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26 results found.
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.
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.
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
• Help from family
• Help from friends
I then took advantage of another promotion towards realizing our frugal vacation. It was a Travel Rewards Card from Capital One, Venture One.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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:
• 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
• 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
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.
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.
Excellent Credit Scores:
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According to Mortgagefit.com administrator’s blog, there are 5 credit card types. The image to the left illustrates them. They include:
5. co-branded credit
4. store credit
3. charge credit
2. general credit
1. secured credit
In addition, the following describes what they are. This is also according to their blog administrator. Keep in mind that the blog post is from 2011.
In my opinion, the administrator’s blog post uses generic definitions. By today’s standards, they are not technical or simple. In addition, the post is dated. As a result, it is not exactly accurate by today’s standards. Therefore, I have attempted to clarify the types of credit cards that exist. In my blog post series written about credit cards, these are the types of credit cards:
3. secured and unsecured
In my blog post, Different Types of Credit Cards And Their Best Uses, Part One – July 2019, network and co-branded are explained. Part Two in that series reviews network and co-branded cards as well as explores secure versus unsecured cards. To compare accurately, I want to explain each type individually, mine versus the Mortgagefit.com definitions.
There is some agreement of terms between mine and Mortgagefit.com. #5.co-branded: #Co-branded credit cards: These cards are the same as general credit cards. But these cards have a “special relationship” with a particular organization or retailer. So, if you purchase goods/items from those particular organization or retailers, then you will be able to extra rewards and benefits. However, these cards can be used in other stores as well. A good example of such a card is Amazon.com credit card.”
“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.” This standard seems to work about the same today. So this card’s name and description are still solid. Here’s one card in both blog post comparisons.
But I find #4.store credit, #3.charge credit, and #2.general credit somewhat confusing. Therefore, I wish to simplify them to be more accurate by today’s standards. Otherwise, they should be eliminated.
“General Credit Cards: A very common type of credit card is the general credit cards. 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 seems to describe both network and co-branded cards.
#Charge Cards: These cards are very similar to general credit cards. However, the major difference lies in that fact that unlike general credit cards, you will have to pay your total balance in full every month.” What does this remind you of by today’s standards? The only one, in my opinion, is what is called a store credit card. I find them to be minor players in the credit card count either way. I still find them confusing.
#Store Cards: These cards are similar to that of credit cards. However, these cards can only be used to buy goods at the store that has given you the card. Macy’s Credit Card is a good example of a store card.” These sound like store cards that are not backed by any banks. Therefore, I would combine charge cards and store cards into one kind of credit card. That reduces the number to four kinds of kinds from 5. In addition, I am still confused by charge cards today. I have about five of them. The only reason I got them is for the 5% discount when I charge merchandise in their stores.
It seems to me that one can not argue that there really are no more than two major types of credit cards as I presented in my recent blog posts, Different Types of Credit Cards And Their Best Uses, Part One – July 2019 and Credit Card Differences And The Best Uses of Each Type, Part Two – July 2019.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Please go to the comment box and share your thoughts with the world
There are two overall credit card types, network, and cobranded retail store cards. Within these types, there are four network types of cards AMEX, Discover, VISA, and MASTERCARD as well as hundreds of cobranded retail store cards.
This can lead to a great deal of confusion in choosing what to apply for and obtain. Therefore, the goal of this post is to untangle the confusion by identifying the types, networks as well as cobranded ones that exist to distinguish and choose between them. This way, one will have the advantage of applying for and using the best cards while avoiding problematic or less valuable ones.
Besides this post’s specific information, one can find the recently published blog post series on ‘A Credit Card Rating System’. For additional reading, it is filled with information about my helpful Credit Card Rating System in a five-part series.
To begin with, there are four networks or ‘major’ Credit Cards. In fact, they are the pillars of the credit card world. Specifically, the first two listed have no bank affiliations. Within them, Discover has the most international acceptance. Then the second two partner with large banks. These cards networks are:
Next are the store credit cards. There is a significant difference between them and the major network credit cards category. That is their tendency to be backed by smaller banks and their primary function which is to provide no-interest payment plans for making large purchases (hundreds to thousands of dollars) at major retail stores.
Here’s an explanation of why cobranded cards are so valuable to have as part of the ideal mix of the two major types of credit cards.
What banks do these cards cobrand with? Let’s take a look. This section actually has a list of of some of them as well as the bank affiliations they have.
According to WalletHub.com, this is a list of the banks that cobrand the best store credit cards.
Amazon.com Store Card-Synchrony Bank
TJX Store Card-Synchrony Bank
Kohl’s Credit Card-Capital One
Fingerhut Credit Account-WebBank
Synchrony Bank specializes in cobranded credit cards. Offering cards that are tailored to particular customers, they have credit cards for store brands, gas stations and more.
“Most are offered with no annual fee and some have excellent rewards available. Synchrony Bank credit cards can be a good choice if you’d like to earn and redeem rewards with a particular brand.” From Synchrony Cards report by US News
Although the following also cobranded with the top retail banks, they will not be gone into in detail at this point. With one exception, Comenity bank which cobrands with 91 retailers will be explored in detail after the list of the other four top cobranding banks.
The following issues will be explored in Part Two of this topic, Different Types of Credit Cards And Their Best Uses. Why get network cards? Why get store brand cards? Secured versus unsecured credit cards.
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 where the words ‘start the discussion’ are. Questions are also welcome. But it is best to contact me for Q&A on The Credit Card Maven Facebook Page.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some websites are specifically for coupons for food, household and all kinds of item. One of them is coupons.com.
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!
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.
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.
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
• 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
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:
A manual that describes the process step-by-step is in progress. This makes it possible for anyone to upcycle old furniture and furnishings.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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