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Mastering Credit Card Tips: Introduction

 
Mastering credit cards took on a whole new meaning when our finances took a turn for the worst in the not-so-great depression of 2008. We went from being middle class to becoming part of the former middle class. The Introduction to my first eBook, The Poor Middle Class Crisis, details what happened to us. As a result we had to find new ways to survive. We created a financial survival toolkit. One of the most essential money making tools became credit cards,the ones we had and new ones we have gotten since then.

mastering credit cards
My two published eBook on Amazon.com that cover our financial history over the last decade
Our Financial History Over The Last Decade

Over almost the last decade, we have had to develop credit cards mastery as our invaluable this financial survival tool. It turned into an active endeavour, even an art this year due to the need to visit family in Colorado. That’s when travel rewards credit cards really came into the picture. Before that, our focus had been primarily cash rewards credit card. Due to the need to find a way to afford our trip, we had to learn to master the travel rewards cards.

Earning Credit Card Benefits

The first step in mastering credit cards is learning about them. So that is exactly what I did. I did research locating the best sites and blogs about mastering credit cards. Then I practiced and learned how to do it myself. As part of the process, I created a ‘cheat sheet’ that I could easily refer to. It is called, ‘Tips for Mastering Credit Cards’.

Tips for Mastering Credit Cards

Even though I continue to gather more helpful tips, I think that the ones on this list give me and anyone who reads them a pretty good start. What I would like to do for the rest of this post is go over them and explain any that are not completely transparent already. The detials will cover several blog posts because there is so much information to share.

credit cards mastery tips
The List of Tips for Mastering Credit Cards

1. Pay credit card bills in full before the report date and by the due date

The companies that you have credit card and other ‘debt’ with report the amount of that debt. They usually report the current amount of debt to the credit report agencies on a monthly basis. To have them report $0 debt, pay in full before the reporting date. Your credit card companies are supposed to provide you with that date if you request it. Make sure you do and keep track of that date, the due date and the closing date.

2. Learn to build and maintain excellent credit

There are many resources for learning to build your credit. They are listed at the end of this post. Notice the colored sections in the image above. They indicated credit levels. Excellent credit is the bright green bar.

mastering credit cards
A visual of credit card history as reported monthly by my credit card company.
3. Get new credit cards with cash or points bonuses

Many credit card offers include a promotion of either cash or travel points. This is in addition to the regular cash back % and points that they acru. Be sure to compare offers. There are several variables. This includes the promotion, the amount that must be spent to get it, and the regular benefit. The best ‘investment’ I have ever made was a $200 bonus on a $500 required expense. That’s a 40% return. Where else can one get that kind of a deal. It also happens to be a very decent cash back credit card. What a way to use a credit card. This is why we want to learn to master them.

Mastering credit cards
The Best Offer I Have Ever Gotten on a New Credit Card

Note the cashback % on this card: 3% restaurants, 3% gas, 1% the rest. Later in this post I will discuss credit card pairing. Therefore if you buy groceries more than you eat out, you can use another card for groceries at 3% like the BoA Cash Rewards card. If you pair these two, you get 3% for both groceries and gas. Then you can really benefit by using the Quicksilver card as one examples which pays 1.5% across the board for other expenses. This will be elaborated on later in this post.

Please note that this post is in several sections and will continue with Mastering Credit Card Tips: Part Two.

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My Credit Cards World

 

Introduction

I’ve talked a lot about credit cards lately. It feels like I am living in a credit cards world. Actually, this for two reasons. One is because I have wanted to learn everything I could about them, credit scores and credit reports, too. The other reason, probably the most important one, is that credit cards have become one of my most important survival tools.

credit card world
Alison D. Gilbert, The Credit Card Maven
The Credit Card Maven

As a result of my intense interest and need to know everything I can about credit cards, I’ve even created a Facebook page called The Credit Card Maven. This is where I post information as I have researched and sourced it. I have found a number of websites, blog posts, Facebook pages (listed here) and groups that are extremely helpful resources in my quest for knowledge as The Credit Card Maven in my credit card world. Included are:
Credit Card Mastery
Credit Karma
CreditCards.com
NerdWallet
Wallet Hacks
Wise Bread
 

credit cards world
Viper Tool Storage Box Survival Toolkit as part of My Credit Card World
Credit Cards as a Survival Tool

As I mentioned at the start of this post, credit cards have become a survival tool in my credit cards world. It was not by design that this came to be.

It was more a matter of circumstances. Once I got a feel for how useful and profitable using credit cards could be, my desire to use them and master it increased. Let me give you an example.

