My blog is heavily focused on miles and points. But I plan to incorporate pure finance element into it. Before I became a stay-at-home mom, I worked part-time as a tax professional and also dabbled in setting up retirement products as a side effect of my job. Surprised? I didn’t think so.
Honestly, this was never intended to be just a “momma” blog. There is nothing wrong with those and being a mom is a huge part, of who I am. But there are many blogs that already do a fantastic job at it. I’m not sure I can add anything there. But I could tell you stories that would make you never want children! Hmm, “Don’t be a mommy” blog ? Now that is certainly a niche!
And I guess I had something to prove. There is still this stereotype of a stay-at-home mom that I absolutely loathe. You know: a lazy simpleton, obsessed with baby stuff, watching soaps all day. Not that there is anything wrong with soaps. Ahh, why pretend! Soaps are ridiculous, right?
My biggest fear is that a new reader finds my blog, gets a bunch of cards and will get into financial mess as a result. It would be completely devastating to me and defeat the whole purpose of why I’m writing these posts. So please, if you have a problem with paying bills in full each month, don’t apply through my site!
When I moved here from former Soviet Union, I had no clue about credit cards. But I had to learn quick. To begin with, my husband was in charge of finances. However, in the first 4 months of our marriage, he was late on credit card payments twice. So it was decided (by me) that I would take over. It was just as well, because a) I am a control freak and b) I am a control freak.
So that’s how my miles and points addiction started. My very first credit card sign-up bonus was through US Bank Northwest Credit card, before Delta takeover. It gave 10000 miles and had a 99 dollar annual fee, not waived ! I would never sign up for something paltry like that now, but that was the best offer available at the time. And as a result it got us to Maui in 2004. My very first miles redemption! That trip has confirmed 2 things for me :
1) Experiences matter more than things. We drive our cars till the wheels fall off and I buy some of my clothes at Goodwill. Though, I’ll be honest, I hate the smell inside that place! Yet, we go on fabulous cruises and vacation in Europe.
2) You don’t have to spend a lot to have amazing travel memories. That trip cost us only 1000 dollars for everything (lodging, car rental and food) for a whole week, since we got almost free airline tickets. But we enjoyed the same sights as the folks vacationing in fancy resorts.
Something else I have learned on that trip is when it comes to miles and points, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Sometimes it makes sense to pay cash. Our cottage rental in Maui was only 70 dollars per night and was so darn cute (see pictures at the top of the page). I much preferred it to a cookie cutter hotel room.
You hear a lot how Hawaii is one of the best Hyatt redemptions on points. That is because you can get a 400 dollar room for “only” 25,000 Gold Passport points. And you hear the word “free” used a lot. But is it really? If you get those points by transferring from Chase Ultimate rewards, you just paid 250 dollars per night.
Or worse yet, you have just foregone a 312 dollar room at another hotel. That is because you can redeem Ultimate rewards and get a 20 percent discount on travel. Doesn’t seem so free now, does it? Instead, you can get a condo rental for much less on http://www.vrbo.com , which makes more sense for a family anyway.
Of course, if you really want to stay in that Hyatt, there is nothing wrong with that either. Go for it! That’s what miles and points are for. It’s like my best friend has recently said on Twitter: they are YOUR miles and points, do what YOU want with them. True. And there is a certain appeal in getting something you normally would not be able to afford.
But my advice is, don’t get so hung up on getting everything for “free” when you travel. Most of it isn’t anyway, you have an opportunity cost involved. That’s why I do so many posts on value of miles and points and how they relate to a middle class family. And when it comes to my assigned value, I’m not saying I’m always right. But I’m not saying, I’m not. 🙂
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Photo credit goes to bonanza.com