February 2018 - Smart Money Seed

2/28/18

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind Book Review/Reflection

2/28/2018


I recently read Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker. I need to start this post by sincerely thanking Harv for writing this book and providing so much valuable content for my life and my brother, Max, for purchasing this book as a birthday gift this year. My only regret is that I waited 5 months before I started reading it!

Harv's message is powerful. We have been subconsciously conditioned to think certain ways about money and the people who have it. Much of our subconscious conditioning about money has caused us to view money in a negative light; therefore, we do not fully commit ourselves to building and sustaining wealth no matter how much we want to or even think we are.

What I Learned

I learned a lot about myself by reading the book and performing the exercises Harv walks you through. Regardless of how hard I've worked to build my wealth and my money making ability, the exercises helped me increase my self-awareness to identify the roots and conditioning that has caused my subconscious mind to hold me back from hitting an entirely new level.
  • Money was cyclical for me until 2 years ago.

I started mowing in 5th grade and continued to some extent through last summer. I then worked at Home City Ice during my college summers and never really worked much during the winter. Sure, I would pick up odd jobs such as shoveling snow, raking leaves, or picking up an occasional weekend at Home City, but my only consistent income came in the summer. 

Because of this, the extent of my financial management strategy was to hoard money in the summer and hope it didn't run out in the winter. Now that I have regular paychecks coming in all year, I need to be more strategic about my financial management and budgeting so I can be sure to do things like hit my long term goals and invest in myself through education and seminars.
  • I was always exposed to wealth building as a long-term strategy. 
Although my dad dabbled with internet side hustles from time to time, my parents' main income always came from their day jobs. When my dad and I would talk about wealth building, it was always a conversation about long-term building to prepare for retirement around the time my dad turns 60. I appreciate everything my parents have taught me about money through lessons and by example. We always had more than enough, and they're setup for a long and happy retirement. 

But I knew at a young age that I wanted to do things a little bit differently and work on things like starting businesses that would hopefully help me build wealth at a younger age to be used for further investment. I need to recognize that my conditioning has taught me to focus on long-term wealth building and work to shift my mindset, focus, and learning towards efforts that will bring wealth more quickly than strictly stock market returns over 40 years.
  • I operate far too often out of fear.
I'm afraid to spend my money on things I don't deem critical because I'm constantly finding something to worry about. What if I somehow lost my job and main source of income? What if the blogging or marketing seminar I want to attend isn't actually that good even though thousands of people have reviewed it positively? What if I do everything I possibly can to make Smart Money Seed a success, and it still never takes off?

All of those fears hold me back and cause me to be more of a money hoarder than a strategic money grower. The fears are baseless because I give Marathon my all and am regularly recognized by my superiors as a good employee, Marathon rarely lays people off, I have a substantial safety net of cash to fall back on if I did somehow lose my job or waste some money on a bad seminar, and the top secret to success I've learned about time and time again is that people achieve great success only after they decide to pour absolutely everything they've got into their business or side hustle.
  • I had some preconceived negative opinions of the ultra rich.
I'm not exactly sure why, but for some reason when I think about people who are crazy rich, I start to wonder about what kind of skeletons that person must have in his or her closet. Maybe part of that is because I was really starting to be old enough to understand money and become interested in it and the strategy behind it right around the recession in 2008. During that time, it seemed like every big money headline was about how some greedy bastard was thrown in jail for doing some type of shady shit and screwing people out of their hard earned money. Also, Hollywood tends to portray these people as greedy and in a predicament to choose their money and career over their family. The Founder is a great recent example of Hollywood's negative portrayal of the ultra rich and successful. 

Many of the stories I had heard people tell about building their successful companies included some night when they hit rock bottom and had $1 in their bank account or had to beg for change for gas. Even if those people are billionaires today, that time sounded so horrible to me that although my conscious mind searched for ways to build businesses and minimize risk, my subconscious mind wanted to scrap the idea altogether and opt for comfort.

Again, this is an area where I need to acknowledge that I have been negatively conditioned by my external environment and work to change that mindset into putting rich people in a positive light. Harv talks about how most of the rich people he knows are amazingly kind and generous. When I see a rich person in person or on TV, I try to think of all the positive they have done for society such as the jobs they're creating or the inspiration they provide me and other aspiring entrepreneurs. I've also started listening to NPR's podcast How I Built This and really focus on the successes rather than the struggles.

Read the book!

I could go on and on about these lessons I learned and many, many others, but I think I'll just let you read the book for yourself and learn your own lessons. One of the great things about this book is that Harv allows each individual to have a different experience through the exercises that provide Aha moments for each individual at different times.

Although the book is a little sales pitch-y at times, I would love to attend one of the Millionaire Mind seminars at some point. I actually started looking those up before Harv even mentioned them in the book. 

I highly suggest this book for anyone looking to change their financial situation and learn how to blow the roof off the limit you're subconsciously creating for yourself. I am confident that the lessons Harv teaches along with my efforts and the efforts of my talented and eager collaborators, business partners, and friends, Christian and Ty, and most importantly with the help of God, I will one day achieve greatness, financial and otherwise, that I never previously thought possible.

I have a millionaire mind!

2/26/18

#MileageMonday: Airport Lounges

2/26/2018


Who’s ready for another edition of #MileageMonday? I hope you all had a fantastic Monday (I know mine was productive) & are ready to kick some ass this week. As we continue this Monday series, we start to get into some of the more fun topics of travel hacking, including USING all the benefits you get from these cards! I know paying annual fees is not fun…but I can promise you that these perks far outweigh the fees.

We’ve laid the groundwork by explaining some of the must-have credit cards you need in your wallet + shown you the path to meet minimum spends on these cards. You’ve got your cards in hand & now it’s time for the good stuff, guys. Ever been curious as to how I’m always sipping on a free cocktail at the airport while I wait for my next flight? If you’ve been in a semi-major airport, you may have walked by one of these before (courtesy of my latest airport stay in Atlanta):



These are just a sampling of the airport lounges available in the Atlanta airport; in fact, there are 14 airport lounges scattered throughout various terminals in ATL, all with different requirements for entry & offerings inside the lounge. Let’s get into what an airport lounge typically offers.

Airport Lounges: A Brief Overview

When I go to any airport, one of the first things I’ll check on my phone is airport lounge availability. Airport lounges instantly make any airport better by providing their customers a selection of free food (ranging from light snacks to full-course meals) & beverages…yes, including booze! In addition to the food & beverages, lounges typically offer these amenities:
  •     Free Newspapers/Reading Materials for your flight
  •        Private Shower Facilities
  •        Private Work Space, Faster Wifi & Printing Availability
  •        Dedicated Customer Service Representatives
  •        Entertainment Center-Nice TVs, Flight Updates, etc.

