5 days to go!


I have 5 working days left before I depart for my long journey to Thailand via Frankfurt, Germany and Seoul, South Korea. This includes a day in Frankfurt and afternoon in Seoul. It will be a long haul but I am in First and Business class the entire way for roughly $50 out of pocket. Not bad!

During my stopovers I am going to the First Class Lounge in Frankfurt and then doing a free tour in Seoul and probably stop off at the airport spa for the hot tubs and a rest before flying onto Thailand. I am quite excited to be flying Lufthansa's International First Class and Asiana's business class products. They get great reviews!

I am spending this week doing all of my travel preparations and of course packing and getting supplies. Today is also Halloween so I have to participate in the fun too before I go!

I can't wait until Saturday. I am ready for the trip and for the beach most importantly!

Stressful work week complete!


I can now say that all is well with this mess of a project at work. I got everything fixed today and the client here is happy. It took a lot of long work days, no days off, and some careful planning to make it all happen at the last minute. I have had a long talk with my boss to ensure this does not happen again.

I am attending their grand opening tomorrow and I can do this without worry. This was my last big hurdle before vacation and now it is mostly over with. It will be great to truly be able to relax once I get to Thailand and take my mind of work. I am looking forward to the beach, a cold beer, and my book that I am saving for the trip. I am ready for the Land of Smiles!

They are forecasting over 12 inches of snow here in Hartford so I hope my flight gets out tomorrow. It will get nasty out there but I have to go with the flow. Getting upset over weather doesn't get anyone anywhere. It would be nice to get some time at home though!

Thailand update: My trip is saved!


I was quite worried about the situation on Bangkok so I called United. I was able to change myself to a flight that goes directly to Phuket (on the coast) instead. It cost me $75 to change but well worth it. After getting some taxes back it was only $34.40 out of pocket. A small price to pay for peace of mind.

I was also able to get my girlfriend's flight changed to Phuket as well since Delta extended their waiver to cover her outbound dates. It didn't cost anything and even got a whopping $2.30 back in taxes. Delta's service has always been great for me and a reason I still fly with them. When this stuff happens I can rely on them to make it right!

It is now snowing(!) here in CT and fairly miserable weather wise. I am staying in tonight since I didn't bring proper weather gear for snow. All the better since I can save my money for Thailand instead. I am headed to Red Lobster next door for some all-you-can-eat shrimp before bed. I am breathing a sigh of relief!

Floods in Thailand getting worse!


From what I am reading online the floods in Bangkok have a 50/50 chance of drowning the city in up to 5 feet of water. The airport seems unaffected thus far but that doesn't mean much if it gets surrounded by water. This can make a real mess of my vacation plans.

I am watching it closely in case I have to fly elsewhere and rework my entire route. Looks like I may have to fly into Singapore or Kuala Lumpur instead if things get really bad. I am considering doing this anyway since my girlfriend will be coming a week later in which time floods could get bad then even if it is OK on Nov. 7--my arrival date.

Plan B is to spend time in southern Thailand on the islands and skip Bangkok and probably skip Chiang Mai unless the flights work out. I have a lot of booked flights through the now flooded Don Muang airport which I hope will be refunded eventually if I cannot take them.

It is annoying to have my plans messed up by disaster but also have to think about the 12 million people in Bangkok and what they would have to deal with. Wow I cannot imagine it honestly. I am hoping for the best for them.

Work Travel: Back to Hartford, CT!


I have another last minute trip to Hartford again to be there for a new client's grand opening. I will be wearing my trainer/sales hat this time since I do not have a lot of real work to do aside from getting an issue with one of the devices fixed before the event on Saturday. Hopefully this will be a lot less stressful than last week!

The upside to all of this weekend work I have been doing is that now I don't have any unpaid days off during my Asia trip. I worked a deal out with my boss to work these extra days in exchange for paid time off while I am gone. It is worth it to have the extra money for travel!

Less than 2 weeks to go before I head to Bangkok. I hope the floods get sorted out soon!

Wow what a LONG weekend!



My project, which I thought was going smoothly, fell apart quickly once I started installing the equipment on site. I had multiple failures on all fronts and it quickly became frustrating and sent my blood pressure through the roof! I ended up working two 15+ hour days and had to stay an extra day in CT taking away from my time in NYC.

It mostly worked out in the end. I got most of the stuff working thanks to Saturday delivery new parts and some much needed sleep. I am sure my girlfriend was bored out of her mind there but there was little I could do about it. The client was happy which is the important thing.

End Rant

Lack of updates


Sorry for the slow posting on here. I have been beyond busy and have not had the time to dedicate to posting as I should. I am getting caught up though!

Stay tuned!

Off to Hartford and New York City!


Today I am flying up to Hartford, CT for my work project. I should be heading to New York on Saturday to spend the weekend in the city before heading back home Sunday night. I am hoping for a smooth project but some doubts have been recently raised. Keeping my fingers crossed!

I am not earning miles for these flights as they were booked close in and my boss used his miles to pay for my ticket. It is a little annoying but there is little I can do about it. It would bring me closer to Gold status but I will won't make it this year so it is fine.

