Our preacher gave a lesson Sunday morning about the ‘debtly sins.’ It was an appropriate topic for this time of year when so many people spend way more money than they have. I am a minister and my wife is a nurse, so we have always had to be careful with our money. My wife is a big coupon shopper and I am always on the lookout for a good deal. We are comfortable, happy and well provided for.
One of my little tricks is using credit card points to pay for Christmas. (I call it my Christmas bonus.) We are the type of people who pay our credit card balances off at the end of every month and I don’t mind making a bit of money off of the credit card company. My card of choice is the Citicards Thank You card. The points are the easiest to redeem of any card I have ever used. This year we cashed out the points in Amazon gift cards for Christmas shopping, some items from the Thank You store and a few other things.
Citi is currently running a promotion for a Thank You Preferred card that gives you 20,000 bonus points (That’s $200 in gift cards) if you spend $3,000 on the card in the first 6 months. If you spend another $3,000 in the next 6 months they will give you another 20,000 bonus points, on top of the 6,000 points from the purchases you have made. At the end of the year that would be 46,000 Thank You points, or $460 to spend on gifts for Christmas next year. The card doesn’t have a fee and if you pay off your balance each month it will cost you nothing in interest.
I also wrote a followup article in our weekly church bulletin to help our church members consider some things they could do to put our preacher’s lesson on ‘debtly sins’ into action. Here it is:
Spending Next to Nothing at Christmas
One of the blogs I follow, MoneySavingMom.com (yes, I follow a mom blog) recently did a post about enjoying a reach holiday season with no money. Crystal Paine, founder of the blog, recalled the Christmas of 2004 when her husband was in law school and she was nine months pregnant. They had committed to getting through law school with no school debt, so things were really tight. They couldn’t afford gifts for each other or for relatives but instead gave what truly is the most precious gift anyone can give, their time. They visited relatives, enjoying time together playing games and doing low to no cost activities. You can read her full post which was featured on DaveRamsey.com by clicking here.
It’s time to refinance!
If you haven’t been watching, mortgage rates have gone even lower than they were in 2011. Rates on a 30 year note are below 3% and a 15 year note is right around 3%. This is a great time to take a look at refinancing your home! The savings in interest can be staggering when the interest rate on your mortgage is reduced by only 1 or 2%. In some cases you can reduce the time it takes to pay off your mortgage by 5 to 10 years. I would highly recommend dealing with someone in person at a local financial institution, especially if you have a unique income situation. This could be one of the single largest reductions in spending that you can make.
Read, read, read
I’ll admit…I love to read blogs about finances and savings. In my Google Reader feed I have blogs about couponing, personal finances and investing. Here are some of my favorites that you might enjoy too:
GetRichSlowly.org – We all know that get rich quick schemes, or any method of making money with little to no work are scams. GRS focuses on making daily decisions that are financially savvy. This is one of my favorite sites regarding financial matters.
MyMoneyBlog.com – This is the personal blog of a guy who is about my age. His blog posts usually include detailed information about investment comparisons and other financial choices he is making.
WiseBread.com – A big financial blog with multiple writers that covers a variety of topics. Their staff posts several excellent articles a day.
I find that reading about things that are important to you keeps you thinking about them and keeps your drive alive. If you want to be a child of God you read the Bible and books about the Bible. If you want to be a good steward of His blessings you read inspiring, encouraging and informative articles about doing just that.