These are just a few of the perks I typically expect of an airport lounge. I’ve been in some crazy lounges-in Minnesota, I went to the PGA lounge with a full putting green and golf simulators, ALL FREE. Los Angeles has an outdoor lounge complete with cornhole sets, giant Jenga & a fire pit. There’s a ton to explore out there and we’re just scratching the surface!

Who Has Airport Lounges?

 Most of the airports I’ve visited have some form of an airport lounge. While my home airport in Columbus currently lacks airport lounge access, here are a few of the big names in the lounge space:
  •          Delta Sky Club
  •         United Club
  •          American Airlines Admirals Club
  •          AMEX Centurion Lounge
  •          Priority Pass Lounges-Over 1000+ lounges worldwide

      A quick way to check if an airport in your itinerary has airport lounge access is to download the app Loungebuddy. This easy-to-use platform allows you to enter in the various perks/access you may accrue from travel & credit cards while cross-referencing any airport, pulling up the lounges you have access to. The app even breaks down where each airport lounge resides in the airport, making sure you have ample time to relax in the lounge during your layover or before a flight.


For those of us that fly a specific airline consistently, let’s break down your options for the “brand-name” lounges.
  • Delta Sky Clubs
    •    AMEX Platinum/Delta Reserve cardholders when flying Delta-operated routes
    •    Discounted access for Delta Gold/Platinum cardholders ($29)
    •    Delta Gold or higher status when flying Delta/Sky Team international routes
    •    Flying first class on any Delta/Sky Team-operated flight
    •    Yearly Membership-$450
  • American Airlines Admirals Clubs
    •    Admirals Club Membership-$450 for the year
    •    Flying First/Business Class on transcontinental/international AA-operated flights
    •    Being a Citi AAdvantage Executive cardholder/authorized user ($450 annual fee)
    •    Having platinum or higher status with AA & flying an international route
    •    Pay for one-day access ($50)

  •         United Club
    •    United Polaris first/business class on domestic/international routes
    •    International first/business class on Star Alliance flights
    •    United Club membership ($450)
    •    Day Pass ($50 or one-day voucher given by Chase United MileagePlus Explorer CC)

Lounge access is typically provided by each airline as a perk of having some form of elite status with the airline. Fear not, though-you can still gain access to these lounges without being “elite” on an airline. I currently do not have status with any major airline & yet I find myself having access to nearly any lounge in the airport, all thanks to some of my credit card perks. Here’s how you can join me for a brew in the airport lounge…

Gaining Access to the Airport Lounge

Airport lounge access can be gained in a variety of different ways. I’d argue the easiest way to get access is by signing up for one of the many credit cards that provides access to these lounges. As I’ve mentioned in our previous Chase premium cards post, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of these cards that offers lounge access through a Priority Pass membership.

While a Priority Pass membership won’t give you access to any of those name-brand lounges I mentioned above (United, Delta, American Airlines), it WILL give you access to lounges like Air France, Alaska Airlines, The Club, Hawaiian Airlines, etc. There is a MASSIVE network of Priority Pass lounges, lots of which tend to be nicer than the aforementioned brand name lounges. Kayleigh & I visited two of those lounges on our recent Hawaii trip and found ourselves pleasantly surprised with the offerings. Here are a few pics I snapped of the lounges:

 


While these all may seem out-of-reach for the average person, that’s not us. By strategically signing up for credit cards, we can gain access to the bulk of these clubs & ensure we are not sitting at some random airport bar waiting for our next flight. Here’s my current list of credit cards I am gaining airport lounge access from:
  • Chase Ritz Carlton CC 
    • $450 annual fee, can be waived first year if you lower credit limit to <$1800
    • Unlimited Priority Pass Access for me and travelling companions
    • $300 annual travel credit
  • AMEX Ameriprise Platinum CC 
    • $550 annual fee, waived for first-year cardholder
    • AMEX Centurion Lounge & Delta Sky Club  (when flying Delta) access 
    • 10 Priority Pass lounge visits/year 
    • $200 annual travel credit
So if I play my cards right, I’m covered on Delta flights, AMEX Centurion Lounges, all Priority Pass lounges + $500 annually to spend on travel, including airport lounges. While I probably wouldn’t use the credit on a lounge, it doesn’t hurt to know that if I’m in a pinch I can use the credit on a whim to ensure my pre-flight relaxation is covered. The best part? This is just ONE of the many perks these credit cards have to offer.

Recap

In the past, I would tend to dread my upcoming airport experiences because I knew I’d have to sit in a cramped chair with a bunch of smelly travelers. Airport lounges have changed that experience for me-now I’m an airport snob! Whle I anxiously await the day they announce an airport lounge for my local CMH, I know that *almost* anywhere else I fly will have respite.

I’ve shown you just how easy it is to get access to these lounges & start turning your airport experience around. Go try it out-you won’t be able to travel the same ever again!

With that, I think we’ve reached the close of this week’s #MileageMonday. Feel free to ask questions about this post or anything else related to the travel sector-I’m here to help you reach your travel goals!

Cheers,

Ty Henze

2/23/18

Five Finance Friday 2/23/2018

2/23/2018



Happy Friday, Smart Money Squad! We’re back with another round of kick-ass articles from some of our favorite bloggers to take you into the weekend. Anyone have some fun plans? I know I’ll be kicking back with a few brews & soaking up the last events of the Winter Olympics. Who knew Coors & curling went so well together? 

Anyways, to the articles…and don’t forget to give these great authors some feedback on their hard work!

1)      Thinking small to save BIG

Throughout life, we find ourselves in the mindset of having to make BIG moves in order to boost our savings. While this may work for some people, in reality, wealth is established through a bunch of small things we do in our everyday lives that ultimately impact our financial wellness. Allison Martin of MoneyTalksNews breaks down 11 small ways you can change your financial actions to save money, keeping those hard-earned dollars in your wallet. We’re always looking to save a quick buck, so thanks for the great suggestions, Allison!

2)       Challenge yourself to #SayNo

One of our favorite blogs, Budgets Are Sexy, makes the Five Finance Friday cut with the #YearofNo challenge. This mantra poses the idea of answering all decisions to spend money with a resounding “NO” & then having to talk yourself into the idea of spending that money. As somebody that far too often does the opposite of this, it’s an interesting perspective on justifying your purchases. J. Money explains how this mentality can be utilized throughout all facets of life, extending beyond the financial realm. An interesting read for sure-try it out if you find yourself spending needlessly!

