month of the quarter, is going to be paying off in early December. I’ll still get paid, just in a different month than usual. In spite of these facts, I busted through the $20 number in a month for the very first time since I started this journey last year. Here are the two payments I received in November 2016:

Taxable accounts:

AT & T (T)                                                                    $7.01

IRA

Omega Healthcare Investors (OHI)        $18.30

TOTAL for November:                                   $25.31

As you can see from the listing above, I not only smashed through the $20 mark, I received a Jackson and a Lincoln along with some change (that’s a $20 and a $5). My $25.31 set a new record for my dividend growth investing history. It now brings my total dividend income for the year up to $141.48, which is well above the $15.08 that I had earned at this time last year. Additionally, I only earned $5.41 in November 2015, so I earned nearly five times the dividend income that I earned in the same month just one short year ago. That’s a pretty impressive increase, from my standpoint, as I would have to earn about $125 next year if I were able to duplicate this jump for 2017. I don’t think I’ll quite get to this point, but it would definitely be nice to achieve.

My estimated dividend income for the next 12 months is now at $252.49. This is more than $20 a month on average, which would allow me to take off slightly more than an hour a month with my estimation that I’d need to replace $20 an hour if I were to live solely off of dividend income.

How did your dividend income shape up for the month of November? Did you have a year-over-year increase? Let me know in the comments.  I have updated my monthly dividend page to reflect these payments.  Also, if you’d like to follow my progress on a monthly basis, be sure to sign up to get updates.

Disclaimers: Long OHI; I am not a financial professional. Information listed in this post does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell. It is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Equities can increase or decrease in value, and losses up to and including all money invested can occur. Consult with a licensed professional before making an investment decisions. 

Pennies

Visiting Multiple Cities On One Award Flight

I recently had an epic fail when it came to getting the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.  I obviously wanted to earn the 100,000 point bonus in the Ultimate Rewards program. I was fortunate, however, in that my spouse was not over the 5/24 limit. After she secured the bonus, I started checking on some options for a vacation next year. I found that there was pretty wide open availability on a number of United Airlines flights to Europe, Australia, and Asia. The availability included the summer months, to my surprise. I finally decided, with the wife’s approval, to take a trip to Europe, specifically Prague, Czech Republic, and another to-be-determined city (which turned out to be Lisbon).

How is it possible to visit more than one city on one trip, you might ask. I’ve already written about my recent trip to Madrid and Paris last spring.  I utilized a routing option that’s called an open jaw on this trip. This means that you can fly into one city and then fly out of another back to the city you originated from. Think of it this way. A normal trip would be City A to City B, with a return to City A to complete the round trip. An open jaw flies from City A to City B. Then there’s a trip by another airline, train, or rental car to City C. Then there’s a return to City A from City C. The only question that comes up is how to get from City B to City C. There is some pretty impressive public transportation within Europe, but I’ve found that commuter flights are really cheap between cities. My flight from Madrid to Paris earlier this year was a whopping $69 on Iberia Airlines. I’ve also seen flights from London to Paris from as low as $53 in recent searches. This is on Air France, not on a low-cost carrier that charges for breathing, either.

For my upcoming trip next year, I decided to again utilize the open jaw. I found availability for both of the main cities that I wanted to visit on a multi-city itinerary. Prague was my main goal. I was there a few years ago, and I loved it. My wife did not make this particular trip, so I want to share my love of the Czech capital with her.

Jan Hus Memorial
A memorial to Czech hero Jan Hus, photo taken by me on a previous visit to Prague.

I first tried to book a multi-city itinerary, and the results were not as robust as they were when I looked at each individual leg. Here’s a dummy multi-city search originating from Chicago and going to Prague with the outbound flight:

United Multi-City Search: Chicago to Prague

 

Note that there is only one page in the search results with 18 flights returned, starting at 30,000 Mileage Plus miles for this leg of the trip. I then decided to make the trip two one-way award flights. Note what happens when I go to a one-way search for the same dates (I plugged in June 13-20 for this dummy booking).

