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Credit Card Differences And The Best Uses of Each Type, Part Two – July 2019

 

PART TWO, CREDIT CARD DIFFERENCES

In Part Two, I explore two areas of focus in Credit Card differences. They are network versus co-branded credit cards in addition to secured versus unsecured credit cards.

THE FIRST FOCUS AREA OF CREDIT CARD DIFFERENCES: NETWORK VERSUS CO-BRANDED CARDS

I will answer Credit Card differences in Part Two of Different Types of CreditCards and Their Best Uses. The first question I will answer is, ‘Why get network cards’? Then, ‘Why get store co-branded cards’? And finally, ‘What is the difference’?

NETWORK CREDIT CARDS

Referring back to Part One, it was explained that there are four types of major network credit cards, AMERICAN EXPRESS, DISCOVER, VISA, and MASTERCARD. Purchases can be charged just about anywhere with these cards. But there are no interest-free payment plans available.

credit card differences
There are four major credit card types or networks: American Express, Discover Cards, VISA, and MasterCard. Image from Cardrates.com

 

COBRANDED CREDIT CARDS

In contrast, co-branded credit cards offer interest-free payment plans. This is what makes them an essential part of credit card differences. The banks that these cards cobrand with are rarely major banks. That is because their primary purpose is cobranding not checking, savings, etc.

credit card differences
Co-branded credit cards from The EXtravel.com
cobranded credit card
Here is an example of special interest free financing with Shop Your Way (Sears/Kmart) cobranded by Citibank

 

CONCLUSION TO NETWORK VERSUS COBRANDED CREDIT CARDS

Thus a prudent mix of both types of cards is the optimal way to benefiting from credit card differences, the best percentages of cash rewards available combined with interest-free, overtime purchase payments. The blog post A Two-Pronged Credit Card Rating System (Part 2 – June 2019) reviews the reason to get a straight flush scenario with the major network cards.

 

credit-card-differences
A straight flush compared to a winning hand of cash reward cards. Image from Dreamline.

 

THE SECOND FOCUS AREA IN CREDIT CARDS: SECURED VERSUS UNSECURED CARDS

The above questions about network versus cobranded cards will be followed by an explanation of the difference between secured versus unsecured credit cards. On top of that, information about more cobranding banks that were mentioned in the last post will be discussed. Links will be provided in the SOURCES & RESOURCES area, as well.

 
Quoted from 5 Types of Credit Cards, “People who have a bad credit history or no credit history at all can take help of these secured cards. These secured cards are similar to that of general credit cards. However, in case of these cards, you must make a fully refundable deposit, either by cash or by sending a check. This deposited amount is considered as your credit line. As a result of this deposit, all the secured cards offer guaranteed approval.”

Quoted from the ‘General Credit Cards’ section from the same post, “General Credit Cards: A very common type of credit card is the general credit card. Such credit cards don’t require any kind of security deposit and can be used in most stores/shopping malls or to make any kind of purchases.” This definition would include what we call an unsecured, network credit card or co-branded card.

 

IN CONCLUSION

As stated earlier, there are really only two kinds of cashback credit cards, network and cobranded. In fact, the secured or unsecured featured is really just a qualification. But it is not its own category as the post 5 Different Types of Credit Cards states.

 

COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS
comment box sample only

This is only a SAMPLE of the comment box that can be found and filled in at the bottom of this page as well as each blog post page.

Readers are welcome to comment on this blog post by scrolling down to the VERY bottom of the page. That is where you will find the comment form with the words ‘start the discussion’. Questions are also welcome. But it is best to contact me for Q&A on The Credit Card Maven Facebook Page.

 

SOURCES & RESOURCES

Synchrony Business

What Are Co-branded Credit Cards from The EXTraveler

5 Different Types of Credit Cards

Co-branded credit cards from Wallet Hub

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A Two-Pronged Credit Card Rating System (Part 2 – June 2019)

 

A TWO-PRONGED CASH REWARD CREDIT CARD RATING SYSTEM

I’ve developed a credit card rating system that is very helpful in choosing Cash Reward Credit Cards. Specifically, the system analyses what particular cash rewards credit cards can and can’t do to help lower my monthly charged expenses at any given time.

THE TRAFFIC SIGNAL SYSTEM

cash-rewards-rating-system
My system is similar to the way a traffic signal works. The image is from Pixabay.