3)       Starting a business isn’t all glamorous…

Have you been curious about what a start-up business looks like from behind the eyes of the entrepreneur? If so, Jeff Rose & Good Financial Cents has you covered with five crucial lessons he learned from starting a business. From the “many hats” you need to wear to deliver business success to ensuring you’ve carefully selected your business partners, Jeff shares some tough lessons learned that shaped his business today.

Smart Money Seed also launched our entrepreneurial series this week to critical acclaim, taking you into the life of Kelly Redmon & her start-up Kennedy Layne Salon. We’re excited to share more inspiring stories like Kelly’s-if you know somebody that may be a good fit for this series, feel free to connect with us on social media!  

4)      Your beginning is NOT somebody else’s middle

This is a topic that the Smart Money Seed team can certainly relate to as we strive to be the best financial blog in the business. When you take on any task in your life, keep in mind that your beginning is not going to start at your counterparts' middle. Comparing yourself to others is a good motivator but can also be a detriment to your progress if you dwell on it. Make your dream a reality by setting goals & remembering that everybody has a different beginning-but we all can reach the same success. Thanks for the motivation, Making Sense of Cents!

5)      Are you sure you can’t buy a home, millennials?

 Last but certainly not least, a topic near and dear to my heart: buying a home. As Kayleigh and I work on our wedding planning (October is approaching FAST), the thought of purchasing our first home has certainly crept in. However, that nagging 20% down payment anecdote seems out-of-reach when breaking down our ideal price for a house + wedding payments. Thankfully, Millennial Money is here to debunk the biggest reason first-time buyers aren't purchasing homes: the down payment. There are many options out there for prospective homeowners, something Kayleigh & I will surely take a hard look at when considering our living situation.


TIME FOR THE WEEKEND, GUYS! For those true ride-or-die Smart Money Seed readers, we’ve got a nice song to take you out on a high note for the weekend. Thanks for reading-see you next time for #FiveFinanceFriday!




2/21/18

Universal Basic Income: Society's Savior, Pipe Dream, or Expensive Waste?

2/21/2018


The concept and potential value of Universal Basic Income has been debated for years. UBI appears on its face to be a relatively simple concept, but in reality it is a drastic change that carries great risk. On either end of the spectrum, UBI could potentially take great strides towards drastically reducing poverty or waste trillions of tax dollars.

What is UBI?

I suppose this might be a good place to start. UBI in its purest form is a set amount of money that a government pays to all of its citizens every month unconditionally. Let's say, for example, that the US decided to implement a $1,000 monthly UBI. That means that every one of the 300+ million US citizens would receive $1,000 per month regardless of economic status or any other factors.

UBI is generally analyzed as a potential replacement for government welfare subsidies. Instead of receiving a certain amount of money based on your income level, number of dependents, employment status, etc., all citizens receive the same flat rate -- no questions asked. 

UBI comes highly recommended by some of modern society's most influential people including Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Stephen Hawking. UBI has also garnered support from past influencers such as Martin Luther King Jr.

UBI In Action

UBI has never really been utilized on a large scale, but several experiments and small scale implementations have been conducted around the world. I recently listened to a Planet Money podcast which explored a UBI pilot currently being conducted in Finland. They also briefly discussed a US pilot conducted during the Nixon administration.

An article recently published on Forbes details the desire of the mayor of Stockton, California, an area which suffers from economic hardship, to implement UBI.

In most pilot cases, UBI is implemented with pilot participants who were already receiving some sort of government assistance. In Finland's experiment, UBI recipients receive slightly less money than they would normally receive in government assistance; however, their benefits do not decrease as their income increases. 

The Finnish government hopes that this will incentivize its citizens to seek and pursue employment opportunities while receiving UBI. The current Finnish government welfare system, similar to many welfare systems, punishes welfare recipients for increasing their incomes by phasing out benefits as certain levels of income are attained. In most cases, the benefits decrease at a more accelerated rate than the recipients' incomes increase.

That means that unless a welfare program recipient has an opportunity to drastically improve their income overnight, which is unlikely in any situation as people generally need to work over a period of time to prove themselves to their employers and improve their income, they're better off at least in the short term receiving the welfare benefits than they would be by working to increase their income. For many people, the decrease in benefits in that short term period creates an unsustainable situation that prevents them from attaining an improved economic situation in the long term.

Simply put, government welfare programs often times incentivize people to not work and punishes people, at least in the short term, for working and earning an income.

Potential Benefits of UBI

People are currently losing their freaking minds over the minimum wage debate. God forbid a company like McDonald's, which makes 1-2 BILLION DOLLARS PER QUARTER, have to pay its workers more than $8 per hour. That's 8 WHOLE McDOUBLES worth of revenue. The company would surely go bankrupt having to spread out this extra cost over its paltry 75 hamburgers it sells per second and 68 million customers it serves per day.

Maybe CEO Steve Easterbrook would have to sell one of his vacation homes to absorb a pay cut from his $15 million salary.

Although I poke fun at the ridiculousness of the minimum wage argument (don't even give me the small business argument unless you want 10 posts strictly on minimum wage), I'm actually not a proponent of a higher minimum wage in large part because I don't think it does enough to move the needle. I also don't think the government should mandate what a business pays its employees, but that's a separate discussion.

UBI could and should be supported by both Republicans and Democrats because it serves many of the fundamental economic interests of both parties and offers many collective societal benefits.

  • The government is not mandating how businesses are run. 

If a business chooses to pay people vastly under their fair market value, they will not attract sustainable talent. If people have the safety net of UBI to hold them over, talented workers will not have to jump at minimum wage jobs simply for survival. If they do work minimum wage jobs, the UBI will help empower them to make that a temporary situation.

  • UBI inspires a natural redistribution of wealth. 

I can't exactly say what I would personally do with a UBI. I'd like to think that I would donate a good portion. Maybe I'm coming from an idealistic view of society, but I think a bunch of people who don't necessarily need the UBI to make ends meet would be inspired to do the same. Even if people are not donating the money, as long as they are spending a majority of the extra income and not saving it, that will fuel the economy and create more jobs and higher paying jobs.

  • UBI creates an incentive to work. 

Currently, welfare pays more than a minimum wage job in 35 states according to a study from the Cato Institute. In Ohio, a person receiving full welfare benefits would need a job that pays $26,200 annually or $12.60 per hour to replace those benefits. That's much easier said than done for someone not currently in the workforce. The penalty of losing welfare subsidies outweighs the benefits of working a job someone first entering or re-entering the workforce without significant job training or experience which creates an incentive not to work.

This is not meant to be construed as anything negative against people receiving welfare rather than joining the workforce. If you could work for $10 per hour or not work for $12,60 per hour, what would you choose? I know the answer for me is simple. Those benefits range from $5.36 per hour in Idaho to $29.13 per hour in Hawaii. With UBI, people will have a safety net of, say, $6 per hour or $12,000 per year on top of whatever salary they are able to make.