One-way flight: Chicago to Prague

We’ve gone from one page with 18 possible flights to seven pages with 152 possible flights, again starting at 30,000 Mileage Plus miles for this leg of the trip. This means more options. There is the greater possibility of adding more than just the two main cities with an itinerary like this.

If you start looking for flights at your desired level of seating (coach, business, or first class) and low-level mileage requirements, you can actually look for flights that will take longer to visit an additional city or two during layovers.  I went to page 4 of my actual search (not the dummy search shown here) to find an 11-hour layover in Munich on the way to Prague. This should be plenty of time to hit the local public transportation network and see a couple of sites within the city, extending my trip to three actual cities visited in a single one-week trip.

I did the same process for my return trip, and found a lengthy flight that allowed for an overnight layover of 15 hours in yet another European city, bringing the total number of cities that we should visit to four in one single trip. All I have to figure out is what flight I want to take from Prague to Lisbon. My two one-way flights to and from my main destinations in the Czech Republic and Portugal came to 60,000 United Airlines Mileage Plus miles per person or 120,000 total (most of which came from the wife’s Sapphire Reserve bonus) and around $165, which I put on my Chase Sapphire Preferred to earn 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar for the purchase. These points will go to a later trip that is not yet determined.

By taking the time to play around with the United Airlines booking site, I was able to set up a trip that visits four major European cities. Most people would only look for a round-trip that visited one. Most of my recent trips have been a result of my philosophy of earning money in pajamas. I’ve looked at ways to maximize credit card rewards to save money on things that I’d prefer to spend money on anyway. Have you had any success with similar bookings? If so, feel free to share in the comments.

 

Pennies

Book Review–Your Money Map

A few months ago, I visited a Christian bookstore and I decided to check out the personal finance section. Some of the books appeared to be from health and wealth guys who encourage you to “sow some seed” to benefit their ministries. I’m not into that by any stretch. I then happened upon a book titled Your Money Map: A Proven 7-Step Guide to True Financial Freedom. The author of the book was Howard Dayton, and it was published in 2006. Moody Publishers published this book, and it’s pretty far removed from the health and wealth scene. I then decided to pick up the book to see if it was the same as Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, which has seven baby steps. It did not.

Rather than just giving seven “baby steps” that are singular in purpose and that readers must follow in order religiously, this book shows more of a lifetime journey that a person might take. Both Ramsey and Dayton argue that financial freedom is a process that could take quite a bit of time.

Your Money Map Is Christian In Outlook

Your Money Map is distinctively Christian in its outlook. Therefore, those who have a more secular viewpoint might have more interest in other personal finance books. This book follows a couple that Dayton counseled regarding personal finance and the advice that he gave them through each step of the way.

The book starts out by arguing that all wealth comes as a stewardship from God. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that we are effective stewards with the money that God entrusts with. Dayton argues that one of the first steps that anyone should take when getting their personal finances in order is to begin charitable giving toward religious purposes. This is one of the areas that nonreligious people might disagree with Dayton, but starting to give is part of Destination 1 on the money map that’s included in the chapters of the book, as well as the schematic money map at the very end of the book.

Step 1

Other goals involved in reaching Destination 1 include the obligatory budget and $1,000 emergency fund. These two steps seem to be pretty standard among the community of personal finance gurus. Both are pretty good ideas. Budgeting ensures that you can avoid spending more than you bring in. If you spend more than your income each month, you’ll wind up with a negative net worth if you’re not already there.

If you spend less on a monthly basis, you’ll build up a solid net worth over time. It’s pretty simple, actually. Also, stashing $1,000 allows you to pay for any unexpected expenses that might come up–like the busted radiator I had to replace a couple of months ago. Definitely not cool, but necessary. Learning to handle money God’s way is a little outside the realm of personal finance gurus who are not religious in nature.

