I’ve read many personal finance bloggers repeat some from of “No One Ever Got Rich by [X].” It may not be a complete lie, but it’s dishonest nonetheless.
Usually [X] is “saving money on coffee.” Sometimes it’s saving money on other things. Recently, I read a new twist, “You’re not going to get rich on credit card points.”
If you take each claim by itself, it is probably true. However, coffee could cost you a 1/3 of a million dollars. (That example includes a lot about compound interest. However, that’s simply what is possible when you save money and invest it over a lifetime.)
The problem is that these are singular claims. It ignores that your total money mindset is made up of many beliefs and actions. It’s unlikely that you are going to be frugal in just one area. Usually, if you are saving money on coffee by making it at home, you are also the kind of person who brings their lunch to work. It doesn’t have to be every day, but it’s probably going to happen more often than not.
Credit card points add up over time. I probably get $750 back a year or more. My grocery card gives me 6% (American Express Blue Cash Preferred) on at least $6,000 in groceries a year. That’s more than $350. I’ve been getting cashback for probably at least 20 years now, so that’s about $15,000. My car, Subaru Forester, was around $20,000, so it’s kind of close to getting a free car. I probably made up the other $5,000 with the bonuses when signing up for credit cards. It’s fairly easy to get $500 if you are spending a certain minimum anyway.
Let’s sum up this whole idea in one sentence:
“Success is the sum of small efforts – repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier
The quote wasn’t necessary about personal finance. It works in many areas and personal finance is just one of them.
It’s very important to get the big things right too. You definitely don’t want to make a huge mistake buying a house or skipping health insurance. It’s not great if your car payment eats up half your paycheck. Keeping all your money under your mattress instead of investing isn’t smart either.
The big things are important. The small things that happen a lot are important.
Everyone’s heard the stories of a janitor who died with millions and millions dollars. He is the guy who “Got Rich by [X].”
That’s my viewpoint too. If you know how to save on the little things, you probably know how to save on the big things too. Some people just focus on the big wins. That isn’t bad, but you can also bleed out from a lot of little cuts.
We need to reach this mindset to our children and future generations. Too many think the opposite. When I was in education, I made the students figure out what a realistic income would be along it’s what their parents bills were and what was left over. They started too see the need for frugality but still would come to class with their large drinks but started to switch to the $1 drinks instead of the $5 drinks, Some started to brink in refilled water bottles. It slowly sunk in with some.
Lazy Man says
My sister site: KidWealth.com is tackling this directly – https://kidwealth.com/
I recently wrote an article about Teaching Kids about the Family Finances.
Dividend Power says
Credit card points are great, but you have to use them since they devalue with time.
Andrew Thompson says
You’ll spend more with a credit card than you would with a debit card. You’ll spend more with a debit card than you would with cash. Visa, MC and AMEX know this. They’re not your friends. Don’t be fooled by ‘points’.
Lazy Man says
Not everyone is this way. My wife will spend an cash she has on hand, but is generally frugal in every other way.
You can make credit card companies your friends. I haven’t paid a fee in over 20 years and I’ve gotten over $10,000 in points. I know some people who may have gotten $50,000 over a 20 year span.