  • UBI can be structured to be completely non-discriminatory. 

The current welfare program aids everyone a little bit differently based on their individual situations. A single parent can receive more assistance than a two parent household or simply an individual would receive. That seems fair to me. But under UBI, my proposal is for every single individual to receive the same assistance which is distributed to that person's legal guardian if the individual is under 18.

That means if you are a single mother with three children, you receive 3 times the individual UBI payout. If that same single mother is able to hold down a job paying even $10 per hour, she will be able to allocate the necessary funds towards decent child care, build her skills and income over time, and maybe even be able to one day start saving for her children's education after high school, be it college, trade school, or otherwise. This could be a huge step towards ending or severely limiting generational poverty!

  • All the time, money, and energy spent managing the social welfare programs can be spent on actual self-improvement or rehabilitation programs. 

I've unsuccessfully attempted to nail down exactly how much the government spends not on welfare program benefits themselves but simply on the management of the programs. What I do know is that government bureaucracy is expensive. 

What if we could spend all the time, money, and energy we currently spend to manage the programs on self-improvement programs with a mixture of employees and volunteers leading workshops and individual coaching sessions on topics such as budgeting, parenting, job and skill training, etc? Again, I feel this would go a long way towards ending or severely limiting generational poverty!

  • Crime rates would almost surely decrease. 

This is almost a sub-bullet of the previous point. If everyone has some base to make ends meet or at least get close to that, then crime rates would almost surely decrease. If we have less crime, not only are people generally happier and more comfortable, but we save all the time, money, and energy spent in our criminal court and jail systems that can again be re-invested in true rehabilitation programs.

  • Overall personal health would improve. 

People that are currently not receiving benefits from Medicaid would be more likely to afford healthcare or get a job that provides healthcare. This is not a foolproof solution for universal healthcare, but it gets us closer towards improving our society's healthcare issue. 

Also, people would be more likely to take care of themselves with the extra income by going to the doctor for things they might normally not go for due to financial concerns and health improvement habits such as eating healthier foods and getting gym memberships -- and actually going to the gym!

    Potential Downfalls of UBI

    • Not enough money is re-invested into the economy (spent) or donated. 

    The savings rate in the US is currently somewhere around 5%. That means if the government gives people $1,000 per month, they would spend or donate $950 and save $50. Savings is generally a good thing for individual people but can be a bad thing for the economy as a whole. Every dollar spent is not only spent once but changes hands many, many times. Every dollar saved benefits just one person, the saver. 

    This is not an indictment against saving-- PLEASE save your money beyond simply making ends meet. But from a macro (governmental) level, if that savings rate increase drastically, which we would expect it to increase to some degree, it could eliminate or limit the economic boost we might expect from handing people more money.

    • UBI would be extremely expensive. 

    The current US population is 323 million and grows at a rate of 1-2% per year. An extremely simplistic calculation suggests that a $1,000 monthly UBI would cost nearly $4 TRILLION per year. That's almost the entire 2018 federal budget. This would be partially offset by the current $1 trillion currently being spent on welfare programs, but I'm not sure The Donald is going to be able to magically shit out the extra $3 trillion to cover the gap. Again, this calculation is extremely simplistic, but it is meant to illustrate just how expensive UBI would be. 

    The government would clearly need to make some tax adjustments to cover the deficit. Finding a way to modify the tax code (again) and ensure this doesn't simply cause a short period of hyperinflation is a difficult and risky proposition. Many people argue that UBI should be given with some stipulations such as only distributing UBI to people 18-65 years of age, omitting the top xx% wealthiest Americans from UBI distributions, or other means of a similar mindset.

    • The positive effects would be realized in the long-term which may not be appealing for politicians on 2, 4, and 6 year terms. 

    Giving people money unconditionally when they have never had the experience of handling money will initially have some negative effects. An extreme example of this is that when people win the lottery, more often than not they mismanage the money and wind up being broke again. 

    Were you great at driving a car the first time you got behind the wheel? If you think you were, maybe you should ask your parents who had to be in the car on the way home from the BMV once you passed that permit test! Did you make the shot the first time you ever shot a basketball? Handling money is a skill that must be taught and learned over time.

    •  A completely unconditional UBI replacing all social welfare programs is slightly discriminatory against the most disadvantaged citizens. 

    Although I don't believe that every single person currently receiving disability assistance simply cannot work any job, I understand there are some who are disadvantaged to the point where obtaining and maintaining a job is extremely difficult or impossible. 

    Those people are most likely receiving more social welfare assistance today than a reasonable UBI would allow, and they would not be able to supplement their new, lower assistance with additional income. The government and/or society through charities would need to pick up the slack to help the people who truly need the help.

    Should UBI be Instituted?

    I am a proponent of the implementation of UBI; however, I can't pretend to know enough about the government and its budgets and spending to even begin to figure out how the government would pay for it. If nothing else, I do feel strongly about a few aspects regarding the benefits of UBI that the government could take steps towards today:

    • Social welfare programs should be structured such that people are not punished for earning an income. 

    The UBI threshold should be set much higher than the poverty line and could be structured to phase out more directly with income increases than current welfare programs. For example, let's say that once someone hits 2x the poverty level, or about $24k, their UBI benefits decrease dollar for dollar with post-tax income increases. Assuming a $12k annual UBI, individuals would be at a post-tax income of $36k before fully weening off UBI. Benefits for families and single parents would need to be adjusted to compensate for their dependents so they are compensated accordingly.

    • More social rehabilitation and education programs should be put in place through a combination of volunteers and full time employees. 

    Perhaps there is an opportunity for me to teach welfare recipients and other low-income earners how to manage their money, but I am not currently aware of it if that does in fact exist. Shortcoming often simply signifies a lack of knowledge or education. If someone is constantly eating fast food and living an unhealthy lifestyle, chances are they don't know how to cook, purchase healthy foods, and workout properly. If someone is blowing their money on lottery tickets as a legitimate money making technique and not just for fun, chances are they don't know how to save, invest, and work to build their income. 

    A huge reason for generational poverty is because that's all some people are ever exposed to, and once they leave high school, they don't even have teachers, counselors, or other positive influences to expose them to the rest of the world. Providing more education initiatives would afford the government the ability to provide social welfare dollars unconditionally rather than putting the dollars in pre-determined buckets such as SNAP for food.

    • Social security should be scrapped in favor of UBI. 

    I'll talk about this more in-depth later, but I hate paying into social security. The rate of return I'm going to end up getting on that money is horrendous, and the federal government runs enormous deficits in social security every year. I would rather pay less into social security so that people who need the assistance in retirement receive it, I am free to invest more of my money the way I want to invest it, and I don't need to worry about factoring in social security at the mercy of the government when calculating my retirement numbers. 

