Work Office/Job Shift: Getting re-settled


With our recent office move at work I am finally starting to get re-settled again. I am learning the ins and outs of my commute, have my new desk essentially set up and functional, and am getting a firm grasp on my change in responsibilities.

This change is certainly for the positive for me as I moved into project management full time. For me this means much more interesting work, more travel, and a nice addition to the resume. I am finally moving into what I actually wanted to do in the first place when I started here. It's only taken 4 years!

My anniversary with the company is next month. This is good timing with the job shift and I am hoping for at least a small raise since I haven't had one since 2009. My expenses have risen (due to inflation and mostly gas prices) and yet my salary has not. It even went down at one point! I am overdue.

If things fall into place as I hope I should come out financially ahead. The increased travel means more per diem that I can capitalize on and the side bonuses of more miles and other small perks that come with it. I will also get to see more of the country and hopefully go to some more interesting places along the way.

Memorial Day Weekend!


Today I feel worlds better than yesterday. The food poisoning was rough. I am glad it is cleared out now and I can move on with life! I am actually feeling hungry again which is a good sign since I essentially ate nothing yesterday.

I am back in the office today and am off to Myrtle Beach in the morning. Given the events of the past week I can really use the time away from everything to recuperate a bit. More good news is that I have been upgraded to first class for my flight tomorrow. I love it when I actually get upgrades!

I am staying in a beachfront hotel with ocean view. I scored a good deal on for the place that got decent reviews. It has a kitchen so I can save a little on food costs too. I am planning to hit up the awesome seafood place I went to last year and also a good steak place.

I will spend the majority of my time relaxing on the beach and zoning out. Hectic work and life is going to be left behind in Atlanta until I return Monday night. Hope you all have a good long weekend!

Sick on the road: food posioning


I suppose I was overdue for it but this morning I woke up with a quite upset stomach. I felt a little funny going to bed last night but figured I must have eaten a little too much at dinner. Now the real fun begins. My flight back home today is at 1:30PM and it is going to be a long day for sure.

I have to drive about an hour (or more with traffic) to Boston Logan Airport. Then I have a 3 hour flight back home and another drive in traffic back to my house.

Update: I made it home and am going directly to bed. I haven't felt this bad since bad food in Cambodia.  I hope I will be OK for work tomorrow and most importantly Myrtle Beach this weekend. Time will tell!

Sometimes I am bored on the road


Work travel isn't all fun and glory and free weekends in Vegas. Today I am in the very un-exciting Framingham, MA. It strongly reminds me of suburban Atlanta (a place I loathe). Picture bad traffic, strip malls, chain restaurants, and little else. Just the same stuff over and over as you drive around.

This is when I am thankful for the internet. I can zone out and take myself to a different place mentally and not have to worry about it as much. I am spending a good deal of my time catching up on various things and travel planning for Asia this November. I have nothing else to do so I may as well be productive!

The good side of this is that there is nothing that interests me that costs money. I have dinner and call it a night for the most part. I always try to come out ahead on my per diem money and being in the middle of nowhere helps that a lot! Boredom isn't fun but it is better than overspending in most cases.

Busy Travel Week: Work and Fun!


Today I am in Maine/Boston and return to Atlanta on Thursday.

I am traveling for work to take care of 2 projects that happen to fall into the same time and general area. It's rare but nice when it happens!

I will be back in Atlanta only for Friday then I am off to Myrtle Beach for Memorial Day weekend. I am looking forward to some much needed beach time and relaxation. A great way to end an otherwise rough month.

I probably won't be back to Maine for a while so I am making sure I get my first taste of Maine Lobster this time around. I have been meaning to check that off my list for a while now. I am finally seizing the opportunity today!

Mass Transit: A Better Way of Life


Today was my first day at work in our new office. I am already happier with the new setting with nicer things all around.

I took the train to get to work and I must admit I much prefer it to driving. While it is nice to have my car sometimes I like not dealing with traffic and being able to do whatever I want during my commute. I just wish the Atlanta train system was more reliable and extensive.

It actually takes me a little longer to get to work but it is also further than my old office from my house. It will take some adjustment but I will learn all of the little tricks to make it easier. The last time I regularly used the train was back in college and it saved me a lot of money and time. It appears this will be the case once again.

