Award Ticket Booking Service


I am going to start a service where I use your miles to help you book the flights you want. There are other services out there so I know there is a demand for it. Through my extensive studying of points and miles I feel I can offer a valuable service to the public.

After some research I am going to take a slight different approach. Instead of a fixed price service I am going to offer a "pay what you feel like" price tag. This takes the pressure off and allows the customer to pay what they feel is fair for the services rendered.

We shall see how this turns out. I am still in the planning stages of this service.

Anyone want to be my first customer?

Using up groceries: It's working!


I am now in the habit of using up what I have in the house more often. For a while I would succumb to my "cravings" for certain things. I still do sometimes but also try my best to use up leftovers. I do this mostly through taking lunch to work and mixing in whatever leftovers I have.

Sometimes I make larger amounts of side dishes to use more than once in a week. Potatoes and salads are examples of where I can do the same amount of work for multiple meals and have less dishes, less utilities, and less effort involved. This is a win on all fronts!

My next experiment will be with bulk cooking main dishes and freezing them. Things like chicken and pork can be cooked all at once on the grill or in the oven and used multiple times down the road. I am going to try this first with my next bulk Costco chicken purchase and see how it goes.

I can actually see my food cost going down overall which is my main goal. Food is too expensive to waste!

Booking Flights in Advance: Schedule Changes


A couple months ago I used the rest of my American Airlines miles to book my ticket to Guatemala. I looked at my miles account and noticed there was a schedule change on my flight from Miami to Guatemala. It created a long (4+ hour) layover in Miami that didn't sound pleasant.

I did a search online and found a seat on a later flight leaving Atlanta opened up! This was great since I was on the 7AM flight. I am now on the 8:30AM flight so I can sleep an extra hour and still have a long enough layover to have lunch in Miami. Since there was a schedule change I was able to do this for free.

Knowing the rules of the tickets you book can help you later on. Schedule changes in most cases can get you a free change. Sometimes I will book a flight with multiple connections in hopes one will change. When it does I can call and change to a more direct flight for free. Buy the cheapest that will work and hope you can change later is the strategy.

3-day Weekend!


A much needed 3-day weekend begins today!

I am planning on spending most of it with friends and not thinking about work. I am looking forward to grilling, relaxing by the pool, and maybe a few cold beers!

I am glad I am not traveling since these holiday weekends tend to make a mess at the airports. I deal with it enough on a regular basis and I don't need added stress.

I am also going to get around to some post-poned chores that I have been putting off lately.

Fun Trip: Key West, FL!


I still feel the need for beach time. Since I won't be doing that in Guatemala for my November trip I am going to Key West for my 30th birthday this August. I just booked flights and car rental. I am working on the hotel now.

I used my buy 1, get 1 Delta certificate (thanks AMEX!) that I get each year to save money on the flights and still earn miles for myself. I am still trying to get Gold status with Delta so need to fly more to make that happen. I used my Hertz points to get a free convertible Mustang for the weekend. I plan to use hotel points to cover the 2 nights of accommodation that we will need.

This will be a cheap trip and a fun weekend for my birthday which is a Saturday this year. I have always wanted to rent a convertible and drive around a tropical area so I can check that off the list too. I look forward to the beach, pool, and of course some tropical drinks.

Using Gift Cards to form better habits


As part of my earlier strategy to maximize my Chase points I bought a $500 Kroger gift card. I am using it for groceries and gas. The 5 points per dollar earned on that purchase is more than I would have gotten through normal spending.

It is forcing me to get food at the grocery store instead of eating out. This is a good thing since it saves me money and makes me spend less overall. I will certainly use it up between my normal gas and food purchases. I can max out the 5 point bonus now and use the gift card(s) over the next couple of months.

Gift cards are a useful tool for financially forcing you to do certain things. This can be good or bad depending on how you use them. I don't buy card I don't need so I am not stuck with spending the money in a certain way.

I still have to spend about $800 more to max out the 5 point bonus. I am hoping I can figure out a way to use them for work expenses. Worst case I will top off my Kroger card some more and it will get used eventually. Just have to make sure I don't lose it!

Kroger + Chase Freedom = double dip!


I have Kroger in my area and found a great way to double dip on points!

Grocery Stores are this quarter's 5x Chase Freedom bonus category (along with movie theaters). It maxes out at $1,500 in spending. Kroger sells gift cards to all sorts of different places including Home Depot, Restaurants, Southwest Airlines, gas stations, and so on. These are a great way to maximize the 5x Chase points.

