July 2017 Extra Income-$2,684.26

Where things stand August 1:

Debt: July was the month where I decided to spend a whole bunch of money I don’t have. We are fencing in the yard for the new pups and also have had some vet bills. These numbers will go up before they go down, though, because we need bushes and concrete removed before the fence can go in and there are more vet procedures scheduled.

The good news is I killed it with savings last month! I know it seems ridiculous that I spent over $6,000 on credit cards while putting $1,500+ in savings. The credit cards are zero percent interest which gives me some flexibility in paying them off. I also don’t have a dedicated emergency fund so I would rather not drain these savings until it becomes a true emergency.

The bad news is that savings will be taking a backseat to paying off these credit cards. I still have $250/month budgeted so there will be a slight increase each month. And Barclays has increased their interest rate AGAIN. It’s up to 1.20%. Every little bit helps!


July 1 August 1 Difference
Savings $4,288.96 $5,809.18 +$1,520.22
Lawyer Debt $2,302.34 $2,002.34 -$300
Fence Debt $0 $5,158.00
Vet Debt 0 $917.00
Total Debt $2,302.34 $8,077.34 +$5,775


We’re 3.87% of the way to our ultimate goal of $150,000, 23.23% of the way to our first rental property down payment goal of $25,000.


July Extra Income

$1,535-Rental property

$844- Airbnb

$167 – Mystery shopping

$25 –Swagbucks gift cards

$69.75- Selling books

$22.89- Dividends

$16- Credit card cash back redemption

$2.97- Interest on savings account

$1.65 – Affiliate income

Total: $2,684.26


Rental property: My tenant paid $5 extra for reasons unknown. I emailed her to let her know to pay $5 less the next check but it came to the regular amount. I will just have to remember that they paid $5 more unless September’s check reflects their overpayment.

Right now, 1/3 goes towards property taxes, income taxes and insurance.  1/3 goes to my IRA. Ideally the last third will go to savings, but this month half of it went toward the lawyer bill and the other half went toward paying the minimum on the renovation credit cards.

AirBnb: We’ve been playing around with our prices. Lowering the prices $10-$20/night has increased are bookings a ton. July was very respectable and August through October are also shaping up to be great.

Mystery shopping: Of the $167, $127 was reimbursements.  For that $127, Mr. BL and I got:

  • 4 grocery trips
  • Two wine tastings and a half a case of wine

I definitely took a break from mystery shopping the past couple of months. However, I’ve redoubled my efforts and have a ton of shops scheduled and many payments coming in the next 6 weeks.

Swagbucks: I cashed in some of my Swagbucks for a $25 gift card to Sam’s Club.

Selling Books: I sold 2 books last month that were free to me! Doesn’t get better than that!

Credit Card Cash Back: I used the cash back points I’ve accumulated to lower the monthly balance.

Dividends & savings account interest: I only own shares in 3 different companies but hope to eventually increase my holdings. Right now everything gets reinvested.

Affiliate Income– Not much to see here…


Looking forward to August:

August’s mantra is “hustle, hustle, hustle.” Right now, I am expecting about $400 worth of mystery shops to pay out in August and September. I am hoping to increase that amount by..as much as I can.

I’m not going to lie. I am incredibly stressed by the amount I owe on my credit cards. And it isn’t helping that this number is going to go up before it goes down. Besides earning more mystery shopping, I am revamping the way I budget. At least for this month. I created a budget that uses only my day job and rental income. Any extra income will go towards the credit cards. It’s a modified version of living on last month’s income.

Any mystery shop jobs I spend money for will go into whatever budget category makes sense. When I receive income from mystery shopping then I will move mystery shopping expenses from that month into the mystery shopping category. For example, if I do a grocery mystery shop and spend $10, then that will go into the grocery category for the month. If later on I receive payment from a previous job that equals $10 or more, I will move the grocery mystery shop out of my grocery category and into my mystery shop category. That way I can make sure I am only spending whatever income I earn. It’s hard to assess my income because mystery shopping is variable, and I think this might be a way to get around that. I’ll report back next month.





You can read all of my income reports over here.

Disease Called Debt

4 Responses

  1. Amanda Page

    I was just wondering if mystery shopping is worth it. I’m currently thinking about how many side hustles I want to take on through the next few months. Would mystery shopping be a good one? It seems to work well for you, which is inspiring. And it doesn’t seem to be a stressful endeavor. It’s got my wheels turning!

    • Jax-This post may contain affiliate links

      Mystery shopping definitely works for me. The pros are that it is something you can commit to on a case by case basis. If you do a shop and it was more effort than pay then you can just not sign up for that shop again. You can also schedule shops based on your own availability, so that is also a plus. It does sometimes take time, though. Shops can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to perform, and then another 20-30 minutes to write the report. Marketforce has really easy reports-they are mostly multiple choice with little narrative (about 150 words when they do ask for it) Of course, the pay is on the low end. But it’s a good place to start to see if you have the patience to mystery shop. I try to find shops for things I am already doing-groceries, eating out and sometimes clothes.

      Phone and web shops are more difficult to locate, but they’re there. The pros for those is that they don’t take much time (10-15 minutes, tops) and I can do a lot of them at work (don’t tell my boss!) The cons is that they pay $3-$10 a pop-but they don’t require an up front expense.

      I hope this novel helps!

  2. The 76K Project

    I noticed that you’re making Swagbucks work for you, which is awesome… I started doing this a few months ago, but it’s taken me foreverrrrrr to accumulate even $10. Granted, I mostly use the search feature and the SwagCodes. I’ve tried doing some surveys, but they either end up taking way longer than estimated, or I get 10 minutes into them and they kick me back to the main page.

    Your extra income streams are impressive. Way to get creative and use your resources.

  3. Mel

    Good luck with your credit card debt, I know it would stress me out too, but at least you’ve got a plan!

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