More Work Travel: Maine Again!


Just got word that I will be heading to Maine again the last week of May. Seems things really are picking up on the travel front. I have other travel booked too and some others to be determined. Here is what I have thus far:

  • Late May: Maine
  • End of May: Myrtle Beach, SC
  • 4th of July: Home for the weekend!
  • Ft. Walton Beach, FL: TBD
  • Detroit: TBD
With the travel I have booked so far I have earned enough miles to renew my Delta elite status for 2012. That is another year of exit rows and chances for upgrades. I will take it!

Happy travels!

Digging deeper into the travel points game


I have spent a good deal of time lately learning about all the various airline programs out there. It seems simple on the surface: Get points with the airline and use them to fly. The problem becomes when you go to actually book a flight you want. You have to consider:

  • Availability: Each flight has a limited number of "award" seats that you can use points for
  • If you are flying a partner and not the actual airline you have to learn the rules and costs
  • Fees: Fuel surcharges, phone versus internet bookings, taxes, etc.
  • Routing: What flight options and how many stops along the way?
  • One way, round trip, open jaws, and stopovers
The rules for each airline and alliance and vastly different. I am finally getting my head around the Star Alliance and One World rules. I am already familiar with Sky Team since I fly Delta so much. It has been a good experience learning the other systems just so I know what else is out there. I must say Star Alliance has some very attractive benefits that Delta lacks. To the point where I am re-thinking my loyalty long term!

All of the credit card bonuses I am getting are really helping me out. I am going to Asia again (with my girlfriend) in Business/First class using miles. I already booked her on Korean Air for 120,000 Delta miles and I waiting for my bonuses to hit to book my own. I am flying out on Star Alliance and back on One World both in first class. It will be nice to actually sleep on a plane for a change and hopefully not be as badly jet lagged.

My next steps are to start looking into hotel reward programs. I have dabbled very lightly in the Choice Hotels program but exchanged my points for miles with Delta. I need to find a good program with hotels I actually want to stay in at prices that are reasonable. That means a lot more research! It will certainly pay off, though!

Play the travel points game is a great way to get awesome vacations for a lot less than you would otherwise. I am doing relatively little work compared to the value I get for 75,000 AA miles, 100,000 British Airways miles, 65,000 Delta Miles and so on. I am sure I can do the same with hotels once I know enough about it!

This is one of the few hobbies out there that comes with a big payoff! Gaming the system to fly and sleep for nearly free is no joke! It adds up big time over the long haul!

My Take on Minimalization: Do What Works for You!


I have come across a lot of blogs and even financial blog posts on decluttering, being a minimalist, and getting rid of stuff. These are all good things. On the other hand a few have taken it to the extreme which tends to backfire for a lot of people (including me!).

Personally I am a huge fun of only having what I need around. I am the type of person who doesn't need 800 pictures on the wall, 300 owl trinkets on shelves, and 1000 books on the shelf. I simply don't see the value in it. I suppose one could call me practical.

I found that after I returned from 18 months abroad having only what was in my backpack was a lifestyle I liked. The problem is that this doesn't translate to a more "normal" life with a full time job, a house, a car, etc. I slowly started to amass more stuff and I was pretty against it in the beginning. I now realize that some of it is necessary to live more comfortably. I am not longer "roughing it" and living with 4 t-shirts.

When I finished remodeling my new (to me) house I had a fair bit of family and friends asking me when I was going to buy furniture, decorate, etc. My answer to them was "probably never" since that stuff was not important to me. Eventually I got free or nearly free furniture, kitchen supplies, and so on. I refused to spend money on this stuff and it has paid off!

Overall I am still anti-stuff. I don't buy anything that doesn't have a specific purpose. I don't keep anything that doesn't have some sort of special meaning to me. Examples of what I do keep: quilts my grandma made, my grandfather's coin collection, family photos (in a box), journals, etc. All of these have memories associated with them. They are things I truly value. For me to keep an item long term it either has to be useful, sentimental, or both. I am not a collector!

I keep my amount of stuff under control by purging. Each year I will pick a room and start clearing out stuff I don't need or use anymore. I sell anything of value and donate or recycle/trash the rest. I believe I am winning the "war on stuff" since I have it under control. Starting with a clean slate after traveling long term certainly gave me a leg up. The moral of the story: Keep what you truly value (not simply "like") and get rid of the rest, slowly.

