Down $4,000 & getting back to nomadic life – October 2021 Freedom update

October 2021 Freedom update

I’m writing this on my last day in upstate New York, between bouts of packing. I have been here for 76 days.

In that time, I’ve saved a few checks, completed my savings goal, and looked into buying a couple of properties (but haven’t pulled any triggers quite yet).

I’m sad to leave and excited to be back on the road at the same time. Next up is two nights in downstate New York, four days in Delaware, picking up my friend at Dulles and staying a night in Roanoke, then Nashville for a night, Memphis for two weeks, and Oklahoma City for two weeks. Looks like I’m hopping right back to nomad life!

October 2021 Freedom Update

I loved spending time in Vermont

I was also able to spend two glorious days in Vermont last week. I would’ve stayed longer, but it proved to be an expensive destination.

Depending on what happens this month, I’ll either be buying a house somewhere or continuing my nomad journey. (Or both?) Either way, I’m letting the destinations guide me instead of trying to choose places. I’m following prices to places where my dollars go further.

Oh and of course September was a bad month for my Freedom update – down $4,000. Still hoping I can hit $250K in Q4!

October 2021 Freedom update

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Up $13K and near the halfway point – September 2021 Freedom update

September 2021 Freedom update

Hi again from Upstate New York! I’ll be here a couple more weeks, then drive to Vermont and Delaware – then home to Memphis. From there, I’ll regroup and maybe do one more big loop around the Southwest this winter.

And then?

Well, you know I don’t plan that far out – but I’ve been looking at houses in Memphis and will hopefully snag one soon.

This Freedom update finds me with my highest-ever net worth, up over $13,000 since last month, and nearly halfway to my $500,000 goal.

September 2021 Freedom update

The Catskills have been good to me

When I leave here, it will have been two months in Upstate New York. By staying at a friend’s house, I’ve been able to save all my extra cash, complete my savings goal, and put the excess into my taxable brokerage account. My only expenses have been groceries and eating out, with the occasional splurge.

Professionally, it’s been great too. I started writing for NextAdvisor on Time.com and have built up a cadre of articles on Business Insider. I’ve also been killing it at my regular 9 to 5, and posted on social media every day in August 2021 as part of my trashy mystery witch school (which I’ve been doing for one year now).

You can follow me on Instagram for thoughts about divine masculinity, sexual awakening, daddy issues, travel and travel memories, investing, and random slice-of-life stuff. 🍉

Now for the money! 🤑

September 2021 Freedom update

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Booked for April 2022: Business class flights to Japan on JAL worth $19,000!

japan airline business class seat

Late on a Saturday night, I ran award searches on the American Airlines site, as one does. Tokyo is one of my favorite places on this planet, and I found business class flights on JAL for only 60,000 miles each way – and dates were (are!) wide open in April 2022.

So, I took “AAdvantage” of Citi’s limited-time partnership with American and transferred Citi ThankYou points to American miles – to book two nonstop round-trip flights in the middle of cherry blossom season.

japan airline business class seat

Here’s hoping this works!

I haven’t flown – anywhere – since March 2020, and this will likely be my next international trip. Japan isn’t open for travel now, but who knows where the world will be in eight months. American’s cancelation policy is flexible, so there’s nothing to lose.

The best part? I’m (hopefully) going for an entire month. And these flights would’ve cost nearly $19,000 had I paid cash!

Japan 2022 in JAL business class

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Nearly $200 invested, up $7K, with sights on the future – August 2021 Freedom update

August 2021 Freedom Update

This August 2021 Freedom update finds your protagonist in beautiful Oak Hill, NY – upstate in the Catskill Mountains. It’s certainly welcome after July 2021, which was a doozy of a month. I went from West Virginia to Pittsburgh to Philadelphia to upstate New York.

Not gonna lie, in Philly I started to get travel fatigue. I found the city overwhelming. Plus, it was really hot while I was there. Here are reviews of recent stays at the Kimpton Palomar and Hyatt Bellevue in Philadelphia. And here’s my West Virginia trip report.

But now I’m staying at a friend’s house for a month or so, which will help me save cash. In fact, I’ll meet my $30,000 savings goal this month, then switch to investing all my extra income (and soooo excited about that).