    I would be more than willing to simply take a loss on the money I've paid into social security to this point and scrap the whole program although I'm sure someone who has paid into it for 30 or 40 years wouldn't exactly feel the same. Yes, it would be difficult to figure out a foolproof or close to it way to track income from things like retirement account withdrawals and net worth to determine who exactly should receive UBI in retirement, but I believe it can be done.

    We need to find a way for everyone to have access to basic needs and resources. Life is never going to be completely equal or fair, but if we can find a way as a society to afford everyone access to the basics and the opportunity to achieve much, much more if they are able and choose to work relentlessly towards it, then we can take major steps towards eliminating or reducing generational poverty and its associated problems from our society.

    What Do You Think?


    • Are you a proponent of UBI, our current social welfare programs, or some other option? 
    • What additional potential benefits or downfalls can you think of?
    • If you were in charge of improving the overall economic health of our society, what would you implement or modify? 
    Social welfare is something that affects all of us to some degree either directly or indirectly, so let's talk about it!

    2/19/18

    Entrepreneurship Conversation 1: Kennedy Layne Salon Owner Kelly Redmon

    2/19/2018
    Huge thank you to Kelly Redmon for allowing us
    to take a look into her life and her entrepreneurial journey!




    Kelly Redmon has always had a special admiration for the name Kennedy Layne, so when the opportunity arose to name her very own business, Kennedy Layne Salon felt like the perfect fit. Kelly is passionate about growing personally and professionally with her family of stylists and customers and crafting every last detail exactly how she envisions, even down to the name. Kelly's heart and her calendar stay full while she conquers the Ringling-esque balancing act of excelling in all her roles, "Being a mother, a wife, a salon owner, and a hairstylist."

    Even as Kelly begins to cut back behind the chair just a bit to introduce some balance into her life, she's not in the least bit concerned with a waning level of service for Kennedy Layne's customers because of her trust in her staff. "I have the greatest group of girls working here -- I am so blessed. So yes, I do feel very confident with them."

    Smart Money Seed was fortunate enough to get a peek into Kelly's life and the process by which she has built her dream into reality at the corner of Sandusky and East Mary.

    Pursuing Her Passion

    Kelly grew up in Bucyrus dreaming of becoming a hairstylist while spending time with her grandmothers getting their hair done on Saturday mornings. Kelly recollects that she "fell in love with the atmosphere. I knew right then it was strong interest at a very elementary age."

    Fast forward to high school, and Kelly began seriously planning to pursue this passion over her alternative of attending business school. Kelly's dream ultimately morphed into reality as she earned her cosmetology license from the Tiffin Academy of Hair Design. 

    Although Kelly had contemplated pursuing a career in either business or cosmetology, she didn't enter her cosmetology career with an initial goal to conjoin the two as an entrepreneur. "I tossed it around back and forth, but. . . it came later on in life."

    Once the entrepreneurial fire was lit within her, Kelly worked quickly and purposefully toward her goal of opening her own salon. The timeframe between deciding to open her own salon and ribbon cutting was astonishingly short. "It was probably two years. By the time I made my mind up, I knew this is what I want to do, and I'm going to do it."

    The Planning Period

    Kelly's entrepreneurial drive was born during her pursuit of another passion. "I ended up getting my real estate license, and while I was going to school for that, it was almost like something sparked inside of me. And that's when I knew I wanted to open my own salon. So, I was a hairstylist, and I was doing the real estate for about a year. And then I just decided I really want to do this. I wanted my own salon."

    Kelly's time in real estate came in handy during her pursuit of a location for her business. Although she hadn't necessarily earmarked the building at 300 North Sandusky from the start, her real estate background helped her identify that location as a valuable purchase in her pursuit of opening Kennedy Layne.

    Simply purchasing a location, however, was only the beginning of her struggle in opening the salon. When asked about additional barriers she faced, Kelly cringes and starts to make a fist which I can only assume will be headed for my face in a matter of seconds. While I contemplate jumping under the table versus sacrificing my computer as a shield, Kelly's focus on customer service and professionalism prevails as she cordially answers.

    "I just jumped right in, and I had no idea how many hurdles I had to overcome -- it's just endless. We did a complete remodel on the building, and there's a lot of different things you have to go through for permits and things like that I was a little blindsided on."

    As I incorrectly assume she had some exposure to permitting issues through her time in real estate, Kelly darts another glare in my direction. (Actually, she just laughed. A satisfying feeling of remembering a struggle that is no more.)

    Despite the hurdles faced by Kelly and all entrepreneurs throughout their journeys, Kelly was determined to turn Kennedy Layne into a staple within the Bucyrus community. "Even at the closing table, I was going to do this, and this was going to be successful. My mind was made up. Whatever it took."
    Kelly's real estate experience helped her in identifying the
    perfect location for Kennedy Layne Salon

    Opening Kennedy Layne Salon

    As Kelly regains the twinkle of nostalgia in her eye, she remembers Kennedy Layne's humble beginnings filled with long days and late nights of learning how to successfully run a business on the fly while also not cutting back at all from being a hairstylist. "I think in the start of any business, the first year, year and a half, two years, it's pretty crucial. You have to work your butt off. So, that's what I did, and I still am."

    Kelly is genuinely grateful for the support from the community during her opening. "It was absolutely amazing. All of the support from the community, our clients, the girls here -- it was so exciting. Energy was through the roof." She especially appreciates the support she received from the Chamber of Commerce, Crawford County Now, WQEL, the Galion Inquirer, and her peers in the Bucyrus business community.

    When probed for what she's learned most about herself through this process of becoming and being an entrepreneur, Kelly takes a long pause for reflection. Her answer precisely epitomizes the feelings shared by many entrepreneurs. "I didn't really know that I could do all this. So that makes me happy. I'm proud of myself."

    Kelly's lessons haven't stopped there as she's received a heavy dose of real world learning by doing throughout her time thus far as an entrepreneur. "You can go in and think things are going to be a certain way, and you never know what's going to happen -- good or bad. The washing machine might break down or you might lose hot water."

    But again, Kelly credits her team for easing her transition from hairstylist to entrepreneur. "I didn't have any management training or skills. But like I said before, I have such a great group that it's made that aspect of the business easy."

    This positive and fun dynamic between Kelly and her team shines through from a customer's perspective, to which I have the honor of being exposed about once a month, which creates an extremely comfortable and welcoming experience for Kennedy Layne's customers. Creating this dynamic is a passion of Kelly's and seems to be a driving force behind her entrepreneurial spirit.

