Maximizing Cash & Points when traveling for work

I had about $35k of spend last year, which was reimbursed by my company.  This being the first company I have worked for which allows me to put my spend on my personal credit cards, I try all the tricks I can think of to maximize the “kick backs” to me.

My spend is roughly broken up into the following:

  • $1000 – Airplane ticket
  • $1000 – Hotel room
  • $1000 – Rental car
  • $500 – food, gas etc

How do I get $75-$100 cash back, plus more than 10,000 points/miles in one trip?

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Painting MDF edges without it looking fuzzy

MDF […] or medium density fiberboard […] is an amazing material to use in your home renovation projects.  While prices vary based on location, it is quite common to find MDF sheets for less than $1/sq ft.  I get “rough lumber,” and even the lowest cost wood is over $2/BF in 4/4 lumber […] for all intents and purposes, that is $2/sq ft.  And with the rough lumber, you have to mill it down, which drives up the cost per sq ft.  So, as you can see, MDF is an affordable material, and can be very versatile.

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Jan 2015 Spending and Networth Update

Writing about our budget and what we spend is new for me.  But, I love talking about money.  Just like Lauren Campbell, so what the hell […]

Jan was a decent month for us, despite the jitters of being employed in oil & gas and the free fall of oil prices.  It looks as if we spent a lot, but we’ve been remodeling our girls bathroom and we’ve shifted some costs forward to alleviate the eventual costs we will incur [that is a fancy way of saying, “we bought home depot gift cards at a 14% discount”].


Total Spend for the month was $23,789.75.  Of which about $17k is either reimbursable or adding value to our networth elsewhere.

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File your State Income Taxes for FREE!! Maybe […]

“Free” e-file

About a year ago, I did a piece on filing federal taxes.  While the title is a bit misleading, as ALL of the online tax software companies would be difficult to list.  The links below, do however, provide a healthy dose of choices.  Click on your state, and see what is on tap!

It seems just about every state which collects an income tax also encourages you to file your taxes electronically.  Quite simply, filing electronically makes it easier on not just you, the tax payer, but also the state.  And almost every state peddles their options as “free.”

Many States use the Free File Alliance, in which they’ve partnered with private software companies.  If you plan to utilize any of these options, it is important to take note of a couple things:

  1. Income limits and stipulations exist for the filing to be free.  E.g. If you AGI is less $xx,xxx, you can file electronically with the software for free.
  2. Plan ahead – to utilize these options you must file both your federal and state return at the same time with the same company.

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Dead Sea Shore from the road

Israel – Masada & Dead Sea

If you haven’t been following, this is a series on our trip to Israel, when we scored some uber cheap airfare.

Israel – Intro
Israel – Masada & Dead Sea
Israel – Jerusalem
Israel – Galilee & Northern Israel

First, let me start off by saying a couple things.  One, as I’ve mentioned before, there is very little bacon in Israel, but the falafel rocks.  Second, hotels in Israel are PRICEY.  I was origninally planning on using my Club Carlson points and since I have the Club Carlson credit card, you stay 2 nights for one when you redeem points.  Very interesting program.  But, we lucked out even further.  Between the time when we booked our tickets in August and when we arrived in Israel at the end of February, we had some good friends move to Tel Aviv and they offered us a bedroom.  Tres Gentile!  So, we bought them a couple dinners […] one was at a breakfast joint in Tel Aviv which DOES serve bacon […] and rented a car.  Throw in a few meals for us, and our cost for this 4 day whirlwind was pretty reasonable!

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Finished Open Vanity in decent light before install

[Un]Fine Furniture

As I mentioned over a year ago, I’ve been lusting to get into woodworkery.  And I took the plunge this spring and bought a whole host of tools:

  • Cabinet Saw
  • 8″ Jointer
  • Fixed base router
  • Plunger router
  • Thickness Planar

Sure, not a complete shop, but I can do just about anything I want, if I had the skills […] rasied panel cabinetry, tables, chairs, etc .  And it will take some time until anyone uses the word “fine” with any pile of wood and glue I try to pass off as furniture.

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$500 Washer & Dryer

I’ve always lusted after a front loading washer & dryer.  But I could never justify the cost when I had a perfectly working set.

Our Old Washer & Dryer

Our Old Washer & Dryer

I was helping a friend move the other day and he was a little short on space.  I won’t lie, I was a little bothered to go help the guy on a Saturday – which is my prime time to get “stuff” done.  I figured it was the right thing to do though, and I hope if I was in the pinch he was, that some friends would come help me.

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Israel – Intro

It’s not often you come into to work and check out some “morning news” to find flights to Israel for $300-ish roundtrip.  These deals come along once, maybe twice a year and diligence is the key to getting cutting into them.

I was at my old, curmudgeon-y company when this deal went down, so with little vacation days to spare, we decided on a whirlwind tour of 4 days.  Yes, the Holy Land […] which I question how holy a land can be without bacon […] in 4 days.  Boom!

Look forward to the series of posts in upcoming weeks.

Part 1 – Masada & Dead Sea
Part2 – Jerusalem
Part 3 – Galilee and Northern Israel