Grocery Game Update: Still running strong!


I now have and maintain a good supply of food around the house. I have a well stocked fridge/freezer/pantry and could probably go a month without grocery shopping at all if I had too. I am now to the point where I snap up good deals on things that last a long time and buy the basics and meat as I go for the most part.

I also have a big stock of frozen chicken that I use regularly and replenish during sales. I still snap up the free or almost free items to add variety and save even more. I have a big supply of coupons and continue my weekly trips to make sure I make the most of it. I even get the free items I do not want and donate them. I pay $0 and get a small tax write off!

Overall I am very happy with the grocery game that simplifies my chore of food shopping. Before I would just buy what I needed at whatever price from week to week. Now that I have the database backing me up I have actually cut my grocery bill in half. Well worth the small fee of $10 per 8 weeks!

If you haven't tried it yet I strongly recommend it:

They have a free trial and you can see for yourself how well it works. Even if you only use fresh ingredients you still stand to save money because of the weekly sales that are tracked and the coupons that can go with it. Just another way to free up more monthly budget!

My first trips to the thrift stores: Success!


This past Saturday I had a couple of free hours. I have been wanting to go to the local thrift stores and decided to go have a look around. I went without cash to curb impulse spending and it worked! I spent less than $10 and stand to actually make money from it!

I started off at the local Goodwill. This was my first trip inside of a Goodwill store (I have donated plenty but never shopped). I was surprised how organized it was! I was on a mission for some new (to me) T shirts. I found 3 unique shirts that I liked for a whopping $6.71 out the door. I was off to a good start.

I also stopped in at 2 locally owned thrift stores near my house. I chatted with the owners and had a look around. I ended up buying an LP record (paid $1) and found it to be worth around $10 on eBay. At the second store I got a pair of kitchen scissors I needed for $1. I am going to list the record for sale online this week.

If I net $10 from the sale of the record then I actually made a couple bucks. I spent a total of $8.71 so coming out ahead is way OK with me. I plan to do more of this type of shopping where I know I can sell and item for more than they ask. It will be a fun and profitable hobby! I wish I started this 10 years ago!

Saving and Going Green: My Office is Moving


I spent most of today working on packing and tearing down shelves in my office at work. We are moving from a warehouse-style building to a high rise in downtown Atlanta. By doing so we are getting a much nicer office space, a lot of food options in the building, a better neighborhood, and best of all I can take mass transit to and from work!

This will prove to save a lot of money for me since the company will pay for my transit card. Not only will I have unlimited access to the MARTA system but I will also not be spending $4 per gallon on gas for my car (plus wear and tear). I also don't have to worry about paying for parking downtown. This will add at least another $100 per month to my budget. I look forward to banking that money!

It is going to be a lot of work to get us moved in 3 weeks and still operate a company. It is well worth it since the train station is IN our building! It will take me roughly 15-20 minutes by train to get to work and I get to play on my iPhone while I wait. I am excited! An added bonus is that is helps the environment a little too.

More Work Travel!


We just got more projects in. Looks like I will be going to Maine again and finally a fun place: The Florida panhandle. We have a new client there and I will be in the area for at least a couple of days to get them up and running.

I am glad travel is starting to pick up again. It keeps life a little more interesting and the miles never hurt!

So far my travel dates look like May and June but nothing set in stone yet.

Ramping up savings: A change in direction!


I am finally to the point now where at the end of the month I have decide which goal to add my leftover money too. I call this a good "problem". This will soon increase a little since my company is moving to an office where I can use mass transit and get it reimbursed. Not only will I get a free metro pass but I will also be down to driving 1 mile (total) per work day.

With gas prices approaching $4 per gallon in the Atlanta area (I filled up today for $38.00 for 10 gallons!) I really like this idea. That doesn't even factor in the wear and tear, tires, brakes, oil changes, etc. that will all be delayed due to less driving. I also like being able to get things done on the train in.

My office will be moving next month. That means a lot of work in the meantime but well worth it in the long run. We will be in a large building with a mall in the basement with lots of great lunch options and in downtown Atlanta with plenty of nice places around us too. I will have a view of the city from my office. All pluses!