Your Money Map

Steps 2 and 3 on the money map are where Dayton is a bit different than some of the other personal finance books and websites that I’ve read. Most of these other books emphasize paying off debt at the expense of savings. Your Money Map argues that people should build up a larger emergency fund (for one, and then three, months of expenses) while simultaneously paying down credit card debt and all other consumer debts. This blended approach is refreshing to me, because cash flow is important. Having more money available at any given time can help people avoid building up additional debt should an unexpected job loss or other catastrophe occur.

Earning money in pajamas can help you achieve financial freedom.

A possible destination after reaching Step 7on Your Money Map.

Step 4 relates to saving up funds for major outlays like a home or retirement (childrens’ education is optional here). Dayton recommends saving up a substantial down payment for a home so that a downturn in the local housing market does not get a buyer upside-down on his or her mortgage. This is generally sound advice (although I didn’t follow it personally because renting in the markets I’ve lived in has been more expensive than buying–I took advantage of loans with low down payment requirements).

Getting Closer To Financial Independence

Steps 5 and 6 deal with actually buying the house, paying it off early, and investing additional money outside of retirement accounts, working toward the multiple goals at the same time. Step 7 is financial freedom. The goal of financial freedom is retiring and actually having something to leave as a legacy, be it through an inheritance to your children or some nice gifts to organizations that you feel strongly about. Retirement also means that you have more time to give to endeavors that you feel really, really passionately about.

The story of Matt Mitchell, the car salesman that Dayton counsels, appears throughout the book. Dayton himself has basically donated his time as a personal finance coach for decades, so he discusses how he walked his pupil through the steps toward financial freedom. I liked how this book showed that you can focus upon more than one thing at a time because compounding is an important and powerful aspect of investing. This is actually not as common in personal finance advice as you might think. Those who start with just saving a few bucks regularly early in life will actually be better off than those who save up more of their income later in life.

Some Jobs Aren’t Worth It

I also liked the argument for having a single earner for many couples. After paying for child care and additional clothing, food, and transportation expenses, Dayton shows how one working wife earned an effective wage of $0.64 per hour on $18,000 of gross earnings over the course of a year. Many people don’t look at it this way, but it’s the rationale we used when my wife decided to stay at home with the kids. Low real earnings like this are also all too common. Overall, Your Money Map did a good job of showing how disciplined people can achieve financial independence over time.  If you’d like to check out this book and read it for yourself, I’d encourage you to scroll up and click the link near the top of the page

Disclaimer: If you decide to sign up for various programs or buy products from my referral links, I may receive compensation. You can get the same great benefits from just going to the websites themselves, but I definitely appreciate your support. It’s one of the ways I’m able to earn money in pajamas while helping others do the same. 

Pennies

October 2016 Passive Dividend Income

Well, another month is nearly in the books. We’re now at the end of October, and now less than two months from Christmas. The market has been up and down over the course of the year, but most people have been able to make money if they’ve stayed invested in dividend-paying stocks. This is the type of investment that I’ve decided upon, as these companies actually pay me to own a part of them.

October was a pretty good month for me, going well in excess of my dividend income from the same month last year.  My dividend income should go up over time, but in the short term, it will probably go down a bit, as I’ve decided to sell most of my taxable holdings. I’ll probably explain this further in another post at a future date. I’ve rolled over a tax-deferred account from a previous employ into a traditional IRA, and I will be putting more money toward that in the future year after reading some really good information on tax-deferral from the Mad Fientist’s web site.  You can look at some cool stuff from the Mad Fientist regarding taxes and super charging your retirement portfolio here and here.  Basically, the less that you pay in taxes means more capital for saving for retirement. Therefore, I’m going to shift my focus up a bit and use my taxable account as more of a (hopefully) growing emergency fund that pays out a growing stream of dividends while I wait to need the money while leaving my IRA (and possibly other tax-deferred accounts) to grow until retirement.

