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Happy Churniversary, Part 2: Burning

What good are earning credit card rewards if you don't use them? Here's how I have used my points to save money on travel since I started earning them a year ago. Since I have focused mostly on earning points, I haven't had as many opportunities to spend them yet, so this post will be considerably shorter than Part 1.
Note that I don't count travel expenses covered by the Sapphire Reserve's $300 annual travel credit as a redemption as I view it more as a rebate of the $450 annual fee, making the card effectively $150 annually. In addition, the cash prices listed for flights were the prices at the time I booked my reward flights, and are based on a round-trip basis (flight price = round-trip price / 2) when possible. For various reasons, one-way fares are almost always significantly more expensive, so listing the round-trip price is a more fair comparison for calculating the value of points.
Also, you may notice that my redemptions listed here are all flights, even…

Monthly Financial Snapshot: March 2017

You can also track my all-time progress on the aptly-named Current Progress page.

Lot of progress this month due to fortuitous timing of paychecks (3 this month), the last of my overtime pay, business income, and a modest tax refund. The remainder of the year will likely look much more ordinary on the income side, so I will have to step up my business income and hope for the best in the markets if I want to keep up the pace from the last couple of months.


Mar-17CommentsRent$768.75$750 for rent + $18.75 in fees for Plastiq in order to pay via credit cardInternet$60.92Internet is kind of expensive out here in the booniesCell Phone$32.88Average for this month.Natural Gas$35.07Higher than normal, likely due to the unusual amount of baking I did in February-March.Electricity$27.00About average for the monthWater$57.22Higher than normal, likely due to the unusual amount of baking I did in February-March.Groceries$189.65About average groceries for this month.Car Insurance$0.00I pay every 6 mon…

Happy Churniversary, Part 1: Earning

As part of my ongoing quest to optimize my finances, I took up credit card churning almost exactly one year ago today. Let's start from the very beginning (a very good place to start!) What is churning? In order to attract new customers, banks often offer lucrative sign-up bonuses to those who open up credit card accounts and then meet a minimum spending threshold on the new account within a few months of signing up. Depending on the card, these bonuses usually take the form of cash, airline miles, hotel points, or proprietary transferable points. If you are responsible with your spending and well-organized, it is possible to take advantage of these sign up offers to earn lots of rewards for funneling your ordinary expenses through a different credit card every few months. This practice is known as churning, because of the comparatively rapid pace that the churner acquires new cards over time. To many, it may sound like a hassle, but the rewards can be extremely valuable and shou…

Monthly Financial Snapshot: February 2017

You can also track my all-time progress on the aptly-named Current Progress page.

Obviously, a significant amount of progress this month, mostly due to my company's annual bonus getting paid out. Thanks to it, I was able to max out my Roth IRA for the year, as well as pay off the larger than average credit card bills from starting my business last month, all without having to touch my emergency fund. Those expenses also allowed me to earn my final batch of rewards from credit card sign-ups, some of which I will put to good use on my upcoming trip.

Business income is starting to trickle in. I received my first payment of $259 this month from items that I have sold, with more soon on the way. I haven't yet made enough to cover my startup costs, but I project that I will become profitable fairly soon. Looking forward to growing the business over the next few months, especially once I get back to a regular work schedule.


Feb-17CommentsRent$768.75$750 for rent + $18.75 in fees for Pla…

Monthly Financial Snapshot: January 2017

You can also track my all-time progress on the aptly-named Current Progress page.


Jan-17CommentsRent$765.00$750 for rent + $15 in fees for Plastiq in order to pay via credit cardInternet$60.92Internet is kind of expensive out here in the booniesCell Phone$132.88Higher this month because I paid $100 upfront as part of acquiring inventory (a free phone) that I later sold.Natural Gas$31.26About 50% more than my normal bill, due to it being winter.Electricity$0.00Timing of payment cycles means this month's bill will be paid next month.Water$46.84My actual water usage is only about $5, but my town tacks on so many fees that the bill comes to $40+ every month! :(Groceries$158.99About average groceries for this month.Car Insurance$0.00I pay every 6 months in April and October.Gasoline$43.46Higher this month due to travelCar Expenses$0.00Nothing to see here, move alongHealth Insurance$13.34Heavily subsidized, high-deductible plan through my work. Includes health and dental.Other