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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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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