Soooo…..you might be wondering what I am up to this year, because I have not been posting on here all that much (with the exception of the occasional podcast or funny photo). Or maybe you’re not wondering, and I am flattering myself. I figured since I have this blog and people read it and all, I would share some of the stuff I have been working on so that you could also perhaps benefit.
This year (starting in January), I thought it might be interesting to examine all the areas of my life to see if I could find ways to save money, save time, and generally streamline everything in life with the purpose of deriving more pleasure and satisfaction from my everyday activities. I am not joking! Here’s what I’ve found so far, in terms of money. I guess it should be said that I am already a saver-type person, but I really think anyone can do this kind of stuff, and as it turns out, it’s not that hard (if you’re looking) to find places to save money in almost every aspect of your life.
I started with Mint.com. I have been using this awesomely amazing app for about five years, and I couldn’t live without it at this point. If you’re not using it, go right over and download it now—it’s free and will probably save you some money right off the bat, just by pointing out places you are paying fees, etc. www.mint.com, get it on your phone or your iPad or your computer or wherever you do things. Yes, it does take some setting up, so make sure you have some time set aside if you’re just getting into it for the first time.
Because I look at Mint every day anyway, I decided to use the feed of expenses as a prompt to ask myself “How could I do that better?” every time one went by. Here’s what I’ve got so far, and feel free to keep checking back for more resources as I find them. The first thing I did was look at all of the household expenses that could be switched to a credit card, thereby earning points or cashback. This is where I will throw in a caveat: only do this if you are the type of person who pays off their credit card in full every single month, otherwise this strategy is going to end up costing you money. I doubled down on this one by switching from a miles-based credit card to a card that earns cash back, which is a better use of earned miles/ cash back for my household in particular. This is something I would definitely recommend, especially if you have a credit card that you’re using a lot but that is giving you benefits you are not necessarily using. Put that money to work already! So, that is something that is ongoing as I try to determine what can be switched to credit card (like the cable bill—who knew?) and what cannot (like the mortgage, which is kind of a bummer). Since I don’t know you personally, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to recommend a specific type of credit card, but I would say generally, if you pay your credit card every month, look for one with some kind of benefit that will actually benefit you. If you don’t travel that much, you are pretty much wasting the benefit of accruing a bunch of free miles you probably won’t use, and so on.
After I had gotten a better credit card and switched most of the household stuff over to it, Raise.com was my next big find of the year. I read a book awhile ago about buying discounted gift cards, so I started with researching that because it seemed like that was going to give me the best return on time invested. Raise is one of a few discount gift card marketplaces, and I like it because it has an app, it sends me alerts, and the customer service is really strong. They have great deals on gift cards from places like Lowe’s, Target, Big Lots, etc., and those are places I go anyway, so that is now where I get the majority of my gift cards. To streamline/ efficientize further, I use a credit card that gives me points or cashback to buy the gift cards, which ends up saving even more money. I would say this is one of those money hacks you can absolutely use to save a ton of money (especially if you’re doing something major like remodeling your house—go right now and buy a bunch of discounted Lowe’s or Home Depot gift cards, because you will definitely use them). The only possible drawback is that you have to keep track of a lot of gift cards and make sure you use them. This is not a problem for me, so I am definitely putting this one in the “win” column and would highly recommend you go over there and sign up.
In case you’re wondering who would sell gift cards at a discount, apparently that is a thing that people do. In case you’re wondering whether the gift cards are going to be valid (I had this concern myself), yes, they are, and Raise has a guarantee if one of them ends up being a dud or not getting to you. So, that’s always nice. In case you’re trying to follow the exact steps this would take, that would be: “Go to Raise.com. Buy discounted gift cards (therefore saving money) using a credit card that gives you points or cashback (therefore saving money). Use the gift cards to buy your regular household/ life/ stuff.” I’m going to estimate this one thing alone will save us 10% of our total spend on an ongoing basis. I will get to “what to do with the extra money” in future posts about this.
This post is getting kind of long, and I’m guessing that people who only come to this site to find photos of weird Oreos (which I now buy at Big Lots with discounted gift cards I got at Raise) are sort of disappointed right now, so I’m going to leave it here and say that I hope you are all doing well, and that I am going to try to start updating more, now that I have told you what I’m thinking about and doing this year. I also have life-hacker/ time-hacker experiments going with lists, time-management, and weight loss, so I will probably do posts about all of those at some point as well.
And finally, if you were only here for weird photos, here is one for you. What, exactly, is happening here, do we think? Does this person not know that this is not how license plates work?