By: Revanche

Stocking up on spending money

March 1, 2011

Partially on a whim, I’d embarked on an UnCash spending strategy for 2011.

I’d wanted to stop making unplanned purchases this year, or rather, have a contingency plan for most basic and probable spending needs to redeem points for gift cards and avoid spending real money.  I’d harken back to the college days, (ah yes, when I could only shop at Borders funded by Discover rewards money!) redeeming American Express Gold Card Membership Reward points, Thank You points and other reward points for a small stash of gift cards. It’s a small stash, after all, because earning those rewards requires spending cash in the first place. 

I’ve always done this to some degree, but have mostly fallen behind the eight ball.  It’s time to pull the straps back up on this strategy and see how well I can do with picking up the gift cards first, then spotting the sales!

Besides, with the as-yet unbudgeted wedding, even though PiC and I still haven’t come to any decisions yet, stashing cash just makes sense.  Even as low-key as we’re going to go, no photographer’s going to take points for payment.  (Are they?) 

So far, I’ve collected:

$25 – Victoria’s Secret
$75 – Spa Certificates
$50 – Banana Republic
$50 – Amazon, via Swagbucks and other miscellaneous deals.
$50 – Starbucks for PiC 

The key problem with this tactic, of course, is the limited types of gift cards offered by the rewards program.  But quite honestly, I’m not going to invest a massive amount of time and energy into this.  I already know which cards pay out the highest percentage per dollar spent per spending category, that’s always going to be the first priority to maximize. Redemptions will then follow on as every program has at least one useful option, even if it’s not an immediate need or want.  This is a long-term strategy anyway, so it won’t fill in all areas of spending, especially not high-spend areas like gas or groceries, but it can occasionally supplement.


My thanks ….. 

to Andy at Saving to Invest for hosting this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance and for including my post Generational Poverty. Be sure to submit to next week’s Carnival.

4 Responses to “Stocking up on spending money”

  1. Karen says:

    I have quite a bit of gc but I run into the issue of forgetting I have them until after I purchase something (looking at you, new running shoes).

  2. I suppose you’ve figured this out—but are the points that much better than what you could get with a cashback card? I have a plain old green Amex cashback–the percentages start out low, but they rise and I end up getting about 1 1/2% back a year.

  3. Revanche says:

    Karen: Whoops! I’m keeping a list here to help me remember. And on GDocs 🙂

    FS: I only stick with the points where I get multiples of points per dollar and redeem at the highest tiers for 1pt-1$ but at some point I may just simplify to take the cash.

  4. Serendipity says:

    I need to be more into swagbucks. I love giftcards! It’s like free money 🙂

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