After all the short stays last month, I’m firmly a believer in staying put for at least three weeks. After a month, I start to feel froggy, but two weeks is too short, so I think that’s the sweet spot for me.

August 2021 Freedom Update

Fenwick is having the time of his dog-life

OK I have a lot of ideas to share so let’s hop to it.

August 2021 Freedom update

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Hyatt Bellevue Philadelphia review: A repeat stay 5 years later – this time as a Globalist

Hyatt Bellevue Philadelphia review

Last time I was at the Hyatt Bellevue Philadelphia was in May 2016. The visit was my last trip before I left New York for Dallas in June 2016.

I was with my ex at the time. We were already drifting apart, but for this trip, we put that aside – and had a really great time. Philadelphia is a huge, historic city with tons to do, and being back was unexpectedly bittersweet.

After my two nights at the Kimpton Palomar, I drove over to the Bellevue ready to fully immerse myself as a newly minted Hyatt Globalist.

Hyatt Bellevue Philadelphia review

Entrance of the Hyatt Bellevue Philadelphia (lol @ my reflection)

As a digital nomad, I mostly stay at Hyatt Place locations within the Hyatt brand because they’re the cheapest for long-term stays. So I was ready to see what Globalist status would get me a fancy hotel like the Hyatt Bellevue.

Hyatt Bellevue Philadelphia review

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Kimpton Palomar Philadelphia review: My first (free!) Kimpton hotel stay was a $500 value

Kimpton Palomar Philadelphia hotel review

Before this week, I’d never stayed at a Kimpton hotel. I realized I had two IHG free award nights (thanks to my Chase IHG card) that were expiring soon. So I combined them with my four Hyatt award night certificates and put together a fun week in Philadelphia!

I’ve always heard good things about Kimpton and how much it sucked when IHG bought them out. As luck would have it, there was an IHG hotel and a Hyatt hotel within a few blocks of each other.

The Chase free nights are good for hotels up to 40,000 points per night, and the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia was exactly 40,000 points. Cash rates were ~$250 per night, so my two award nights got me a $500 stay for completely free.

Kimpton Palomar Philadelphia review

Kimpton Palomar Philadelphia hotel entrance on 17th Street

I was stoked to have the Kimpton experience for the first time.

Kimpton is a fun, social brand that features funky artwork and decorations, and fit in with local city and neighborhood vibes. In this case, there was a lot of Benjamin Franklin imagery in a nod to Philadelphia’s presidential history. Note that Kimpton hotels are mostly in larger cities.

I hadn’t been to Philly since May 2016. It was good to get back for a visit and enjoy a new hotel brand.

Kimpton Palomar Philadelphia review

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New River Gorge trip report: Almost heaven in wild and wonderful West Virginia

new river gorge trip report

Wow. Go now. It’s amazing. That’s my New River Gorge trip report – thanks for reading!

Oh wait – I need to be specific and add photos and say what I did and stuff? Well OK – but only if you need any more convincing. 😉

This was my first time in West Virginia, and I spent 9 days in Fayetteville, on the northern tip of New River Gorge National Park. Inaugurated in December 2020, it’s our newest national park that stretches 53 miles and 70,000 acres along the banks of the New River in southern West Virginia.

The state’s slogan is “Wild and wonderful” and their marketing tagline is #AlmostHeaven.

new river gorge trip report

One of the many wild and wonderful views in New River Gorge National Park

This section of the state lives up to both. And while the park is new, I definitely felt the crunch of tourism in the area. I assume new infrastructure will eventually get built to accommodate the flood of visitors, though the locals were hospitable and welcoming without fail.

And while I experienced crowds, if you go to the right areas at the right times, you can get entire miles of trail all to yourself. The three areas of the park I explored were Fayetteville Station, Thurmond, and Grandview – mostly on the west side.

Here’s more about each section!

New River Gorge trip report

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FoundersCard Members: Enroll for a Marriott Platinum status challenge (15 nights in 3 months)

FoundersCard Marriott status challenge

Wanted to be sure I wasn’t gonna get Bonvoyed before I posted this, but can now confirm it works exactly as advertised.

For $395, you can join FoundersCard (Out and Out readers get a $200 discount on the usual $595 rate, and the $95 initiation fee is waived too) and get access to a long list of travel, business, lifestyle, and hotel benefits. A few of them, like Caesars Diamond status, AT&T discounts, Hilton Gold status, discounts on United flights, and many more can easily make membership worthwhile.

