2million - My Journey to Financial Freedom

A Personal Finance Blog      ANNOUNCEMENT:2million has moved to www.2millionblog.com.     

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

My bad habit

I love to wager on college football games. It is my "bad" habit. I am actually not a big gambler - I am a fairly risk adverse person. However my favorite sport is college football, I am a big VA Tech fan and I have a passion for the game. Wagering on the games is kind of my way of benefiting from my passion for the game (as long as I am good at it).

I thought it might be interesting to follow the upcoming season and track my betting results. If I do well then is will serve as a record and reinforcement that you may be able to beat the system. If I lose then it will be a constant reminder to me that it is a bad financial decision to continue to fund my bad habit ;). Either way there should be some interesting things to post about - I'll try to limit betting posts to 1-2 per week during the season mainly to keep track of the financials, what I am betting on, why, and to track the results.

I usually start the season off by depositing $100 into my Bodog sportsbook account. That's it. If I loose it all the season is over. As a result I usually only bet in small amounts $5-$25 per game depending on my confidence level.

There are lots of little reasons why I do it. Games are a lot more exciting when you have something riding on them. I love to follow my team (VA Tech) and I will sometimes use a wager to moderate the risk of a game to me personally. For instance if VT is going to go play for the National Championship I will have to go, but its going to cost a lot of money. Towards the end of the season I can moderate the risk of this event breaking my financial goals by wagering on certain games leading up to this event - as a result if VT goes the winnings from those games can help fund the trip expenses.

Track Record
I always remember a winning record and quickly forget about bad wagers or losing streaks, however I do believe there have been several seasons where I came out ahead. Unfortunately I don't have the records to verify this - hopefully keeping track of this season on the blog will help me do this.

I can't wait for college football!!

Sign up for Bodog Sportbook! and use my referral number P78BAC Full Disclosure: I will receive a commission for people who join Bodog.

You too can enjoy Hilton HHonors Gold Perks!

During my last business trip I was able to take advantage of all the Hilton HHonors Gold Status benefits. I think these perks are the best around and include free happy hour, free breakfast, extra bonus points, etc. at Hilton hotels and I recevied them even though I hadn't met their requirements for earning Gold Member status. Heres how:

1) I already was a Hilton HHonors Silver Member but you could do this as well even if your not a member yet. Referral link to sign up for Free HHonors rewards program and my account number is 823780035. Full Disclosure: I will earn bonus points if you sign up for this program.

2) Follow the instructions in the Slickdeals.net forum on how to get a free upgrade to gold status Slickdeals.net thread on how to get free 3 yr upgrade to Hilton HHonors Gold Status.

Its that easy!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

My Frequent Flyer/Hotel Point Strategies

As I mentioned earlier I just got back from a extended business trip in which I enjoyed some nice perks and earned frequent flyer miles and hotel points. I thought I would break down some of my strategies when it comes to earning points and miles.

My Primary Frequent Flyer Mile Accounts and Balances as of 7/30/2005:

Airline CarrierStatusBalance

Hotel ChainStatusBalance
*Hilton HHonorsGold40,013
*Priority Club (Holiday Inn)Gold24,429

*In 2005 I dipped into my balances for some summer vacations:
100k American miles for flights to Boston and San Jose
50k Hilton points for 2 nights in boston
25k Priority Club points for 1 night in DC

I see frequent flyer miles and hotel points as another tool to keeping my costs down. They are just a part of the system and if I don't try to take advantage of them I am missing out on free travel, lodging, and other perks. As a business traveler I like them because they are another "reward" for going on a business trip; an opportunity to earn some free vacation for myself and my girlfriend that we probably would not go on without the points & miles.

My primary strategy is simple - keep the plans to a minimum and focus on earning points and miles on a few select plans. Before this last business trip my strategy was to earn American Airline miles and Hilton Honors points. Why? Simply that is where I have the most points/miles already and where I am already rewarded the most for my business. However I haven't done a great job of that - I pretty evenly split my hotel points between 2 chains (Priority Club and HHonors) and I have 3 airlines in which I have sizeable point balances (American, Delta, United).

Favorite Rewards
Hilton Hhonors is a clear favorite of mine. Being a gold member I get clearly recognizable perks when staying at Hilton branded hotels. The best perk is complimentary happy hour and breakfast buffet at Hilton hotels - a significant cost savings for me when I travel on a budget.

Referral link to sign up for Free HHonors rewards program and my account number is 823780035. Full Disclosure: I will earn bonus points if you sign up for this program.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Just got back from 4wks on the road!

Just got back from a nice little business trip that consisted of 1.5 wks in San Jose, a week in Tucson, and then a week in NY. This was my 1st and only trip of the year - in my previous job in IBM I was traveling the perfect amount; 3-4 2 week trips a year. As a single guy with girlfriend I love business trips because a) I get to see the world without paying for it out of pocket, b) I get to stay at nicer places then I would pay for and eat better food, c) I get hotel points and frequent flyer miles and d) I get to significantly cut down on discretionary expenses while I am gone.

I really love traveling now. When I reach my financial goal I suspect that I will spend a lot more time traveling to many corners of the world - I enjoying experiencing different cultures and foods! Business trips to new places really afford me the luxury of getting a jump on my travels without incurring the expenses.

I also love the perks with frequent flyer miles and hotel points. I am thrifty and these perks allow me to take vacations without the brunt of the associated expenses such as airfare and hotels. This summer my girlfriend and I took a weekend trip to Boston on miles and hotel points,as well as I flew my girlfriend out to San Jose for the weekend while I was there. I'll have to break down my strategies with points and miles in a separate post.

Probably the best business trip perk is the reduction in discretionary expenses during the trip. The company pays for transportation, food and lodging. So while I am on the trip (as long as i don't exceed limits I have no gas expenses, no grocery expenses, and no dining/dating expenses. A 2 week trip probably saves me $100-$200. I often think if I were to do things differently I would opt for a job out of school that required more travel - I think this could add up to significant savings. However I do see a risk - the more you travel the more you get used to eating steaks and such so you do run the risk of bumping up your lifestyle expenses when you are not traveling. Guess there is a downside!

Welcome to 2million!

This is my 1st post. I am starting this blog to track my thoughts, musings, and progress as I focus on my primary goal: A net worth of 2 million dollars + my primary residence. What I mean is my goal is a net worth of 2 million dollars plus the value of my primary residence (so if my home is worth $500k then my goal is a net worth of $2.5 million). I think it is important to distinguish because having the home paid off if not part of the goal. I will further break down this goal in future posts.