Fixing Mistakes: I goofed my math on my money tracking.


I am very careful about tracking my money since I maintain a relatively tight budget. I use a combination of mint.com and Excel spreadsheets to keep my stuff straight. I have just discovered that I have some pretty large errors in my numbers and I have less than my spreadsheet says I do.

Luckily I got a bonus from work that more or less covered the errors. It is pretty much as if I did not get a bonus at all mathematically. It could be worse!

It basically boiled down to me forgetting to do some transfers and recording of transactions. It also was partially the result of me working out my spreadsheet tracking system for items that I do not budget for. It developed over the past year and is now fine tuned to be correct. The earlier months are incorrect and thus created bad numbers.

I have a solution!

I am going to Asia for a month and will almost exclusively use cash while there. This will let all of my credit card balances clear off for the most part so I can start clean in December. I will have a better idea of what I "really have" in terms of disposable cash. I am pretty close now but probably still a bit off.

I will start the day I get back with a clean slate spreadsheet and continue to track it very carefully. Having my work expenses reimbursed does complicate things a little but is well worth it to get all of the extra points that allow me to travel more often! I am just glad I have not added on more debt!

Food Costs are dropping!


I am happy to report my plan for taking lunch to work and cooking at home are working out!

I am saving a good deal of money by taking my lunch 3-4 days per week and doing the majority of my meals at home. It is also a good way to force myself to use up the stuff that will spoil while I am in Asia and not waste the already spent money. Frugal is 50% being a smart shopper and 50% using what you already have.

I enjoy cooking and am using that as my focal point. I make mostly inexpensive food at home but throw in a nice meal now and then to counter balance and take place of a meal out. I grab steaks on sale and shrimp from time to time also. Variety is key in food otherwise it is just a chore.

I am trying to keep variety in my work lunches by using leftovers and sandwiches in rotation. I wouldn't be able to stick to this if I had the same thing 5 days a week. This is the best compromise for me.

US Airways Grand Slam: Free hits!


Thanks to all of this work travel I am getting several free hits in the promotion from my hotels and car rentals. This will yield me more miles than expected and that is a good problem to have!

I am switching hotels each night so I get a hit for each stay. Between the 2 trips I am getting 6 extra hits total for activity I would be doing anyway. I am setting my new target to be 50,000 miles in my US account. This will get me enough for 2 domestic round trips or 1 international. The more the merrier!

This is one of a few ways I make my work travel pay off big!

More Work Travel: Hartford, CT and New York City, NY!


I have another work trip thrown in last minute before I go to Asia. I knew this one was coming but dates finally got nailed down. I will be in Hartford, CT for Oct 20-21 and New York City for the weekend. I have to complete a project in the Hartford area and then fix a long standing minor issue in New York. Other than that I should have lots of free time in NYC to enjoy!

Turns out the my girlfriend will be joining me in New York. It is nice to use work-paid travel to do some fun stuff while I am on the road. I am looking forward to some dim sum, pizza, free hot dogs, and my favorite empanada shop in Queens. I will fly out of LGA on Sunday night.

The downside is that this means a 7 day work week. It is all give and take I suppose.

Either way I will take the travel time!

Flooding in Thailand!: Last minute travel changes


The flooding in Thailand has caused some ground travel disruptions. Trains from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, ones I intended to take, are suspended. After I found this out I needed a plan B. In this case it means flying to Chiang Mai and back. More money. Ugh!

As luck would have it I found reasonable flights for the times/dates that I wanted. I booked them using my no foreign transaction fee card. It costs roughly $45 each way which is a very good deal compared to US Domestic flights. They are low cost airlines with fees for everything but $45 all in is still great. The flights are short at around 1 hour.

I was looking forward to taking night trains there and back as it would save money and hotel costs. In the end I will still get there and have a blast. I hope the flooding subsides by the time I get there and doesn't become more of an issue. Rainy season in Thailand should be winding down no so hopefully it will help out the situation

New Long Term Goal: Increase residual income to $1,000 per month


Now that I am more settled financially I am beginning to look into ways to boost my side income. I have always been on the lookout but now I have more time and energy to dedicate to it. I have several types of side income that I produce to move towards my goal of financial independence and extensive world travel.

My current side income avenues:

  • Interest Income: Savings, CD's, Bonds, etc.
  • Investment Income: Dividends, Gains on stocks/mutual funds
  • IT Consulting: Break/Fix work locally
  • Miles & Points: Churning Credit Cards, bonus promotions, flying for work
  • Focus Groups: Giving my opinions on products for money
My new goal is now to boost the income from the above activities as well as new ones I can start so that I earn an average of $12,000 per year from it. I am looking heavily at a rental property as an option to boost it. I am also researching investing strategies and looking for more IT consulting work as I can. I am constantly working on miles and points deals since they can create high value for travel.

If I can make this happen it will bring me a lot closer to financial independence. It is much easier said than done but I have to start somewhere. There are risks too that have to be weighed and managed along the way.

