Out and Out’s Best Posts of 2015

Wow. Out and Out made huge strides in 2015. A lot happened – and even more will happen in 2016.

Blog traffic tripled this year. In fact December 2015 is the biggest month ever for the blog (and it’s not over yet!). I’m thinking of how to improve things around here even more, and celebrating every step of the way because I couldn’t grow without your support.



You guys are awesome. I love my readers!

I’ve ironed out many ideas on here and found solid resolutions thanks to tons of community-focused comments. And meeting new peeps at the regular Reach for the Miles meetup has been fantastic.

I hope to continue the momentum and keep improving.

But first, I want to take a moment to pause and look back at where we’ve been this year.

Best of 2015

Here are some of my favorite posts from this year.

Goal-setting is a powerful tool.

The beginning of the year is an ideal time to take the best from the past year and look forward to the future.

I already have a list of goals for 2016, and I’ll continue to refine them over the course of the year.

SMART goal criteria

SMART goal criteria

Keep setting goals, and make sure they’re “smart.” It works.

MS is basically dead in NYC, but there was one place left to chisel, which continues to this day: PayPal My Cash cards. Be careful with PayPal.

And remember you can earn 1% cashback on your rent and other debit card purchases with the PayPal Business Debit MasterCard – no My Cash cards necessary (although you can certainly add that to the mix).

I have a follow-up post planned that echoes the sentiments expressed here. I also started a tag called “My Best Advice” where I offer just that.

So much about enjoying a good life and being happy is about having the right mindset. So hopefully these posts are helpful, positive reminders of what travel can and is supposed to be – all the points and miles stuff is gravy. And this earth, this planet – is amazing.

Being scrappy is a wonderful quality that unlocks new experiences. It’s incredible what happens when you open yourself to a new idea.

Stay Scrappy

Stay Scrappy

Don’t get stuck. The point is to always be a little uncomfortable. It’s good for ya! 🙂

This is the best, most effective way to start and build your savings. I’ve known people who have done this, and people who haven’t. Guess who has more saved?

In particular, I applied my own advice and maxed out my Roth IRA for the first time in 2015, which was a great milestone. I promise you, this works!

I really got into services like Paribus and Ibotta this year. In addition to saving money by holding on to it, I also like to save money by getting discounts and cashback on things I need to buy anyway.


By now, it’s an oldie but goodie

Paribus is a must if you shop frequently on Amazon. I talked about it a lot, but it wasn’t lip service. Combined with IbottaCiti Price Rewind, and shopping portals like Giving Assistant, I saved hundreds of dollars this year. Sure, it’s an added step here and there, but it was all worth it!

I must have the best readers in world. And this post came right at the halfway point of the year. In it, I detailed my goals for the following 6 months were:

  • Building up this blog
  • Doing more freelance writing
  • Slowly making an NYC exit plan
  • Paying down my debt and saving up for a house simultaneously

On this day in late December, I can say I’ve done all those things. My article on Buzzfeed was successful, and I had a guest post on AirHelp. I hope that’s only the beginning!

I’ll also be out of NYC this spring, and looking forward to investment property #2!

I introduced my plan for FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early). It’s a long road, but the first steps provided me with a great foundation.

This is FIRE, too :p


There will always be more to do with this topic. The key is to know when enough is enough, and not overdo it.

My credit card debt was an out-of-control flaming emergency. And now it’s gone. Next up is to tackle my student loan debt.

Here are all my posts about FIRE.

Hilton came onto my radar in a big way with a couple of great credit card offers, then they matched me to Hilton Diamond Status.

I’ll be at my first Hilton as a Diamond guest in a couple of weeks and am looking forward to seeing how it all goes. And who knows, maybe this is the beginning of something new.

I do think Hilton Category 2 hotels can be/are a great way to save a lot of money.

It’s true. I shared a 23-year-old letter from my grandmother and discussed my beginnings with the Law of Attraction and positive thinking. It’s a sentimental post, but also one of my personal favorites from this past year or any time.

An extremely popular post that got a lot of dialogue started about which is the best checking account for the frequent traveler.


Aspiration Summit is a new checking account that goes head-to-head with Charles Schwab and Fidelity

Well, the Aspiration Summit account certainly has the best interest rate. My companion post about how to get started with the account was also popular.

I’ve had an account for a few months by now and love it. Better yet, Out and Out readers get to skip the line and have instant access if they want one, too (it’s totally free to open!).

My clutter-free desktop

My clutter-free desktop

I got overwhelmed with everything electronic and decide to overhaul the way I work. It’s been nearly a month, and these 5 apps revolutionized my workflow and time management. Highly recommend all of them!

As an addendum to the previous post, I followed up with a few more words about productivity. Todoist and Evernote are probably my top apps now. I’m talking all-day, constant use, can’t-live-without. And both are excellent complements to goal-setting and travel. 🙂

Bottom line

It’s with tremendous gratitude that I say thank you for reading this year.

Lots of good stuff is in the pipeline – just need to find the time to type it all up in a readable format!

I hope the posts have been good resources, and given you some ideas about how to work more productively, travel more and with increased confidence, or simply gave you a moment of peace and made you smile at some point in 2015.

Here’s to all of that and more in 2015. Thank you thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Happy New Year!

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Memphis, traveling, and working toward financial independence.

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