To start, the first part of the system is analogous to how a traffic signal operates. In other words, Cash Reward Credit Cards offer percentages of cash benefits to cardholders for charging purchases on their cards. Then, there are a variety of different qualities to benefit from.

To make the most of cash reward credit cards, become familiar with the benefits of all the cash reward credit card accounts being considered. As a refresher to the first post in this series, cash reward credit cards use can be divided into three benefits categories. For example, this is similar to a three-colored traffic signal. Thus, I have named the cash reward credit cards as reflections of the actions to take in response to traffic signal lights:

 

 

GREEN LIGHT indicates a clear go-ahead signal
YELLOW LIGHT suggests proceeding with some degree of caution
RED LIGHT urges avoiding or proceeding at one’s own risk

Study and choose carefully. As mentioned, this is because cash reward credit cards do not all have the same qualities or rates of return. In fact, they can be very different. As a result of studying each card’s personality, one will become familiar with the specific qualities. That way, a person will have an idea of how to plan for the most beneficial outcome. This means studying how best to use each card on its own. It includes observing the power of using them in combination with others.

CREDIT CARD TEAM WORK

In fact, cash reward credit cards work best as a team. Let me explain how this works. Different cards offer a different % of cashback for different categories of purchases. Thus, the ideal situation is to gather a group of the highest rate of cash return for each of the card categories that one uses most. For example, if one charges mostly for groceries and gas each month, the goal would be to acquire cards that pay the highest rate in these categories. In fact, these days that can be between 3% to 5%, and even 6%.

cash-reward-rating-system
A straight flush compared to a winning hand of cash reward cards. Image from Dreamline.

LET’S PLAY CASH REWARDS POKER

Ironically, credit card teamwork actually reminds me of a winning hand in the card game of poker. In comparing the two, one would want to come up with cards of the same suit. But each with a different card in numerical order. This is known as a straight flush. See the example above. In actuality, the only difference is that in the game of poker there are only 5 playing cards. But in my credit card system, there are ideally 6 credit cards. Therefore, a winning hand would be 6 cards with these percentages in the categories listed:

6% for US supermarkets
5% for all purchases on a store card
4% for dining out
3% for gas
2% for health care
1.5% for all purchases

Here’s a tip from James Wang of WalletHacks.com. Be certain to label credit cards with a magic marker to remind you what card to use for what category of purchase and % of the return. By doing this, you won’t forget and use the wrong card. Remember, you want to get the highest percentage of cash return out of each purchase. For that reason, this clever trick is invaluable.

CONCLUSION

Note that the next three blog posts in this series will specifically explore two things. First, each of the qualities of cash reward credit cards will be explored. Then specific cards will be analyzed. An easy way to remember the categories is Green for GO, Yellow for CAUTION, and Red for AVOID or proceed at your own risk!
Here are the links to all five posts in this series:

Introduction to A Credit Card Rating System (Series Part 1 – June 2019)
The Rating System Used for Cash Back Credit Cards (Series Part 2 – June 2019)
Excellent Cash Reward Cards (Part 3 – June 2019)
Mixed Cash Reward Credit Card Benefits (Part 4 – June 2019)
Risky Cash Reward Credit Cards (Part 5-June 2019)

Please note: I am not a certified financial planner or professional advisor. These blog posts about the use of credit cards are based on my own experience which I freely share. But I can take no legal or financial responsibility for the results you may have in attempting to follow my system. But I do wish you the best and welcome your comments and questions at the VERY end of this post. You will have reached the end because you can not scroll down any further. As well, you will have reached the comment form.

 

SOURCES & RESOURCES

Credit Card Categories, Sign Up Incentives and Cash Rewards

How To Compound Cash Rewards

Nerd Wallet | Credit Cards Market Place

The Former Middle Class Ebook Series

U.S. News’ 10 Best Cash Back Credit Cards

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A Credit Card Rating System Introduction (Series Part 1 – June 2019)

 

A CREDIT CARD RATING SYSTEM

The responsible use of cash reward credit cards has been very helpful in reducing my monthly expenses. In order to help me decide what new credit card I should apply for at any given time, I have developed a credit card rating system. It guides me in determining which credit card will best meet my needs at the time I apply for it. This blog post series will explain my system in detail to help others decide what cards and card qualities to consider as well.

