Using Ebates for More Cash Back

I started using Ebates in February 2017, when I really started putting lots of money into renovating my house. Ebates is a website and browser extension (I have it installed as a Chrome extension). When you go to a website, it’ll pop up if you can buy things and get cash back. You simply click “Activate X% Cash Back”, and you earn money in your Ebates account. The amount of cash back per store varies. After you earn $25, they direct deposit your money to your Paypal, or send you a “Big Fat Check”.

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Vanity Drains Replaced with Pop Up Drains

I replaced 2 drains on my master vanity with pop up drains. The vanity I installed does not have the lever to pull up and down the stopper in the drain, so this style is a functional way to have working stoppers. Previously, I had normal drains, and I could not put the stopper down. They were attempted to be pushed down by a few guests, and eventually broke, so I decided to finally replace them!

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Matching Your Net Worth with Your Lifetime Earnings

A cool metric to track your net worth is against your lifetime earnings, of which you can pull from your social security income. I first heard of this from Retire By 40, which he calls your Lifetime Wealth Ratio. Basically, it’s a way to how well you are investing, or if you’re overspending. I decided to run mine and see!

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Cost of a Dog, Itemized

My fiancé, Elizabeth, and I adopted a black lab mix puppy from the Lee County Humane Society in Auburn, AL in April 2017. His name is Bentley, and he’s a wonderful dog! He weighs about 65 pounds, and stays with me while I work from home. I wanted to know exactly how much he was costing us, so here’s the expenses for our dog broken down. This post is also an excuse to publish tons of dog pictures.

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Citrus Paint Colors

This is a post for my own knowledge, to keep track of what colors I’ve painted what rooms in my house on Citrus.

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Optimize Everything

I’m a big believer in optimization and automation. One thing I like to optimize is my time. Here are 3 examples of how I do that.

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Calculating My Savings Rate

Savings rate is always talked about in the Financial Independence / Early Retirement (FI/RE) space. It’s been written about time and time again, and everyone has a different thought on it. I had never sat down and calculated mine, so here goes.

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Fiat 500 Steering Column Fix

My fiancé has a 2013 Fiat 500, which has been a great little car. Great gas mileage, easy to drive, hardly any issues in almost 60,000 miles! The window regulator broke on the passenger side, which was fixed at the dealer for $300, just out of warranty. The steering wheel column cover also broke, and the dealer wanted $600 to fix that, so I decided to see what I could do.

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Pool Enclosure Replacement

I had a pool enclosure on my house, it was likely built along with the pool in the 80s or 90s. These enclosures are common to have over Florida pools to keep leaves and bugs out. Some people call them screen, cages, bird cages, enclosures, etc. I had a few screen panels blown out in 2016 during Hurricane Matthew, and the guy who replaced them said I’d be lucky if my enclosure lasted 5 more years. It lasted 1.

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$500 Weekend Bathroom Remodel

I completed a quick bathroom remodel the weekend on the guest bathroom with the help of my fiancés mom, (Cindy) and one of my roommates (Alex). I kept the existing vanity and shower, but gave everything a nice touchup. The changes included new paint on the walls and vanity cabinets, new towel and toilet paper holders, new mirror, new vanity light, new baseboards, and a new curved shower rod curtain. Both the shower rod curtain and vanity light are the same model as in the master bathroom we remodeled recently. I kept the existing over the toilet wall mounted storage, since it’s in good shape. Here are the before pictures:

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2016 Corvette Grill Mod

My 2016 Corvette came with the stock, chrome grill when I bought it. Some Corvette owners make fun of it, saying it looks like braces or orthodontics. I kinda agree, it doesn’t look great. I could’ve bought the Z06 grill insert, which is about $200 and looks better, or a homemade method to remove the chrome – electrical tape.

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High Interest Checking Account

Most people keep a bank account to pay their bills, mortgage, credit cards, loan, etc. My checking account is used to pay my mortgage, credit cards, and other bills on auto-pay, and distribute money into various investments. Most people utilize a basic checking account which earns little to no interest. In fact, most big name national banks only give .01% interest! I use a little known credit union in Illinois, even though I live in Florida and have never visited the bank in person.

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Robinhood - Buying Stocks with no Fees

I buy stocks for no commissions using Robinhood. Robinhood has an iOS and Android app, and recently unveiled a web interface. Unfortunately, Robinhood does not link with Personal Capital, but you can add your shares manually. They’ve lowered the barrier to entry when buying individual securities. It used to be that you’d pay $7+ per trade, so you’d only buy $1,000 or more of stocks at a time. Now, you can buy stocks with no fees!

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rskelton.com Tech Stack Details

This blog, hosted at rskelton.com, is one of the many iterations of Robert Skelton’s personal blog. Over the years, it has been hosted at robertjskelton.blogspot.com, robertjskelton.com (dead), and skelton.co (dead). I have hosted it using WordPress on DigitalOcean, Github Pages, a Static AWS S3 bucket, and now this current iteration is my favorite. This site is here to stay, finally. This site also merges content from citrusrenovations.com (defunct home renovation blog) and retirengineering.com (defunct financial blog), both of which I hosted using WordPress on DigitalOcean.

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How to Drive Cool Cars on a Budget

One of life’s biggest expenses is transportation, especially cars. I love cars, and love getting different cars. I get bored driving the same vehicle for more than a few years. You could imagine this would be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. I’m 26 and have owned 8 cars, and I’ve not lost much money on them at all. The biggest downside is that you have to pay registration and taxes on every car you buy, but some of that can be tax deductible.

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Personal Capital - Finance Aggregator

Personal Capital is a financial account aggregator, similar to Mint. You can link all of your bank accounts, credit cards, investment accounts, mortgages, and assets, and it’ll track the values and balances over time. Most importantly to me, I can get a high level overview of all of my finances in one spot. Personal Capital will also generate a Net Worth for you, which is the sum of all of your assets, investments, and liquid cash, minus your credit cards, loans, and mortgages. I use it daily to keep track of my spending and investments.

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Rent Other Peoples Cars with Turo

I recently purchased a 2016 Corvette, a very nice, pretty expensive car. To help go towards the monthly payments, I listed the Corvette for rent on Turo, a site where other people can rent your car with insurance. Turo is sort of like a AirBNB for cars.

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