On top of that Kroger gives you 4x bonus fuel points (totaling 4 per dollar) for buying non-Kroger gift cards. Every 100 fuel points takes 10 cents off per gallon up to $2.00 off. This is a great way to save a little extra money on something you are going to buy anyway!

To maximize this you could buy $1,500.00 worth of various gift cards that are not Kroger gift cards. This means that you would get 7,500 Chase UR points and 6,000 Kroger fuel points. You could use 2,000 points every time you get gas to save $2.00 per gallon. I would consider filling up gas cans too at that low rate!

Get creative with points strategies and you can save big!

Raddisson Points Bonanza!


With 2 more work trips booked for Detroit and Boston I booked my hotels and car rentals for them today. Booking these at least 14 days in advance saves money. I also keep track of big promotions from hotels and try to incorporate work travel into them to maximize my points earning.

In this case I will get an extra 94,000 Raddisson (Club Carlson) points for my 2 hotel stays in Michigan. They are running a stay one night, get a free night at any hotel promotion and this 2-night trip worked out perfectly!

It is going to cost me $32 out of pocket since one of the hotels is more than my company maximum allowed. I am ok with that for 94,000 extra points which works out to be $0.00034 per point. I can use these points for my own hotel stays later. $32 now for 2 (or more!) free nights is not bad at all!

Richmond Days 1 & 2


Today was going well for work until the phone rang. A fire came up for a customer and had to be handled immediately. This is hard enough to do at the office but on the road is another animal. Luckily I got it sorted out.

I had to pick up some parts locally in Richmond and ship them overnight to my client. This was all banking on getting a local tech available to install them the next day. It was stressful to say the least. I had to put off my work in Virginia to handle it. Fortunately I was ahead of schedule.

All ended up getting fixed in the end. I completed my work in Richmond by 11AM Friday and headed to the airport to go home. I got lucky and cleared standby for an earlier flight back home. It could have been much worse!

Winston-Salem for a day


This place is certainly an improvement over the past 2 days.

Definitely lots more traffic and very short on/off ramps on the highways. I have covered a fairly wide area hitting all of the job sites here. I got everything done ahead of schedule which is nice!

I am in Richmond, Virginia now and it was a long boring drive up on a faceless 4-lane interstate highway. The weather stayed clear and the traffic wasn't too bad so I made it in 3.5 hours. From what others have told me it seems I missed the usual bad traffic in the area.

This is also a the nicest hotel of the trip and I actually get to stay for two nights! Packing everyday can get tiring. Off to bed!

West Virginia is still boring


Day 2 was another day of bad weather. I saw lots of rain, trees, and winding roads. I am moving onto North Carolina tomorrow and I know there will be at least more people around and things to do. I am sure it will seem like a metropolis in Winston-Salem compared to what I have just seen.

Things are still moving along on schedule for work. I hit my usual snags as I always do on projects but nothing too major yet. The weather is finally starting look better now and it is warmer at the lower elevations. Good riddance West Virginia!

West Virginia is boring!


I was expecting a boring place and was not let down. I heard it has nice scenery and it does...for about 20 minutes. Backwoods America is just not my cup of tea I guess. It doesn't help that it has not stopped raining since I arrived and I am not a fan of driving on mountain roads.

I hope the weather improves tomorrow but it does not appear it will based on the forecast. I have a lot of driving ahead of me and lots of work to do!

Long Weekend Back Home


I have today off work and am spending the weekend with my family since I was already so close in Savannah. I fly directly from here to West Virginia for work on Sunday. I am looking forward to relaxing and not thinking about work for a while.

I did end up having to do some work today since some things are time sensitive. Such is life.

Now it is time to head to my favorite local places for seafood and drinks!

Savannah Day 2


I ended up at a small taco bar in downtown Savannah and had some great tacos and a great margarita. My co-worker headed off to bed since they had been awake since 3:45 AM for their flights. I decided to stop into another small bar near the hotel for some cheap beers and to watch the baseball game to unwind. It worked!

I spent all day on the trade floor and it involves a LOT of standing. My sore feet and legs reflect that and I am glad I don't have to do it again tomorrow. We broke down the trade show booth at 6PM and were ready to roll by 6:30. Luckily my boss is taking the van back and I am staying with family this weekend. They are picking me up soon!

I am supposed to have tomorrow off but we shall see if that happens. It is very busy right now at work and with the time sensitive nature of my projects I fear that I will have to do some work at some point tomorrow. Either way I am going to get some relaxing time in and some errands done. Maybe I can sneak in some beach time at some point!