For my budget this should free up around $100 per month. That means I will have that much to add to savings month-to-month barring any extra spending or minor expenses that can pop up. I am considering getting more aggressive with my emergency fund to hit the magic $10,000 mark then switch to Roth IRA funding and a couple of other smaller goals. If all goes well I should have a raise in July too!

I finally feel as if I am starting to gain ground on getting to the life I want. I am able to travel a little bit more thanks to airline miles, great deals online, and more free cash flow. I am coming out of the rut of debt and stress and moving towards a little more freedom. It is very refreshing and I want more!

Why Emergency Funds Work: My Car Repair


I have been having some minor car trouble with it running a little hot. It wasn't as much of an issue over the winter with colder weather. Spring is now here and I am noticing the problem more and more. Now is the time to take care of it before more major issues come.

Today I did some shopping around. I need a new readiator (it leaks coolant). I found one online from an auto parts chain that had the part in stock locally and I got and extra 15% off with the online coupon. Now I just have to pick it up and take it over to my mechanic friend to have it installed.

I am not in any financial panic as I have money in my emergency fund earmarked for car repairs. The parts and accessories I need for the job were about $140 total. This comes out of my emergency fund and my normal monthly deposits to the emergency fund will replenish it over time. Luckily for me my friend accepts beer as payment for labor.

Without that money set aside I would be in a bit of a bind. Maybe I would have eaten a lot cheaper and stayed in more to make up for the cost. It could also have gone on a credit card where I would pay interested until it was paid off. Fortunately this is not the case as I planned ahead.

Thanks to the emergency fund a potential financial panic was curbed. Stories like this happen all the time. Be ready!

April 2011 Prosper Lending Update


It is the middle of the month again and it is time for my update on lending. It has been another quiet month with business as usual. I have 1 slightly late, 1 very late loan and 6 more have paid off completely.

I have decided to completely abandon Prosper. They have gone to a fixed rate system and that does not appeal to me at all. My ability to earn extra interest (arbitrage) has been eliminated. I will continue reporting on my experience until I have emptied the account.

I "write off" all loans in collections as a loss.

Here are my stats as of today:

Outstanding Loans:

Late: 1 (< 30 days)
In Collections: 1 (written off)
Current: 25

Closed Loans:

Charged Off: 10
Paid Off: 31

Open Bids: 0

Total currently invested: $502.52 (Principal Value)
Cash in Account: $33.63

Total Principal: $536.15

Frugal Tip: Cell Phone Data Plans


More and more people are getting "smart" phones these days. I personally have the iPhone. I have lots of friends who have Androids and iPhones too. The internet data plans that these types of phones require can be pricey. They don't have to be if you apply some of my tips!

First track your usage. Look at 6 or so months of data usage and come up with an average. For me I use less than 200MB in a given month. AT&T has a 200MB monthly plan. This works for me and is the cheapest option! I switched over to this plan and save $15 per month! I have since never gone over the limit.

Second get a free WiFi locator app. Most smart phones work with WiFi. My office has WiFi. I have WiFi at home. A lot of places I frequent also have it. By putting my phone on the WiFi I am off the data plan. It is also faster and uses less battery! If I am in an unfamiliar place I fire up the app and see if there is free WiFi around.

Lastly I turn my data off on my phone unless I need to use it. It only takes a few seconds to switch back on. A bonus is my battery lasts a lot longer by having it off. Setting your email accounts to manually check instead of on a set schedule cut my data usage in half. I am on WiFi most of the time anyway so no need to have both running at once.

I find that the majority of the users don't need the bigger data plans. The reason most people have the bigger plan is due to laziness. They don't want to have to "worry" about how much data they use so they just pay through the nose. Jumping on WiFi is an easy habit to form. We all do it for our laptops so why not do it for your phone too. Save some money while you are at it!

Using a Home Loan for College is a BAD idea!


I see a lot of advertisements from banks that encourage people to use a second home loan or HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) to pay for their children's tuition. To me this is a bit predatory and is a financially bad idea. I see many problems with this:

  • You are borrowing against your home to finance a piece of paper
  • You are responsible for the payments--not the child
  • You jeopardize your savings and retirement
  • HELOC's have a variable rate
  • The interest is usually higher than a student loan
To borrow against your house to pay for education is a bad move. If the child does not complete college then it is wasted money you are stuck paying. If you suddenly can't afford to pay you could eventually lose your home.  At the very least you could wreck your credit for a few years by being late.

