Income Report – August, 2016

As I start ramping Wallet Squirrel back up, I’m reminded that no matter what I do. There are some passive income strategies that keep earning me money. So dear passive income. Thank you.

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Let’s talk Double Cash Back Credit Card

During a recent Entrepreneur Meet and Greet in Denver (yes, I go to these). It was pointed by a fellow entrepreneur who read my blog (eek, people read this) that we should clarify good and bad ways to use a credit card.

See, I pay off my entire credit card debt daily, since I paid mine off in 2015. So I treat my credit card like cash. I know that I am going to HAVE to pay it all off the next day so anything that I’m willing to pay cash for, I use credit. Mainly just for the 2% cash back.

It was pointed out though, that some people may not know this difference and could continue their spiral of debt. I’m obviously not condoning this. Only use a credit card if you have good credit card habits. It’s easy to say you’re getting 2% back with a credit card, but things still cost 98%.

Moral of the story. It’s hard to say my 2% Cash Back Credit Card is a sort of passive income. Especially if I’m using it to buy wants like Colorado Rockies Tickets. However, a majority of the time I use my Cash Back Credit Card on purchases I’m going to make anyways, so I consider it passive income.

Monthly Goals (I HATE monthly goals)

I have a bad habit of not liking being told what to do. Once I write something down, I’m telling myself to do something and sometimes that’s a bit much. Especially when the guilt of failing a to-do list is a lot worse than actually accomplishing something. Maybe I’ll rename this “Some things Andrew, could maybe do in the future, if he wants”. Catchy right?

  1. Write 2 posts this month on how to earn additional income. That’s what this site is about and let’s get down to the roots.
  2. Comment on 70 blogs. I came to this number because I have 70 blogs on my “To Read” list. Let me know if you want to be on this list.

How I Just Saved Money On A Parking Ticket

Last week as I returned to my car, I noticed a small piece of paper sticking out of my car door in a familiar yellow envelope common to Denver’s Parking Division. Not sure why they no longer put them on windshields, but my reaction was the same. F**K. However, I figured out a way to save a little on my ticket!

Background

My day started out so well. I took a little time off work in the morning for a 8:30 am annual dental cleaning. I left the dentist office happy because there was NO CO-PAY. Apparently after talking to a few people, insurances usually cover this, but it was still a good feeling leaving knowing I had nothing to pay. Now I walked back to my car, where I park my car on the road every time I’ve been to this dentist. I’ve parked at this location multiple times before so I was used to nuances of the neighborhood.

However, this particular time as I returned to my car, I found a lovely parking ticket. I discovered that the 2 hour parking sign I always stop at, also noted that the last Wednesday of the month, April through November there was no parking. Just my luck, it was that day. What are the odds? I will note, that this is my 3rd parking ticket ever. So I’m usually pretty good. The cost of this mistake? I had to pay $50.

My Idea

Ok, this isn’t exactly rocket science, but in my rebellious nature I didn’t want to pay $50 for a parking ticket. While I usually can find a special promo code or coupons for most items. I have yet discovered the Denver Parking Division to hold such promotions, so I couldn’t save on their end. I had to save on mine.

I had 3 options. I could pay in person with cash. This would entail going to some sad, and depressing place and deal with someone who hates their job (yes, I base my Parking Division assumptions on movies). I could pay online with PayPal, which would be convenient or I could pay online with a credit card. HA! I used my 2% cash back credit card.

I paid $50, but got $1 (2% cash back) back. So in the end, I paid $49. Yes, it’s a small victory but it’s mine. The little guy can chalk this one up to a win!

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Have you figured out any additional ways to save money on parking tickets?

How I earn $25 a month with the Best Cashback Credit Card

Let me first state credit cards aren’t evil, credit card companies are. Your credit card isn’t going to crawl out one night and go on a Las Vegas spending spree with your ex-girlfriend laughing at you until you get your next statement. No, it’s a tool in your ninja financial tool belt and I’m going to explain how it makes $25 for me each month with the best cashback credit card, and how it can help you too.

Oh you heard me, this is me explaining how to have your credit card make YOU money. 99% of the of time, credit card companies make money off you because they think you’re stupid, well if you’re reading this, you’re not stupid. You want to learn how say ENOUGH and try something different.

My $6,000 Credit Card Debt Past:

Let’s just say I was a moron. I like most people, got their first credit card in college, well Wells Fargo in fact. They told me it was a good investment, they told me it would build my credit. They told me I would earn “points” each time I spent money and I could use those “points” to buy other things. I was going to buy things anyways, so why not earn “points” when I do. Sounds awesome right? I had this bank since high school, I invested my first summer job paycheck with this bank. They couldn’t steer me wrong.

Now I won’t bash Wells Fargo. I think everyone should do their own research and make their own call, but let me tell you what those “points” got me the last 9 years I had/used that credit card.

Keep in mind, this is me using my credit card cautiously, I heard the rumors about people with credit card debt, but everyone had debt. Why should I be different? In fact, I racked up $6,000 in debt for multiple years paying only the minimum (that’s only the interest boys and girls). It’s OK though, had SO many magical “points”. I could buy so much more stuff!