THE CATEGORIES OF CREDIT CARDS

The categories of credit cards are shown in the illustration below. Note that each serves a different purpose. Cash reward credit cards provide a crucial feature that some of us value most, cash back for a reduction in expenses. To apply the system where it has great value, I will use the cash back or cash rewards cards category as the primary focus of this blog post series, A CREDIT CARD RATING SYSTEM.

credit-card-rating-system
“CompareCards says issuers are providing such generous deals, they’re virtually irresistible for those willing to switch.”
CASH BACK AKA CASH REWARDS CREDIT CARDS

With cash back credit cards, one can get reductions in monthly credit card charges. This is crucial for the survival of someone who is a Former Middle-Class Person as well as a senior citizen. In fact, the benefits offered to make life easier with these cards increases almost daily. This is because credit card issuers are becoming increasingly competitive with generous offers to lure new customers to switch credit cards.

ADD TO RATHER THAN SWITCH CARDS

It can be preferable to add a new credit card rather than switch by elimination. On the other hand, there are many details to keep in mind when adding rather than switching. In spite of that, one major benefit of having a bounty of (cash reward) credit cards is a substantial amount of total available credit. This means that if a credit cardholder uses a very small % of his/her total available credit each month, a major factor of one’s credit score remains ‘EXCELLENT’. When it comes to credit scores, most systems use a total of six factors and using a small % of available credit is one of them. But adding new cards definitely has its pluses and minuses. In spite of the challenges, I have found adding cards to be a plus. More about this in the other posts in this series.Here is an article about this from Credit Karma.

credit-card-rating-system
There are Six Primary Credit Card factors in the major FICO® scoring system as illustrated by Credit Karma®
HOW TO KEEP MANY CASH BACK CREDIT CARDS ACTIVE AND IN ORDER
There is no way to use every card each month. As a result, I use a rotation/pairing system that allows me to use only several cards each month. The pairing part means that I make available one card in each of my charging categories, if possible. Even though I have developed a system, I still have to be vigilant. That means staying within my spending budget and making all my payments on time. In other words, there needs to be a way that I can keep track of every detail of every card at all times. More about that in the other posts.

credit-card-cash-rewards-cautions
Credit Card Cash Reward Categories are similar to traffic signals. This one is from Pixabay.
MY CREDIT CARD RATING SYSTEM AS IT IS APPLIED TO CASH BACK CREDIT CARDS

The additional posts in this series will focus on how my credit card rating system relates to how I choose cash rewards credit cards. I can and do use it for deciding on all my accounts. The beauty of this system is that it can be used across the board with any cash reward card. In fact, it can be used for deciding on any type of credit card as well.

SUMMARY

Here are the links to this five part series about my Credit Card Rating System: Introduction to A Credit Card Rating System
The Rating System Used for Cash Back Credit Cards (Series Part 2 – June 2019)
Excellent Cash Reward Cards (Part 3 – June 2019)
Mixed Cash Reward Credit Card Benefits (Part 4 – June 2019)
Risky Cash Reward Credit Cards (Part 5-June 2019)

Please note: I am not a certified financial planner or professional advisor. These blog posts about the use of credit cards are based on my own experience which I freely share. But I can take no legal or financial responsibility for the results you may have in attempting to follow my system. But I do wish you the best and welcome your comments and questions at the VERY end of this post. You will have reached the end because you can not scroll down any further. As well, you will have reached the comment form.

SOURCES & RESOURCES

To learn more about credit card cash rewards, go to these blog posts:
Credit Card Categories, Sign Up Incentives and Cash Rewards
How To Compound Cash Rewards
Nerd Wallet | Credit Cards Market Place
The Former Middle Class Ebook Series

The learn more about all kinds of credit cards, go to following link about CompareCards.com (A.) and its sublinks (B. through I.)
A. CompareCards® by Lending Tree
B. Best Credit Card Offers July 2019
C. Low Interest Cards
D. Balance Transfer Cards
E. Cash Back Cards
F. Reward Cards
G. Airline Cards
H. Business Cards
I. No Annual Fee Cards

 

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Confessions of a Survey Junkie®

 

How I Became A Survey Junkie®

You may wonder, ‘how does one become a survey junkie’? How I became a ‘survey junkie’ is something I ask myself from time to time. Let me go back to explain how it happened.

survey-junkie
The Former Middle Class Ebook Series Facebook page header displaying the trilogy covers
The Poor Middle Class Crisis

Back in 2009, when we became One Day from Homeless, our finances and our lives changed completely. We went from being part of the gainfully employed middle class to part of The Poor Middle Class Crisis.