Overall, I had four great companies that paid me over the course of October. Three of these should continue to pay me into the future. I trimmed Coca-Cola, but I completely sold out of Bank of Nova Scotia, although it will be on my radar for future purchases in a tax-deferred account. I’ve decided to utilize Loyal3 for my taxable purchases because of the low (i.e., free) transaction costs. I will also up my average purchase through TradeKing, which charges only $4.95 per purchase, to between $500 and $1,000 per transaction to keep the fee below 1%. You can sign up for TradeKing here and possibly get a $50 bonus after meeting some funding and purchasing requirements. I use TradeKing for my non-Loyal3 purchases.

Without stringing you along, here are the great companies that paid me during the month of October. I’ve broken them down by taxable and retirement accounts.

Taxable Accounts

Coca-Cola (KO)                                       $4.19

Kraft-Heinz (KHC)                                $0.34

Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS)               $5.11

Retirement Plan Dividends

General Electric (GE)                            $4.60

TOTAL Dividends for October       $14.24

These dividends bring my total dividend income for 2016 up to $116.17, and my $14.24 for the current month showed a 144 percent growth rate on a year-over-year basis. I should be ahead of this next year at this point again, if all goes as planned and I am able to continue putting more capital to work over time. Because of the stock sales that I noted earlier, my estimated dividend income for the coming year dropped to $130.31, but again, this should go up and exceed where it was as I make periodic purchases within my IRA. I plan to purchase between $500 and $1,000 a month until my transfer amount runs out. If the market crashes and burns before that, I’ll accelerate the purchases, as the best time to purchase stocks is the same as most as just about any other purchase–when they are on sale.

How did your dividend income look in October? Let me know in the comments.

If you’d like to keep up with my dividend income over time, feel free to go to the top of the page and follow me. You’ll only get emails when I actually make a new post, which is usually around five times in a month. In other words, your inbox will not get inundated with random emails.

Disclosure: I am long all stocks mentioned with the exception of BNS, which I sold in October.

Disclaimer: I am not a licensed financial professional. Be sure to do due diligence before investing in securities. This article is not a recommendation to buy a specific company. It is only for educational/entertainment purposes.

 

 

Pennies

Avoid the Christmas Debt Trap With Online Earnings

Debt Is Not Cool

Debt is NOT cool. It can strangle the life out of people. It basically makes you a slave to your lender. Staying out of unnecessary debt is one of the most important steps to take toward financial freedom, because debt brings interest payments that hurt your cash flow. If you pay cash for the things you buy (or pay off the credit card bill in full each month), you’re automatically saving any interest you would have paid had you gone into debt.

Some debts are better than others. For example, a home mortgage can be a “good” debt because buying a home on credit with a mortgage can actually cost less on a monthly basis than renting in many markets. Every dollar that you pay toward the principle of the home loan will also build up your equity, which is a major component of net worth. Student loans can be a “not-quite-so-bad” debt, as long as it is manageable because a degree can lead to higher earnings over time. Most other debt is pretty crummy because it forces you to pay more than you would normally pay for the items you buy on credit.

The Christmas Debt Trap Is Super Not Cool

One of the absolute worst sources for major debt is Christmas debt. Christmas doesn’t really sneak up on people. It shows up at the same time every single year. It’s always on December 25, year in and year out. It should not be a shock. Americans (and people of other nationalities who celebrate Christmas) tend to spend lots and lots of money at this particular time of the year for just about anyone that they come into contact with.

Of course, this is a slight exaggeration, but the average person who goes into debt for Christmas presents takes until April until the debt is paid off. Instead of paying the retailer for the full price of these presents, lots of Americans tend to also pay a nice little chunk to a bank for the privilege of using the bank’s money for the presents.  The bad thing about the Christmas debt trap is the fact that many kids will play with the boxes and other wrapping for as long as they do the toys that are within the packages.