    "That was my vision, and it makes me so happy to hear you say that as a customer that does come in here. Because that's what I wanted. I wanted that small town feel. I wanted everybody to come in and feel welcome and just kind of at home. And we are like a family here, and I think that shows."

    The Future of Kennedy Layne

    Kelly's vision for Kennedy Layne is largely focused on growth. When asked about her goals for Kennedy Layne over the next five years, Kelly states she would like to "Keep growing as far as adding different services. We have seven stations here, and for any salon business owner, the goal would be to have every station full every day that we're open. So that's a goal for the next five years or sooner."

    Kelly's growth strategy through marketing is focused on Kennedy Layne's Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat (which you can follow @KennedyLayne419) as well as with some of the local media outlets such as WQEL and Crawford County Now. 

    If given the opportunity to go back in time and change any part of her own journey or Kennedy Layne's, Kelly would like for things to remain just as they are. 

    "I am a strong believer that everything does happen for a reason and when it's supposed to. No, I wouldn't do anything differently because I think every single experience in my life, every person that I've come across has made me who I am today. . . Looking back, I think the foundation for everything was being laid over my life, and I had no clue. But now I look back, and I can see it. . . I can't believe when I just look back and think of how this has all evolved. It's just amazing. Everything is a learning experience -- good or bad -- and you just have to keep growing and keep looking at anything you're unhappy with or any negative experience and turn it into a learning experience. So that's what I try to do."

    Kelly is extremely appreciative and complimentary of her staff

    Take Kelly's Advice

    If you are planning to pursue cosmetology, Kelly recommends to "get as much education as you possibly can, and learn from others. Watching successful people, asking lots of questions, just being well rounded, and having many experiences -- just don't say no to opportunities." Kelly and her team also enjoy hosting students for job shadows.
    And if you're somebody thinking about starting your own business, Kelly's advice is simple yet powerful. "Go for it. Absolutely. No regrets. . . All of this has come from hard work, work ethic, and being blessed and surrounded by seven other women who have the same work ethic as I do."

    Kelly's journey and success are an inspirational reminder of what a determined person can accomplish when working purposefully and with focus. The positive effects her efforts have had on her customers, her employees, her community, and herself cannot be overstated. Kelly's present and future are bright, and we hope this serves as inspiration to ensure yours are too.


    This is the inaugural episode of Smart Money Seed's entrepreneurship series. Our goal is to give you a look into the lives of local entrepreneurs and their journeys to inspire you to make a positive difference in your community. We sincerely appreciate Kelly Redmon's time and willingness to participate in this series as our first featured entrepreneur! 

    We believe positivity and determination can go a long way in the success of a community, so if you like this article, we would love it if you could help us and our communities a favor by sharing it with someone you think might enjoy this article and podcast.

    2/16/18

    Five Finance Friday Q&A - 2/16/18

    2/16/2018



    What's up, Smart Money Squad! It's that time again for another edition of our weekly series, Five Finance Friday. We finally got some questions submitted on the page, so we're switching things up this week with a quick 5 question Q&A session. We would love it if you could let us know what you think and whether you prefer this format or the weekly article roundup format.

    The topics will vary between all the different topics we write about, blogging, entrepreneurship, hot topics or really whatever we happen to be drawn to that week (basically we'll do whatever the hell we want).

    Q1: What's the best way to save for my vacation this summer?

    A1: This question really has two potential answers depending on how ambitious you are. The first answer is all about supercharging your savings. A good place to start is with our Unconventional Ways to Save Money tips. If you're really serious about saving, try putting away all your $5 bills and your $20 bills. Also, you can setup a direct deposit from your checking account to your savings account to happen right after your paycheck hits your account. That way you don't even see the money come in, so you're not tempted to spend it. Chances are, you could direct deposit 5-10% into checking without even noticing it's gone. You just might have to make a couple sacrifices in spending along the way.

    If you're really ambitious and willing to step outside your comfort zone in your vacation planning, travel hacking is the way to go. We took you through a step by step guide in our 3rd most popular post ever! You'll save some serious cash without making sacrifices to your fun.

    Q2: What should my retirement investment allocation be?

    A2: If you don't need the money in the next 5-10 years, you shouldn't really have anything substantial in bonds or cash. If you want a little bit in bonds just for peace of mind, that's fine, but you're costing yourself money in order to be risk averse. I'm not criticizing -- just educating. . . okay, maybe criticizing a little.

    My strategy is very simple. My company's 401k plan allows me to pick from several exchange traded funds, mutual funds (those two are pretty much the same thing), or individual stocks. I allocate 70% to an ETF that is essentially an S&P 500 index fund and 30% into a growth stock ETF which captures the sexy up and comer type companies like Tesla and Facebook. 

    You can also choose a target date fund, but I would recommend recasting past your target retirement date for the majority of your money since you're probably not going to make a 100% withdrawal the day you retire. If you plan to retire in 2050, you could put a small amount in that fund, a small amount in 2055, some in 2060, and so on until you reach the furthest date available. Most people like these funds since they view them as a set it and forget it type option, but I warn you that they get too conservative too quickly if 100% of your money is invested at your retirement year's target fund.

    Q3: What should I be focusing on to add to my resume?

    A3: I think this answer really depends on your personality and goals. However, two universally positive resume enhancers are certifications and leadership positions. Certifications are important because they show not only your commitment to your field but also your commitment to learning and growing into the most knowledgeable employee you can be. Think of a certification as a glowing letter of recommendation. Your diploma, degree, or certification universally tells potential employers that you have mastered a particular set of skills and knowledge.

    Leadership positions are a way to really stand out from the crowd in a sea of resumes flooding a hiring manager's desk. Companies like hiring well-rounded employees, so regardless of whether you're a leader in your church, your child's sports league, or even your book club, it shows the employer that you take initiative and that you can handle leading projects, teams, and initiatives. Leadership positions also provide an opportunity for positive and interesting conversation in an interview.

    Q4: Should my significant other and I have a joint bank account?

    A4: If you're not yet married, then I would absolutely recommend against a joint bank account. That just smells like a whole bunch of trouble during a relationship that hasn't yet grown into a marriage, especially if things go south. 

    Now I'm no marriage counselor, but if you're married, I think you should definitely have a joint bank account. Financial transparency is key to a healthy and trusting relationship, and a joint bank account helps ensure both people know where you stand financially and can work together more visibly to make financial progress.

    Q5: Should I be seeing changes to my paychecks as a result of the new tax plan?

    A5: All companies are handling this differently, but yes the new tax plan did take effect at the beginning of the year. My company made changes to my federal tax deduction, so I have effectively received a raise consistent with the changes in the tax plan. If you haven't yet seen a difference in your 2018 paychecks, I would recommend reaching out to your supervisor or HR representative to learn more about your company's plan to take the new tax plan into account on your paychecks. 

