For every $10 you spend, I spend less than $9 – Here’s how

You read that right. I spend less than the average person on everything – at least 10% less.

What that means is: if the average person spends $20,000 a year on housing, food, transportation, entertainment, and etc then I only spend $18,000 on that exact same stuff.  (Numbers based on an average of $50,000 yearly household income and an average of 2.5 people per household from Bureau of Labor Statistics)

How is that possible?

A combination of the following:

  • credit card rewards (5%)
  • credit card offers (2.5%)
  • cash back portals (2%)
  • payment services (0%)
  • other (.5% up to 50%)

Credit Card Rewards:

Responsibly using lines of credit to pay for expenses is huge. Anyone who is not doing this is leaving 5% or more of their money on the table. Worse yet, there have been studies that argue those in lower income brackets are essentially paying those in higher income brackets over one thousand dollars per year by using cash. Federal Reserve Bank of Boston publication on the topic.

Get yourself a high rewards earning credit card and starting saving up to, and in some cases above, 5% on all of your expenses. I have a couple recommendations for starter cards below, but first, some important things to always consider when using credit cards:

  • NEVER buy something you don’t need just because you have a line of credit. Do not think of that line of credit as extra money – it is not. Subtract any purchases made with a credit card from your bank account so you have an accurate balance reflected.
  • ALWAYS pay off the statement balance of your credit cards before the due date so that you never get charged interest. Better yet, pay off the entire balance before the due date so the first bullet is easier to keep track of.
  • AGAIN, do not let yourself start spending more money than you would have without using a credit card.

Starter high rewards earning credit cards:

American Express Blue Cash Preferred:

  • This is my favorite card for everyday spend. Use this direct link for the best available welcome offer and to support the site.
    • Welcome offer of $150 for spending $1,000 within the first 3 months PLUS 10% cash back at U.S. Restaurants, up to $200, for 6 months. Up to $350 for a welcome bonus!
    • There is an annual fee of $95 so this brings the welcome bonus down to $205
  • This card earns 6% on groceries, 3% on gas, and 1% cash on everything else.
    • Groceries are an expense that everyone spends thousands of dollars a year on so this is a huge return.

Chase Freedom:

  • Use this direct link for the best available welcome offer and to support the site.
  • No anual fee and get $150 for spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • Earns 1% cash on everything and 5% cash on rotating categories. This January – March the card earns 5% at gas stations and other transportation.

American Express Everyday:

  • Use this direct link for the best available welcome offer and to support the site.
    • Welcome offer of 15,000 Membership Rewards points for spending $1,000 on the card within 3 months. 15K MR points can be worth up to $300
  • I like this card because there is no annual fee and it earns 2x on groceries and gets a 20% rewards bonus if you use your card 20 or more times a month.

Ok starter cards:

  • Citi Double Cash – Direct link with no welcome offer, no annual fee, and no benefit to the site for using it.
    • Earns 2% cash on everything
    • Don’t like the lack of welcome offer
  • CapitalOne Quick Silver – Direct link with $100 for $500 spend welcome offer, no annual fee, and no benefit to the site for using it.
    • Earns 1.5% cash on everything
    • Don’t like that CapitalOne pulls credit from all 3 bureaus (essentially 3 hard credit inquiries)

Credit Card Offers:

American express does this best. These are offers linked to a specific credit card – for example, spend $100 at Walmart and get a $35 statement credit. That is a pretty good deal itself but on top of that you get the normal rewards associated with the credit card and you can use a cash back portal on top of that (explained next).

I’ve made thousands of dollars with credit card offers over the last couple years but I am only going to include offers associated with normal spend for this post. For the last year, the amount I made on credit card offers associated with normal spend was about $500. $500/$20,000/year = 2.5%/year.

  • This offer for flowers can be added to an American Express card on your account page.
  • Use the card you added the offer to, to spend $50 or more at on flowers you were going to buy anyway for your Valentine and get a $15 statement credit. That is 30% and offers like this add up.
  • Another example for Petco below and who doesn’t love their pet?

Cashback Portals:

These are usually websites that offer a certain percentage of cashback for linking to shopping or travel websites through them. I almost always use TopCashback.

  • Use this direct link to get an extra $5 from TopCashback and support the site.
  • I will use the example of household items because I just made this purchase:

Search for the merchant, then select “Get Cashback Now” to be directed to merchant site:

Shop like normal and checkout:

In this example I received 2.5% from TopCashback, 2% from credit card rewards, 25% from an American Express Offer, and 5% from another cashback portal method I will talk about in a daily post called “Quadruple Dip Rewards for over 30% Cashback.” My total for this purchase was $12.70 after earning 34.5% in cashback.

Payment Services:

The 0% earning for payment services in the beginning of the post was not a mistake. I don’t make money directly from payment services but they do allow me to pay for things with a credit card that I normally wouldn’t be able to. Mortgage, car payments, student loans, and etc. usually require cash as a payment method meaning you will not be able to earn any cashback. Payment services eliminate this problem and allow me to earn 2% or more in credit card rewards.

I will elaborate further on this in a later post but, if you want to get started with a payment service, use this direct link for Plastiq, get $200 in fee free spend and support the site.


I make over 50% of that average $20,000/person/year spend I mentioned in the beginning of this post. The reason I am not going to include it in this post is because it is more work, risk, and potential for error than what I wanted to include.

In a further post, I will go into extreme detail on how I make over $10,000 a year cash, over $20,000 a year in rewards points value, using the above and similar methods.

Please feel free to comment and ask questions below.


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