I have had a cash rewards credit card for a number of years. I can accumulate up to about $40. in a two month period. That was a good beginning. Then I decided to get a travel rewards card in anticipation of someday going to visit my family in Colorado. I used it and kept on accumulating points.

Credit Card Currency

When I went to check on the conversion to paying for an airplane ticket, the results were not impressive. I had to find something better. This time by design, I set out to find the best deal I could for air travel benefits using a credit card. I found one that I ultimately used for my flight. It rewarded me with 30,000 points and a $100. discount on my airplane ticket. This was such a great deal that I have enough points to return to Colorado for free, right now.

credit cards world
Credit cards currency from 123RF.com
Now that’s what I call using credit cards as currency. If I could do that with a travel rewards credit card, I wondered what other benefits and rewards I could manifest in my credit cards world. I familiarized myself with a few other travel rewards cards as part of getting a second ticket for my husband and having funds for other things related to our vacation. All in all, my activities resulted in a savings of between $400 and $500 for our trip.

 

 

Credit Card Investing

Let me present one more situation where the skilled use of a credit card became very profitable. I found an offer for a cash rewards credit card that would refund $100 on spending $500 within 90 days of acquiring the card. That would be a 20% profit. I had never accomplished that in the stock market. It seemed like a very good investment to me. I wasn’t sure if I would be granted another card as I had accumulated quite a few by this point. But it came through. I fulfilled the requirements. Now I am just waiting for my investment to pay off.

credit cards world
Credit Card Monthly Rotation represented by a photo from blog.taxact.com
Credit Card Monthly Rotation

I made another discovery. It may seem a bit confusing. In fact, I am kind of surprised that I am even able to do this. I am calling it credit card monthly rotation. It is based upon a combination of the nature of credit cards themselves and good credit card hygiene.

Each credit card has a closing date and a payment due date. Since I have several credit cards and they have different closing and payment dates, I can use them and not have to pay them at the same time. If I make my purchased and schedule my payments using my monthly rotation system, I have a revolving credit situation. In other words, if my budget in a particular month needs to be exceeded, I can use a card that has a closing date that will allow payment the following month. I just have to make sure the funds will be available then.
 

credit card world
Brian Cain’s Credit Card Mastery Course
Credit Card Mastery

What is credit card mastery? Have I achieved it? It turns out that this term exists. I did not invent it as I thought I had. There is actually a course called Credit Card Mastery that costs $97. Much of it seems similar to my own system. Although I have not taken that course, it looks very comprehensive. This is an introduction to the course and an explanation of it by founder, Brian Cain.

Based upon my understanding and goals to achieve Credit Card Mastery, I believe that I am on my way but I have not achieved mastery yet. When will I achieve it? There are several requirements that I have established for myself:
• My credit scores average will be over 800 again. It is only about 10-20 points from that now.
• My monthly rotation system will have proven itself to work and I will have a sense of mastery in my credit card world
• My Credit Card Management Chart will be complete and committed to memory. As a result, I will have a firm grasp on all my cards and a natural flow for their use in rotation as needed.

Conclusion

To many people, understanding credit scores and reading credit reports are overwhelming and confusing. There is no need to not have transparency and clarity about your credit cards world. Credit cards are an important tool and can even be crucial for personal survival and business development. Study the resources provided. Take the Credit Card Mastery Course if you can. Having one’s finances in order and being able to live solvently in a credit card world are not luxuries. They are necessities and everyone deserves to have them.

credit card world
The Cool Piggy Bank property of The WalletHacks.com and the cover image of their facebook page
Sources & Resources

CreditCardMastery.com, a course developed by Brian Cain
CreditCards.com, find a credit card that’s right for you
CreditKarma.com, free credit scores and more
NerdWallet.com, Best Credit Cards of 2017
NextAdvisor.com, all about finances
WalletHacks.com, founded by Jim Wang
WiseBread.com, great blog post advice about credit cards and everyday frugal living

FICO SCORE AND CREDIT REPORTING AGENCIES
Equifax
Experian
Transunion
Identity Guard

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Mastering Credit Card for Survival and Profit

 

financial survival tools
My two published eBook on Amazon.com

My second eBook, MASTERING CREDIT CARDS for Survival & Profit is now available on Amazon along with my first, The Poor Middle Class Crisis.

Introduction

I am The Credit Card Maven. I have learned ways to master the use of credit cards for survival and profit. This post is designed to share these techniques with my friends and followers.