    What did you think?

    We need your feedback so we can keep growing the Smart Money Squad! Do you like the Q&A format or the articles for Five Finance Friday? Also, the more questions we get, the higher quality the Q&A sessions will be. Submit your questions through FacebookTwitteremail, or in our Ask The Authors section on our website (right side desktop, bottom mobile).

    Thanks for stopping by, squad, and have a kick ass weekend!

    2/14/18

    SMS Tried and True Valentine's Day Tips

    2/14/2018
    If you've lost track of time, Valentine's day is here! Don't worry, if you're a chronic procrastinator or just plain forgot to pick up your flowers and chocolates, you still have time, and Smart Money Seed is here to help.

    For many, Valentine's Day is a good excuse to do a little something extra for that special someone. A dinner, a movie, flowers, or even just a small box of chocolates are some of the most battle tested gifts. Others celebrate the holiday with even bigger gifts such as jewelry, gift cards, or vacations. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some folks choose not to celebrate the holiday altogether.

    No matter where you fall on the Valentine's Day gift giving spectrum, there are still some steps you can take to make sure you're spending your money wisely. Here are Smart Money Seed's top 4 tips for this Valentine's Day.
    If you decide to go to Disney for Valentine's Day,
    find an awesome brother-in-law to get you in the park
    for free and take care of lodging! (Thank Matt!!)

    1. Set Expectations

    I'm not a marriage counselor, but after 7+ years of dating (and engaged for a month and half) I've learned that setting expectations for any sort of gift giving is crucial. Just like we talked about in our Holiday Budgeting Podcast, no one wants to be on either end of a lopsided gift exchange. 

    I highly recommend making it a habit to talk with your significant other before the big holiday's to make sure you have some alignment. You don't want to just get her a box of chocolates if she plans on buying you a PS4. If you're still not quite sure what I'm talking about, check out this clip from The Office

    2. Think Original

    Doing something "original" (i.e. making dinner at home rather than eating out) gives you the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: 

    1. Save some cash (after all, this is a personal finance blog!)
    2. Make the gift more meaningful

    A trip to Hawaii is about as original as
    it gets! But the small stuff can count
    just (or almost) the same.
    Making a nice dinner at home can give you a great sense of pride, and as we mentioned in our Grocery Store Hacks post, it can save you quite a bit of money. Most restaurants are packed on Valentine's Day, and it's not uncommon for a couple to spend $100 on food and drinks. If you cut this bill in half (or maybe even in thirds), I'm pretty confident I would have enough to head over to the grocery store and get some steaks, mashed potatoes, dessert, and a bottle of wine. Plus if you anything like us, we already go out to fairly often. Celebrating at home adds a personal touch that can help make the experience more meaningful.

    Ultimately, your significant other doesn't care about the dinner or the chocolates. What she or he cares about is the effort you show in planning your date and doing something thoughtful for her or him. In many cases, gifts that costs no extra money such as cooking dinner or doing the dishes can be worth much more value to your significant other than a $100 dinner.


    3. Celebrate After February 14th

    This tip is pretty straightforward, but it can definitely save you some cash! Whether you are planning for a night in or night out, restaurants, stores, and flower shops are banking on your Valentine's Day purchases on the days leading up to the holiday. Some restaurants will even hike their prices on Valentine's Day because they know they will get the demand (another reason you should consider making dinner at home).

    Once the holiday passes, stores are ready to get rid of their Valentine's Day inventory and restaurants are done with their over-priced specials. Instead of celebrating on the 14th, try doing something a few days later to avoid those price spikes.

    It's okay to eat hot dogs while your friends eat steak.

    4. Don't Keep Up With The Joneses

    Maybe just avoid your Instagram and Snapchat for the next few days. Your Instagram feed will be flooded with pictures of diamonds, puppies, and everything in between. If you want to get your significant other a diamond or a puppy, go for it. If not, don't feel the pressure to do something that doesn't make sense for your life just because your friends are doing it. Keeping up with the Joneses is a quick way to land yourself in consumer debt hell.










    Disclaimer: Smart Money Seed is run by three dudes, and this post has not been vetted by our significant others. I repeat, this is a Valentine's Day advice article written by guys; please use this information at your own discretion. With that said, we've each been able to keep our significant other's around for years!


    2/12/18

    #MileageMonday: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred

    2/12/2018


    Happy #MileageMonday, Smart Money Squad! Since we last spoke, I've been soaking up the sun on the lovely beaches of Oahu in Hawaii. Let me quickly give a shoutout to my future in-laws, who graciously covered the cost of the beachfront condo we stayed in during our week in paradise. Don't forget, guys-you can always earn thousands of points but you can't replace the generosity of family!

    Anyways, enough bragging for me. I'll save some of that for a future #MileageMonday where we'll go into how Kayleigh was able to score some killer deals on flights (booked with points) & how we flew back home first class with lie-flat seats! Today, though, we need to get back to where it all started for me: Chase Bank.

    Chase Card Overview

    As I've alluded to in previous posts, there are 6 main Chase co-branded cards that consumers flock to due to their decent sign-up bonuses & great offerings beyond the initial offering. These are:
    • Chase Sapphire Reserve
    • Chase Sapphire Preferred
    • Chase Freedom
    • Chase Freedom Unlimited
    • Chase Ink Plus (Business)
    • Chase Ink Cash (Business)
    These cards all are valuable in their own right because they each offer a unique point-earning structure & different sign-up bonuses. While you technically could have all of these credit cards at one time, I wouldn't necessarily recommend that. As we know from our #Chasecapades (patented by me, don't you dare steal this travel bloggers!), Chase has a 5/24 rule in which you will not be approved for these cards if you've been approved for 5 or more cards within the last 24 months.

    A quick note: if you need help tracking how many cards you've received or want a system to track your credit card haul, reach out to Smart Money Seed through email or any of our social media accounts. We're here to help, and I love nothing more than seeing all of you guys reach your travel goals!

    Anyways, back to the good stuff. We will split our Chase card breakdown into three separate posts, driven by the category I'd group the card into. The aforementioned Chase-branded credit cards can be grouped into three categories:
    • Premium 
    • Everyday
    • Business
    Today, we'll focus on the "Premium" category of Chase-branded cards. There are two cards that fit into the premium Chase category: the Chase Sapphire Reserve & Chase Sapphire Preferred. Both of these cards offer extensive benefits beyond the sign-up bonus; however, they do come with annual fees that may scare away potential customers. I'll go into why every dollar you spend on the annual fee is worth it, but first, let's breakdown each card.

