I’m back!

Sorry for the dry spell folks.  The last few months have been crazy.  We sold our house back in March.  We closed in April and moved out without having found a new home.  I had incorrectly assumed that the craziness of the Portland housing market was contained to areas close in to downtown.  Turned out I was half right.  We were focussing our search in the Murray Hill and Bethany areas in Beaverton.  Two months and 8 offers later!!! I was about ready to call it quits and get a rental.  It had not occurred to me that thanks to Nike and Intel expansions those housing markets were almost as crazy as Portland proper.

Before giving up a colleague convinced me to look at homes in West Linn.  A small city about 20 minutes south of downtown Portland.  That turned out to be a wonderful bit of advice and we purchased the first house we made an offer on.  We are very happy with the situation and in hindsight glad it did not work out on the west side of town.  For those who are unfamiliar with West Linn here is UFC fighter Chael Sonnen describing his home town.

So now we have moved to the mean streets of West Linn, Oregon and hopefully I won’t see any littering.  Soon I will post about why I left Portland (although is 20 minutes south really leaving Portland??)

In other Portland news:

  • Portland’s annual world naked bike ride is tonight and it is of course not without some controversy.
  • The temperatures are going to be nasty this week. If you want to stay cool head for the coast or go hang out in Oneonta Gorge.
  • I will have a separate post on this soon but July is the beginning of the best beer month in Portland and things are kicking off early with the International Beer Festival which started yesterday.

On the mile and points front:

  • I have not earned any serious frequent flyer miles in the last 18 months.  I put all that stuff on hold in preparation for buying a new home.  I am jonesing to get back in the fold.  I have some trips coming up and my miles balances are low.
  • Although I have been quiet in my own miles earning and blogging, I have still been active with my miles and points consulting.  In fact just had a client return from a trip to South Africa flying Cathay business class that I had helped him book.  He said the trip and flights were amazing.
  • During this hiatus I have also not done any reselling which is something I wanted to get into for meeting spends.  I am going to start doing that and will be writing about my experiences here.
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Update on Reselling Attempt and Lack of Blog Posts

First, sorry for the lack of posts lately.  This has been a very busy couple of months.  After selling our house our weekends were filled with searching for a new home and making offers.  I say making offers because it took 8 offers on 8 different houses before we finally had an offer accepted on a new home.  The market out there is completely crazy.  I also may need to change the name of the blog to West Linn Travel Tips since I am officially hanging up my Portland card and moving to a suburb.

As for the reselling, I will chalk up my first attempt at reselling as a good educational experience.  Ultimately, I ended up returning the headphones to Best Buy.  I unsuccessfully tried to sell the headphones on craigslist.  When that did not work I turned to fulfilled by amazon to see if I could sell it on there.  Which I could have, but the one problem there was I could not list the item as brand new.  After running into that road block I decided to return the item to Best Buy.  The bright side is I will now double check if I can sell something as new before actually buying.

Am I dissuaded from making another attempt at reselling?  Absolutely not.  With the predicted demise of other avenues for creating miles I am more determined than ever to make reselling work.  My latest line of thinking is to double dip on staples gift cards to get discounts on iPads and sell those on Amazon.  I checked and I can sell those new!

I hope to return to a normal blogging schedule soon.  We should be closing on the new house in two weeks.  I also recently found a food cart worth talking about which was nice because I had a string of bad luck there.

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Where to Watch Mayweather vs. Pacquiao Fight

If you want to watch the fight here in Portland and do not want to spend $100 for the fight on Pay Per View your options, unfortunately, are limited. Yesterday I called around to the major sports bars and some of my favorite small ones to see if any would be showing the fight.  Thus far it would appear that only 4 sports bars are showing the fight and all will have a decent cover charge.

Buffalo Wild Wings js showing the fight at their Downtown Portland, Beaverton, and Wood Village locations.  The cover will be $20 and a reservation is required.  As of yesterday the only place that still had tables that could be reserved was Wood Village. Beaverton and Downtown were down to standing room only.

