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So with it being July (as my daughter loves to let us know when she comes downstairs – “it was no longer June – it’s July!!!”).  So with a new month, there are some steps that it’s good to do.  Many things have monthly (or quarterly) limits, so the start of a month is a good reminder to take care of those things

Amazon Payments

amazonpaymentsAmazon Payments is one of my favorite (and certainly one of the easiest!) ways to manufacture spending.  For free, you can send $1000 to anyone with an email address.  You can send more than that, but there is a fee (2.9% I believe).  There are definitely people that have many different accounts that they manage.  Personally, Carolyn and I just pay each other and that’s it.  For us, the process goes

  1. Carolyn logs into Amazon Payments, chooses the card we need / want to spend on, and sends me $1000
  2. I log into my account, withdraw the money to our bank account
  3. Then I send her $1000
  4. Then she logs in again (well, really I log in to her account 🙂 ), and withdraws the $1000

We actually are within a few days of needing to meet our spending requirement on the US Bank FlexPerks card we got a few months ago (clearly I have not learned my lesson about waiting until the last minute to meet spending requirements) so I made sure to do that this morning.

There have been reports of Amazon shutting some people’s accounts down, especially some of those that are really pushing the envelope.  I know that some people make convoluted strategies in order to try and circumvent this.  Personally, I’ve never had an issue and we have even paid each other with the same card, or had her pay me with cards that were in my game.  Again, we are not doing a ton with AP and have not (yet) had any notice from Amazon.

Chase Freedom

If you have the Chase Freedom card (which I just got as part of my last churn), since July is the start of a new quarter, there are new quarterly bonus categories.  But each quarter you have to go on to Chase’s website to activate them.

The categories for the 3rd quarter (July, August and September) are:

freedom2014categoriesSo we’ll be looking for some good resell opportunities with Kohl’s and of course rocking the gas stations.  Some people are able to find different cash-style gift cards at their gas stations – personally I have not ever looked but I suppose that this quarter would be the time to do so!  Or, I suppose that I could actually spend it on, you know, gas! 😀

Review spending and signup bonuses

This is probably something that’s good to do more than once a month, but the start of a new month is a good reminder to make sure it’s done.  Different people track their spending differently, but for me, I have a spreadsheet that I have with all my credit card spending, separated by each card.  So periodically I log on to each of my card issuer’s websites, and make sure I’ve tracked all the spending.

I already have all my cards on auto-pay (a must!), but I also check to see if there are any payments scheduled, and if so, I make sure to add them to my online bank site, so I can know when that money is coming out, in order to manage cashflow.

Another thing to check is the signup bonuses for each of your cards.  Make sure that you’re tracking towards getting these.  Remember, for large families, signup bonuses are by far the biggest (and easiest) source of miles and points that you’re going to get, so you want to make sure and get them!!  If you’re not on track to get a bonus, check and make sure if you need to do anything else

Amex Sync

If you have an American Express card, the start of the month is often when they update their Amex Sync offers.  Actually, the last day of the month is probably a better time to check those since often-times the deals expire on the last day of the month.

Amex Sync probably merits its own post (or series of posts!) but basically American Express partners with different merchants to offer statement credits.  So as an example, a recent deal was a $25 statement credit at Home Depot if you spent $250.  So you could in theory buy a $250 Home Depot gift card (or a gift card to any store that is sold at HD), and after your statement credit, you’d only pay $225.

What else?

I’ve talked about what I typically do at the beginning of each month, though I left out boring, non-travel related things like “pay my mortgage” :-).  What do YOU do at the start of each month?

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