This fourth post of the Work/Life Integration series might be controversial but since using my credit cards is a way I save money, I’m going to write about it anyways!
I like having credit cards.
Not only for the convenience and ability to easily track my spending, but I also really like the perks that come with most of them. For sure, some of the perks are probably just perceived and maybe not real if I look at the cost/benefit analysis but I still like the concept of credit cards and how they integrate into my life.
I pay off the balance of my credit card each month, on the 1st of the month. It’s important to me that I start fresh each month, that I consciously think about my spending limits and whether or not I need to stop spending as much (which is usually the case!). I also like the fresh slate at the start of the month as it feels like it resets my money mindset to it’s cleanest place (more about money mindset in #BetterThanToday!)
My Credit Cards
I have a few credit cards, chosen for different purposes and because of the various perks they offer as compared to the cost to have each card (there are annual fees for most cards so watch for that!). For our personal life, my husband and I each have a personal card with a lower limit. This becomes the card we each use for our personal expenses. The limits are lower as a way to budget and the perks aren’t as great on these cards because the spending isn’t as high. There’s also no annual fee.
We have a joint credit card as well to pay for family expenses. The annual cost for these are wrapped up in the package of fees we pay to our bank every month and the perks on these cards are good, chosen specifically because these cards are where we do most of our spending. The limits on these cards are higher as well in case of emergency.
I also have an emergency card in case I lose my main card or it gets compromised somehow. This card also has no annual fee, a low limit and few perks.
Then, of course, I have cards for my businesses so I can keep business purchases separate from personal (my bookkeeper likes it this way!).
Credit Card Perks
Lets talk quickly about perks as a way to save money because I think the reasons we choose the cards we do are really personal to each of us. Also, the cards we choose can help us save money if used to our advantage.
What’s important to you?
There are so many different kinds of perks offered by various financial institutions that it was really hard to decide which cards to go with. So, to help decide, I went back to basics – what is important to me, what are my values and which of the cards offer perks that most closely align?
Travel is important to me.
Saving money and not paying fees are important to me.
Feeling safe and secure should my credit card be compromised was important.
So I went with a card that gives me points towards travel rewards, includes travel and rental car insurance and was low fee when packaged together with my other financial services.
But you get to choose.
Other cards offer cash back as a percentage of purchases. Or discounts at various retailers or unlimited credit (great for growing business owners!). Figure out what’s important to you and go with that.
Do your research!
There are so many cards through so many different financial institutions with so many different options. It’s important to do your research especially if saving money is important to you. There are websites where they’ve done a lot of the work of comparison for you – as an example, check out Money Sense to compare features and benefits of various cards in Canada.
You also don’t have to stick with a card from the same financial institution that you bank with – although paying off your credit card is probably easiest when the two are linked to your online banking for example, but the perks of another institutions card might override the convenience.
There are many people out there that will tell you that using credit cards to save money is the wrong thing to do. And they could be right. But this process works for me as a money saving technique so I’m sharing it with you!
That’s the beauty of work/life integration – we get to choose what works for us, try it, assess it and then choose something else if that doesn’t work.
Love to hear if you also use credit cards as a way to save money. This, along with 36 other tips and tricks is included in my free e-book, 37 Ways to Save & Time Money, so check it out and see if there are other ways that could work for you!