On Deck Sports Bar at their Broadway location will also be showing the fight.  They are charging a cover of $30 and seating will be on a first come first serve basis.

The cover at these places is high enough that if you can get five or six of your friends together it may become more economical to order it on PPV.  I will update this post as I learn of more places showing the fight.  If you are aware of others please add them in the comments.

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Uber Returns to Portland

Yesterday at 2:00 PM Uber began operations in Portland with the official blessing of city government.  This ends what had been a somewhat contentious battle between Uber and city council.  This all started back in December when Uber tried to force their way into Portland against existing city codes.  At the time, Portland’s city code was very protective over the traditional taxi system.  That system made it nearly impossible for new cab companies to get up and running let alone a ridesharing company such as Uber.  City leaders did not take kindly to Uber operating in Portland and began fining drivers.  Uber and the City called a truce whereby Uber would suspend operations and give Portland time to revamp their taxi rules to permit ridesharing companies to operate legally in Portland.  Those rules were finally put in place this week.  Technically, the resolution passed by city council only allows operations for a 120 day trial period.  However, I have a hard time seeing this going away in 4 months.  So stay tuned.

For those who have not used Uber see this post for an explanation on how to use Uber. If you use my referral code, your first ride is free up to a value of $20.




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Adventures in Reselling: Taking My First Steps

I want to get into the reselling business because I think it will be a great way to earn frequent flier miles and pocket a little cash on the side.  For the uninitiated, the gist of how you earn miles and points by reselling is that you buy a product using your miles earning credit card.  You buy low and sell high. After you sell the product you pay off your card and pocket the profit.  When you couple this strategy with meeting minimum spend requirements on a new card it can be a great way to earn miles and some cash.

Once I decided to take a crack at reselling I did a lot of research online.  I found a pretty helpful reselling guide that does a good job of spelling out the basics over at frugalhack.me.  The guide does a pretty good job of explaining the basics as far as looking for deals, where to buy, and how to resell.

As I am a rookie reseller, my strategy will continue to evolve. However, thus far my strategy is to watch slick deals and look for a good deal I think I can take advantage of. Finally yesterday, a deal came up that I thought was a good one to get started with.  It looks like Best Buy has a pricing mistake on their Sony Bluetooth Noise Canceling Headphones.  A price mistake sounds like a good resell opportunity to me. I also combined the purchase with 3 different cashback mechanisms.  The first was that I bought the headphones through a shopping portal.  I used Upromise which was 1% cashback.  Next, I signed up for Best Buy Rewards which gave me 2% cashback.  Finally, I used my arrival card to earn another 2% cashback.

The final tally looked like this:

My First Purchase:  Sony Bluetooth Noise Canceling Headphones

  • Purchase Price: $149.99
  • My Best Buy Rewards Points: 149 ($3)
  • Upromise Cashback Portal: $1.50
  • Arrival Points: 300 ($3)
  • I also got $5 for making my first purchase through Upromise

I hope to sell on Craigslist for a $50 profit.

I thought this was such a good deal that I wanted to buy two, but I opted to take it slow.  I will report back on results.

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I’m Thinking About a Second Blog About Miles and Reselling

As many of you know, I am a mile and points junkie.  I collect miles and points to be able to travel for what I like to call practically free.  In the last year I have not been collecting many miles because I took it easy in anticipation of us selling our house and buying a new house.  I have been thinking over the last couple of months about not only collecting miles but also building a travel slush fund to cover expenses like credit card annual fees and incidentals while traveling.  In recent weeks I have been contemplating getting into the reselling business.  I’ve been aware of this method of generating miles and earning modest profit for some time, but it seemed like it was too time consuming to make it worthwhile.

In recent weeks, however, my attitude has started to change.  I have this feeling that my current method for manufacturing miles is not going to last.  I also hate spending my own money to earn sign up bonuses.  Given what I think is the inevitable end to most of the easy methods of creating miles I figure now is as good as anytime to get into reselling.