As an added bonus I also get to walk 1 mile per day. I could change trains and go directly to my building but the time to transfer and the long escalator make it a wash. I decided that I may as well get some exercise if the weather is good and hopefully drop a couple pounds while I am at it. I have options!

At the same time I also had a job responsibility shift so now I will get to travel more. I am excited about this as I like my road time. Keeps things different and interesting and I am doing work that interests me more. And to boot I get to earn a lot more miles!

It is yet to be seen how much my commuting costs will drop as a result of using the trains. The company will reimburse half the cost of the train pass and I will certainly spend a lot less on gas and car maintenance. It will take a couple months to see the real results!

Big Office Move Tomorrow


I made it through one hell of a week. We are officially moving servers and workstations over to our new office in Downtown Atlanta tomorrow morning. Hooray for unpaid overtime!

I will actually come out ahead overall in this move. I will get to start taking the train to work therefore saving gas and more wear and tear on my car. I will also be in a much better neighborhood with lots more to do near work. I can take the train to the airport on travel days if need be also.

My office will be a corner office with windows and in a much quieter and nicer building. I have a lot more food options and and interesting place to walk around when I am ready to pull my hair out after a meeting. It will certainly be a welcome change of pace after 4 years in the dump of a warehouse that we were in.

Now if I could just get a raise!

The Credit Card Game: Update!


As of today I hit my final spending threshold to get all of the credit card bonuses I have signed up for. It is very helpful when my boss lets me put large business expenses on the new cards to get me there quickly. I also make the "churn" card my primary card until the requirements are met.

Once all of this clears I will have earned:

  • 50,000 Membership Rewards Points
  • 55,000 Continental Miles
  • 75,000 American Airlines Miles
  • 100,000 British Airways Miles
  • 10,000 US Airways Miles
All of this has allowed me to book 2 Business Class flights to SE Asia for myself and my girlfriend for this November. It is nice to be able to not slum it in Economy class for that long of a haul.  I am actually going literally around the world due to the routing if my ticket. I go through Europe on the way over and across the Pacific on the way back. All in First/Business class. Not bad for $160 in taxes!

When it rains, it pours


As if having major car problems weren't enough I am also sick this week. It is just a sinus infection but it certainly brings my energy level down to near zero. Just in time for our office move at work and I have a lot of project deadlines closing in too. Excellent.

Complaining aside I still believe that my "luck" comes in waves. Things are good for a good long wall then it all seems to hit the fan at once. It takes roughly a month to get to normal again. That has been my past experience. If this holds true I should be back to the usual in early June.

Time to load up on meds and vitamin C and chicken based soups. This is a long week...

Car Problems Part 4: Resolution?


After two days of working on my car my Dad and I got my head gasket replaced. He did the majority of the work and it was quite a process. I bought him a nice dinner last night as a token of gratitude. He has been non-stop since he got here working on it.

Turns out the head gasket was blown. We did a lot of maintenance and tune up items to the car while we had it apart. I now have a new timing belt, new water pump, new thermostat, new serpentine belts, and several new hoses installed. These items needed to be replaced soon anyway so we did it all at once.

The car seems to be running OK now for the most part. It had some hesitations and issues when we first got it back together but I think it is better now. It was running funny but I think it needed to get the junk out of the system and now runs normally. I will be monitoring it for a couple weeks to be sure everything stays normal.

I hope this has resolved it. It has been a stressful situation for the past few weeks. It has also been quite expensive. I am glad my emergency fund was there to cover it because it would sure suck to have all this riding on my credit card!

May 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 had one written off by Prosper and 1 more has 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: 0 (< 30 days)
In Collections: 0 (written off)
Current: 25

Closed Loans:

Charged Off: 11
Paid Off: 32

Open Bids: 0

Total currently invested: $424.21 (Principal Value)
Cash in Account: $8.92

Total Principal: $433.13

It's about more than just money!


It was pointed out to me that this blog focuses a lot on money. I agree since this is a financial blog about money...but also understand that I could do some more non-money related posts. After all life is about experiences and doing what you love. For me that is travel. That is the other face of this blog.