In our new Former Middle-Class Life, our weekly salaries and monthly investment incomes no longer existed. Instead, they were replaced by very limited monthly retirement social security incomes that had to last all month. To say the least, it was not easy. To put it bluntly, we became like feral children without the benefit of parents or teachers. We had to learn how to survive on our own and all over again. We had become part of The Former Middle Class.

Supplemental Survival Tools

What changed the most was our daily routine. Rather than showering and dressing in 9-to-5 Manhattan garb, we set out in old jeans or sweats to collect bottles on recycling days and cashed them in on other days. We also dress casually for the other parts of our routine. We frequent two food pantries once a week and one food pantry once a month. Between these tightly budgeted visits to supermarkets on senior discount days and doctors visits on other days, our weekday schedule is complete.

In between these activities we have our own indoor farm. We grow microgreens and sprouts to supplement our food pantry diet which tends not to have much fresh produce. In the warmer weather, these foods are not only delicious but super packed with nutrients. But here as well, indoor farming is time-consuming and can be hard work.

survey-junkie
The Facebook header of ‘Soil Is Not a Dirty Word’, Growing our own food indoors is part of our new life of supplemental survival tools

Once a day we do eat a substantial, home-cooked meal. The other two meals are more like snacks that include pantry scavenged food. I tried growing our own food, microgreens as well as sprouts, in our one bedroom apartment. I even got a food compost system to recycle food scraps into worm digested, super fertilizer. But that became arduous. We needed to discontinue these survival supplements and find easier solutions.

Using Credit Cards for Survival and Profit

As I detail in the second book of The Former Middle Class Ebook Series, I taught myself how to benefit from using credit cards. I developed a system that allowed me to decrease my monthly expenses with sign up promotions and cash rewards. Although soil is not a dirty word, using credit cards for survival and profit is a lot cleaner undertaking.

survey-junkie
How to Set Up a Budget

To this day, using credit cards for survival and profit is our most sophisticated undertaking. But it in itself has become a daily, part-time job. To keep on target financially requires hours each day checking online credit card accounts, going over spreadsheets, recording expenses, and tallying expenses by credit card and category of expense. At times, it is mindboggling. There are days when I even feel like it is ‘Greek to me’. In addition, I have accumulated a substantial number of credit cards that have to be rotated every few months to keep them active and viable.

With all the challenges involved in this system, we have managed to rise to FICO credit scores of over 800! When it was below that, I was able to find out why and quickly remedied the situation. I am very proud of this accomplishment and still apply for additional cards but much less often. This finally brings me to where becoming ‘a survey junkie’ came into the picture.

Other Supplemental Survival Tools

Over time and between discovering this boon to our survival, I needed to explore what I call, other supplemental survival tools. Many of them are explored in Chapters 4 and 5 of the first book of The Former Middle Class Ebook series, The Poor Middle-Class Crisis.

It is not a good idea to apply for new credit cards too often. It can raise a red flag with the credit card provider companies, resulting in denials and lower FICO® scores. In order to avoid that, it is necessary to introduce supplemental survival tools. One of my financial gurus, James Wang of Wallet Hacks, often has terrific suggestions on his blog. Here’s one, Surveys for Money.

survey-junkie
From a blog post by James Wang, ’10 Legitimate Paid Survey Sites to Start Making Extra Money Each Month’
Surveys for Money

Way back when we became part of the poor middle-class, we really struggled financially. We had to adjust to a much lower standard of living. Not only that, we had to find perks to survive and still live a somewhat healthy life. Taking surveys was an option that came up in our research. But at that time, I found the idea boring and unappealing.

Well, things change over time and one’s perspective on what is acceptable and or distasteful have to adjust. Therefore surveys started to look interesting. They really didn’t take much time and they could actually be fun. In fact, I began to feel like I was part of the population that helps determine marketing procedures for products. I even felt special. The main thing is to take as little time doing it and make it a game rather than a nuisance.

