Tag: travel hacks

We’re Not In Kansas Anymore

Last month my girlfriends got together for brunch and pedicures.  As much as I enjoy a professional polish, it’s a budget breaker I reserve for special occasions.  In between stories of kids (theirs) and careers (mine), I thought back to the last time I had a salon pedicure:

Hawaii was at the top of my mom’s bucket list, so in celebration of her 60th birthday, I promised her we’d go.  Newly married and just starting out on our journey to becoming debt free by paying off a combined $85,000 in student loans, I didn’t want to ask my husband for family funds to pay for a girl’s trip.  So, I hit the internet in search of savings.

I learned about credit card sign-up bonuses on the BoardingArea blogs.  A sign-up bonus from the United branded Chase card was a start, but only netted a round trip flight for one of us.  So, I discovered Opinion Miles Club, and for months spent the first thirty minutes of each day taking surveys and giving my opinion in exchange for hundreds and eventually thousands of Mileage Plus miles.

Christmas 2013, I gifted my mother a wrapped pineapple and our flight confirmations.

After the holidays, I applied for the Marriott branded card, and earned enough points for four nights at the JW Marriott on Oahu.  But we had more days to fill, so I took more surveys, discovered online shopping portals and dining programs, and may or may not have joined a wine club to earn more miles for two intra-island flights between Oahu and Maui.

Short on time and out of points, I used Rocketmiles to book hotels for the rest of our trip.  With Rocketmiles, even though I was paying out of pocket for paradise, at least I was earning miles for future flights.

After more than a week of Haleakala sunrises (her), sleeping in (me) and lots of mother-daughter snorkeling, we ended my mom’s trip of a lifetime with a pedicure in the hotel spa before heading back to the Heartland.  Before our plane even touched down at the Kansas City International Airport, I was already planning my next big adventure using points and miles.

Since Hawaii, Ryan and I have continued to travel hack our way around the world.  The following year, we signed up for a Southwest branded Chase card and focused our spending, survey taking and portal shopping to earn the coveted Companion Pass.  We also strategized our way to several free flights across the pond.

Travel offers opportunities to see, taste and do things most Americans only see on TV.  It pushes your boundaries.  It leaves you amazed by the beauty of people and our planet.

Enrich your life and find yourself in travel.  You don’t have to be rich to travel, but when you travel, you are rich.

Introducing Heartland Hustle

At the end of our days, our lives will be a reflection of how we chose to spend two things:  Our time and our money.

Even the measurement of a minute and how we  use it, represents our values. When it comes to wasting time, I’ve got that down. I spend more nights a week binging on Netflix than I’d care to admit and I can count the times I’ve been to the gym this year on my hands. But I’ve also invested my time in a college education, and a job that’s brought me joy and three promotions over a decade.

How we handle our money is also a reflection of who we are. I’ve taken a “set it and forget it” approach when it comes to maximizing my retirement savings and am so close to having our student loans paid off I can taste the celebratory champagne. But there’s a never been ridden $300 bicycle just sitting in my garage, and I haven’t updated our budget once for July with less than one week left in the month. Like time, it’s important we be mindful of the balance between wasted money and spending money to make our lives fulfilling. Do we use money as a tool, or does it control us?

This website is about working toward spending less money on the immediate gratification of stuff that eventually leaves us empty and our bank accounts drained and rethinking our use of time that may be convenient in the immediate but comes at the cost of our health and leaves us broke in other ways – and instead using our money and time in ways that enhance our personal relationships, promote wellness, and provide enriching experiences and a life we’ll have been proud to live.

But first, you can’t make your dreams and goals a reality if you haven’t identified them. Start with the big picture of how you’d like to envision your story at the end of your life. Did you travel the world? Stay home with your children? Retire early and live off the grid? Continue to work, but live comfortably in a huge mansion? Leave a legacy for your family or charity?

Our priorities and goals aren’t going to be the same. But the commonality of all our dreams is that we need a plan for each of us to get there. At Heartland Hustle, we’ll talk about topics relevant to your plan and tactics to help you make it happen. Topics like creating and sticking to a budget, earning points and miles for free travel, finding frugal solutions and creative life hacks, using side hustles to make extra income, creating cheap and healthy meal plans, maximizing the money you’re already spending, and how to empower yourself to save, invest and use tax advantaged accounts.

Thanks for reading and sharing in this journey with me! If you have ideas or topics you’d like to submit for consideration or you’re interested in submitting a guest post, please let me know by visiting the Contact Me page.

Hustle (verb) hus·tle \ˈhə-səl\
Definition: To move or work in a quick and energetic way.