Today I am going to stay off the money topic. I am going to share my plan for my upcoming month in Asia with my girlfriend. It will be a busy trip but a lot of fun at the same time. Here is the rough plan:

  • Arrive 1 week ahead of girlfriend: I plan to laze around on the beach and not think about work
  • Girlfriend arrives and we spend a couple days in Bangkok then onto Ayuthaya (ancient city) for a day and overnight train to Chiang Mai.
  • While in Chiang Mai we have plans to do a Thai cooking course and an elephant sanctuary. These look awesome and I cannot wait!
  • From there we fly down to Phuket to catch a fairy to the nearby Phi Phi island. An absolutely stunning place that I want to see again. We then move onto Koh Lanta another great island before going back to mainland.
  • We have a long travel day to get from Koh Lanta to Penang, Malaysia over land. It is the easiest way to get there by taking 2 buses. 
  • We spend a few days in Penang exploring cuisine, historical sites, and hopefully a good beach. 
  • Finally we catch a cheap flight down to Singapore. We spend a couple of days exploring the city before our flights back home in early December.
That sounds like a lot but I have 1 month and she has 3 weeks to cover it all. A couple flights really help us make up for time in covering a wide area. I will also welcome a break from the cold weather in November and will have fun spending another Thanksgiving overseas. To me, this is what life is all about. 

Car Problems Part 3: Blown Head Gasket


I was running an errand today and my car started to overheat again. I was on a major freeway when it happened. This is obviously not the ideal place for this to happen. Luckily my Dad is a mechanic and he was able to talk me through limping my car back home.

We determined that I officially have a blown head gasket as the Honda dealer suspected. I was able to get my car back to my house without overheating again and without a tow truck. That easily saved me $150 or so at Atlanta towing prices.

Unfortunately this was in the middle of a busy work day. I ended up getting a rental car from the local Enterprise for $185 + fees for a week. This can get expensive real fast. My dad is coming up this weekend and he and I will begin the long job of replacing the head gasket. We will also do some other maintenance that is due soon since we will be working near those parts anyway.

I really hope this resolves the issue. I need this car to last me for at least another 100,000 miles so I can accumulate replacement car money for a few years. My job's office relocation will help a lot reducing my commute to 1 mile per day instead of around 30. My expenses will also drop!

Resuming Debt Snowball: Mortgage Paydown


I am in the process of evaluating how to proceed with my debt snowball strategy. I have crossed the line from consumer debt to "good" debt and have been debating on how to move forward. Here is my progress:

  • Credit cards are paid off completely
  • Emergency fund is now at the 3-month+ level
  • Retirement savings is around 10% of my income
  • I am making headway on lower goals
I have not paid extra on the student loans or mortgage thus far as their interest rates are quite low. They are fixed at 2.65% and 4.50% respectively. I know I can do better investing the money as opposed to paying it down faster and have done that thus far.

I have now decided that adding a little extra to my mortgage will help my overall goal of traveling more often. I want to own my house outright once I begin long term travel. I plan on adding an extra payment's worth of principal each year to know a few years off the life of the loan. This only amounts to another $30 per month that I have to pay. Well worth it for the lower expenses later!

I will start in June with the extra payments and go from there. It will certainly not put me into any sort of bind and I can still apply a lot to my other goals. It will be nice to see the day when I can say "I own my house outright and don't owe anything on it."

Mileage Run Success!


I had a long weekend starting at 4AM Saturday morning for my first flight up to IAD. That is one of 6 flights I would take over the next 36 hours. I was upgraded on only my first leg and came very close on 2 others. For the $60 I had invested I certainly cannot complain!

I next went up to Boston, over to Houston, then San Diego, back to DC and finally back home to Atlanta. I was quit tiring going between airports, in and out of planes, etc. More so that I expected! Overall it was a good experience and I would certainly do it again if the opportunity presents itself!

I met some great people from the forums who were also in on the great deal on the flights. We discussed all sorts of geeky frequent flyer stuff as we enjoyed free drinks in the lounges. We shared road stories, successes booking award tickets using our miles, and comparing to other airlines' programs. I learned a lot in that short time and made some great new friends.