James Wang has suggestions for technique as well as actual surveys. He puts Survey Junkey® first on his list. It is my preference and the only one I use. That is because there are too many available to make it time effective for me to participate in. It is also because I know it has the James Wang seal of approval. I have found that I can comfortably have a survey bonus of about $10. a month. It is possible to get much more. But my Survey Junkie® addiction is satisfied with by that. Stick around for more supplemental survival tools and other helpful topics.

survey-junkie
From the blog post by James Wang, A list of surveys that pay for you to take them
SOURCES AND RESOURCES
Wallet Hacks® by James Wang
Survey Junkie®
The Poor Middle Class
One Day from Homeless
Using Credit Cards for Survival and Profit
Why Did My FICO® Score Decrease by 12 Points in One Month
The Former Middle Class Trilogy
Soil Is Not A Dirty Word
Seed Mama Indoor Farming

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The Former Middle Class Trilogy

mastering green
The Former Middle Class eBook Series Available at Amazon.com

INTRODUCTION
There are three ebooks in The Former Middle Class Trilogy.The first ebook is called, The Poor Middle Class Crisis and the second ebook is, Using Credit Cards for Survival and Profit. The ebooks are available on Amazon.com. Mastering the Art of Green is my third ebook in the Former Middle Class trilogy.
 

The Former Middle Class Trilogy
The Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook © 2017 Alison D. Gilbert

THE POOR MIDDLE CLASS CRISIS
The Former Middle Class.The Poor Middle Class Crisis chronicles our history as people who were devastated by the 2008 stock market crash. My husband lost his job the same week as the crash. He was 62 at the time. I became very ill from all the stress.

We had become part of The Former Middle Class and did not know how we were going to survive. Our low point was when we faced the possibility of having no place to live and were, One Day From Homeless.

Our journey became one of survival. That became our priority. We had to learn to live all over again under very different financial circumstances. We explored many different avenues and began to build our financial survival tool kit.

The Former Middle Class
The Financial Survival Toolkit for Living a Consciously Frugal Life from the Viper Tool Storage Company
 
OUR FINANCIAL SURVIVAL TOOL KIT
Building our kit involved many lifestyle changes. We went from a two bedroom apartment to subsidized senior housing. Access to food was a big challenge. Instead of the opportunity to purchase expensive, organic foods and eat out on occasion, we had to depend on the generosity of others and the government. Food pantries and food stamps are crucial financial survival tools. But they may be hard to swallow.

We went from middle class comfort to former middle class frugal living. It was a huge adjustment. We explored many tools that didn’t work for us. Things like couponing and taking surveys. Many more thrifty tools are mentioned in the first ebook. Eventually we found one tool that not only helped us survive but also became profitable. That tool is credit cards.
 

former middle class trilogy
Using Credit Cards for Survival & Profit eBook © 2017 Alison D. Gilbert
USING CREDIT CARDS FOR SURVIVAL AND PROFIT
Let me make very clear right from the start that our use of credit cards has involved a very responsible set of guidelines. We pay all our bills on time and in full. Our credit rating fluctuates between 775 and 800 depending upon which credit reporting agency you ask.

Credit cards have given us a financial cushion between sign up promotional bonuses and monthly cash rewards. My refinement of credit cards as a financial survival tool lasted about eight months. What I have learned, and continue to learn about credit cards is fascinating and extremely informative. I have my accounts charted with spreadsheets for each month. Read My Credit Card Accounts Maintenance System for the details of my system.
 

Former Middle Class Trilogy
Part of My Credit Cards Accounts Maintenance System

In less than a year, I had become sophisticated in the financially lucrative use of the credit card benefits tools. All of a sudden, the additional hefty promotional signup bonus credit card memberships applications began receiving denial letters. My stellar tool of acquiring credit cards with promotional sign up bonuses of $100-$200 had lost its winning streak. Clearly, it was time to rest that tool, re-examine some of the other financial survival tools that I had discarded in the past and to research additional new tools. I was at a loss and needed new financial fertilizer.
 

Former Middle Class Trilogy
Mastering the Art of Green, The Third ebook in the Former Middle Class Trilogy @2018 Alison D. Gilbert
MASTERING THE ART OF GREEN
Mastering the art of green is a process. For me, it has involved taking stepping backwards to get a different, larger view on what ‘green’ means. It can refer to money. It can refer to food, lush grassy fields, innocence and inexperience.

