This shirt recently popped up in my Facebook feed. And I love it!
Everybody makes mistakes. And every single mistake is proof positive that you are putting forth effort. You are taking risks. And from great risks come great rewards. And sometimes great disappointments. But if you never take the risks, you are guaranteed not to achieve the rewards.
There are a lot of risks involved with money. And you always hope they lead to reward. Should I borrow money to buy a house? Should I buy a used car instead of a new one? Should I buy stock? How much should I put into my 401K plan? Can I take the lower paying job that I’ll enjoy instead of the higher paying job that I’ll hate? Will the store brand product work as well as the name brand? If I join the warehouse club, will I get my money’s worth? Should I buy the extended warranty? If I go to law school will I get a great job?
Every time you spend money, there is some level of risk involved. You can’t predict anything with certainty. And you will make mistakes. It’s inevitable. But mistakes, while they may feel bad at the time, teach us things. And mistakes are proof that you are trying. The person who never tries never makes mistakes. But they also never move forward or learn or grow.
Mistakes are proof that you are trying. So keep making mistakes. Keep trying!
This weekend I had the good fortune to meet the creator of an iPhone app that I am completely enamored with. Swipe is kind of a curator for your rewards credit cards. It tracks all of your cards and pairs them with the purchase you are making to assure that you are receiving the best rewards deal for that particular purchase.
I’m a big fan of leveraging credit card rewards. Last year I received several hundred dollars in cash back from my credit cards by chasing the right rewards for the right purchases. This app takes the guesswork out of that process (which is very helpful since one of my cards has higher rewards for categories that rotate from quarter to quarter).
I was lucky enough to have an in-person demonstration with the developer this weekend, but you can see a great demo of the app on the Swipe website. I’m more than a little disappointed that this awesome app is not yet available for Android (I’m assured it’s coming in the future). But for the iFolks out there…I think it’s awesome!
One of my new years’ resolutions this year was to maximize my credit card rewards. Not by buying more stuff. But by being careful about what card I use for what purpose. For a long time I’ve been using one card that offers me 5% rewards on certain categories that revolve each quarter, and 1% rewards on all other purchases. But I also have another card that offers me 2% rewards on all purchases, regardless of the category. And I have an Amazon Visa card that gives me 3% rewards on all of my Amazon purchases, 2% on certain categories, and 1% on everything else. Plus every time I fill my gas tank at Sheetz I toy with the idea of getting their credit card that would give me an extra 5 cents off every gallon of gas I buy and 5% rewards on the things I buy in their store. Who knew that the world of credit card rewards–just the cards hanging out in my wallet–could be so complicated?!?
My biggest rewards on my existing cards come from the 5% categories on my old tried and true card. This quarter those categories include groceries (which I buy all the time), movie theaters (which I do rarely) and Starbucks (which I do almost never). So I’m using that card for groceries exclusively (next quarter when it flips over from groceries to restaurants, I’ll readjust). My next biggest reward comes from the Amazon card used at Amazon.com. I admit that I buy a lot of stuff from Amazon. So I have that card set up as my go-to card on that web site. And I don’t use it for anything else. For absolutely everything else I’ve been using the card that gives me 2% back on every purchase.
It is kind of a lot to keep track of. Where am I? What card do I need to use? But I’m hoping it will pay off for me. Last year I earned about $600 in cash back rewards…just by buying things I would normally buy and using a rewards credit card to do so. I’m hoping to exceed that this year…and to spend less money doing so. We’ll see how well I do with that.
Of course this whole thing would be a moot point if I were not paying my bill in full every month. Accruing interest would wipe out any savings I would get from rewards. But I use my credit cards not for credit, but for convenience.
Do you use credit cards for regular expenses but pay them off in full every month? If so, is your credit card giving you rewards? If not, you should possibly consider getting a card that does. If your card is giving you rewards, are they as much as you could be getting?
I received two different notifications from my credit card providers this week. One made me happy. The other made me a bit frustrated.
The one that made me happy indicated that my Visa card provider was sending me a new card because my existing card was a part of the Home Depot data breach. So why does this make me happy? Because I knew I had used my Visa at Home Depot during the affected time period. I wasn’t exactly sure what my next step should be. And lo and behold….my card provider was proactive and took care of it for me. That’s a sign that my credit card company is a good one. And that makes me happy.
The notification that frustrated me was in regard to my Subaru Rewards Mastercard. I rarely use this card. I have it for exactly one reason: Sam’s Club doesn’t accept Visa. So most of the time I use the Visa card I talked about earlier. But at Sam’s Club I needed to have either a Discover or a Mastercard. I did a little research about what card would give me the best rewards deal, and decided on the Subaru Mastercard. 3% of all of my purchases goes into a rewards account, and when that account reaches $100, I get a $100 gift certificate good for sales or service at any Subaru dealership. Since I own an aging Subaru Forester, this seemed like a good choice. But the frustrating communication I received recently said that my card provider is ending their partnership with Subaru and I should expect this card to be replaced by a cash back rewards Visa. The exact same Visa that I use already. And that won’t be accepted by the one store where I use the Mastercard. Frustrating. And to top it off, I was at $82 on my rewards total, leaving me a small window of time in which to either charge $600 worth of stuff or just give up and lose the rewards I’ve been accumulating. Frustrating!
As fate would have it, I needed to buy new tires for my car, which turned out to be a $500 expense at Sam’s Club. So I think I’ll use the Mastercard for groceries this week and meet my required spending to actually receive my gift certificate. But I still needed to address the issue of future shopping. I need a new Mastercard.
I use credit cards for convenience, not for credit. I pay these cards off in full at the end of every month. But to get the most “bang” for my card usage, I like to make sure I’m earning some kind of rewards with my credit cards. Luckily there are websites designed exactly for the purpose of finding your best rewards fit. NerdWallet, CreditCards.com, and CardHub are all decent sites to help you find the best card for you, and they helped me find the new card that I needed.
Now I’m not saying that everyone should go out and apply for a credit card. But it is nice knowing that there are resources available to help you find the one that’s the best fit for you.