I started using charge cards many years ago. I never abused them. The bills were always paid on time. But they were not credit cards. They were charge cards for department stores. At one point, I decided to eliminate most of them.
 

credit card maven

The Credit Score Scale from Shutter Stock®
Credit Cards Replace Charge Cards

My FICO score has always been in the excellent range. In spite of that, I had no idea how FICO scores worked. It was just one of those mysteries of life. I continued to carry a limited number of cards as well as having a credit score of over 800. When our financial situation changed in 2008, credit cards took on a totally new meaning for us.

Credit Cards Become Currency

Due to circumstances which I detail in my first eBook, The Poor Middle Class Crisis Introduction, our financial profile changed drastically. Our equity was gone as well as our income. We no longer had savings. Suddenly credit cards became a way to earn money and derive other benefits from them, as well.

The biggest incentive to use credit cards as currency was our need to take a trip to Colorado to visit our families. Because of that, I signed up for a total of four travel rewards cards. One of them was the airline travel rewards card. I signed up during a promotion. If I spent $1,000 in three months using this card, I would get 30,000 bonus points and $100. off the airfare. I have earned enough points for a free trip to Colorado and back, again. Hopefully it won’t take six years to see our families again.

credit card maven
The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card Offer from Creditcards.offers.com
Credit Card Mastery

As you can imagine, using so many cards can become very confusing. I am still perfecting my system. But I can tell you what I have learned so far. We are fortunate enough to have excellent credit. So we were easily able to secure all the cards we wanted. If you don’t have great credit, do everything you can to improve it. There is a link to an article from NextAdvisor.com in the Sources and Resources section about paying down if not getting out of debt. Do read it.

Treasure An Excellent FICO Score

For the person with excellent credit, you want to keep it. Great credit is precious. Here are some golden rules on how to train yourself to use your credit cards wisely.
• Sign up for cards that best meet you needs and spending habits. There are websites that show you which to use.
• Always pay bills in full and on time.
• Make a chart of closing and payment due dates for all your cards.
• Keep an accounting of how much you spend each month so that you do not exceed your budget.
• Use no more than 30% of the credit limit you have on each card.
• It is better to charge larger amounts on a few cards than to charge small amounts on many cards.
• For cash rewards cards, write on the card itself the cash back % you get on each category of purchases.
• Do not close old credit card accounts. It is best to have as long a credit history as possible.
• Avoid fee based cards unless the benefits greatly outweigh the out-of-pocket expense.

Credit Card Myths and Tips
credit card maven
‘Treat Your Cards Like Your Best Friends’. Man Holding A Credit Card from 123RF.com

Myths about credit cards abound. So here are some tips to dispel them.
• A credit score will not necessarily be lowered by having numerous cards. But don’t sign up for too many too close together. That can appear to the credit card score companies like you are in crisis.
• Almost every credit card company has a ‘Check Your FICO score’ feature. You can use it without negatively impacting your score. This is a ‘soft’ check.
• A ‘hard’ check can negatively impact your score. That could be checking by a loan company, a future employer,etc.

 

Conclusion

There is so much more that can and will be said about credit cards, their use and mastery in future posts. Credit cards can be like a loaded gun. They can be dangerous, even deadly if you do not know how to use it. On the other hand, they can be a lifesaver when properly trained.

Sources and Resources

0% Interest Card Offerings Now, from NextAdvisor

Getting the Right Card for Your Balance Transfer
Credit Cards Dos and Don’ts

The Ten Best Cash Rewards Cards from CreditKarma.com

How To Pick The Best Credit Card for You from NerdWallet.com

Find The Best Credit Card Offers for You

5 Money Problems You Can Solve With A Good Attitude

There are so many invaluable posts on the WalletHacks.com site, I am linking to their archive

Using Credit Cards from The Alison D. Gilbert Blog

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Living A Consciously Frugal Life

 

Savvy Shopper Savings with Credit Cards: Introduction

Savvy Shopper Savings is essential to living a consciously frugal life as a member of The Former Middle Class, the Facebook page. For me, one of the most valuable tools in my financial survival toolkit, introduced in the Financial Survival Toolkit blog post, has been the responsible use of credit cards and as a result, the invaluable benefits that I have derived from them.

Living A Consciously Frugal Life
My Financial Survival Toolkit for Living a Consciously Frugal Life from the Viper Tool Storage Company

Credit cards can be both a blessing and a curse. The suggestions given here about them apply only to people who use the responsibly and have excellent credit scores. I have used credit cards for as far back as I can remember. I have always paid them on time. My credit score is excellent, as a result. I have written previous blog posts about credit cards. But very recently, I realized recently that there was much more to be gained from having credit cards than just having an excellent credit score. They can be an essential tool of savvy shopper savings.

savvy shopper savings

When I realized their invaluable potential, I began an in-depth research project into their use. There are two types of credit cards that fit into this category, cash rewards cards and travel rewards cards. My study has included both. Many websites and blogs specialize in savvy shopper savings with the use of credit cards. Here are two PDF booklets I compiled for the abundance of information available from research on the Internet.

