If you're like me, you're interested in how to do things more effectively. I am truly interested in optimizing every sector of my life in order to save time, save money, save effort --> that whole work smarter, not harder mentality.
Sure, you can (and should) look at all of your bills and track your spending for a month and see what your patterns are then see if you can do better with any parts. What I'm talking about today, is a little less obvious than that. It's the next step.
I am an avid credit card fan. I frequently read articles about the best new credit cards, which companies are offering the best perks, etc. I also read a lot of articles that talk about ways to hack travel, etc. by utilizing credit cards. I've been doing that for the past 2-3 years and have racked up a decent amount of credit card rewards simply by switching the bills/spending that I'm already doing to a cash back credit card that I make sure I pay off every month. You can't really beat getting paid a percentage just for using a credit card, if you're paying it right back off. It's free money. But what if you could increase the percentage that you're getting back from your spending?
The tried and true method of saving money without really trying to is to save your change. Everybody has a change jar. But what if you don't use cash? That's my life. I'm the person who would hold up the line as I try to grab my bags with my purchases and take the handful of cash and coins that are sitting on top of my receipt that the cashiers always like to hand you as quickly as I can - and then proceed to drop all things on the floor. I like that I can pull up my credit card statements for easy reference to record purchases and I just feel better in general about a follow through with returns if I lose the receipt, barely outlast the warranty, etc. My go-to credit card is the Citi Bank Double Cash Back Card. I get 2% on every single purchase that I swipe my card for. This works best for me as my primary grocery store is Walmart (which doesn't count as a grocery store, but often has lower prices) and my often preferred gas station is BJs Wholesale Club (which also doesn't register as a gas station but is also usually cheaper). Obviously, I'm earning 2% back. But could I somehow hack my spending to earn more?
I decided to go through my change jar and see how much was in there. I came up with $56 and change, or about $8/month. Keep in mind, I wait tables two nights a week and bring home a little jingle most nights but not every night and I might use cash once a month to make a purchase. I got to thinking though: what if I decided on a dollar amount of spending and used cash for it and kept the rest of my regular purchases on my credit card? Would I have more set aside between the change I kept and the rewards I accrued?
I decided on $50 as a starting point. I'll carry $50 in my wallet for small miscellaneous purchases as well as [smaller] grocery purchases to see how much change I can add to the jar at the end of the month. If I save $5, that's a 10% return. I understand that I'm not actually earning this $5, but rather saving - but at the end of the month, the rewards dollars and the change saved is all considered extra since you probably would've spent it regardless, isn't it?
Experimenting and challenging yourself every day is part of the fun. What routines can you reimagine to do in better ways?