    Chase Sapphire Reserve

    The Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) is currently offering 50,000 Chase UR points after spending $4,000 in the first three months after account opening. We've already talked about why these points are so valuable here. As a reminder, these points can be used to book travel through the Chase UR portal, transfer to different airline programs and much more. The real value in having a CSR in your pocket, though, are the extensive benefits the card provides. Here's a list of the offerings the CSR has at its disposal:
    • You can earn 3x points on all travel & dining purchases. This is about a 3% cash back on flights, hotels, restaurants, you name it. You'll get 1x points on all other purchases
    • $300 annual travel credit (covers anything from an Uber to a flight. If it codes as travel on your statement, you'll automatically be reimbursed)
    • 50% bonus on points when redeeming through the Chase UR portal for travel
    • Up to $100 application fee credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry
    • Priority Pass Select membership. Ever want to experience an airport lounge? This provides access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide & allows you to bring a traveling companion free of charge
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Trip Delay Reimbursement: If any part of your trip gets delayed for longer than 6 hours due to unforeseen circumstances (think weather, mechanical failure, etc.), you are entitled to up to $500 per person for reasonable expenses. When we say reasonable, think meals, lodging, transportation, etc. Just make sure that some part of your flight was paid for using your CSR to ensure you receive this benefit.
    We could keep the list going forever-there's baggage delay insurance, trip cancellation insurance, automatic rental car insurance...clearly, there's TONS OF VALUE in having this card, especially if you are a frequent traveler. Whether it's the massive travel credit or the increased travel redemption opportunity, one thing's for sure: the CSR is one of the hottest bargains on the market.

    With all of these benefits, there's a catch: the CSR has a $450 annual fee that is NOT waived in the first year. This annual fee will post with your first statement. While this seems steep, I'd argue that your more than make up the $450 from the benefits included at sign-up. 50,000 UR points + $300 travel credit + $100 TSA Precheck reimbursement already get you over $1,000 in value when used correctly, which is the name of the game.

    If you are able to take advantage of all the CSR has to offer, it's certainly a no-brainer in my eyes. However, not all of us are keen on spending $450 on an annual fee but still would like a solid offering from their credit card. Fear not-the Chase Sapphire Preferred has you covered!

    Chase Sapphire Preferred 

    If you've ever heard me talk about travel hacking, you have probably heard me talk about this card. It's my go-to card & has helped me take countless trips around the world, ranging from trips to see friends in California to a soccer extravaganza in London! The Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) is currently offering 50,000 Chase UR points after spending $4,000 in the first three months after account opening. Sound familiar? That's because it is-this card offers the same sign-up bonus as the CSR.

    However, the annual fee is much less with the CSP. The annual fee for the CSP comes in at $95, which is waived for the first cardholder year. You owe nothing to Chase for the first year & can make the decision to either keep the CSP or downgrade to a fee-free card down the road. Not a bad option for a card offering 50,000 valuable UR points from the get-go!

    As with the CSR, the CSP also offers a wide variety of benefits beyond the sign-up bonus, albeit of lesser value. Here's a sampling of what the CSP has to offer:
    • 2x points on travel & dining
    • 20% bonus on points when redeeming through the Chase UR travel portal
    • 1:1 transfer ratio on UR points to airline & hotel programs (Southwest, United, Hilton, Hyatt, etc.)
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Auto rental insurance
    • Trip Delay Reimbursement-valid for delays of 12+ hours or overnight (The CSR covers you for delays of 6+ hours, an important note to keep in mind)
    • Baggage Delay Insurance
    • Purchase Price Protection-covers new purchases for 120 days against theft/damage, up to $500
    • Extended Warranty Protection-automatically extends warranty of items purchased with CSP for an extra year for items with warranties of 3 or less years.
    Clearly, there's a ton of value to be had with the CSP. As I mentioned, it's my go-to card for nearly all my expenses & a card I will never cancel. The $95 annual fee is peanuts compared to the $1000+ in value I typically expect out of the card every year. If you are looking for a card that doesn't break the bank but still gives you reasonable coverage across the board, look no further. The CSP is your best bet, and a must-have for any consumer under the Chase 5/24 rule.

    NOTE: We have an affiliate link for the Chase Sapphire Preferred if you would like to help the blog earn a little extra mileage when you sign up. Simply use our link when applying:

    Earn 50,000 bonus points with Chase Sapphire Preferred. I can be rewarded too if you apply here and are approved for the card. Learn more.

    https://www.referyourchasecard.com/6/OHOHIICLMV

    CSR vs. CSP: Which Card Makes Sense For Me?

    Chase recently introduced a rule stating that you cannot have two Sapphire products at one given time, ruling out the possibility of stacking these cards and their bonuses. For those of you on the fence about which card to get, I'd offer this: evaluate how much you plan on traveling this year. If you are a frequent traveler that doesn't have TSA Precheck/Global Entry or simply wants access to the airport lounge with a few pre-flight mimosas, the CSR is a no-brainer. However, that's not the reality for a lot of the Smart Money Squad & people in general.

    The reality is that the situation is going to be different for every single person. For me, I know that I have a lot of the benefits offered by the CSR with other credit cards in my portfolio, and thus, I don't need to spend the $450 annual fee. I'm more than happy with my CSP, and until I'm under the 5/24 rule, I don't see myself picking up the CSR in the near future.

    There's also no reason you couldn't have BOTH a CSP/CSR & one of the other cards in Chase's co-branded family. With many options to choose from (i.e. having a Chase Freedom for 5x points in quarterly categories, Chase Ink for 5x points on office supplies/phone bills, etc.), you can't really go wrong!

    Of course, minimum spends on either the CSP or the CSR can be the obstacle in your way of meeting the bonus. With a wedding on the books in October, I might actually be able to meet a minimum spend like that out of necessity. However, that's not normal spending for 99% of our readership-and that's where manufactured spending comes in. Check out my initial travel hacking post if you'd like to know more about that!

    Final Thoughts

    We've only scratched the surface of the "premium" level of the Chase-branded cards and already we've uncovered TONS of value in each card. Keep in mind, Chase has many more cost-efficient options we will dive into that I use regularly to boost m UR balance and snag that extra Southwest flight for free.

    The CSR & CSP have been game changers in the travel sector of credit cards & are the gold standard in an industry that had been lacking real value. As two of the leaders on the marker, these cards are sure to drive competition in the "premium" level of other credit card companies, namely American Express & Citi. It will be interesting to see how these companies continue to compete for our dollar by providing more benefits, ultimately justifying increased annual fees.

    As always, happy #MileageMonday, and a happy Valentine's Day to the Smart Money Squad!

    Cheers, 

    Ty