In our Money Mic series, we hand over the podium to people with controversial views about money. These are their views, not ours, but we welcome your responses.
Today, Greg Haney, a financial analyst, shares how he takes advantage of credit card points to pay for as much of his life as possible.
I grew up in a small town in Washington, the firstborn of two overprotective and amazing parents. My father works in sheet-metal construction, and my mother is the local high school librarian. They provided a household of humble means, and we were content to live simply.
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As a kid, my parents taught me the value of a dollar, and I saved everything I could. I was fortunate to have received an allowance from my parents in return for completing chores: $5 a week in elementary school and $10 a week in middle and high school. At a young age I questioned why other children were given higher allowances—a classic jealous-of-the-rich-kid situation. My parents explained that giving me less would force me to spend it more wisely.
I began saving money for college in middle school. Through a combination of scholarships and my savings, I was able to graduate debt-free from the University of Washington.
Getting My First Card
My parents are from an older generation that doesn’t fully trust the banking system or credit card companies. They had one credit card when I was growing up, but hardly used it in favor of paying with cash or check. So I never had a credit card of my own until college.
I signed up for my first credit card my freshman year as I was interning full-time at a local bank on top of a full load of courses. When I received the card, I made a rule for myself: Pay off any balance in full each month. That way I would avoid interest charges by simply not spending more than what I had in the bank.
My first card was the Citi Dividend Platinum Select, which rewards me with 1% cash back on every purchase. Because I paid my balances in full each month, I began to realize that the cash back was essentially free money I was earning for buying things I needed anyway. And so the seed was planted.