Sure enough, once I stepped back and started to look at green in a new way, as fertility and productivity, new tools started to sprout. I started growing food indoors calling it, Table Top Farming. I am growing microgreen in soil and hydroponics in water.

This project is of major importance to us since healthy, live food sources can be scarce for seniors on fixed incomes. Food pantries tend to offer the lowest quality packaged/processed food. The SNAP (food stamp) program provides a miniscule amount of money to supplement nutritious food. So growing one’s own live, local greens can be better than money in one’s pocket.
 

RECONSIDERING COUPONS, STORE SALES AND SELLING SITES
Coupons and other money saving programs do have their value. They are not as lucrative as credit card sign up promotional bonuses. But what is? There again, when I took a step back to get a better perspective on what made sense for me to pursue, I found many options.

Former Middle Class Trilogy
A great savings of 50% at Michael’s Art & Craft Supplies in store and online

Some coupons like the specials CVS Pharmacy and Michaels Stores-Art Supplies, Crafts and Framing offer can be as high as 40-70%. A Bed, Bath and Beyond 20% coupon get help a lot on a $100 plus purchase. Target, Walmart and Amazon vie for top savings. In addition, there are programs that will automatically check to see if there is a savings special when an online purchase is made. These include Ebates, honey, and cently and piggy. Other apps exist that I have not yet had a chance to explore. Two of the most popular are ibotta and Groupon.

Decluttering, Sarah Mueller style can provide lots of potential items you no longer need and want to sell. The above video is from a workshop she did with an expert at selling stuff. Two of the most popular selling sites are Ebay and Etsy. I have not sold on Ebay. I do have an Etsy store, Tin Can Ali. It displays some of my painted items for fun. I have not really tried to sell anything. But Ebay can be a great place to sell things especially if you watch the Kathy Terrill videos from I Love To Be Selling.
 

CONCLUSION
As you can see, the possibilities are endless. Prioritize your options. Find what is most beneficial and takes the least time to execute it. New savings hacks are invented all the time. Be resourceful. Do the research. Continue to read my and other blog posts for the latest information.
 

SOURCES AND RESOURCES
Wallet Hack’s article Target’s Store Shopping Hacks
Wallet Hack’s Article 10 Sites That Pay You Money for Things You’re Already Doing For Free
Ann Gibson The Micro Gardener
Sarah Mueller Decluttering Club
Kathy Terrill I Love To Be Selling – Kathy Terrill
Alison Gilbert’s Facebook pages and groups:
Table Top Farming
Survival Comes First
Savvy Saving Survivalism

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Are We Traditional Millionaires?

 

micromillionaire
‘7 streams of income of millionaires’ from Jim Wang’s ‘Wallet Hacks’
The 7 streams of income of millionaires

According to Jim Wang of Wallet Hacks, millionaires tend to have 7 streams of income. To quote him, “Have you ever heard the statistic that millionaires have an average of seven streams of income? I tried to find the survey, report, or some official repeating that statistic but was unsuccessful. That said, seven sounds good to me.” His list consists of the following sources of passive income:
• “Interest – from a variety of loans, either to individuals (peer to peer lending or private notes) or companies (bonds, notes)
• Dividends – from investments, partnerships
• Capital gains – from the sale of investments
• Royalties – from products you sell or license
• Rental income – from real estate
• Business income – which may or may not be passive but the idea is you build something that generates income without active work,
like a website or the sale of information products”

 

Our 7 Streams of Passive Income

Even though we are part of The Former Middle Class and were One Day From Homeless, we have 7 streams of passive income. Does this mean we are traditional millionaires? Let’s look at our sources of passive income:
• Social security retirement benefits
• credit card sign up promotional rewards
• credit card cash rewards
• Assistance with housing and medical expenses
• Medicare and Medicaid
• Food stamps
• OTC card for over-the-counter medically related expenses up to $100

 

Are We Traditional Millionaires?

