Burning, shredding, and other ways we throw away credit card rewards points


As of this writing, credit card rewards are a tax-free kick back from various credit card companies for using their services. The various credit card companies offer rewards incentives in an effort to bring you under their umbrella, put their card in your hands, and thus have you spend cash using their services.   They have the ability to make money a few different ways:   Annual fees, Interest they charge you if your balance is not paid in full at the end of each month, and Merchant fees (we’ve seen this one as business owners).   If you’re not familiar with merchant fees –   every time you swipe your card, the store owner is charged a negotiated percentage by both the credit card company the customer is using and the credit card machine company the store owner is using. This is sometimes why certain stores only take certain types […]

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Why aggressively paying down debt can be a bad thing


It’s all the craze these days – “Eliminate debt!” But we don’t stop there. We’ll continue – “…ASAP!!!”   I know, I know. I’ve even written articles about that very topic. I’ve discussed the ridiculousness of interest and how the borrower is a slave to the lender, yadda-yadda. About how you have more freedom without the noose of debt around your neck… I hear ya.   But have we stopped a minute to consider the alternatives?   Or at least some of the consequences that come along with dropping everything to pay down debt? Monica and I hadn’t. “What in the world could be a negative consequence to aggressively pay down debt, if you can afford it?” This was our logical thought process.   One day we realized this may have been maybe the 5th worst financial decision we had made to this point (after investment choices during the GR (Great Recession), […]

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Freedom from slavery… to a brand (guest blogger – Barb (Mother-in-law))

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Hi, Team! Yes, you read this correctly – my Mother-in-law (of early morning cleaning, breast pump preparing, and now freedom from slavery advocating fame) is here with her eye-opening take on how to step outside of your comfort zone and cut your grocery spending by a third!! I’ll be honest, this article blew me away. It’s on point with a great message, well written, and entertaining… And I’m not just saying that because she’s my mother-in-law. Let me get out of her way… Take it away Barb…   Hi, friends! I want to thank Mike for allowing me to be a guest blogger on “MikedUp Blog” to share with so many my journey from slavery to freedom.   The journey began unexpectedly on a visit to my youngest daughter’s home.   She and her husband and 8-month-old son had just moved into a new apartment. I visited her for a […]

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How to manage your own (basic) retirement plan

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You may be thinking, 1) “But Mike… my employer does that. Why would I need to manage my own retirement plan?”   Or, 2) “Retirement…? That’s about 40 years away. Why would I bother with that now?”   Or, (and this is the one I’ve heard most recently) 3) “Mike – I know that I need to be saving for retirement but I don’t know what to do?!?! Can you help?”   My responses, respectively:   1) What happens when you no longer work for your employer or decide your employer does a bad job of managing your retirement plan (you’ll be rolling over into an IRA, or something similar – Individual Retirement Account — Keyword: Individual)?   2) Come on man – the data show you need to get on it. There is no replacement for time, even if the investment is small. See this article for details.   3) […]

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Mailbag – should I invest or pay off debt?

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  I received an email the other day that both I and the sender thought other’s may enjoy reading about.      First the question:       So I have between 25k and 30k in student loan debt at 5.75% interest (I thought I was below 5 until I just double checked) on a very long payment plan (I’m paying like 250 a month).   About a year ago as an experiment I put $5600 into the stock market split between 3 ETFs.  In that year or so I have a total gain of 11.57% on that money.   With this said for future money I am saving per paycheck do you think it is better to try and aggressively pay off my student loan… or continue investing in the stock market since so far I seem to be earning almost double the interest rate on my loan? -Archer […]

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How to make room in your monthly budget for investing if you lack the capital (guest blogger – Andrew)

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Hi Team,   Today we’re lucky to have with us Andrew from SlickBucks – where you can find some great posts about investing, saving, and building wealth. In this post, he covers some solid options for investing if you lack the capital. Be sure to let him know what you think in the comments section and check out some other posts he’s written for his site. As always, thanks for being here!   -Mike     If you’re young, broke, or young and broke, you’re probably tired of hearing the maxim “it takes money to make money”. What are the rest of us supposed to do, then? Living paycheck to paycheck isn’t a sustainable way of life, so you need to find investment strategies that will work even if you don’t have much capital. The Mindset: Goals and Saving It’s hard to start investing, but you should start by thinking of what kind of […]

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Car trouble in paradise – “That’s not a Buick!!”


It was a random Tuesday. We had just gotten home from work and had commenced unpacking lunch boxes, loading the dishwasher, and started talking about the day’s events when Monica casually slipped it into the conversation… “Oh, yea. My car got hit in the parking lot at work again.”   “Wait. What?… How bad are we talking?”   She continued, “Well, I’m not sure. You’d better take a look at it. The girl left a note, though. So we should be all good.”   Humm… OK. Now that I’ve got the narrow range from front end caved in, to a scratch under the headlight as an expectation, I couldn’t possibly be surprised with what the actual damage was… Another good setup by the Mrs.   After much inspection, I concluded the damage was minor but there was some missing paint and a dented fender immediately in front of the left […]

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Can millennials bank on pensions? I don’t know, but I’m not


I remember the day I landed my current government job. Relief rushed through my brain as I could now list the attributes: stability, health insurance, regular raises, and pension in the same sentence with my current employment situation.   I was stoked! Great benefits, fulfilling career, and a sexy title (forensic scientist)… Doesn’t get too much better than that, right? Sure, but sexy titles don’t keep food on the table during retirement. A pension would do that for you… Or would it?   Pension – a regular payment made during a person’s retirement from an investment fund to which that person or their employer has contributed during their working life.   It really is a great concept. You pay into it for 30-ish years, so does your employer, and that cash is invested and grows to basically provide you with a regular paycheck during retirement years. This type of system (a defined benefit […]

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No, Not Everyone Needs a Budget (guest blogger – Dan)


This week, MikedUp Blog is attempting to answer the question, “What are personal finance bloggers collectively wrong about?” My contribution posted Tuesday, while Dan from Pennies and Dollars has provided his take below. Here’s a link to the intro post (from Monday) if you’re looking for more details. And as always, thanks for reading!   -Mike   The personal finance community is obsessed with budgets. And for good reason.   Budgets are the roadmap for our finances, and most people tend to go astray without a budget in place.   However, there’s a tendency in the personal finance community to deliver budget ultimatums. To be clear, not everyone is guilty. Some personal finance writers take a balanced and measured tone to budgeting. But I’m certainly guilty of budgeting ultimatums! I’ve stated in no uncertain terms that everyone needs a budget. And I know I’m not alone. The kind host of this blog […]

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“Cut up your credit cards!!” – (Wait… what? Why?)

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This week, MikedUp Blog is attempting to answer the question, “What are personal finance bloggers collectively wrong about?” My contribution is below, while Dan from Pennies and Dollars will provide his take on Thursday. Here’s a link to the intro post (from Monday) if you’re looking for more details. And as always, thanks for reading!   -Mike     Dave Ramsey recently tweeted, “The credit card is the cigarette of the financial world. When we look back in the years to come we will shake our heads at the stupidity.” Additionally, some PF (personal finance) bloggers have written recently, echoing the “cut up the cards” sentiment.   You should also know that the current interest rate for credit cards is 15.07% – and that’s if you have good credit. The bad credit rate: 22.73%.   As an example, if you buy a $1,000 couch using a store credit card via payments for 60 […]

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