The Monthly Target

calendarHopefully you know what your financial goals are. After all, this is a personal finance blog. And, just as a reminder, “I want a shit-ton of money” doesn’t count as a goal.

If you haven’t set yourself any personal finance goals, you should.  It is really motivating to be working towards a specific financial future.

Just remember goals should be measurable.  For instance, Mrs. Dragon and I want $600,000 and a paid off house by February 2025.

That sounds like a lot of money.  Actually, it IS a lot of money. After you calculate how much money you think you will need, it can be pretty daunting trying to get there.  I mean, $600,000!?! After looking at our current net worth, that seems a pretty far ways off. If you’re new to the personal finance game, it can seem downright undoable.

Luckily, dear reader, there’s a different way to frame this number:

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The Travel Hacking Experiment: Part II

Snowy treeI’m now two months into the Travel Hacking Experiment. For those that don’t know, travel hacking is the art of signing up for a bunch of credit cards to get the lucrative sign-up bonuses, and then using those rewards to travel for free/cheap.  You can read my beginner thoughts on the subject here.  My goals when I started looking for cards to sign up for were:

1.) Earn AAdvantage points (or points from any airline in the OneWorld alliance).

2.) Earn Hilton HHonors points.

You might recall, from Travel Hacking: Part I, that I applied for five new credit cards back in March, and was approved for four of them (turns out Citibank doesn’t like to issue multiple new cards at the same time). Here’s a recap of the cards, the sign-up bonuses, and the minimum spending requirements to get the bonuses:

  • Citi AAdvantage Visa – Sign up bonus of 50,000 AAdvantage points after spending $3000 in the first 3 months.
  • American Express HHonors Card – Sign up bonus of 50,000 HHonors points after spending $750 in the first 3 months.
  • US Airways Premier World Mastercard – Sign up bonus of 50,000 Dividend Miles after your first purchase and paying the $89 yearly fee.
  • British Airways Visa – Sign up bonus of 50,000 Avios points after spending $2000 in the first 3 months.

Typically Mrs. Dragon and I don’t spend $5750 in non-mortgage expenses in three months. So the plan was to use manufactured spending to hit those spending levels. However, it turns out that the timing of this experiment couldn’t have been better.  Since we bought our house our spending level has been higher than normal, which has made meeting the minimum spending requirements a lot easier.

As of this writing, I’ve hit the requirements for the bonuses on the first three cards, leaving only the British Airways Visa to go, all without doing any manufactured spending. The 50,000 HHonors points and the 50,000 Dividend Miles have already posted to my accounts. Not only that, but because of the American Airlines/US Airways merger this quarter, those Dividend Miles are already converted to AAdvantage miles.  Sweet!

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The Hoard: May 2015

The Dragon's Hoard

Every good dragon has a hoard.  You know.  The collection of gold, jewels, and other valuables that the dragon guards in his or her cave.  For me, The Hoard is what I call my assets.  The collection of stocks, bonds, and other income producing assets that Mrs. Dragon and I have collected thus far.

Mythological fire breathers have to protect their hoard from knights seeking glory, wizards wanting power, etc.  Real-world FIRE breathers have more mundane, but very real dangers to their own hoards: the tax man, the cable company, lifestyle inflation, high-fee brokers, and many more.

This is one post in a series that documents my progress towards financial independence.

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Expenses: April 2015

ExpensesExpense report!  Since I’m a total voyeur for finance, these types of details are exactly the kind that I love to read on other people’s blogs.

Don’t get me wrong though, these numbers are primarily written for me and Mrs. Dragon.  Every good FIRE breather knows that to be successful, you have to track your expenses.

You have to track them like Homer tracks donuts. Mmmmmm…. donuts. How else will you know when your Hoard is big enough for you to retire?

Without further ado, here are the numbers for April (rounded to the nearest dollar):

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