I’ve gone back and forth on whether I should just make a new blog or add it as content to this site.  My fear with creating a second blog is that I will neglect this blog.  So for now I will include my adventures in reselling as content on this site even though it is unrelated to Portland.  I will of course continue to include Portland related content on the blog.

I think my posts about reselling will be like a journal chronicling my attempts at reselling.  I know very little about the process so if you are interested you can learn with me.


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Win Two Tickets to Europe With Icelandair and #PDXtravelganza

Icelandair is launching service between Portland and Reykjavic starting May 5th.  It is a seasonal service operating flights twice per week until October 20th.  I am really excited about this route because it adds pretty easy access to Europe for us PDXers.  We do not have many options for departing Portland to Europe so this is a welcome addition in my book. Plus, Iceland is awesome, and one of the great things about flying Icelandair is that you get a stopover in Iceland for free before heading on to Europe.  With one ticket you can have two vacations in one.

To celebrate the kickoff of Icelandair’s new route they are giving away two roundtrip tickets to Europe (presumably also with a stopover in Iceland).  Here are the details:

  • Between April 10th and 12th representatives from Icelandair will be in Portland.
  • Follow Icelandair on either Facebook or Twitter.
  • Each day they will post a clue as to their location plus that day’s password.
  • The first person to find their location and reveal the password wins two tickets to Europe!

For full details of the giveaway click here.  Good luck.

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Blog Posts Will Still Be Sparse

We close on the sell of our home this week, so I should have more time to devote to the blog.  Although we will be spending our weekends house hunting so I suspect blog posts will continue to suffer.  I really hope the next home I find is our last one.  Buying and selling a house sure is a pain.

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Killer Burger As Good As Advertised

Picture Courtesy Portland Mercury

I have a Portland foodie confession.  Until this week, I’ve never been to Killer Burger.  I know, weird right?  It’s not for a lack of trying.  I have tried to make it there a couple of times before and it did not work out.  Either because the place was closed (and I didn’t know) or the line was too long and I did not want to wait.

It is sort of odd to me that it has taken me this long to get there.  I’ve heard countless people go on and on about Killer Burger.  That it is the best burger in Portland, that you must try the Peanut Butter Pickle Bacon Burger, etc..  Typically, when I hear a bunch of superlatives associated with a place I start to wonder how much of the praise is legit and how much is just hype.  For me at least, I now have the answer.

In my opinion KIller Burger lives up to the hype.  It is a really good burger.  The best in Burger in Portland?  I don’t know.  It is certainly in the conversation.  Also, as an aside can you really tell the difference between one great burger from another and decide “Yup, this one is the best,” but I digress.

Killer Burger

I went to the Killer Burger on NE Sandy and ordered just a plain old Bacon Cheeseburger. I have heard numerous people say the Peanut Butter Pickle Bacon burger is the greatest burger ever made by man.  I was not prepared to venture into such craziness my first time at Killer Burger.  I wanted to get a burger standby, a bacon cheeseburger, to see how they do on a simple yet delicious every man’s burger.

I was not disappointed, in was a very good burger.  The burger was everything you would want in a great burger.  A flavorful and juicy patty, perfectly cooked bacon, quality cheese, and a bun that holds up.  After my first bite, I fully endorsed the Killer Burger hype. There is also another thing about Killer Burger that I think has been overshadowed by their fantastic burgers.  The fries, are also damn good.  They are cooked perfectly and there is hardly a trace of grease.  I am a firm believer that bad fries can ruin a good burger experience.  For me, fries are a part of the whole burger package.  A great burger with great french fries is a helluva enjoyable meal.  Killer Burger delivers on all fronts.

Killer Burger is as good as advertised and deserves the hype.  Add it to the list of must try places while in Portland.