Savannah Day 1


This morning I drove from Atlanta to Savannah in a rented van with all of our trade show goodies. It is a VERY boring drive with not much to look at aside from trees, concrete, and other cars. It took me around 3 hours and 40 minutes to get there which is 30 minutes less than Google's estimate.

I picked up my co-worker from the airport and we proceeded to the convention to set up the booth. It is definitely a 2 man job with all the small things that have to be assembled. It ended up looking great and we finished just in time for the opening reception. We said hello to some clients and mingled a bit.

Tomorrow is the all day show. It is crunch time and a chance for me to try on the sales hat for a while. A welcome change of pace from the rigors of project management...even though I will be doing that at the same time.

Busy Work Travel Begins!


Tomorrow starts one long slog!

I start in Savannah for a 2 day trade show for work. I follow that with 3 days back home in South Georgia for a long weekend with family. Sunday night I am off to West Viriginia followed by North Carolina and Virginia until Friday. That is a total of 12 days on the road!

This is going to be a whirl-wind trip with many different types of clothes needed. This presents a packing challenge since I need to carry on my bag and also want to keep it down to 1 bag that I have to lug around. It is going to be heavy but manageable.

I am going to take a small bag with me to Savannah to carry the nicer clothes I need for the trade show and will send it back with the trade show shipment. This will reduce what I drag around during my work travels later. I also am considering going to the beach which means flip flops need to be brought. That works out to less laundry since I won't need socks on those days.

Its going to be a tiring but hopefully fun experience in the end. I have a lot of work to do and a lot of ground to cover but nothing I haven't done before.

The best things in life are not things at all


I saw this on a bumper sticker on a car in front of me. This was on the way to work this morning and I completely agree with it. I have realized that material things are just that. In the end they mostly mean nothing. Some of them you need to survive but the majority of the crap we have is not necessary.

The things I value the most:

  • People: friends, acquaintances, family, and so on. People are what make life what it is.
  • Experiences: All of my best memories are from travel. I will continue to travel for as long as I can.
  • Food & Drink: This brings people together. The food itself is not as important as the company that comes with it. It is a tool to bring us together
  • History/Culture: Another reason I travel. I read about all sorts of interesting history and places to visit. When I actually get there it definitely adds to the experience to know the background behind it.
  • Freedom: without it we cannot do as we please. I will viciously fight anything that tries to impede it.
Remember all of this the next time you think about buying more clothes, a new car, or an expensive "toy" that you want because of some marketing you were subjected too.  Does that object have more importance than the above? My guess is no.

Car woes on hold


The burning grease smell from the axle has gone away. I called my dad (a mechanic) and he says as long as it drives OK then I can wait to replace the part. This is good news!

It saves me $150 today since I don't have to take it anywhere to get fixed. It can (hopefully) wait until he comes to visit again and we can do it ourselves. He comes up to Atlanta fairly regularly so it shouldn't be an issue.

It also saves me time and hassle of taking my car to the repair shop and picking it up. I will just hang onto the part just in case things get worse before he can visit again.


Sunglasses and FEDEX Account fraud


Today so far has been a day of putting out fires both at work and on a personal level.

Hertz did find my sunglasses and they will ship them back to me. Nice to know that I don't have to re-buy them at least. I will have to eat the shipping costs. Lesson learned!

I got a collections notice from FEDEX in the mail last week. Turns out the mysterious charge to my American Express a while back was actually through my FEDEX Account. I called them to investigate.

They looked into it and decided it was indeed fraud would erase the charge from my account. That is another $168 that I don't have to come up with. Another bit of relief!

Things are looking up from the events of the Baltimore trip. I hope they continue to improve!

Baltimore Day 2


This trip wasn't going to go well from the start.

A lot of scrambling around today got most of what I needed done. There is still one small loose end that my client is going to help me with my guidance over the phone.

Lots of delays, barely made my flight home (the last one of the day!), and left my expensive sunglasses in the rental car. Running through the airport is not my idea of fun. Neither is having a crappy cold sandwich and peanuts for dinner. In the end I made it home.

It was a long two days that I do not care to repeat. The majority of my work trips go well. This is one that was doomed from the start. I have had worse but still get frustrated all the same.

Hopefully the next one will go much better.

Baltimore Day 1


I must admit that today got to a rocky start:

  • Left home with a headache
  • Lots of turbulence
  • Rough landing
  • Broken A/C in the rental car
  • Things a mess at the job site
 Things did slowly improve this afternoon where I could get some work done. Still not without a few snags but I will get it done in the end.

I did have some great crab cakes and a beer for dinner which helped smooth things over a little. Early start tomorrow to keep things moving for work. Always and adventure...I guess.

Just another day on the road!