Secondly you are stuck with the payments. Regardless of what the child does in life you have to pay for it. Doing this means that you also have less money to save towards retirement and other goals since you have that extra payment each month. This is even worse with a variable interest rate that will eventually rise over time.

The bottom line: DON'T DO IT! 

I can completely understand that parents want to help pay for the child's college education. There is nothing wrong with that. By doing so you need to be smart about it. It is more than just money. Legal liabilities, consequences of it going wrong, and relationship with the child have to be considered when making this decision.

My solution: Use student loans in the child's name.

Who says you can't make payments on those loans instead? You can also make an agreement that you will pay the loans only if he/she completes their degree. If they drop out the foot the bill (or whatever other arrangement you want to make).

Advantages of using student loans:
  • Once graduated they can consolidate to one payment and a fixed interest rate
  • They get a tax write off for the interest on the loan
  • They can be deferred during financial hardship
  • If they pass away the student loans are forgiven (the home loan is not!)
  • No payments are needed during school. You can save more for retirement during those years.
  • The child gets a good credit from the loans.
  • You only borrow what you need. Amounts available fluctuate with tuition costs. Home loans fluctuate with home values (and can be a problem!)
This need not only apply to children. You can do the exact same thing for yourself too. Making the smart financial choice makes life easier in the long run. I have student loans myself and don't regret it. They allow me to make a lot more money than I would otherwise and have a very low fixed interest rate. Make the savvy choice!

Everyday I am working toward living a different life


I live my life largely "against the grain." I do things a lot differently than most people, I take different risks, and have very different goals. I am making slow, gradual changes in my habits, spending, and even my own thought processes to stay the course. In short I am hell-bent on getting what I want.

What do I want?: I want to stop working and travel, volunteer, and be free.

In order for this to happen I have to achieve quite a few goals that are going to take a long time. I have to remain focused and not sway off course with all the curve-balls that life loves to throw at us. I have to be stubborn almost to the point of tunnel vision to get there. Most of the time I am doing this and sometimes I falter. It's just part of being human. We make mistakes. All the time.

As it stands today what do I need in order to meet this goal?

  • 100% Debt free. I need to have $0 monthly loan payments of any kind. I have come a long way here by getting down to my very low interest student loan and mortgage.
  • I need passive income. I estimate that I need enough income to cover at least 75-80% of my financial needs each year. Today I estimate I am under 5%. 
  • With the above two achieved I have freedom. I don't have to work full time (or even at all for a good stint) in order to live. I am free to roam the globe, work on projects, and do as I please for the majority of the time. I will probably still have money-making projects but they won't be as vital. 
  • I need to button down more. I admit that I am spending more than I should on certain things such as going out, food, and a couple others. I am slowly paring this down so I don't feel like I cut cold turkey and then feel trapped. I need to pair this with increasing my income and savings rates. This is the most important. If I can nail this the other requirements of this goal will fall into place!
This is my roadmap that I follow each day. I constantly remind myself that every dollar I save instead of spend I get $1 closer to being truly free. All of those baby steps add up to big steps and big gains for the future me where I can do as I please most of the time. I now have this top priority goal and nothing nor no one will get in my way. You only get one life!

Back on the road: A few little travel tips!


I am in the Baltimore/DC area today and tomorrow for work. I flew up this morning and will be meeting with a client tomorrow before heading back home tomorrow night. Luckily this is work travel so I get to earn miles, per diem, hotel points, and other little benefits. It is also a nice change from the office for 2 days.

When I am on the road, especially for work, I find little ways to save money. Since I have to eat out almost 100% of the time while on the road I have gotten creative. Here are a few ideas that I use regularly:

