Side Hustle Round Up: 2015 Income

This year I had a good haul of extra income in side hustles – I focused a lot more energy than I have in the past on credit card bonuses (particularly miles) and checking account bonuses. I’ve tried to summarize everything I earned in side gigs below.

Credit Card Bonuses

  • 119,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points – credit card opening bonuses & usage rewards ($1,547 value, $3,094 value if used with companion pass earned in 2015)
  • $450 Amazon Gift Cards – credit card opening bonus (spent on a new mini-split heat pump system)
  • 100,000 American Airlines Miles ($1,700 value) – 2 credit card opening bonuses (saving for a trip to Europe in 2017)
  • 50,000 American Express Membership Rewards Points ($950 value) – credit card opening bonus (spent on 6 hotel nights in Costa Rica next week!)
  • $100 Amazon Gift Cards – reimbursed purchase on American Express card
  • $76 Amazon Points – credit card usage rewards
  • $191 Freedom Points – credit card usage rewards
  • $198 Venture Points – credit card usage rewards (will be used to pay for expenses in Costa Rica)
  • $18 Costco Cash Back – credit card usage rewards

$6,777 – Total Approximate Value

Because miles and reward points aren’t considered cash payments, I shouldn’t have to pay any taxes on this “income.” Obviously some of the value of these bonuses is only applicable if I am planning to travel, but I will definitely use all of the Southwest points this year, and as noted, all other bonuses are either used for our upcoming trip, or will be used to book travel in 2017.

Checking Account Bonuses

I opened checking accounts with the following banks, in order to earn cash bonuses in 2015:

  • $200 – Key Bank
  • $100 – Pinnacle Bank
  • $300 – USAA Bank
  • $200 – First Bank
  • $300 – Chase Bank

$1,100 Total

I of course will need to pay interest taxes on this income (assuming each of the banks sends me a 1099-INT).

Freelance Web Development

I’ve continued to do a bit of web development side work for existing clients. I made a decent profit (I am now charging some clients $100/hour):

$2,390 Total

Various Website Projects

I own a few domain names with a number of projects, hobby blogs, or other small sites running on them. I have a tiny trickle of ad revenue, a very small amount of affiliate income, and I’ve licensed a few photos. In 2015 all of the income from these little web projects came together to earn me:

  • Ad Revenue: $112
  • Direct Ad Sales: $135
  • Affiliate/Referral Revenue: $102
  • Photography: $65

$414 Total

This is total earnings before expenses – factoring in cost of domain names and web hosting, profits aren’t anything amazing… basically I make enough to keep the hobby websites up and running with no out of pocket expenses, and if I’m lucky, a little extra cash.

Selling Junk

I spent a bit of time this year listing things for sale on ebay & craigslist:

  • $110 – Craigslist
  • $150 – eBay

$260 Total

Retail Food Business

I put very little time into this effort in 2015. I am considering shutting it down, but it’s possible I’ll get a second wind and actually make a push this year.

$515 Total

After expenses of $297, this was a barely profitable venture for the year.

Summary

Hopefully I haven’t forgotten anything! Overall I am really happy with the extra “income” I generated in 2015. It seems travel hacking and acquiring travel miles has become a bit of hobby that will enable me to travel more cheaply than I ever imagined before.

How did you earn side hustle income in 2015?

[featured image: Franck BLAIS]

Posted in Musings
  • GO4ITUSA

    Just wondering. I have shied away from opening a bunch of new credit cards and sacrificed a bunch of rewards points in the process. I never thought that doing that for anything longer than about a year was sustainable. I did not want to incure a lot of “activity” on my credit report. I think that a great credit report is an absolute must (mine is well over 800)… How badly did the multiple “dings” impact your score? Thanks!

    • Surprisingly, opening multiple cards per year has done nothing but increase my credit score! I think having low utilization helps (I don’t carry a balance on any cards). I like to use CreditKarma.com to keep track of the “credit factors” and how well I’m doing… I get low grades on average account age and number of inquiries, but those two things don’t seem to reduce my credit score much.

      I will say, if you’re going to make any large purchases (home, car, etc.) it’s a good idea to *not* participate in credit card churning, because banks scrutinize your reports, and many would consider opening a series of new credit lines to be red flag for a risky borrower.