You can also take advantage of an exclusive Marriott Platinum status challenge. When you have 15 paid nights within 3 months, you’ll earn Marriott Platinum status for a year, which is a huge step up from Gold. When I stayed in Asheville last month, I took advantage of this offer.

And the next day when my points posted, I saw I was a shiny new Marriott Platinum elite member.

founderscard marriott status challenge

This was right outside the SpringHill Suites in Asheville

Here’s more about how I booked and further maximized my stay using this status challenge.

FoundersCard Marriott status challenge

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A shift to investing, travel while traveling, & up $8K – July 2021 Freedom update

July 2021 Freedom update

Hi from wild and wonderful West Virginia! I’m stationed right outside New River Gorge National Parkour newest one. The Mountain State surely lives up to its name. I’ll spend the weekend hiking in the park and exploring the little towns up and down the 53-mile stretch of river the park occupies.

After this, it’s Pittsburgh for a week, Philadelphia for a week, and finishing the month in upstate New York in the Catskill Mountains.

July 2021 Freedom update

I’ve been hiking every chance I get – this was on the North Carolina side of the Smokies last weekend at Hemphill Bald

In the background, I’ve stuck to my investment strategy and have been stashing away everything I can to build up savings. I’ve almost reached my savings goal and will shift into throwing every spare cent into my taxable brokerage account – something I’ve been looking forward to for a while.

Before that happens, I have a couple of expensive hotel stays to pay for. Asheville and Fayetteville (where I am now) were expensive tbh. That’s part of the danger with choosing the place instead of chasing the cheap deals, but I wanted to see them both.

After upstate New York, I’ll be more open to following cheap prices. And I’ll be able to complete my savings goal in the next month and switch to investing mode.

Despite everything, I’m still up almost $8,000 this month over last – and at 42% of my $500,000 goal. Let’s get into it.

July 2021 Freedom update

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6 ways I’d personally use 100,000 Chase points

use 100000 chase points

I’m bananas over the new offer to earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. (Here’s my recent post on this incredible offer with even more ways to redeem Chase points.)

Which got me thinking – how would I use 100,000 Chase points?

use 100000 chase points

I mean, I could always go back to Mexico

I love thought experiments like these. So while you might use them differently – there are so many ways and everyone has a different travel style – here’s what I’d get up to at this moment in time. We like the points!

How I’d use 100,000 Chase points

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Hiking day pack essentials: What I bring on every hike

If you follow me on Instagram, you might think it’s turned into a #hiking account. That wouldn’t be far off the mark! 🥾

Now that I’m a nomad, I’ve reconnected to traveling and being outside in a way that feels really good. That includes exploring new trails every chance I get.

So far, I’ve done hikes from 2 to 9 miles in a day, which seems to my range as of right now. Eventually, I’d like to build back my strength to do longer day hikes.

Every time I hit the trail, there are a few items I always carry with me – nothing more, nothing less.

Hiking day pack essentials

This little hiking day pack has served me extremely well, and it’s nothing fancy

On shorter, well-trafficked trails, you don’t need much. The outdoor stores lead you to think you need tons of gear, but you really don’t.

Here’s what I take on my hikes.

Hiking day pack essentials

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The best card for beginners has a sign-up bonus worth $1,250 – and easily MUCH more

Chase Sapphire Preferred 100K

If you haven’t had the Chase Sapphire Preferred yet – or if you’re eligible to get it again – the new sign-up bonus of 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points is worth – at a minimum$1,250.

And how are we getting to that figure? Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents each when you redeem them toward travel through Chase, so 100,000 x 1.25 = $1,250. You can book flights, hotel stays, even cruises through the Chase Ultimate Rewards site. Set your payment to points and 100,000 of them are worth $1,250. 💥

Chase Sapphire Preferred 100K

Who’s ready to travel again with 100,000 Chase points?

That’s an amazing sign-up bonus on its own. And can be worth soooo much more when you transfer your points to Chase’s travel partners, which include Southwest, United, and Air France/KLM.

But the best transfer partner? Wait, lemme start a new section for all that. 😛

Chase Sapphire Preferred 100K bonus

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