We actually have 7 streams of passive income. By definition then, we could be millionaires. But in the real monetary world, we are far from traditional millionaires. In spite of that, let’s say there is another world and another currency. It is a frugal world where large amounts of money do not define us. Our frugal living world involves:
• living on a very tight budget
• buying what we must
• acquiring what we can without having to purchase it
• being creative in making or scavenging for what we need
• limiting frivolous purchases as much as possible
• experiencing joy and meaning in life through activities other than consumerism and spending money as an addiction

 

Another Kind of Millionaire
micro millionaires
The No Spend Chart from The No Spenders! Facebook Group

You could say that we live in a world that is a microcosm of the mainstream financial world. Our world offers much more but in comparison to the mainstream, we do qualify to be micro millionaires. The reason we do is because we have succeeded in surviving in the miniature financial version of the middle class world we used to inhabit.

Survival comes first and we have not only managed to survive. We have become members of the group, Savvy Saving Survivalism.
It allows for most of the things that our middle class necessities allowed for but in much simpler terms and smaller quantities. In order to fit in to this new life while being comfortable in this smaller financial box, we have had to downsize our world to a minimum of material wants. We focus realistically on our material needs and away from consumerism as a lifestyle.

 

Nourishing Minimalism

Nourishing Minimalism has helped a great deal. Because of these internal and external space shifts, we are finding that we now have room for many new interests and goals. Because we are not consumed by wanting lots of dollars to spend, the currency of our current lives is focusing on our dreams. We dream about the avenues we want to explore, the subjects we want to study and where serendipity might lead us going forward in our lives.

micro millionaire
Nourishing Minimalism Yearly Decluttering Challenge-Closed Facebook Group
What Will the Future Bring?

I don’t know how or where we will go. But one thing I know for sure is this. We have managed to have fruitful and peaceful lives in our frugal world as micro millionaires. We have challenges even fears, at times. But they are less than when we had lots more money. We have learned that it does not take lots of money to make dreams come true. So I am sure we will accomplish what we am meant to do. It does take some money. But more importantly, it takes faith, hope and being tenacious about our dreams.

Conclusion: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs

Nowhere in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs does it indicate that one must be a traditional millionaire. It seems to me that being a micro millionaire fits very well with his philosophy. Maybe that is why we feel fulfilled without having lots of money but lots of what money can’t buy.

micro millionaire
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs, Illustration by TimVandevall.com ©2013 Dutch Renaissance Press LLC
Afterword

For anyone who can’t resist having an encyclopedic amount of information about passive income ideas, either in number or details, there is a voluminous blog post from Bengu. The name is 45+ Proven Wealth-Building Passive Income Ideas. Be prepared for a very long read. It is also suggested to take on one idea at a time. Become proficient in it and then move on to another passive income stream suggestion. Otherwise, you may become totally overwhelmed. But you will never run out of options.

Sources and Resources

7 streams of income of millionaires, by Jim Wang
The Former Middle Class
One Day From Homeless, Our Story
Survival Comes First
Savvy Saving Survivalism
Nourishing Minimalism
The No Spenders! Facebook Group
Healthy Frugal Food Resources and Recipes
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs vs. The Max Neef Model of Human Scale development Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
45+ Proven Wealth-Building Passive Income Ideas
 

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Mastering The System of Extreme Credit Card Benefits

 
Credit cards took on a whole new purpose after our finances took a nose dive in the not-so-great depression of 2008. Using credit cards became a necessity. Over the years, mastering the system has allowed us to develop extreme credit card benefits.

By 2009, we went from being Middle Class to becoming part of The Former Middle Class as well as One Day From Homeless. 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, new ways to make ends meet. We created a financial survival toolkit. One of our most essential money making tools became credit cards,the cash rewards and travel points cards we already had in addition to the numerous new ones we have gotten since then.

extreme credit card benefits
Two published Amazon eBooks and a third on the way in the 3 eBook series about ‘The Former Middle Class’
Our Financial History Over The Last Decade

Mastering the system of extreme credit card benefits can go beyond achieving necessary income for survival. Mastery can provide extreme credit card benefits. Over almost the last decade, we have worked on fine tuning our use of credit cards to achieve mastery of this invaluable financial survival tool. It has allowed us to rise from survival to live a frugal way of life. It even includes what might be viewed as a bit of frivolity.

