1 Million Dollars

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why I Dislike Airline Reward Programs

It may seem strange that I dislike airline reward program yet like hotel reward programs but they are set up differently. My first problem with airline reward programs are that the points expire. Many programs have extended the expiration date (it used to be a year, normally), to 18-24 months and also wave the expiration on the points if you fly within that 18-24 period or buy more points but honestly it still seems like a pain.

My second issue with them is I cannot find a credit card without an annual fee that links up with a airline. I can get cash back without an annual fee but no airline card? That just seems weird to me. Does it seem weird to anyone else?

Also, and this just may be me, I fly mostly southwest and Jet Blue, neither of which have business or first class accommodations and one of the reasons for belonging to a reward program is the bump ups, either in class or in room type.

Some people like the airline reward programs for access into lounges but I do not fly enough to care about a lounge nor do I see lounges being a great perk. Maybe if they included free internet I would be interested. But I still do not think it is enough to make me pay an annual fee unless I was flying at least once a month and maybe not even then. Off the top of my head I can think of two ways to get internet anywhere, not just in airport, either through a data plan on my phone or an internet card. That would give me what I want (internet) without an annual fee.

At the end of the day, I just don't see the benefit of an airline reward program unless you fly monthly and most students do not. Even my fiance who flies at least twice a year, normally three times a year cannot get any benefit from a reward program. Maybe when we are older I'll change my mind.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Points from Priority Club Visa

I just received my bonus points from priority club visa and quicker than I expected too. Normally opening a Priority Club Visa gives you 30,000 points but I signed up when they were having a special and earned 60,000 points. At 60,000 points I gained platinum status which allows me to get upgrades.

When I signed up for the Visa I was told it would take six to eight weeks after my first purchase. I received my card earlier this month so was very surprised to get the points so quickly. Except for the annual fee I am very happy with this card. It also does not have a international fee so when we travel to Canada we plan to use this card as well.

I used my points to get three nights stay in California right before my wedding saving myself about $300. With the free upgrade we got a suite for the normal "points price" so in effect we got an even better deal than we would have gotten with $300 cash.

New ways to make "money" on daily deals

I hope most people have heard of swagbucks, it is a search engine that uses ask.com and google and awards swagbucks randomly when you search. You can get a referral from me and start off with extra swagbucks if you have not signed up already.

Swagbucks is getting into the daily deal crazyness. If you go to their website and purchase a groupon or livingsocial deal through their website you will get extra swagbucks.

Personally I would use ebates when buying a groupon because they give cash back, not points and swagbucks when buying a living social deal.

If you do not have ebates, there is a link on my sidebar to sign up, you get $5 to start you off.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Update on grocery savings plan

My last two grocery shopping trips have been a mixed success, both times I saved more than $5 each time. However last time I still spend more than $55 but this time I spend less than $30 and was able to stock up on two twelve packs of soda. Also, I did a target run and got two packs of code red for $2.50 each using a sale and target coupons.

I have found two wonderful blogs to help me along the way, Happy Clippings and Tricias Frugal Finds. I have linked these two blogs to mine and will be following the matchups weekly.

Friday, March 25, 2011

New goal for the year

While I have been working and going to school we have gotten overly spendy with our grocery bill. We have been working on keeping our eat out bills low but I had let our grocery bill go. I have decided this is going to end. We have a budget of $50/week and we are going to stick to it. I found a couple websites that do matchups for wegmans (my preferred store) and one for tops (my non-preferred store but it is closer. I made our list for this week and we will be going shopping this weekend. I also rejoined the WIR (women in red) grocery hound on their new board, http://notmsnmoney.proboards.com/index.cgi. I'll report back on how well we are doing for both this week and the whole month.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hotel Reward Programs and why students should join them

I love hotel reward programs, they allow to gain rewards for staying at certain hotels and often once you hit certain criteria you get "free" or complementary items, such as "free" breakfast or snacks. Between my fiance we belong to clubs from the Marriott, the Hilton and Holiday Inn (priority club).
So far, we have redeemed points from only the Hilton (one in Hawaii and one in San Fransisco) both for our honeymoon. We should however, get enough points through priority club to redeem for three nights before the wedding in California.

My fiance travels for conferences paid for by grants, his boss or the department depending on why he is traveling to conference. Two years ago we both were going to the same conference and one of the professors told us we should look into Marriott's reward program. We checked into it and seeing no fees, we signed up. Because we were there for a conference we received extra points on top of the points for the cost of the room but we still do not have enough points for another stay. Part of the reason for that is I prefer Hilton.

Both my fiance and I have Hilton credit cards, one visa and one american express and we have gotten most of our points through their signup bonuses, however, we also got quite a few when my fiance went to yet another conference.

My fiance could have stayed at a Marriott for this conference but decided on Hilton because the credit card we had gave him silver membership (instead of the lowest membership, blue). We chose to get Hilton credit cards instead of a card through Marriot because Hilton has two credit cards without annual fees, Marriot does not even have one. He got a Hilton visa and received 20000 points for signing up. Between the sign up bonus and conference stay he had enough for our night in San Fransisco. This will allow us to not fly fifteen hours from Hawaii straight back to buffalo but have a night's rest in San Francisco.

We also have gotten points for Hilton by doing surveys for erewards. Erewards also gives points for priority club. The other reward programs we joined expecting to get the most points when my fiance traveled for conferences, priority club is different. Most holiday inns and other priority club hotels include complementary breakfast and lower prices than other reward program hotels. Even we compared the cost of motel 6 to priority club, if we included breakfast and two people per night priority club normally won. Priority Club hotels are where we plan to stay on our vacations if we do not have enough points to stay at the other hotels for free.

I signed up for priority club and was able to find a code to start me off with 300 points. Granted that is not a lot, I need 5000 just to get a discount at the hotels, but it is something. This brings up a great benefit of priority club hotels, unlike the other hotel programs, you can use your points at 5000 intervals to lower the cost of your room. I do not however, like priority club's credit card. It has a $49 annual fee, though it is waved the first year. We did decide to get the credit card for the points after the first purchase, however, I just received the card and have not had a chance to use it yet. I will report how long it takes them to credit the points, they say it will take 6-8 weeks.

Now I know most students are not like my fiance and do not get a "free" trip at least once a year but I still think students should join multiple hotel rewards programs. As young people we will be traveling, visiting friends, seeing new places or even interviewing for a new job. It may take a while to get free night using these programs but they are free and why not take advantage if you can? Also, often hotels will give free points if a problem occurred during your stay, if you belong to their program, they will not offer if you do not.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Update on the millionaire goal- March

We are inching closer and closer to our millionaire goal. We now have $9222 in invest accounts/bonds thanks to our investing, ing's bonus and the two percent reduction in social security. We plan to increase our retirement funding in April. By doing so we believe we will pass the $10,000 mark in July of this year.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Investing Stocks vs Real Estate

My fiance and I were looking for a rental property but we have been looking for almost seven months now and have not found anything that works for us. It would be easy to give up but we refuse to. However, with classes, the wedding and work it looks like we will be pushing off looking for any properties so unless something drops in our lap. Also, we are working on improvements on our current rental.

While we are dealing with all our craziness we will be funding our Roth at 10% of our income starting in April. We do want to increase the retirement savings to 20% but until we get the second property or my fiance gets a raise ten percent will have to do.

Patience is key to investing no matter if the investing is real estate, stocks or bonds. Though I would never say to time the market, one should only invest when the timing is right for the person.