I organized a group to share a taxi to In-N-Out in San Diego. We had about 3 hours to kill around dinner time. It worked out well for all as the food was great and cheap and the taxi was also only $5 per person. I spent the rest of time in the lounge waiting for my flight back east and more free drinks!

I now have enough miles banked to book my one way first class ticket to Asia. It was certainly worth the hassle when I think about what I will be getting in return. A little rough flying now to save my sanity for a much longer haul this November. I am learning the ropes of the system and how to use it to my advantage. I also had a great chance to compare Delta to others here in the USA. They all have prs and cons.

May 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 large bonus and lower expenses overall.

As of today my current net worth is $14,901.06. That is an increase of $2,362.49 over last month. The major contributing factors: a large bonus and increase in investment values.

I expect next month to be good also! My office is moving to where my train commute will be reimbursed, I have more rental income, and I will spend a lot less on gas and car expenses.

Alternative Income this past month:

IT Consulting: $0
Focus Groups: $0
Rebates: $100.00

Mileage Run This Weekend!


I will be spending the majority of this coming weekend in airport lounges, San Diego, and Boston. I am earning about 15,000 miles for $62 out of pocket. I am looking forward to meeting other mileage run travelers and having some laughs and drinks along the way.

My plan thus far is to eat In-N-Out in San Diego and I have around 6 hours to check out downtown Boston on Sunday. I will be using my time in the air with GoGo Wifi to get some work done. I have plenty of small projects that need to be knocked out.

Hopefully I will get upgraded at least some of the time while flying. We shall see! A great free tool to track your points/miles!


I am still big into the points game and have finally gotten around to signing up for They offer a great free service where you can track all of your airline, hotel, and other travel rewards account balances in once place. This makes award travel planning easier since I can quickly determine where I have enough points to book what I need.

It also gives you other useful information such as expiration dates for your points and there are some good paid premium services for the serious points person. I simply like the fact that I don't have to log into 100 different sites to see my balance. I can spend that time planning the fun stuff!

I highly recommend using this site to make your travel life easier!

Car Troubles Part 2: back on track!


I went to the Honda dealer this morning and I must say it was definitely worth the 45 minutes in traffic and 2 hour wait. I finally got a firm answer on my car. A hose was loose and leaking lots of coolant. They tightened the strap and now that has stopped.

A little bit of possible bad news is that I may have a blown head gasket. They showed me a test where air was getting into the system. This worries me but they said drive it a bit and see if it leaks out anymore. It could be a very minor hole and not an issue. So I will do that and see what happens.

I checked my coolant before leaving the office today and it looked full still. So far, so good. I will continue monitoring it daily for a week or so and go from there. If the gasket is an issue my dad said he will come up and fix it for me (he is a mechanic, 40 years in the biz). This saves me hundreds!

It is nice to have this finally figured out. Being on the side of the road putting in coolant every few days is not what I consider fun. 90% out of this mess!

More car troubles: When it pays to pay...


So today my car started overheating again. It just so happened to be when I was out running an errand and so I stopped at a gas station to buy some coolant. I buy it and then my hood won't open. This is going bad quick.

I whip out my iPhone and found a gas station with an auto garage attached about a mile away. I proceed to drive there with heat on full blast and stopping 5 times during that 1 mile journey to the auto shop. I was at my wits end by the time I got there.

Luckily the people working in the place were excellent. The started on it right away (even though they looked quite busy) and got my hood open. I added some coolant and asked them how much? They said don't worry about it! I gave them $10 cash that I had on my. I am going back over there this week to buy them all lunch. They really saved me!

Now I have an appointment with the Honda dealer to get the hood fixed. It is tied down loosely for now I can at least drive it again. I am going to have Honda run a test for leaks and see what the damage is. Fortunately the work I need done is only $115. It could be much worse!

Turns out the hood problem was the direct result of the cheap "mechanic" I used on Saturday to replace the radiator. Lesson learned. In situations such as car and home repair I have learned it is better for pay more and have it done right the first time. Ouch.

Busy week ahead!


My office is officially moving this week. That means that I will be doing twice the work in the same amount of time. I am already boiling over with work so this is going to be a very long week. I can tell already!

I also have my mileage run coming this weekend on Continental/United. This will be a first for me and I am excited to do it!