Mastery starts out as a science. It develops into an art. This became the situation when the need to visit family in Colorado arose. The art of creating extreme travel rewards credit cards benefits came into play. Before that, our focus had been primarily on cash rewards credit card. Needing to find a way to afford our trip, we had to learn to master 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 details 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 by the due date and preferably before the report date

The companies that you have credit card and other ‘debt’ with report the amount of that debt to the credit report agencies on a monthly basis. To have them report a $0 debt, pay your balance in full before the reporting date. Your credit card companies are supposed to provide you with that date if you request it. Find out what that date is and keep track of that date as well as 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 below. 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 credit cards that offer promotional sign up bonuses

Many credit card offers include a promotion of either cash or travel points in addition to the regular cash back % and points that they acru. Be sure to get one with both. In addition, compare offers for the best deal. There are several variables. This includes the promotion, the amount that must be spent to get it, and the regular benefits. 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? This is where mastering skills come into play and why you want to learn mastery.

Mastering credit cards
The Best Offer I Have Ever Gotten on a New Credit Card
4. Get credit cards with exceptional cash or travel points rewards

This card also is one of the best cash back credit card. Note the cashback percentages on this card: 3% restaurants, 3% gas, 1% on the rest. (You can see it on the image about the AARP card info above). Other cards with similar cash back bonuses may offer 3% on some items, 2% on some items and 1% on the rest. I suggest using such a card for the items that only get 1%. What is an alternative? This brings up the tool of credit card pairing.

5. What Is Credit Card Pairing?

There are two formulas offered on cash rewards cards. There are 3%/2%/1% cards. There are straight 1.5% cards. Both have their place. The 3/2/1 cards give 3% cash back for either gas, groceries or restaurants. Then they give 2% for the alternative of restaurants, groceries or food. For example, if gas is the priority, you can use a card that offers 3% for gas and 2% for groceries, like the BankAmericard and the Amex Everyday Blue Cash Rewards cards. If you like to eat out, you can use the AARP card that offers 3% for restaurants as shown in the image below.

AARP credit card percentages

Therefore, if you pair cards, you can get 3% or at least 2% for groceries, restaurants and gas. You can avoids using the 1% feature altogether. That is because cards like the Capital One Quicksilver Card pays 1.5% across the board for other expenses. Since pairing requires carrying more than one card at a time, you will needs a tool to remember which card pays what percent of cash back.

6. Remembering What Cards to Pair

I had thought of this tool but did not start using it until I read about it in a blog post by Jim Wang of Wallet Hacks. He actually mentioned writing the cash reward percentages directly on the credit cards in something like waterproof magic markers. It works great.

As I think of them, I will write about more extreme cash rewards benefits. Be on the lookout for future posts on this topic. There is also an (upcoming) Amazon eBook entitled, Mastering the System of Extreme Credit card benefits. As mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, two other Amazon eBooks on this topic are currently available. They are:

The Poor Middle Class Crisis and Using Credit Cards for Survival & Profit.

The third will be available on Amazon shortly:
Mastering the System of Extreme Credit Card Benefits

Extreme Credit Card Benefits
Mastering the System of Extreme Credit Card Benefits eBook Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

The responsible and potentially profitable use of credit cards requires one fundamental rule. All credit card statements must be paid in full and on time. There are no shortcuts, no magic tricks or hidden agendas. All of the suggestions, tips and tools mentioned in these posts are totally above board and follow standard credit card use guidelines even when creative techniques or combinations are applied. Study these tools, practice these tips, learn these applications so that you can have the opportunity to experience extreme credit card benefits, too.
 

Sources and Resources

Wallet Hacks
NerdWallet
CreditCards.com
Next Advisor
Wise Bread
The Frugal CrediTnista
The Penny Hoarder
Credit Karma
Credit Sesame
 

Helpful Facebook Pages and Groups

Survival Comes First
A Savvy Saving Survivalist
Savvy Saving Survivalism
Credit Card Swag
The Credit Card Maven
The Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook
Using Credit Cards for Survival & Profit
Mastering The System of Extreme Credit Card Benefits

 
Please note that I have not received any compensation for mentioning or promoting specific credit cards.

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Using Credit Cards for Survival and Profit

 

financial survival tools
My two published eBook on Amazon.com

My second eBook, USING CREDIT CARDS for Survival & Profit is now available on Amazon along with my first, The Poor Middle Class Crisis. The second eBook temporarily is available in the older version entitled, Mastering Credit Cards for Survival & Profit.

Introduction

I am The Credit Card Maven. I have learned ways to use 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
Mastering Credit Card Use

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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