The Best Cash Back Credit Cards
Savvy Shopper Savings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Savvy Shopper Savings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Savvy Shopper Savings with Credit Cards: Conclusion

The responsible use of credit cards for cash and travel rewards is just one of countless ways to live a consciously frugal life. Future blog posts will reveal more about the use of credit cards as one-time high yield instruments as part of our savvy shopper savings strategies.
 

Sources, Resources and Internal Links

Savvy Shopper Savings, the Facebook group
The Former Middle Class, the Facebook page
The Viper Tool Storage Company, the website
Wise Bread, the website
WalletHacks, the website
NerdWallet, the blog
previous blog posts about credit cards
the Financial Survival Toolkit blog post

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Our Frugal Vacation for Members of the Former Middle Class

 

How We Took A Frugal Vacation As Members of The Former Middle Class

This fact is in spite of what Erika Rawes wrote in The Cheat Sheet entitled, ’10 Things the Middle Class Can’t Afford Anymore’. At the very top of her list was the word, VACATION.

This blog post will disprove her statement. In addition to disproving her, I also pronounce that the Middle Class she referred to is disappearing and becoming The Former Middle Class. Even with that added financial burden, it is possible to take a frugal vacation.

It is different from a Middle Class or Upper Middle Class vacation. I will not dispute that. Actually, it involves actions that a middle class person would not take or need to take. Nonetheless, it is still a vacation. I have proof. That proof is what this post is all about.

frugal vacation
10 Things The Middle Class Can’t Afford Anymore by Erika Rawes

I had not seen most of my family for six years. They live in Colorado. In fact, the last time I had been to Colorado was for my nieces weddings. Their four children were not yet a gleam in anyone’s eyes. We were long overdue to visit now that I had become a great-aunt. Since we had become member of The Former Middle Class, I did not know how that was going to be possible. As it was, we were barely making ends meet.

But as my husband and I told ourselves, life is short. We are both hovering about our seventh decade and live a day at a time. So one never knows how many days, weeks, months or years that might be. Time was of the essence even if the funds were not apparent. I was determined to make this the year we would return to Colorado, it’s beautiful mountains, past great fly fishing experience and now three great nephews as well as a great niece.

This Is How Financing Our Frugal Vacation Came Together

Pay close attention to this part because this is how to create the opportunity to take a frugal vacation. There are essential ingredients to this alchemical formula. They include and are primarily:
• Travel Rewards Credit Cards
• Promotions
• Help from family
• Help from friends

TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARDS
Without having any idea when a trip to Colorado would happen or what it would cost, I went ahead and signed up with our first Travel Rewards Card, The BankAmericard Travel Rewards Card. It was with a highly reputable bank and the one we also had other cards with. After using it for a little while, we accumulated a few hundred travel rewards points. One ticket was charged on that card. This card happens to be the top card recommended by Wise Bread in this article.

frugal vacation
The BankAmericard Travel Rewards Card

 

I then took advantage of another promotion towards realizing our frugal vacation. It was a Travel Rewards Card from Capital One, Venture One.

frugal vacation
The Capital One VentureOne Travel Rewards Card

By the time I had paid for the airline tickets, I did not need to use the equivalent in travel points of $200.plus. I called Capital One and they were able to upgrade me to the Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card. This became the equivalent of cash I could use anywhere for anything. It actually paid for our out of pocket expenses on our trip.

frugal vacation
The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card

frugal Vacation
Delta Skymiles Credit Card
In continuing my Travel Rewards Credit Card research, I came upon a number of articles about what were considered the best cards for travel rewards. One in particular recommended the Delta SkyMiles Credit Card. It just so happens that Delta Airlines flies to Denver. Also, the promotion for this card included $100 off the first trip and 30,000 additional points if a certain amount of money was charged within a certain amount of time. From past experience, I knew this would be manageable. Due to some confusion with signing up, I ended up with two accounts, saved $200 on our flights and am now working on the 30,000 travel rewards points.

OTHER PROMOTIONS
When it came time to go home, we decided to try the SuperShuttle. We had taken the newly completed light rail system from the airport to the hotel. It was a bit grueling as it happened to be raining and snowing that particular day in May. Although it was a thrifty $9. for both of us. Using that method of return transportation was out of the question.