  • Hotel bar/restaurant: Sometimes pricey, sometimes not. Today my hotel is offering 50% off appetizers between 4 and 7PM. Not bad! Being solo I can get a meal for under $10 based on the menu prices. Bonus I don't even have to drive!
  • Find a hotel with cheap restaurants nearby. Do a little searching on yelp and google to see what is close. I also use my phone when actually there to narrow down my options based on distance and price. Sometimes I find some great local places I would have missed otherwise.
  • Carry coupons: I have a few that I keep in my bag for chains like Chipotle, Subway, Quiznos, etc. If I happen to be near one I can stop in with coupons and spend less. The less I spend the more of the per diem I get to keep!
  • Grab snacks from the grocery store at home and bring with me in my carry on bag. I don't have to stop for expensive gas station snacks. I have them with me already! Worst case I eat them when back home. I like crackers, nuts, and candy bars as they take little space and don't weigh much.
  • Hotel Room: I always try to get one with a fridge/microwave and free internet access. It is nice to have the option of going to a grocery store if I want. If I am gone for more than one night this is even more important. Free internet allows me to be entertained and get things done while away. 
Traveling for work doesn't have to drain the wallet. In my case I actually make money off the per diem and also earn extra miles for the business expenses that get reimbursed to me. All of this adds up over time and allows me to travel overseas for awesome vacations to Asia and beyond. Make the most of it!

Staying Ahead: Pay Retail Price as LAST resort


If someone says they can't stick to a budget then they simply are not trying. I used to think this too until I sat down and did a full evaluation of my finances and what is really important to me.

One of the methods I used to stay ahead is to shop around for what I need. For example: I need to buy some new clothes. My shorts and jeans are worn and have holes in them. I need replacements but don't have a lot money set aside to go buy all brand new stuff. Instead I look to other sources.

When I go clothes shopping (maybe once per year, I hate it!) I always start at Goodwill. They have a good selections and very affordable. I then look to my local thrift stores to fill any gaps. If I still cannot find what I need I look to closeout stores such as Ross and also check for coupons. Finally if the need is dire I will go to Old Navy (with coupons) and get what I need.

The main point of this, no matter what you are buying, is to buy retail as a last resort. Why pay full price if you don't have too? Use coupons, gift cards, sales, thrift stores, ebay, craigslist, and any other resource you can to get the costs down. Do otherwise is just plain lazy and irresponsible.

Shop smarter not harder!

Off to New York City!


It is time for my second mini-vacation of the year!

A friend and I will be going to New York City for a 3-day weekend. He has never been so I will show him around, have a nice meal at a good restaurant, and make sure we both have a good time. It will be a busy weekend but worth it and great fun.

Ever since I have been to New York for work I take every chance I can to visit on the cheap. I used my $300 voucher from Delta to get my flight for free, I landed a 3-star hotel in SoHo for $115 per night (a steal in Manhattan!), and already have my low-cost entertainment options picked out. We will also be taking advantage of my Platinum AMEX card for free lounge access at both airports (and free drinks!).

The flights and hotel are already paid for so all I have to worry about is my metrocard, meals, and entertainment. I am not worried about ATM fees since my Charles Schwab Investor Checking refunds any ATM fees I pay.

Have a great weekend!

Investment Allocation and Investment Location: Both are Important!


As my amount of money invested slowly grows I am paying more attention to where my money is invested and how I invest it. I believe the most important part of investing is diversifying your investments using mutual funds that track the market indices. For me I use a 90% Stock / 10% Fixed Income portfolio that I rebalance yearly. Doing this keeps my risk exposure where I like it and forces me to sell high and buy low.

I further split my stocks portion into 50% US Stock Market Index and 50% International non-US stocks (this goes between International Index and Emerging Markets Index). For now I have all of my fixed income money in US domestic bonds as I have not found an international fixed income fund that I like.

Now that I have a sizable sum invested in the market I am starting to evaluate the investment location. I have to also look at the tax implications of which types of investment I hold in which type of accounts. Currently I have a Roth IRA, SIMPLE IRA (like a 401(k)), and a taxable brokerage account (currently empty).

These are the 3 main choices for all of us in investing. My first choice is to get my employer's match on the SIMPLE IRA. It is also the easiest as it comes out of my pay directly. Second I put whatever I can in my Roth IRA as it is all tax free on the back end. That is as good as it gets! If I max out my limit on the Roth I will add to the taxable account.

With the tools in place I have to decide which investments fit in which account based on tax advantage. It is best to put high income producing assets in the Roth IRA as interest is taxed at your normal income tax rate. Inside the Roth you never pay any taxes ever. Make the most of it!

Next best is to have any low or no income producing asset in a taxable account (once you max out the Roth IRA). If the stock or fund pays a low or no dividend it is best held here because you don't pay tax until you sell the asset. You only pay tax on whatever dividends are paid out. The end gain at time of sale is taxed at a lower long term capital gains rate. If you have a loss you can also use that loss against other gains to avoid tax. An added benefit is that if someone inherits your assets the cost basis resets to the value at the time of your death.