So here’s the thing they didn’t tell me with my “points” credit card.

  • There was a $20 annual membership fee
  • You can only use “points” in their own online store
  • Everything in their limited online store cost more than Amazon.com
  • Oh, and your points expire

WHAT THE FUCK!!! Did I mention I was a moron? In the last 4 of the 9 years, I kept checking the online market place and the best thing I could buy was a $40 putter. I (like you probably) thought, if I keep using my card, I can save enough points to buy the $50 putter. Wrong, when I checked back, my oldest points had expired. Plus did I mention the $20 annual fee? FUCK!

In the end, after all the debt, I cumulatively used the points (that hadn’t expired yet) on $75 worth of gift cards to Amazon. So in 9 years, I paid $180 ($20 annual fee x9) for $75 worth of Amazon gift cards. Again, I will reiterate, I was a moron.

When I Paid off my Credit Card Debt:

Exactly 1 year ago, I finally had a job that allowed me to pay off my credit card debt. (Hint: I paid off more than the minimum payment each month) Wahoo! I even celebrated by walking into Wells Fargo and giving them back their credit card. A purely ceremonial gesture. Apparently that’s not something most people do, most people just cut them with scissors and throw it away. I recommend this. Wells Fargo actually told me to keep it open and use it for small purchases to continue to “build my credit”. Seriously, the advice Wells Fargo had for me, was to keep this awful credit card open and keep spending money on it. Really? All bow down the mighty credit score.

I decided my credit score was good enough and haven’t used that card since. It’s been 1 year.

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I Did Research And Found The Best Cashback Credit Card For Me:

Now with a story like this, once I paid off my credit card debt, you think I would be done with credit cards forever. Right? Well, do you recall me saying credit cards aren’t evil, credit card companies are? I just needed to learn how to use my credit card responsibly and find the right card for me. Credit Cards are a dime a dozen and so they separate themselves by giving you “rewards” for using them. These can be broken into three categories:

Point Rewards: The more money you spend on your credit card, the more “points” you get to buy stuff. These points are only redeemable through their own custom online store and often at a markup or definitely not a discount. Simply, I think this is stupid, my experience has been awful. If you’ve had a positive experience with a “point” system, I’d love to hear about it.

Mileage Rewards: The more money you spend, the more “miles” you earn. So you can essentially earn a free airline trip. This is pretty cool, but you have to watch out for “blackout dates” where there are days you can’t use your points and usually you can only select from a few airlines, but hey free miles.

Cashback Rewards: The more money you spend, the more cash you get back. Spoiler alert, this is what I prefer. Screw points and miles, when I get cash back, I use actual “cash” to buy anything I want on Amazon or buy my own plane ticket. No airline restrictions or “blackout dates”. Cash is King. Here is how I went about finding the best cashback credit card.

Let me say something about Cashback Credit Cards

Pay close attention to the amount you get back for different purchases. Some of the best cashback credit cards will give you 6% for groceries and 1% cash back for everything else. You may rightly think, damn 6% that’s awesome. Do your calculations! Here is what my finances look like with three different cashback credit cards. I used Mint.com to figure out my average spending.

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Best Cashback Credit Card - Wallet Squirrel 02

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With those numbers, I found the Citi Card Double Cashback to be the best cashback credit card for me. NerdWallet is a good resource for finding different credit card options.

How I make $25 a month with Citi Double Cash Back Credit Card

First and foremost, I never buy anything I can’t pay off at the end of the month. I have my account automatically pay off the entire balance each month, just in case I forget, but using my Mint app it keeps me aware of my remaining balance which I pay daily. I make most of my money by buying camping gear, contacts, new shoes and all those items are only considered 1% cashback from every other credit card, but 2% back with my Citi Cash Back Credit Card which is easily the best cashback credit card for me. Yes, if you don’t buy things, your savings far outway the 2% cashback, but these are for purchases I’m going to buy anyway and that I have budgeted for. It all adds up and $15.40 is just the minimum.

As you can see in my Income Reports, my credit card is my often my number one income producing passive income. This is on average around $25 a month. Most people pay interest on their credit cards, but if you’re smart, you can make your credit card company pay you. Here are the last couple months of additional income from what I consider the best cashback credit card.

Please know I am not paid to sponsor Citi Double Cash Back card, I just found it to be the best cashback credit card for my lifestyle.

In all, since I started with my new credit card in September. I have earned $176.05 in the last 7 months! I have earned money back from purchases I make every day. I don’t have to think about miles or blackout dates or if something is 6% or 3% today. Every purchase I make, I get 2% back. That is pretty unfreaking believable! It’s definitely better than when I used to pay $180 over the last 9 years just to have my old Wells Fargo credit card.

So now I use my credit card for EVERY purchase because I know I will get money back. I will continue to post my progress within my income reports and share exactly how this continues to pay up.

Question: Do you do use credit cards in a similiar way?