In arranging for our $38. Super Shuttle ride to the airport, there was a prompt on the phone that gave us the opportunity to receive two $20. refund coupons. I usually ignore these kinds of offers. But as a Former Middle Class, I felt it was my duty to investigate. We signed up for $1 to try the greatfun.com website. If we didn’t like it, we could cancel within thirty days and we would receive no other charges. I have to make sure I contact them before June 23. If not, the fee goes up to $16.99 per month.

THANKS TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Our family treated us royally providing food and lodging. Friends drove us to and from the airport, lent money to fill in the gaps and one friend in particular lent us two suitcases which she then said we could keep. Let me not forget our neighbor who took in our mail for the time we were gone so we did not have to deal with the post office.

We already miss the mountain view outside our hotel window. With all the travel points we are now accumulating who know how soon we will have a snow capped view when we look outside. We hope and plan that it will be soon.

frugal vacation
View of Snow Capped Rocky Mountains Looking West From Denver by John Bielick on Flickr
CONCLUSIONS
From when we first started pricing our trip, the flight costs rose daily. My husband searched for several days and became dizzy between all the various supposed discount options, Orbits.com, Travelocity.com, AARP.com and others. For some reason, I decided to try again. It seemed to me that there had to be a way to get to where we wanted to go and back for under $1200. By the time I finished the research, locked in our fares and got promotional discounts, our airfares were $650 including flight cancellation insurance. Now that we have shared some of the ways to took our frugal vacation, we hope you will find these tips helpful so you can take a frugal vacation, too.

SOURCES & RESOURCES
Cheat Sheet Article

No Hassle Travel Rewards Card With Highest Results

5 Top Travel Rewards Cards

Delta SkyMiles Rewards Card

Super Shuttle

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Money, A Government Commodity

 

Introduction
Money
The Poor Middle Class Crisis, Financial Survival Resources Guide by Alison D. Gilbert © 2017
Money, as a government produced commodity is more friendly to the wealthy and decreasing so as one approaches poverty. As a Senior Suburban Survivalist, or a member of The Former Middle Class, The Poor and even the dwindling Middle Class, we need to find more impartial, equitable survival resources. They need to be less dependent on government produced and controlled money.

In addition to the inequity of money is the fact that many of us no longer have enough income or savings to live the traditional life we grew up with or used to have. In other words, we are no longer Middle Class Americans. We are part of the Poor Middle Class Crisis. Many of us are in debt. Many of us baby boomers are now seniors and beyond significant employability.

The most devastating causes of the loss of one’s money can be a serious illness, a death, the termination of a good job, as well as storms and earthquakes. A significant economic downturn can scoop up more of the Middle Class and deposit us, like yesterday’s trash, into the heap of The Poor Middle Class. Some people ended up in the depths of poverty and homelessness from the horrific hurricanes of 2005 and 2012 and the stock market crash of 2008.

Learn more about The Poor Middle Class Crisis and our story in the Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook available on Amazon.com, the introductory facebook page of the same name and the companion facebook resource, support group, Financial Survival Resources for The Poor Middle Class.

Time For A Change
Here is an introductory video to the homesteading life, Off Grid with Doug and Stacy.

It is time for a change, a paradigm shift to a new kind of economy. We need an economy that offers alternatives to money as its foundation. We no longer have a large Middle Class or the ease to be part of it. Our government’s focus has shifted. We have a growing Poor Middle Class and increasingly fewer people in possession of the government produced money.

If the economic paradigm does not shift, this is the direction we are headed in. Many people will have to live like slaves. They will continue to have to work two and even three minimum wage jobs. Even then, they may barely make enough money to survive. Also, they may still need government assistance, like food stamps to make ends meet and health insurance to survive.

money
This is the new suburbs, camps of homeless people who find refuge in suburban wooded areas. Although not legal, this is a place to gather as a community for safety and survival. From NJ.com.
Disastrous Results From Uneven Distribution of Government Money

If people are not fortunate enough to find work, are not able to work, can’t support themselves or their families and cannot get enough government assistance, they may also become homeless. The number of homeless people in this country is also increasing. One of the changes that needs to take place does not involve going backwards.

The problem will not be solved by increasing jobs in outmoded technologies that will be short lived and not provide health insurance. It will also not be solved by the government’s shifting money around where even less goes to the needy and more goes to national defense. As we know, the haves will rarely give enough to help the have-nots unless they are forced to. It does not look like the current administration is of the mind to force the very wealth to do so. This would require a substantial tax restructuring. This is not going to happen, either. Therefore, what is required is a completely new kind of economy.

money
Depression Era from Freshman English on Wikispace.com
Exempt From Disaster

The ultra-wealthy 1% and other very wealthy people might be exempt from needing to be part of this paradigm shift. They could keep their money. In fact, they would continue to monopolize this government commodity. But for those of us who suffer from the lack of money and the results of the unwillingness of the wealthy to share theirs with us, we need a system for The Middle Class, The Poor Middle Class and The Poor to rely as little as possible on government controlled money. As the saying goes, ‘the solution is not in the problem’.