Killer Burger on Urbanspoon

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The Portland Housing Market is Insane: My Experience Selling My House

In February we decided to sell our house.  We live in a hundred year old 3 bedroom 1 bathroom craftsman.  Our home definitely falls in the starter home category.  Last year we started thinking about selling but decided to wait until spring of 2015.  Our original plan was to list the house in late March.  However, back in February when we were talking to our realtor, we asked him when was the best time to sell.  His answer: now.  There was zero inventory.  So we spent most of February getting the house ready for sale.  We cleaned, painted, moved stuff to storage, and spruced up the yard.  My wife did some research on staging homes and we were hopeful it would make a difference.  We also moved out of the house the week we were going to list.   By doing so, we would not have to keep up with the mess tornado 1 and tornado 2 generate on a daily basis.  Being out of the house also meant buyers would be free to come see the house at anytime.

The big day came on March 5th.  Our house went active on RMLS in the morning.  Around 9:00 AM our realtor started getting a trickle of calls/texts asking to view the home.  The trickle started to increase by the hour and by 11:00 AM our realtor started to have a hard time keeping up with the phone calls and texts.  Eventually our realtor got flooded with requests to see the house.  He was getting so many calls he told buyers they could see the house just know other people will be there.

We were pretty excited by the traffic but as the day wore on we didn’t have a single offer. By 5:00 PM we were pretty disappointed by the lack of offers.  We knew the housing inventory was tight in Portland and also knew that starter homes were selling fast. We had assumed we would get a couple of offers that first day.  By dinner there were still no offers, and we were bummed.

We started to wonder if a particular feature of our house was turning buyers off.  Our house is a 3 bedroom, but given the fact that it is one hundred years old it has some quirks.  Like a stairway to the attic being in a bedroom.  That attic happens to also be our 3rd bedroom.  It is admittedly a bit weird but we did not think it would turn everyone off. By 7:00 PM we were beginning to wonder.

At 7:00 I texted our realtor and asked him what was up.  He had good news, he just received one offer and expected two more that night.  That was great news and a good start.  We had decided earlier in the day not to review offers until the end of the second day.  I felt like 3 offers on day one was a great start and we were pleased.

By the evening of day two, still no more offers.  Disappointment started to set in again. Three offers was nice but, honestly, I was hoping for more.  We had a meeting scheduled at 8:00 PM to meet with our realtor and review offers.  It was looking like we would only be reviewing three offers, maybe I had just set my expectations too high.  Shortly before 8:00 PM, we got a call from our realtor.  He was going to be late.  He was printing out offers for us to review, and still had offers coming in as he was printing.  He ended up bringing over 11 offers!

When he came over he told us just how crazy things had been.  His phone was non stop text messages and phone calls all day for two days.  He hadn’t seen anything like it since the bubble days (are they back?).  It took us two hours to go over all the offers.  Every single one was over asking price and many were significantly over.

It was not until the weekend when we ran into a realtor who showed a buyer our house and talked to our neighbors did we realize how bonkers it was.  By the evening of day one according to both my neighbor and the realtor there was literally a line down the sidewalk of people waiting to view our home.  The realtor told me she had never seen anything like it.  When I finally came home there were 41 business cards from realtors scattered throughout the house, and that is just from the people who left cards.  My wife did amazing job staging our home (I think she has future career as a stager)  The realtor told us the house was immaculate and looked great.

All I can say after this experience is that I am glad I am not looking for a first time home in Portland, especially in any neighborhood that is in close-in Portland.  In fact, I think one of the main reasons our house was so crazy is because my neighborhood is the last close-in neighborhood that still has some relatively affordable housing.

Now we have to look for a new home.  In the meantime some friends of ours have graciously offered us their finished two bedroom one bathroom basement while we house hunt.  I imagine blog posts will continue to be sporadic for the next few weeks until we get situated.

If you are looking for a fantastic realtor, who we have known and worked with for years, and advice on staging a home. Hit me up.


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