Don't Fail. Plan. (Winning The Credit Card Game)

One thing this blog is not (and will probably never be), is a fashion blog. If you're disappointed, that's weird. But also, you're in luck! Because the Internet is chock full of wonderful fashion blogs run by people who care deeply about that sort of thing.

Last weekend, however, I did have a bit of a fashion win. I want to tell you about it because of the financial implications. Winning the credit card game is one of the most satisfying things I've ever learned, and the secret is: it's incredibly easy. All you need is a plan and a healthy dose of self-control.

So Dann and I got up on Saturday morning and decided to walk to Waffle Brothers for breakfast. We drive past it every day and had never been before, so we decided to check it out. (Actually, we were placing bets back in November about how soon it would go out of business, so the fact that it's made it this long intrigued us. We figured the waffles must be to die for.)

My waffle looked delicious:

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And it tasted good. But for $6, we decided it wasn't worth it (even though we'll get 5% back because we used our Discover). We could save for our own waffle iron and make more waffles on our own at home. Also, the coffee was gross, so after we ate we decided to walk to Aviano where we could get a real cup.

I convinced Dann on the way to the coffee shop that, since the mall is right across the street, we should stop in and just see if there were any screaming deals to be found. He doesn't love shopping like I do, but he agreed to go with me.

Since I first gave up having or using a credit card EVER 3.5 years ago, I have re-learned some spending behaviors. Namely, that credit cards are not funfreedowhateveryouwantwheneveryoufeellikeit money. I did that for a while with credit cards and it was not wise. I knew better, but I didn't have a plan. Well, a plan other than: "When I graduate from college, I'll be making bank and then I can pay it all off real quick." I'm a teacher, for crying out loud. Why did I ever think I'd be making bank? Also, why did I ever think it was appropriate to say "making bank"?

Anyway.

I opened a Banana Republic credit card account last fall. I needed some new pants for school, and a friend had told me Banana was having a sale. She even offered to let me use her Banana card to get an extra discount. So after a long, serious discussion with Dann and a mental pep talk, I decided I was ready to start fresh with the credit card game, and save some money while I was at it.

You see, I have a small shopping budget every month. One thing Dann helped me put in place is a very specific plan (budget) for where every penny goes each month. It's the thing that allowed me to get regular manicures and pedicures plus buy myself new clothes, all while very aggressively paying off my credit card debt. I'd even go so far as to say it's changed my life. (And if you're at all interested in setting something like this up for yourself, let me know. We LOVE helping people create their own budgets.)

So I have this Banana card that I use infrequently, but that gets me discounts all over the place. I think I saved 60% on the things I purchased the day I opened the account. Nutty.

Last weekend, I tried on and decided I liked these two tops (both of which were found on the sale rack):  

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Striped Boatneck Top in Red Stripe; regular price = $39.50

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Silk Cotton V-Neck Sweater in Silk Lavender; regular price = $59.50

The sale prices for both tops together totaled $46. I still had that left to spend in my monthly shopping account, plus I knew I had a $10 reward to use with my Banana card, so I decided to go for it. When I arrived at the counter and pulled up my rewards account, I discovered I had TWO $10 rewards and the sales associate told me they let you use up to three at a time! What?! 

Not only did I get two tops (which would have regularly cost $100) for under $20, my Banana Republic Card saved me $27.80 on $46 worth of merchandise. 

Check out my receipt:

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saved more than I spent. And really, this is what the whole money game ultimately comes down to, isn't it? I mean, at least until the final few weeks of life, when I plan to spend it all on whatever the hell I feel like.

Don't fail, people. Plan.