Alternatives To A National Government Money Based Economy

I believe that we are in the beginning of this paradigm shift. Money is becoming harder to come by for too many of us. Therefore, we need to be less dependent on it. As a matter of fact, cash produced by our government is much less involved in our daily goods and services transactions. Here are some of the ways this has already changed:

money
Local Currency as shown on Wikipedia
• Paying with credit cards and being rewarded for it with cash or travel points. See posts about Cash Rewards Credit Cards and Travel Rewards Credit Cards.

• Community currency or local currency is defined by Wikipedia as “In economics, a local currency is a currency that can be spent in a particular geographical locality at participating organisations”.

• Bartering all kinds of food and products (on an individual or community cooperative basis) The Barter Network

money
The Barter Network

• Acquisition without money such as foraging for food, using natural sources of energy, street find, reuse of existing found materials, scavenging for food and other usable items

• Homesteading and off grid living as close to what nature can provide with a bare minimum of cash to live such as Off Grid with Doug and Stacy

 

Bitcoin is a digital, international coin system not produced by the US government

Conclusion

This is just the beginning of opening the doors and windows of the proverbial ‘thinking outside the box’. Paradigm shifts do not take place overnight. They only appear to in an historical perspective. We do not have that perspective, yet. This movement is much too new. But the good news for many of us is that is it a is happening and it is in its beginning.

Senior suburban Survivalism

 

 

 

Sources & Resources

The Viper Tool Storage Company

The Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook

The Former Middle Class

Financial Survival Resources for The Poor Middle Class

Senior Suburban Survivalism,

Bitcoin

Off Grid with Doug and Stacy

How Bartering Works

Local currency

The Barter Network

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USING CREDIT CARDS

 

Credit Cards
WARNING, using credit cards can be like carrying a loaded gun. At the same time, they can be financially beneficial if you know how to shoot. On the other hand, they can be deadly if you don’t. In fact, many people do end up in debt using them. The interest that accumulates can make it impossible to ever pay them off. Groups that help people get out of debt prohibit their use altogether.

credit cards are a financial survival tool for the poor middle class crisis
Credit Cards from Linkedin.com

But in my case, using credit cards is part of my financial survival toolkit. With this caveat, I also strongly suggest the following. If you are not able to be vigilant using them by never missing a payment, do not include them in your financial survival toolkit.

 

How I Make Money Using Credit Cards
Yes, I have actually learned how to accumulate cash or credit towards purchases using my credit cards*. So far, I have discovered two ways to create income. If you know of others, please let me know. I have the following cards:
• a cash rewards card
• a travel points card
* The ‘income’ from them, the cash rewards are not taxable because the money is a discount or purchase rebate, not income itself.

 

Cash Rewards Credit Cards
Some banks offer credit cards that accumulate cash points for purchases. The points are a percentage of the expense. They range between 1% and 3%. I have been able to earn about $20/month with this system.

the poor middle class crisis financial survival toolkit
The Chase Freedom Unlimited Cash Back Visa
* Mention of this card is in no way an endorsement of it.

 
Travel Rewards and Sky Miles Credit Cards
I signed up for a travel rewards credit card when the bank had a special promotion. If I charged a certain amount of purchases within three months, I would receive 20,000 in travel points. I did this. The travel points will go towards a trip out of state to see family and friends.
Financial Survival Toolkit for the poor middle class crisis
Five Star Sky Miles Credit Card
* Mention of this card is in no way an endorsement of it.

 

Sources & Resources
Here is a list of the best credit cards for a variety of categories. You can explore these websites for even more suggested card categories.

Excellent Credit Scores:
Excellent Credit Score Cards

Cash Back:
Best Credit Cards for Cash Back | Compare Cards

Travel:
Best Travel Credit Card-BankAmericacard Travel Rewards

Credit Karma | Best Travel Credit Cards

General use:
Best Credit Cards for 2017 | Compare Cards

Credit Karma | Best Credit Cards

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WEBSITE

 

website
The Alison D. Gilbert Website illustrates that an entrepreneur’s ventures can come to an end, but the creative spirit never dies.