The traditional IRA/401(k) is the worst option in my opinion. You do save a little income tax up front but every cent that comes out of the account later is taxed as ordinary income. You also lose the ability to recover losses from the assets if you have them. The one advantage is that you can possibly wait for a low income year to withdraw from this account to reduce the amount of taxes you pay. You can also convert assets to Roth if you meet the requirements but still have to pay the tax on the converted amount now.

Now that we fully understand the options available we can make decisions accordingly. In my case I put 5% of my income in the SIMPLE and add sporadically to my Roth IRA. As my situation improves I will start a monthly contribution to my Roth to start the habit. I hope as time goes by and I earn more I can max out my Roth IRA and start with my taxable account. I welcome to problem of tax on investment gains!

Prioritizing my goals and the money to fund them


I find that I work best when I have a handful of major goals that I am working on at one time. It keeps things less mundane by not working on the same thing day in and day out. Even still I have to pick which ones are the most important to me. At the moment those are increasing my income and fully funding my emergency fund.

I have reached a milestone in my emergency fund: I can now cover 3 months of basic expenses with no income at all! I am very happy as this definitely helps me sleep better at night. I am now debating on whether I should continue to fund this until I reach 6 months (my original goal) or if I should be saving more for retirement and travel instead. As of today I still don't have the answer.

In the meantime I am putting the money that I have not decided which way it will go into a savings account. This way I am not tempted to just spend it and know that I have to decide what to do with it. I did increase the amount of my emergency fund monthly transfer form $50 to $100 but still have some leftover cashflow to allocate. I suspect my answer will be somewhere in the middle.

My other top priority, increasing income, I went over yesterday. I am reserving a bit of my monthly cash flow to go towards that (such as I did when I paid tuition for the class) and in the future will need to pay for the Microsoft exam, Notary application fees, and anything else I deem necessary to get ahead. The more I can earn the more I save each month!

By prioritizing my goals I pretty much know where my money is going each month after expenses are paid. In the case of increasing income I am unsure what the exact costs will be so I have a general savings account with money earmarked for it. If I have some leftover then I can divide it among other goals in order of priority. In my case retirement/travel are the next in line. Even if you are unsure what the saved money will be used for having it in a savings account is much better than simply spending it!

2011 Goal Progress: Increase Income


I have a major goal this year of increasing my income. I am now working multiple channels to make this happen. So far:

  • Being more aggressive in finding side IT work -- paid off!
  • Taking a course to complete my technical school IT degree -- in progress
  • I am going to renew my notary registration to make myself stick out in job applications
  • After I am done with the above course I plan to study and take a Microsoft Exam
  • I am giving more thought on how I am investing my savings (more aggressive portfolio)
  • Meeting new people and networking more (I am REALLY lacking here)
As I move forward I hope all of these things will bring me more opportunities to increase my income. I am certainly below where I feel I should be at the moment and the down economy is making it that much more difficult to get ahead. I am also considering a job change to get the pay increase I want (and benefits would be great too).

More Upcoming Travel: New York, DC, Myrtle Beach!


All of the sudden I have some road time coming up!

This Friday thru Sunday I will be in New York City on a mini-vacation with a friend who has never been there. I am looking forward to great food, great times, and a great city! 2 days after I get back I will be in DC for 2 days for work. It should be a relatively easy trip this time around.

I also just booked a very cheap flight (using a $300 voucher) for Memorial Day Weekend in Myrtle Beach. I got a rental car for $21 per day and am looking at some very reasonable beach condos to stay in. I definitely feel the need for some beach time so this will help tide me over until Thailand in November!

It is nice to be back on the road to more interesting places!

April 2011 Net Worth Update


It is the 1st of the month again and it is time for my net worth report card. I had a great month due to a tax refund and extra side work this month. I am also waiting on a few rebates that will boost later numbers.

As of today my current net worth is $11,909.00. That is an increase of $1,547.95 over last month. The major contributing factors: side income, a large tax refund, increase in investment values, and selling some stuff on ebay!

I expect next month to be good a little slower. I have a vacation to New York and less pending income but am expecting a work bonus!

Alternative Income this past month:

IT Consulting: $185.21
Focus Groups: $0
Rebates: $33.58
eBay: $174.10