Never leave money on the table.
4 tips to take your money back.
There is a lot that gets taken from us, and depending on your level of privilege this can be catastrophic or just annoying. But when it comes to dealing with your finances, if a corporation, employer or person is offering your something for "free", you need to be in a position to take it.
My husband is the conservative spender, I am the free spirit. He has written financial newsletters and I am done financial education podcasts for my employer, but I would really consider him the expert, because he actually likes reading about it.
The funny thing, is that my credit rating was excellent before I met him, had been for years, and his was non-existent. Despite knowing more about the economy, his principles about not wanting to use credit prevented him from taking what he could get from corporations he felt were fleecing hard-working people.
So you can imagine my surprise when this morning I present the following graph to me:
Pay attention to line #1. Autobill payer is a credit card, that we get miles from. Umm, hello nice to meet you, husband, have we met before?
When we started this radical financial planning about four months ago, he froze the credit cards. He froze the credit cards and chucked his entire paycheck into an account called "can't touch" and then he got upset with me when I used a credit card when our cash flow froze up.
You can understand my frustration when he starts telling me that I can't buy gas until we get paid again when we have more than enough money for it in the bank under "can't touch."
Why? Because I am busy, like, really busy. I work 50-60 hours a week at my job, I am getting yoga teacher certification on the weekends and throughout the week, writing a blog and a book, I live in Atlanta (take like 2 hours a day just getting in and out of your car) and most importantly, I have two kids under 3 and I have to eat and occasionally sleep. If I find myself at a gas station, I am gonna flipping get some goddamn gas.
Think of it this way. You remember that you need dishwashing detergent, and you don't write it down, then you have to think of it again when you are at the store or writing down a list later, or you write it down when you remember, but not in a place that you will find it, so then you forget it at the store. Blah blah blah (I know this because it happened just this week). So then there is knock on EVERYWHERE....
Dishes back up, or you have to jump in a car and go to the store when you aren't in a position to do so and that takes away from other things that you could be doing and enjoying. That is BAD in lean family world, we need to avoid this at all costs. Why? Because it breaks at least 3 of the main Lean Family guidelines:
Only go to the store once a week. Trips to the store outside this lead to unnecessary purchases and are a big suck on time and throw off routines.
As soon as you think of it, put it in your inbox. This is in the vein of GTD, don't waste your brains processing power trying to remember anything and also, have an inbox for as many things as possible.
Cleaning is the fastest way to a lean household. Routinizing your cleaning needs is the fastest and easiest way to creating efficient family systems, do as much as possible to support those routines.
Anyway, I digress, back to how to legally fleece corporations.
Luke finally got on board this morning, onto the boat I have been on for years but could never possibly convince him to embark on. He finally enacted the number one tip:
1. Use credit cards for good and not for evil.
i.e. with great power comes great responsibility
How does this work? You use credit cards that accumulate points for monthly cash flow. This gives you the benefit of cash flow throughout the month but also allows you to hold onto your money for as long as possible so that you can optimize it in short-term investments. You get the points, you get the interest, you improve your credit rating and you don't have to worry about having to wait a day to get gas.
Now, here are three more ways to never leave money on the table:
2. Take every penny of your company's 401(k) match...
...otherwise you leave money on the table.
This may be difficult for some people, but it really goes with the whole idea of paying yourself first. Even if it is a three year period before you are vested take the entire amount that your company is willing to match and forget it exists. You will thank yourself later.
3. Never opt out of a HSA account that your company pays into.
Again, not everyone has this luxury, but you if are on your spouses plan and just think it would be easier to stay on it, don't. You are missing out on valuable free money that adds to your paycheck.
4. Have as many medical procedures as possible after you reach your high deductible.
Because who doesn't like to stick it to insurance companies.
I had a baby last year and got a new job. I was on my husband's health plan and didn't want to change. About three weeks later I realized how dumb that was and quickly got on my company's plan, especially because they paid into an HSA (see above) and the employee contribution was nil, nothing, not a penny.
What ended up happening was that I had a baby in a hospital, which maxed out my deductible, then had to have procedure to remove an IUD that went missing somewhere, and didn't have to pay a dime. Not only that, but my husband went ahead and had a couple of other voluntary procedures rushed in at the end of the year, just so that we wouldn't have to pay.
Got any other ways to do this? We would love to hear how. Comment below.