The ALISON D. GILBERT Website

My website explores a system that I developed to manifest a variety of entrepreneurial ventures. This system is based on a natural flow that allows for the transformation of a passion into a profession. This four-step process:

• Provides a roadmap to discover and focus one’s passion

• Illustrates the flow from a passion to a profession

• Assists aspiring entrepreneurs to discover their professional purpose in life

• Shares my own passions, process, journey and ventures

 

The Website Layout

These are The ALISON D. GILBERT Website pages and subpages links. They correspond to these links at the top of the page. The arrow pointing down symbol indicates subpages. This is what it looks like. The blue highlight appears here for emphasis. It is not blue on the actual page link area.

Only the main pages are shown here as part of a static image. The live main page links and the subpages as well as their links work at the top of this page.

website
 

Alison D. Gilbert, photo by Phil Jacobs ©

WEBSITE Page (this page) and subpages links:

Discovery Process
Entrepreneurial Process
Entrepreneurial Journey

 

 

 

website
Alison D. Gilbert, photo by Phil Jacobs ©
ENTREPRENEUR Page and subpages links:

A Healthy Eating Diary Leads to A Food Career
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Alison D. Gilbert, photo by Phil Jacobs ©
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Alison D. Gilbert, photo by Phil Jacobs ©
WRITER page and its subpages links:

The Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook
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Alison D. Gilbert, still filled with passion and the creative spirit
The ALISON D. GILBERT Blog

My Blog is a collection of factual stories based on my investigative research and filled with passion. The topics have included:
ART & DESIGN | FOOD & HEALING | FINANCES & SURVIVAL | MUSIC & MEMORIES | SOCIAL MEDIA & SOCIAL ISSUES

My blog is designed to:
• Stimulate ideas in my readers about shared passions, interests and concerns
• Encourage ongoing conversation between my readers or followers and me
• Comments are welcome and encourage

 

 

 

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Alison D. Gilbert, photo by Phil Jacobs ©
CONTACT page:

• This page details ways to contact me directly

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A Savvy Savings Shopper

 

savvy savings shopper
A Savvy Savings Shopper Award adapted from a Pinterest image

Introduction

I am a Savvy Savings Shopper. Why do I call myself that? It is because I have had to learn, adopt and develop as many money saving, frugal habits and techniques as possible so that I could survive.

It has taken time, energy, research as well as trial and error to learn what to do and how to do it so I could be considered a savvy savings shopper. Consequently, the things that work have helped me to go from being One Day From Homeless, to a Senior Suburban Survivalist and now to A Savvy Savings Shopper.

Therefore the purpose of this blog post, A Savvy Savings Shopper, is to review some of these techniques, tools and tips I have learned. I wish to share what has worked for me with other people who need and want to survive, too. In addition, recognition goes to others who have accomplished a similar feat and to recognize them with The Savvy Savings Shopper Award.

 

ASKING FOR HELP

Back in 2008 when the stock market crashed and my husband was laid off from his job, all within one week, I realized we were going to need help. It really sank in when we had to use his pension and lose my savings just to survive. We needed help. As a result, I had to swallow my pride then learn to ask for help.

GETTING HELP

We researched and applied for whatever social services we could qualify for. We sought help from our local senior center. We got food stamps which were very helpful initially. This was because the amount we got is based upon a peculiar formula reflecting past income and medical expenses. But as time went on, our income was reduced to unemployment and there was less money for medical expenses. As a result, our monthly food stamp allotment diminished substantially.

APPLYING AND QUALIFYING FOR GOVERNMENT ASSISTED LIVING

Consequently, we had to continue to seek out other opportunities for assistance. Fortunately we did find subsidized, senior housing where we continue to live today. Refer to another blog post I wrote about affordable housing.
savvy savings shopper
 

GOING TO FOOD PANTRIES FOR FOOD

Since we had such limited income and minimal food stamps, we had to find other sources for food. There are food pantries in just about every town where we live. Most are open once a month and some are weekly. We have found the ones that work best for us. But even then, there is still a shortage of fresh produce and meat.
 

GOING TO FOOD PANTRIES FOR CLOTHES

Some food pantries also have clothes that have been donated. Depending upon the source and the community, the clothes can be very good quality. Since I cannot afford to even go to thrift stores any more, these ‘Lord’s Taylors’, as my husband calls them, are a tremendous help.
 

COUPON WEBSITES

Some websites are specifically for coupons for food, household and all kinds of item. One of them is coupons.com.

savvy savings shopper
A sample of the coupons that can be printed and downloaded from coupons.com

 

SHOPPING THROUGH CASHBACK WEBSITES
Both BeFrugal.com and ebates.com are cash back websites.
Savvy Savings Shopper
BeFrugal.com is a Cashback website

savvy savings shopper
ebates.com is a cashback website.

