$7,000 IRA Contribution Bonus Challenge: $2,428 in Bonuses (2024 YTD Edition)

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Each year, I challenge myself to earn the equivalent of the maximum annual IRA contribution limit ($7,000 for 2024 if under 50) using the profits from various finance promotions alone. I earned $5,592 in 2021, $6,259 in 2022, and $5,444 in 2023 (plus another $2,500 in stock special situations). Here’s a progress update after the end of the first quarter of 2024.

If you combined these hobby profits and steady investing, this CAN create enough for a house downpayment (unlike perhaps spare change roundups). If you had put $6,000 into your IRA every year for the recent 10 year period (2014-2023) and invested in a simple Target Date retirement fund, you would have turned small, weekly deals into a $95,000+ nest egg.

That’s worth repeating: An extra 100 grand has been the real-world result of playing this game and investing $500 a month in proceeds for the last 10 years! I have the brokerage statements to prove it. Not to mention, a couple could double these numbers. Focus + Long attention span = Surprising results.

Ground rules: Real-world results for one person only. Following with My Money Blog tradition, this will track my personal, real-world results. It would be quite easy to list a bunch of promotions that add up to $6,000, but these will be promotions that I personally sign up for and complete the requirements (even though I’ve already opened 100+ bank accounts, credit cards, and brokerage accounts over the years). I will track my individual results only, although my partner does also participate on a more selective basis. Nearly all of them have been documented in real-time in the Deals and Offers category, Top 10 credit cards list, and brokerage bonus list.

2024 bonuses and promotions list. The 💵 symbol means I have received and/or cashed out the bonus successfully. The ⌛ symbol means that the promo is still in progress. “Still live” means the offer is still available but the values may have gone up or down.

I chose the Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines cards because I already had planned trips within the next 12 months and knew I could take advantage of the free checked bags, companion fare savings, and redeem the miles. I valued the miles at a simple and conservative $0.01/mile. The Alaska Companion fare on its own saved us nearly $700.

I’m not counting these again in 2024, but I earned them in 2023 and they are “still live”:

Total for 2024 YTD: If I assume that all bonuses for which I have completed the required activity will eventually post, the total tally so far is $2,428, which is 35% of the $7,000 annual IRA contribution limit for 2024.

Honorable mention #1: Cummins / Atmus Odd Lot Tender Offer. I did make a $4,819 profit over only 23 calendar days from the Cummins / Atmus Filtration odd lot tender offer. This did require a $26,000 commitment to buy 99 shares (the max allowed as an individual small investor) before the odd lot tender, but the lockup time was short with an annualized rate of return of 1,528%.

Honorable mention #2: Robinhood 3% IRA Transfer / 401k Rollover Bonus. After some hemming and hawing (I had to look up how to spell that), I decided to go forward with this offer that expires 4/30 using my largest Roth IRA account from Vanguard. The size of this bonus will depend on the size of your assets, so I won’t include this bonus in my annual sums. But the expected value is over $8,000 after fees. Let’s hope the transfer completes smoothly.

This is a personal challenge/game that I like to play (and have played for a long time now). It’s not for everyone. I happen to enjoy trying out new apps and services. I also like my hobbies to be profitable – not gonna lie – but I don’t like to waste my time either. I look for a solid return based on the time commitment required. I try to avoid speculative bets, bonuses that are hard to convert to real cash-equivalent value, and anything that requires driving to stores where things may or may not be in stock. The deals that I post often last only a few days, but it’s a bit like value investing where you have to be ready to get off your butt and take decisive action when an opportunity shows up, because they won’t last forever.

Many things I have to skip simply because I’ve already done them. For those new to this hobby, I would first grab the best overall cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve and build up a nice stash of flexible Ultimate Rewards points. After that, I would recommend looking at the Citi Premier (ThankYou points), Capital Venture X (Capital One Miles), and American Express Gold (AmEx Membership Rewards points) to jumpstart your points stashes.

This list also ignores the additional interest earned from otherwise optimizing my existing cash balances, as well as everyday credit card rewards like 2% to 2.6% cash back on all purchases and 5% cash back on specific categories or 1% or better cash back on rent.

Finally, I am also excluding small-business deals like big $1,000+ value business card bonuses, big business checking bonuses, and so on.

Photo was generated by Adobe’s Firefly tool (AI).

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  1. Thanks for keeping us up-to-date.
    This is a great challenge to get folks motivated to looking for these sign-up bonus’s, etc to fund something like an IRA.

    Question for you?

    Is your IRA, that you are depositing these bonus funds, going to ROTH or a traditional tax-deferred IRA?

    I enjoyed quite a few sign-up bonus’s from last year (incl. spouse and kid bonus’s), including earning a good bit of interest on High Yield Savings Accounts (thank-you HM Bradley & Milli) BUT as we enter tax prep season (last week), I note that no taxes were paid on any of those bonus’s and interest – thus, I have to pay taxes on those amounts.

    As I was entering in the interest and bonus money into my tax prep software, I kept seeing the amount due on my taxes seemingly move ~20% of what that bonus amount was. It was good reminder that Uncle Sam was there to collect his share of my well earned bonus/interest money!


    • That’s one of the reasons why this promotion is good. Over the years, more and more IRA bonuses have been treated as interest income (earnings) inside the IRA.

      From the Robinhood FAQ:

      How is the IRA match treated for tax reporting purposes?
      The IRA match is treated as interest income in your IRA. We won’t deliver a 1099-INT due to the tax status of IRAs.

      Does the IRA match count toward my annual IRA contribution limit?
      No. The IRA match counts as interest income in your IRA and doesn’t count toward your annual IRA contribution limit.

      When will I get the IRA match?
      You’ll usually get the IRA match right away after your deposits settle. The exact amount of time depends on the type of contribution you’re making.

      • I was curious about all of the “other” bonus money you get from sign-up offers. Where do you put that money??

        Ignoring the Robinhood challenge, what type of IRA are you putting your bonus money?

        Roth (since you have to pay taxes on it (1099-INT)) or Traditional (to be taxed again).

  2. Would love to know how the IRA transfer from Vanguard to Robinhood goes for you (ideally in advance of the 4/30 deadline).

  3. Is there a good way to get these when you can’t do direct deposit? It seems like all of the good bank bonuses require that.

  4. Out of curiosity, are you able to do those odd lot tenders in tax advantaged accounts? I hope you’ll post more as you hear of them. I was asleep at the wheel. 😀

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