Author Archives: RLP

Tricking Tax Year 2015

That title just sounds a lot slicker than “Unusual Retirement Account Funding Techniques.

Last year in April I wrote Debt Free, my ode to faithfully filling up my Vanguard Traditional IRA to its $5,500 brim. At that time I was about $2,500 short of maxing out my IRA. My solution was to fund my Target REDcard (since discontinued by American Express) by charging the $2.5k to my Capital One VentureOne card, withdrawing the balance from REDcard to my checking account, and finally transferring the funds to my IRA account.

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A New Website

Once an idea finds coupling with an interest, it is at that time new and meaningful things begin to happen. My passion for travel planning is now a full-blown hobby. Simply pulling up Google Maps provides an endless source of destinations, each of which of course has a name, but perhaps also an interesting story. Placing myself into that story is one of the most culturally respectful rites and socially entertaining sensations I can experience. Full immersion. I am now living in another world, others’ world.

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Restlessness. It is what I am these days. These days? What kind of a dimension is that? Call it the last 3 or 4 months. Remember the attainment of routine that I so proudly held aloft, just a year ago? That feeling has been replaced, or at least heavily modified. I got tired of it, I just outgrew the freshness of an exciting, but rote track walked daily. This makes me sad, somewhat. Disappointment in myself sometimes creeps into my mind, and I usually push it aside with the thought of time being a cure.

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Booked a flight to Miami (MIA) from LaGuardia airport (LGA) for a visit next month in late June.

LaGuardia (LGA) → Miami (MIA) → Newark (EWR)

A rough outline of the costs involved:

  • 15,000 Avios miles redeemed:
    • 7,500 LGA-MIA ($168.10 equivalent fare ) – $0
    • 7,500 MIA-EWR ($168.10 equivalent fare) – $0
  • 1 night in Hilton Bentley South Beach ($402.10 equivalent rate) – $0
  • 3 nights via Airbnb in the Wynwood Arts District ($325.00 total equivalent rate) – $153.97
  • Transportation:
    • Public Transportation – $0
    • Uber × 3 – $0

The itinerary has been a joy to assemble!

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Seven Steps

Internet explorations can take a person to such strange lands. Finding a place to stay for a night in Cincinnati and then a second night in Washington took me over to Couchsurfing. After a quick search in the DC area it turns out that there are quite a few hosts. One in particular, Jordan K, really stood out with his 268 references. Reading through his profile it is apparent that Jordan isn’t a guy just offering up his couch. “There is a lot to see so be prepared to walk until your feet fall off!!!” is how he ends his couch description. By linking directly from his profile to “How to Be a Good Guest” on CouchWiki, it appears Jordan fully endorses the cultural sharing aspect of Couchsurfing.

What a cool guy!

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Debt Free!

Milestone attained. I’m debt free!

No longer have I the big scary education loan or distasteful car note. Nope. All paid off as of January 2015, and on schedule too!

Instead I’ve recently taken out a $2,500 ‘loan’ from Capital One. Not wanting to miss out on contributing to my Traditional IRA for tax year 2014, I took my VentureOne credit card over to Target and loaded funds onto a Target REDcard. Once loaded, the funds were withdrawn to supplement my linked bank account. From there it was simple to transfer the full $5,500 to my Vanguard retirement account. That account holds just 1 fund, VTSMX Investor Shares with a lowly 0.17% expense ratio.

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Manufactured Spending

It’s called “manufactured spending,” and I am not on the cutting edge of this hobby. Unlike with computer hardware, for me manufactured spending (MS) is a strange, new and exciting unexplored world, people have been pursuing this hobby for at least 2 decades. Consider the following scenario:  You apply for a credit card with a lucrative sign-up bonus. The bonus, however, is awarded only after spending a certain amount of money—usually a lot—within a given time frame. How to spend so much? Enter the hobby of creating the appearance that money is being spent, when actually it is not. Briefly, this is one out of many methods to do so:

  1. With a new credit card holding a lucrative bonus behind a big spending barrier, meet this threshold by buying Vanilla Reload gift cards (VGC) at a CVS, Duane Reade, or Walgreens pharmacy store
  2. Unload these gift cards into an American Express Bluebird account from a Wal-Mart Money Center kiosk
  3. Transfer the funds electronically from Bluebird to your bank account
  4. Pay off the credit card balance from your bank account as per usual

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Left Bank Shooting

Sunday was a blast! A friend and I met up and walked from Newport to Hoboken. The sun was shining with only a slightly-too-chilly wind. Because the day was so gorgeous, so full of opportunity, he had asked if I wanted to accompany him on the day trip. Of course! Despite a late and somewhat upsettingly emotional night out drinking in the West Village, I figured a walk outdoors in good company would set me right. Good choice.

We’re shooting with a Leica.


Hoboken Street Corner

Toward the latter half of the day, we met up with 2 others and headed over to an incredibly picturesque abandoned building in Jersey City. With the setting sun, the light was just right.

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Good Conversations

They’re few and far between, but when we have one it never really leaves. The glow fades slowly, revisited often in smiled memory.

This days marks the 1st of January. In two weeks I will be staying in coastal Connecticut for a weekend. On the trip there (and/or back) I will visit a total of 10 Family Dollars in order to deposit to my AMEX Serve account ten (10) One Vanilla gift cards, zeroing out their $500 balance in each transaction. This represents the second half of an AMEX Business Gold $10,000 spending requirement, and moves the process along nearer to the 75,000 Membership Rewards points goal.

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