 

SHOPPING WHERE I GET SENIOR DISCOUNTS

AARP.COM is a great source for senior discounts. In addition, there are restaurants and stores that give discounts to seniors. But don’t wait for them to tell you. ASK rather than wait for them to let you know!

savvy savings shopper
The AARP website is a great source of senior discounts and offers
Some supermarkets give everyday discounts to seniors, like Wild By Nature. Others have senior discounts one day of the week, like Gala Fresh and Compare. Riteaid gives seniors a discount on the first Wednesday of the month.

SHOPPING AT DISCOUNT STORES

There are all kinds of discount stores from cheap dollar stores to high end ones. My favorite is HomeGoods. In fact, if you use their credit card for purchases, you earn points and get a $10 store coupon for each 1000 points earned.

savvy savings shopper
HomeGoods is my favorite discount store that carries designer items from food to furniture

savvy savings shopper
I am a CVS Supersaver in the top 4% of their stores in New York.
SHOPPING WHERE I GET GREAT SAVINGS

CVS Pharmacy, their official name, carries much more than prescriptions. I buy all kinds of household items there. Because they regularly offer discount coupons, I regularly shop at their stores. In fact, they just acknowledged me as being in the top 4% of supersavers in their New York stores. This is because I regularly make purchases at deep discounts from CVS. These include:
• all my paper goods
• vitamins
• kitchen accessories
• dental care products
• occasional candy and dessert treats
• nasal and vision aids
• over the counter medical needs
• clothes and shoes
• hair care products
• special body soaps
• skin care products

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bird's eye maple table with colorful legs. © Decorative Painting by Alison Gilbert
Bird’s eye maple table with colorful legs. © Decorative Painting by Alison Gilbert
GETTING FURNISHINGS FROM THE TRASH (STREET FINDS) AND GARAGE SALES

Unless something is made out of fabric and stuffing, like beds and chairs, I have gotten almost all our furniture from street finds or garage sales. In fact, the quality of old wooden furniture is far superior to the new cheap materials, chipboard and fast growing pine. Consequently, old furniture is in demand.

After honing my skills on pieces I got at at little or no cost or my own furniture, I took on client work and started a business painting,customer furniture and creating custom decorations.
From this, my own 5-Step Decorative Painting System emerged. Here are the five steps involved:
1. Prep
2. Prime
3. Paint
4. Prettify
5. Protect

A manual that describes the process step-by-step is in progress. This makes it possible for anyone to upcycle old furniture and furnishings.

 

USING CREDIT CARDS RESPONSIBLY

PLEASE NOTE THE NEW SECTION DEVOTED TO CREDIT CARDS USAGE. BECAUSE OF THIS, CREDIT CARD USE SYSTEMS ARE NO LONGER PART OF SAVVY SHOPPING SAVINGS TOOLS.

Because of the potential financial dangers of using credit cards irresponsibly, I especially caution that only people with excellent credit and extreme diligence with their use of credit cards follow these ideas. I compiled two booklet from resource materials that detail the best credit cards to use for cash back and travel rewards. They are The Best Cash Back Credit Cards and The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards. Furthermore, there is a website creditcards.com that will actually calculate which are the best credit cards to use for individual needs.

savvy savings shopper
Credit Cards from Linkedin.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PARTICIPATING IN SOCIAL MEDIA ON THIS TOPIC

Participating in Facebook groups and pages as well as websites can provide lots of new information. The groups can also function as support groups. I strongly recommend joining and participating. Some of my favorite sources are listed below.

READING AND WRITING BLOG POSTS WITH SUGGESTIONS ON THIS TOPIC

Reading and writing blog posts are two great ways of learning new tips as well as processing what one knows on this topic. Here is another blog post I wrote on this topic, Living A Consciously Frugal Life.

READ EVERYTHING I CAN ON THIS TOPIC AND WRITE AN eBOOK ABOUT IT

Especially relevant to writing on this topic to read, are other sources of material. Based upon extensive research and writing, I composed, The Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook. It is designed to ‘tell our story’, going from ‘One Day from Homeless’ to where we are now. The book is filled with savvy savings shopper tips.

a Savvy Savings Shopper
Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook
Conclusion

In conclusion, the list of resources is growing exponentially. It will continue to grow as the need and demand for savvy shavings shopping tips increases.

Sources and Resources

The Savvy Savings Shopper Facebook page
Savvy Shopper Savings Facebook group
A Senior Suburban Survivalist Facebook page
Senior Suburban Survivalism Facebook group
Survival Comes First Facebook page
WiseBread.com website with a Facebook page
WalletHacks.com website with a Facebook page
CreditCards.com website with a Facebook page
NerdWallet.com website with a Facebook page

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