US Airways Grand Slam Update


Things are going great!

I am getting more "hits" that I originally expected so it looks like I may be able to end up with 35,000 miles! This should cover one of the flights to Guatemala (or anywhere else in Central America) if that is where I decide to go next year.

This is a great promotion and I hope they keep it up for years to come. When I have more money to dedicate to travel I can see myself going all the way for the 100,000 miles. That works out to a very inexpensive business or first class flight to Asia!

I am currently up to 22,500 miles in my US Air account and am still on track for more!

More Work Travel and a weekend in New York!


On Oct 20th I am headed up to Hartford, CT for a work project. I will be there 2 days then head to New York City for the weekend. I have one quick thing to fix in Brooklyn on Sunday but other than that I can have fun in the Big Apple!

It also works out so that my girlfriend can come along for the New York portion of the trip. It will be a very inexpensive trip since my flights are covered and we used her miles for her flight. We only had to buy Amtrak tickets to New York from CT at $39 each. My New York hotel is from Hilton points. I only have to cover food and subway pass.

I am looking forward to a quick fun weekend before Asia. The weather should be pretty good in New York around that time and I can show my girlfriend some of the cool stuff in the city. I am also looking forward to some good dim sum, pizza, and hot dogs while I am there. I fly out of LaGuardia Sunday night and back into the office Monday!

Off to Niagara Falls/Rochester, NY!


I am off to Buffalo/Niagara today to see the falls and have a fun travel day off work. Saturday I have our quarterly meeting which will be more leisurely than most work days. I am also staying in my first 4 Star hotel (Hyatt Regency) in Rochester which is nice. Thanks Priceline!

Work is also paying for this trip so I just have some small incidental costs such as tolls and food to cover. Other than that we have a rental car, free hotel, and flights. I am going to check off my second of the "big three" water falls of the world: Niagara, Igauzu, and Victoria.

I went to Iguazu back in 2006 in Brazil/Argentina. Today is Niagara in US/Canada (both sides). I now need to plan Victoria Falls in Africa! That will most likely be sometime down the road as it can be difficult to get too. I would want to incorporate it into another longer trip if I could as well.

I could get used to these work + fun trips! It is nice when someone else pays for the expensive parts and all I have to do is have fun!

Find it for free first!


For the past few months I have been trying my best to spend as little money as possible. It is helping as my savings is increasing over time and I have been able to adjust my budget downward a little.

With that goal in mind I still need/want some things from time to time. Clothes have to eventually be replaced, household goods re-bought, and so on. I have a strategy that has evolved from this and the idea is to see if I can find a free option first.

I have several ways to find it for free. I check out websites such as slickdeals.net for free (or nearly free) after rebate deals on what I am looking for. Recently I have gotten 5 quarts of motor oil, 3 oil filters, and a Digiorno pizza all for free after rebate. Not bad!

I am not starting to look into craigslist and freecycle to see if what I am looking for is available for free. I am still trying to find a way to make money from it too! You can find all sorts of things for free such as furniture, clothes, book, movies, and so on. Why but new when these will work just as well?

Before running out to the store or mall see if you can find it for free first! The more we save today the less we have to work tomorrow. Time is the most valuable asset.

Steve Jobs: A Great Man Lost


Steve was a great innovator, businessman, and never settled for less than the best. His companies were a huge success as a result. It is a shame that cancer and illness took him at age 56.

I am a big fan of Apple products. The quality is second to none and they are always ahead of the game in terms of utilizing new technology in a great way. This is all the result of Steve's visions and ideas.

He will be missed by many. I hope Apple continues in the same direction and keeps things as great as they have always been. Time will tell...

Work/Fun Travel This weekend: Niagara Falls/Rochester, NY


I have a work trip on Friday to fly up to Buffalo, NY. I will spend the day on the US and Canadian side of Niagara Falls then over to Rochester, NY for the night and a Saturday meeting. I will be home Saturday night.

Unlike most work trips I will get to see some of the country and take some (hopefully) great photos with my DSLR camera. I am a fan of waterfalls so this works out well for me. The free day Friday is in exchange for a Saturday meeting. Very fair since I am paying $0 out of pocket for this trip.

I am also staying in a 4 star Hyatt in Rochester thanks to priceline.com. Landed it for $70 for the night also on the company dime. This will be the highest star rated hotel I have stayed at to date. I am normally OK with just about any old hotel on my own dime. I'd rather save the money for food, sites, drinks, and more travel down the road than have a $400 per night room.

October 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 down month do to investment values decreasing. Otherwise I was mostly on track and got a little ahead on other goals!

As of today my current net worth is $16,936.89. That is an decrease of $784.11 over last month. The major contributing factors: large decline in the stock markets, less work travel, and more money put towards vacations.

I expect next month to good. I am focusing on sticking to my budget, exploring more ways to be frugal with food expenditures, and reducing car expenses by further combining trips and saving fuel costs.

Alternative Income this past month:

IT Consulting: $0
Focus Groups: $0
Rebates: $89.10