Mastering Credit Card for Survival and Profit

 

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

I have a credit or FICO score. It has been in the excellent range for years. I had no idea how that 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 which is fairly rare. Then our financial situation changed and credit cards took on a totally new function.

Credit Cards Become Currency

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

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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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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THE POOR MIDDLE CLASS CRISIS: Introduction

 

INTRODUCTION
The Poor Middle Class Crisis is the story of The Poor Middle Class. It is designed to be a resources guide for the Financial Survival of the Poor Middle Class. This guide is an instruction manual for building resources known as a ‘financial survival toolkit’. It also encourages readers to start or find and participate in a ‘financial survival support group or community’.

The Poor Middle Class, itself, is a relatively new phenomenon. Our personal membership was precipitated by the 2008 stock market crash the same week as a primary income earners job layoff. For others families, becoming affected by the poor middle class crisis may have been due to the subprime mortgage scandal. It cost many families their homes. The Poor Middle Class are composed of people who were once middle class, who likely have college degrees or advanced degrees, had careers and good jobs, had homes with equity in them, had pensions, had good health insurance and savings.

the poor middle class blog
45 million Americans rely on food stamps, 1 million about to lose them – report from @Jim Young/Reuters

The Challenge for The Poor Middle Class
Financial survival has become a critical issue for the Poor Middle Class. This is a crisis that has led to the growing need for new, resourceful financial survival tools. These tools are not exclusive to one demographic, one age group, a particular sex, or one location. But because I am a ‘senior’ living in New York State, some of the tools and resources may apply specifically to people in this demographic.

As a result, I especially welcome your comments and additional suggestions to expand the resources for anyone’s financial survival toolkit. Therefore, I invite you to visit and participate in my companion Facebook page, The Poor Middle Class Crisis & Resources.

poor middle class crisis
‘The Secret Shame of Middle Class Americans’ from ‘My Secret Shame’ from The Atlantic by Neal Gabler

Financial Survival
Now, we have almost nothing left of that life. But we are not technically poor. Therefore we do not qualify for the level of government benefits reserved for those living in poverty. But we are no longer middle class, either. We are in a place where we cannot meet the obligations of a middle class lifestyle. But we are not poor enough to get enough assistance to survive, either. We also are unable to find or maintain jobs like we had before the financial crisis began. The result is that we need to become very resourceful to survive. Therefore, I needed to gather new financial survival resources. I have created a ‘Financial Survival ToolKit’ in my mind to transform this crisis into an adventure rather than a place of fear.

poor middle class crisis
From ‘Americans on Food Stamps’

My Financial Survival Toolkit
It has taken me years to compile the resources, tips and suggestions I have in my financial survival toolkit. In addition, I continue to add to it. I am a visual person so I find it helpful to choose visual tools to help me implement concepts and ideas. I love the cabinets and tool boxes created by the The Viper Tool Storage Company. Therefore I chose one of their set ups to be my virtual financial survival toolkit. Many of my real tools are based on my own experience. Some are based on ideas and tips I have gathered on my financial survival journey. There may be resources that you already use. Other tips and tools may be new, hopefully useful suggestions. I also welcome any input and suggestions you may have. Please enter them in the comments section.

 financial survival toolkit for the poor middle class crisis
A Financial Survival Toolkit for gathering all my Finaincial Survival Tools that can be bougt at the Viper Tool Storage Company in mnay cheerful colors

Financial Overview
I keep an overview of my monthly finances at all times. This means that I monitor my income and expenses with the benefit of online banking, automatic bill paying and computerized bookkeeping. It includes payment of most of my bills by autopay after my monthly income becomes available. There is a flow to all of this. It has taken me some time to create a system to coordinate the ins and outs of it. Sometimes I feel like a juggler. At other times, I still feel like a beginner.

The Poor Middle Class Crisis And Solutions
There are plenty of financial survival tools following this post in the series, The Poor Middle Class. The next post is A BUDGET: THE MOST ESSENTIAL FINANCIAL SURVIVAL TOOL FOR THE POOR MIDDLE CLASS. Read it and others on The Alison D. Gilbert Blog.

 

 

 

Sources & Resources
I’m Middle Class and Poor: It wasn’t supposed to be that way

5 Charts That Show How the Middle Class Are Disappearing

Americans on Foodstamps

Subprime Mortgage Crisis

Lest We Forget: Why We Had A Financial Crisis

The Secret Shame of Middle Class Americans

My Secret Shame from The Atlantic by Neal Gabler

Your Stories of Financial Struggle

Americans are trapped in a ‘cycle’ of financial insecurity

Young Invincibles, Financial Health

Report on Financial Health of Young Americans

How To Combat The Senior Poverty Epidemic

White Working Class Poverty

Parents Taking on Child’s College Debt and Putting Themselves at Financial Risk

5 Great Jobs for Retirees

Viper Tool Storage Box aka My Financial Survival Toolkit

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