Don’t Pay With Cash Unless You Have To

Do you pay with cash or swipe a card?  Some will swear that paying with cash can save you money.  After all, you’re only spending what you have on hand.  This is definitely true, but that doesn’t mean cash is king.

Why We Don’t Pay With Cash

For our spending purposes, we rarely pay with cash.  The only times we do is when we have no other choice.   We don’t think paying with cash is necessarily a bad idea.  It just seems that using a card works better and offers us a few more advantages.  Here are a few.

Credit Card Rewards

We do most of our spending on three different cards. They all provide different rewards.  We pick the card we use in order to maximize our rewards.

credit card rewards
Reward credit cards can give you freebies.
  • Costco Cash Back Visa Card.  We use this card primarily for gas, restaurants, travel, and Costco shopping.  The reason is simple.  It provides 1% for all spending, but provides between 2-4% cash back on all of those categories.
  • American Express Blue Everyday Card. This is the card we use mostly for grocery shopping.  Same deal as the Costco card, in that it gives 1% on everything, but for grocery shopping you get 3%.  With our family of four that includes two very fast growing children, that extra amount adds up.
  • Southwest Visa Card.  Most of our other spending goes on our Southwest card.  This gives you one mile per dollar spent.  I’ve done the math, and at least last time I checked, the standard ‘cost’ of a flight using miles works out to be about 20% cheaper than paying in cash. We took an anniversary trip to Cancun a couple of years ago with no cost whatsoever.

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Spring Clean Your Finances With 5 Easy Steps

Spring has been pretty much absent here in Michigan.  Last weekend we had an ice storm.  Temperatures have been about eight degrees below average for the month.  Snow showers and accumulations are still a regular occurrence.  Still, spring has to come sometime, right?   We’re still hoping.  But, even if the weather isn’t cooperating, spring is still on the calendar.  Now’s a perfect time to spring clean your finances.  Here are a few easy tips to get started.

Calculate Your Net Worth

We calculate our net worth every month, so this is easy.  But if you don’t do this regularly, now’s the perfect time.  Net worth is an easy calculation.  Simply add up all of your assets.  Then add up all of your debts.  Subtract debts from assets and that is your net worth!

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How To Build Credit History And Why It’s Important

I remember a story from when I was kid about a great aunt of mine.  She and my late uncle had paid cash for everything in their lives.  When they needed a new car, they wrote a check for the full amount.  When it was time for a house, it was paid for.  This was very responsible, but there came a time when my aunt wanted to build credit and she couldn’t.  She was over 70 years old at the time and had no credit history!  Yikes.  Ever since then, I have understood that it’s important to build credit.  So how do you build credit history?  And why?  Here are a few simple answers.

The Importance of Credit

There are a few good reasons to make sure you have a credit history.

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2017 Can Be the Year You Earn Great Credit

If you don’t understand what personal credit is, you’re not alone. Your credit history is an important aspect of your life, but most people don’t fully comprehend what it is or what it does. That’s a shame, because you can learn what credit history is in about five minutes, and this information can guide you to a much better personal finance future. So don’t be scared of what you don’t know. Grab this bull by the horns and start taking control of your personal credit, even if for the very first time. This way you’ll know how to raise your credit scores & get the best interest rates in 2017.

Personal Credit History

First of all comes a basic definition.  Personal credit history is a record of all of the ways you’ve used borrowed money over the years. You may have borrowed more money than you think. Also, sometimes borrowed items can be represented in the form of money, as with a library book. Let’s say you borrowed a library book in 2005 but didn’t return it till 2007 when you found it under your sofa. It’s likely that the library kept a record of the lost book, and sent the account to collections after they couldn’t recover the book or the fees from you.

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Is AmEx Customer Service Better Than Citi?

Last year, the Costco branded credit card switched from American Express to Citi.  Since we use ours to gather the maximum cash back rewards, we decided to carry both.  We opened an American Express card after the switch.  This is a great strategy for us.  When the switched was announced, we heard a lot of complaints about customer service.  Specifically, many said that American Express had good customer service, and that Citi did not.  I decided to give a spot test.  While this isn’t conclusive, I thought it’d be fun to share whether AmEx customer service came out ahead, behind or equal to Citi.

Traveling Notification

We were heading on vacation.  I always like to notify the credit card companies.  That way, the company won’t see us making a bunch of charges from an unusual location and disallow charges for potential fraud.  I couldn’t imagine it’d be fun to be on vacation and have your card come up declined.

Since we’ll probably be using both of these cards during our trip, I decided to call and notify both companies.

Honestly, the process and the experience was about equal.

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Free Cash: Why We Use Cash Back Credit Cards

We use cash back credit cards for just about every purchase that we possibly can.  Why?  The answer is simple, because we earn free cash and it adds up to a good amount.  Below is how much cash we’ve earned in the last twelve months.

Costco Visa Card

This is our primary spending card.  It has the most rewards that we use.  We get 4% cash back on gas, 3% at restaurants, 2% at Costco, and 1% on everything else.

They issue a certificate once per year that you take into the store to cash.  This year we’ll be getting $281.88.

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