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How I Earned Two Free Hotel Nights Up to 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points In One Week

Leveraging travel rewards can be a lot of fun, if done the right way. I switched from Hilton to Marriott this last year for hotel stays when I travel. I had heard a lot about Marriott having much better rewards. So far, I agree the rewards they have are pretty awesome.

I was checking the Marriott app the other day to notice that I was about to have a free 40,000 night expire! I couldn’t believe I was about to lose out on free money! With that in mind I started thinking of a cool place to go for a short getaway. Work has been stressful the last month or two as we are gearing up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

How I earned the free night certificate?

There is something very slick Marriott has started doing. Marriott has a part of the app where they put there promotions. They don’t always advertise the promotions themselves. This particular one I don’t blame them. One day when I was looking on the app, I noticed a promotion for stay 2 nights for one free night up to 40,000 points! Not only was this promotion out there, but you could earn up to two free nights! With how much I travel for work, this would take me one week to earn both free nights. The next week, I booked two different two night stays…and boom,o 40,000 points.

What to be careful of!

Here is something to be very careful of! It sounds so simple, but still something worth noting.

Don’t forget about your certificates! I waited till the last minute to book this hotel room. The certificate expired on 10/14/19 and I booked the room on 10/13/19…not much room there. To be honest, I forgot that I even had the certificate and was luckily looking through the app and saw it! Don’t forget about any of the rewards you have and make sure you use them! That is $225 in free money that could have been gone forever.

What the expiration dates mean?

Here is another thing I learned from the process. If the expiration date says 10/14/19 that means you have to use it by 10/13/19. I also learned this the hard way. I called Marriott last night because I had a second night to use and I was planning to book another hotel room last night. When I opened the app it showed the certificate expired.

I called Marriott and let them know that I thought the expiration date meant by the certificate must be used by that day at 11:59 pm. That was not the case. I asked if there was anything they could do for me.

The lady I spoke to told me she would try to re-issue the certificate. Luckily she was able to do this! Not only was she able to re-issue the ticket, but she also put the new expiration date a year from now! Double win!

Key Takeaways:

  • Don’t forget to look at the Promotions section of the app for your rewards programs
  • Don’t forget your certificates do have expiration dates!
  • Take time to get away and relax. You deserve it.
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Why One Income Stream Is Not The Answer – Think In Terms Of Creating Horizontal Income Streams

This week’s money myth focuses around a common myth around making money.

I used to believe having one source of income that continued to grow was the most important thing. For that reason, I focused on crushing it at work and increasing my W2 income. What I completely missed to realize was the fact that exchanging my time for money was the main problem.

Having a strong W2 is great while you are early in your investing career, but having many income streams is even more important. Look at some of the most well followed financially independent influencers are will see more than one source of income.

If you have all your eggs in one basket, what happens when that basket is gone? What happens during a recession or if your company is trying to cut costs?

I wish I would have read about creating more than one income stream earlier on in life. Now that I know what I know, my main focus is around creating more than one income stream that produces monthly cash flow.

What Is A Horizontal Income Stream?

A horizontal income stream is something that produces cash flow for you. Your W2 job is a horizontal income stream. If you invest in index funds, the dividends they produce is a horizontal income stream. Anything putting money into your pocket on a monthly basis is a horizontal income stream. To be clear though, this does not mean diversification. By all means, you can diversify your horizontal income streams, but that is not the point of this post.

Why Are Horizontal Income Streams Important?

Horizontal income streams are important because they focus on one thing: make sure your money is working for you as hard as you work for it. That is right, ever took a second to think about this?

Is your money working as hard for you as you are working for it? For most, I would argue probably not. I know I still have some money currently sitting in cash that I would love to have working harder for me. I do have it in a high yield savings account, but that is only earning me 2% interest.

There is nothing wrong with having one major income stream. If you like index funds, and that is all you know, by all means knock yourself out. From my perspective, I want to create more than one income stream.

My Current Horizontal Income Streams

I am continuing to work harder to create more income streams. At this point, I would say that I have 7 different income streams:

  1. W2 – my current job where I make the majority of my monthly income
  2. Full Home Airbnb – First full investment property that is not a house hack! I am excited to continue to see how this home performs as I get a few months further in and come out of the slow months of the year.
  3. House Hacking Room #1 – first bedroom in my current house that I rent to a long term tenant
  4. House Hacking Room #2 – second bedroom in my current house
  5. House Hacking Room #3 – third bedroom I created in my home that I rent out. Checkout this post to see more details on how I identified this opportunity!
  6. Dividends from my index funds and companies I invest in. I am currently invested in VTSAX, VTI, Starbucks, and Walmart
  7. High Yield Savings Account – as mentioned before, I earn 2% in a High Yield Savings Account with Wealthfront.

What Are My End Goals

My end goal will be to continue finding opportunities to add more horizontal income streams. The more the merrier if they are cash flow positive.

I will continue down the path of purchasing real estate, house hacking, and indexing. There are plenty of opportunities out there even with the current state of the market. I pulled most of my money out of the market due to the volatility. I am continuing to invest $1,200 every week into the market in low cost index funds. This will help my Dollar Cost Average back into the market while I have liquid capital for some real estate investments.

Key Takeaways:

  • Take a step back and determine how many horizontal income streams you currently have.
  • One income source is not the best idea. Try to always have more than one income stream where money can flow to you.
  • Buy assets, things putting money into your pocket, not liabilities.
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Why Is The Tax Code Some Complicated? It’s 10.1 Million Words

If you were to ask me how many words I thought the tax code was, I would have guessed 60-70,000. Not 10.1 million!

Ever wonder why understanding the tax code is so difficult? This might be the reason why.

10.1 million words in today’s tax code. That is mind boggling to even think about. People wonder why there are loopholes and things the rich do with their money to pay minimal if no taxes.

Getting a good tax professional is important once you reach certain a certain point. If you are pretty straightforward I don’t think there is reason to pay someone to do your taxes.

What Defines Straightforward?

To me, straightforward is well, just that. Below is what I would consider to be someone who shouldn’t pay for their taxes to be done:

  1. You don’t have any taxable accounts you invest in regularly. These include IRA’s, 401k, taxable accounts, HSA, etc.
  2. You don’t have any investments producing cashflow for you.
  3. Your sole source of income is your W2

When Would I Get a Tax Professional?

Below outlines when I would recommend getting a tax professional:

  1. You have more than one income stream
  2. You own real estate producing cash flow
  3. You own a business producing income

My Current Situation

This will be the first year I have my taxes done by someone who knows what they are doing. I closed on my second investment property, have multiple income streams and I have maxed out my tax advantaged accounts. With those steps, it is going to be even more important to find someone who knows what they are doing.

There is one additional thing I am planning to do next week. Come tax time, people get excited when the receive a large tax return. What they don’t realize is this is not a good thing. The goal at the end of the year should be to receive as close to 0 back as possible. If you are receiving a large chunk of change on your tax return, that means you left money on the table you could have invested.

Think about it. If you receive $1,500 back in taxes at the end of the year, that money invested could be worth $1,600. All about perspective.

Key Takeaways:

  1. The tax code is complicated. Don’t waste your time reading it.
  2. Understand if your current situation warrants paying someone to do your taxes.
  3. Receiving a large tax return is not a good thing.