Avoiding the Christmas Debt Trap With Online Earnings

One of the major purposes of this site is to get people (AKA you) to think about ways to increase your earnings so that your financial situation will be a bit less constrained outside of self discipline. One of the benefits of earning more money is more flexibility. Earning extra money before Christmas should allow you to pay off the bill for presents before the credit card comes due, which is a good thing. If you have any left over after buying for everyone on your Christmas list who’s avoided getting on Santa’s naughty list, that’s a great thing.

The first step in avoiding the Christmas debt trap through online earnings is setting up some goals for actually earning the money.  This will require investigating some of the leading places for making money online. If you’re just a few weeks from Christmas, sites that allow for instant or near-instant redemption of funds would be preferable. If you have longer, you can also start looking into sites that pay once a month to maximize your earnings. Here are some of the top options that can allow you to earn some money for Christmas (and all year ’round, for that matter).

Online earnings can help you avoid the Christmas debt trap.
Here’s a check that I earned from CashCrate

The second step in avoiding the Christmas debt trap because of Christmas gifts is actually signing up for some sites that allow you to make some money pretty easily. Here are some sites that I’ve used to some success over the past few years. I’ve even earned more than $1,000 on a couple of them in my free time, much of it while I’m watching TV in my recliner.

Sign Up For Swagbucks

My favorite site is Swagbucks. There are several options to earn money pretty quickly here, and you can cash out when you get up to 500 SBs (the digital currency on Swagbucks) for a $5 Amazon.com gift card.  I usually save up for a $25 redemption in PayPal cash. You can read my review of Swagbucks here.  I’ve earned more than $1,300 from this site.  Kids as young as 13 can start earning money on Swagbucks.

View Webpages For Money On Clixsense

I’ve also been using a site by the name of Clixsense recently. I’ve already redeemed three times, and you can earn money pretty quickly by just clicking on links and viewing the website for 15 or 30 seconds. I actually view the TV while I’m clicking. I’ve not reviewed the site on this blog yet, but I can say that it definitely pays.  The first payout has to be by check and reach $10, but subsequent payments can go on PayPal after reaching $8 and take only 2-5 business days to go through. You can sign up for Clixsense here.  You have to be 16 years of age to set up a Clixsense account.

Try CashCrate

I’ve earned more than $1,000 from CashCrate. This is one of the oldest websites that allows users to complete various tasks. This one only pays out once at the beginning of the month and requires $20 in earnings. I’ve done a more in-depth review of CashCrate here.  One guy that I’ve seen on another site has earned nearly $160,000 from CashCrate, but that would take lots and lots of referral income. A few bucks here and there each month is more likely.

If you’re looking for more ways to earn money online, you might like my list of Thirteen Ways to Make Money Online Without Spending a Penny, but the three listed above are likely to earn money pretty quickly.

Online Earnings Can Pay As Well As A “Real” Job

Some people will complain that it takes quite a bit of time to earn much money. However, it’s important to remember that there are costs associated with going to a day (or evening job) that quickly cut down on your actual income per hour of work, especially if you’re a mom or dad who only makes minimum wage or slightly higher. I recently read a personal finance book** that showed that a wife with kids who worked at an $18,000 per year job only pulled down $0.64/hour when accounting for additional clothing, transportation, and child care costs.

That’s hardly worth going to an office for 8 hours a day. You can make that much or more online pretty easily without even having to leave the house. That’s why I’ve been into earning money in pajamas for the past few years. It’s definitely been very beneficial to improving my standard of living, and by making a few hundred dollars over the course of the year, you can avoid the problem of getting into the Christmas debt trap from buying presents altogether.

*Disclaimer–I may earn a referral commission if you sign up for some of the programs that I cover on this site. I’ve actually used all of them and have gotten paid. You can still earn from the sites without using my link, but I definitely appreciate any support that you give.

**Howard Dayton, Your Money Map: A Proven 7-Step Guide to True Financial Freedom (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2006), 95-96.

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