Monday, August 3, 2015

Let's Not Forget that Manufactured Spending is a Hobby!

Lately, there have been a lot of posts on the topic of cost benefit analysis of Manufactured Spending.

It mostly started after twitter was blowing up about earning $9.70 per AmEx Card via Ticketmaster with AmEx Express Checkout.  Many were questioning whether it was really worth the time and effort?

Blogger Reactions:

Matt, the head of Saverocity, feels that we are chasing too many small deals. We should be chasing the bigger deals.  The deals that will make a real difference in our bottom line.

William of DoC points out that he has different times in his life, some hours are more valuable than others.  If during his "free time" he can earn an extra $100, even better.

Shawn at Miles to Memories thinks we should all be calculating our ROI (Return on Investment) in Manufactured Spend relative to time invested and only focus on the most lucrative deals.

Chuck at DoC is also constantly calculating his ROI relative to time.

Freequent Flyer Book doesn't put a premium on his time. He is interested in saving/earning the most number of dollars from his dollars.

I respect all of these approaches, but my personal approach is actually quite different.

Manufactured Spending is My Hobby and I Enjoy It!

If MS was my job, there is no question that all the posts above would be correct.

It may not be The Hobby, but it is my hobby.

My wife likes to say that "some people collect trains and stamps, you collect gift cards.  At least your hobby brings in money instead of costing money!"

This is the approach I take to manufactured spending.  I enjoy it, I really do.  Does it take a lot of time?  Absolutely.  I might be better off doing something else, but I don't want to do something else!

@Made_By_Hugo asked on Twitter

Pause for thinking: if u won the Mega millions would you still MS? If so / not so, why / why not?

My answer on Twitter:

yes. Totally addicted. Love that feeling of a good deal!

I would like to add as well that I don't just love a good deal.  I love efficiency and maximizing.  When I can stack multiple savings at once, that's the best.

I love going to the grocery store, buying a $2,000 of Visa/Mastercard Gift Cards on my Old Blue Cash, earning $80 (once liquidated) and earning fuel points at the same time.  I went this week, bought $1,000 worth, earned $40, saved $2.00 a gallon and pumped gas for $0.19 a gallon!  On my 25 gallons between my car and my wife's car we saved over $50 besides the credit card rewards!  It doesn't get better than that.

I got into MS just like everyone else by the lure of cheap travel and extra money, but now I am totally hooked!

If you enjoy it too, don't let someone tell you that you are spending too much time doing it.  You are the arbiter of your own time.  If you want to focus only on the low hanging fruit, I get that.  If you think you are better off doing something else so go do something else, but if you enjoy it, go to town, even at Walmart!

Opportunities Are There for Real Money!

I don't want people to think that I do this for fun only.  First of all, my fun is commensurate with how much money I am making (and how much I needed to figure out for the deal ).  Second of all, I also know that at the end of the year I going to make some real money which adds up to real savings in my retirement and investment accounts.  It even seems like the amount of money grows every year as more deals are available and a lot of them from your Pajamas.

Take the last 2 months of American Express as examples of what can be possible:

$9.70 per AmEx card for Ticketmaster
$9.60 per AmEx card for Newegg
$10 per AmEx card for Allen Edmonds
$7.00 per AmEx card for Petco
$3 per AmEx card at Office Depot - Much more if you take advantage of the raise reselling promotion.
$20 off $100 at Staples - $14 off Visa Gift Cards
$15 off $79 at Walmart - $10 off Visa Gift Cards

I have over 30 AmEx cards between my primary and authorized users and my wife's cards.  I hope to increase that number significantly before Small Business Saturday in November (link is from 2014).  I'll let you do the math yourself.

The Staples and Walmart ones weren't available on all of mine, but the other ones were.  Throw in a few eBay gift card reselling deals (Link 1, 2 and 3) and you have quite a bit of money in the last couple months.

This doesn't include any credit card sign up bonuses, MS, fuel points, and reselling that I do.

My Takehome Lesson

I enjoy all these different facets of MS (I enjoy sharing the deals sometimes more than actually taking part in them) and I will continue to do it as long as I enjoy it.  I go less frequently for regular MS than I used to and you can pick and choose as well what you want to do.

It's important to note that I don't do every deal I talk about.  I almost never go to Walmart.  I don't enjoy the experience so it isn't worth my aggravation.  The employees at Family Dollar are much more pleasant so I go there instead, even though it isn't as lucrative per trip.

You are your own MS gatekeeper, choose deals as you please!