August 2018 - Smart Money Seed


Side Hustle: Make $1200+ Annually By Maximizing Quarterly Spend

If you've read our Discover IT & Chase Freedom posts, you'll know that there is tons of money to be made in maximizing your category spend every quarter. Every three months, companies like Discover & Chase offer credit cards with a category spend bonus, meaning that for those three months, you'll earn 5% cashback on spending rather than 1%! If you play your cards right, that's $600 per card, per year...meaning you could walk away with a whopping $1200 in extra cashback if you maximize spend.

For me, $1200 can go a LONG way in impacting my financial wellness. I'd be able to:

  • Make an extra payment on my mortgage (and get closer to removing PMI!)
  • Pay off 1/5th of the remainder of my car loan
  • Buy 1,200 Steel Reserves at our local gas station (KIDDING...or am I?)
We could use the cashback to pay extra on our new mortgage!

Regardless on how you use it, $1200 extra dollars a year us nothing to scoff at. Since we're in the business of making you money, I've put together a list of the category spend for the Discover It card & how I'd go about meeting the maximum spend in each quarter. There is overlap with Chase & Discover's categories, so feel free to use the Discover category advice and apply it to your Chase spending! There are lots of creative ways to maximize your category spending, so please keep that in mind & comment any suggestions/methods you've used to earn that extra cashback!

Maximizing Your Cash Back Earnings

It wouldn't be a Smart Money Seed article unless we dove into how I'd maximize the potential earnings from this card. Let's get the quick math portion out of the way:
  • Q1: $1,500 at gas stations/wholesale clubs x 5% (category bonus) x 2 (Discover match)=$150
  • Q2: $1,500 at grocery stores x 5% (category bonus) x 2 (Discover match)=$150
  • Q3: $1,500 at restaurants x 5% (category bonus) x 2 (Discover match)=$150
  • Q4: $1,500 on Amazon x 5% (category bonus) x 2 (Discover match)=$150

Total Category Earnings: $600 CASH

Meeting Minimum Spend Requirements

As you can see, you'd clear $600 cash on just the category spending alone if you were able to meet the max spend in each category quarterly. $1,500 in three months may seem daunting to you guys, so let me give you a few tips on how to meet minimum spend in these categories:
  • Gas Stations/Wholesale Clubs: While ensuring you pay for your own gas with the Discover IT, offer to pay for your friends' gas in exchange for cash/Venmo/Paypal. If you live with roommates and need to stock up at Costco, offer to pay the whole bill and have your friends pay you back. These trips (especially for my 8-person college house) could exceed $400 quick-combine these methods and you'll be well on your way to $1,500!
  • Grocery Stores: As outlined in our "Vacation Like a Baller" post, there are methods beyond simply buying groceries that will allow you to meet minimum spends quickly. Check out Visa Variable gift cards if you need to meet minimum spends quickly-and reach out to Smart Money Seed if you need help understanding our minimum spend strategies!
  • Restaurants: This is probably my favorite category-offer to take the whole bill every time you go out to eat with family or friends! It makes the server's job much easier having one bill, while all of your friends are happy to pay you back through their preferred online method/cash. Win-win...and you get to eat delicious food in the meantime!
  • Amazon/Wholesale: I've always found this to be the toughest category. You can definitely get an extra boost for your holiday shopping with this category-but even I know that $1,500 may not be realistic on shopping for gifts. Continue to shop for the whole apartment/house at Costco & Sam's Club...and know you can be a bit more generous with gifts when you're getting 10% cash back!

    APPLY HERE: Discover It Application Link 

    Maximizing category spend can be some of the easiest money you'll make this year. Go into each quarter with a plan on how you'll maximize your spending and make sure to remember to pay with the correct card.! With this mindset, you'll be well on your way to earning some side hustle cash for that extra car payment/bar tab/whatever you want to spend it on, we don't judge at Smart Money Seed! 

    We'd love to hear your success stories-how are you hustling to get ahead in life? Let us know if you have a story you'd like to share-we love to feature you guys on the blog!


    Start Building Credit Early: Why You Need The Discover It


    *Disclaimer* This article contains affiliate links, meaning if you choose to utilize our link to sign up for a credit card, we will receive a commission at no additional cost to you.

    Hello, Smart Money Squad! For those of you new to the points & miles game, we've got an article today that I think you'll enjoy. I tend to write articles about the highest-earning points cards in the industry because I find the most value in those cards. However, when it comes to getting approved for these cards, it can be a mixed bag for our readers. Banks have become more stingy in approving prospective customers due to credit thresholds-one of the MANY reasons it's imperative to start building your credit at a young age.

    As many of you loyal Smart Money Seed readers are just starting out in your financial journey, it stands to reason that your credit may not be built to the level needed to be approved for these cards. Therefore, I've decided to do a deep dive on one of the most popular entry-level cards on the market today: the Discover It/Discover It Miles!

    First Look: Discover IT

    If you are a college student or just graduated, odds are you have received a mailer from Discover about their Discover It card. There's good reason for that-Discover tends to have a high approval rate for users with limited credit history & offer a generous first-year welcome bonus. Let's take a look at what the Discover IT has to offer:

    • Rotating 5% cash-back on up to $1,500 in purchases quarterly 
      • Q1: Gas Stations/Wholesale Clubs 
      • Q2: Grocery Stores 
      • Q3: Restaurants 
      • Q4: Amazon/Wholesale Clubs
    • All other purchases earn 1% unlimited cashback-Cashback NEVER EXPIRES!
    • Discover matches 100% of the cash back you earn for your first year-doubling your potential earnings!
    • Free monthly FICO credit score updates.
    • No annual fee & 0% APR for 14 months on purchases/balance transfers.
    Discover's free FICO scorecard-a tool I use monthly!

    While this card doesn't offer many of the direct travelling benefits you usually hear me talk about on Smart Money Seed, there's still a lot of value to be had when applying for this card. For starters, the rotating 5% cash back (10% cash back when factoring in the first-year 100% match by Discover) provides an immediate benefit to category spending. I'm confident in saying that no card on the market provides 10% cash back on gas or grocery spending-you'll only find that with the Discover IT!
    For those of you that are in need of a first credit card to establish your credit or simply want to make some extra cash on the side, the Discover It is the card for you. It's got everything you would need in a no-hassle credit card: NO annual fee, 10% cash back on select categories for your first year & 2% cashback on EVERYTHING for your first year. 

    The Discover It resembles a great opportunity to dip your toes into the credit card market without stress. It's a card you can keep for the rest of your life, building your annual age of credit while earning you cash back on the side. With free FICO score updates monthly & no annual fee, it's a card I'd recommend to anybody that's interested in getting started with building credit.

    If you have any questions about the Discover IT or credit cards in general, feel free to reach out to Smart Money Seed through social media or in the comments below. We love helping our readers-and want to help you get on the fast track to financial success!

    Until next time, let us know if you'd like to hear us write about a certain topic! We're open to all suggestions & want to hear what you guys want from us.



    The Real Reason Why I Stopped Maximizing My Income

    As you probably know by now, I graduated college, moved back in with my parents, mowed lawns, and delivered ice some Sundays and holidays. My salary at the time was plenty to cover my $0 rent and other expenses (mainly beer), but I was focused on my goal to pay off my student loans ASAP.

    I paid off my loans in a year and a half, moved out of the basement, and stopped the side jobs. Doesn't that go against what a personal finance influencer is supposed to advocate for? 😨 Aren't I supposed to squeeze every penny out of every single day and tell you how mowing lawns and delivering ice can change your life?

    The fact of the matter is that mowing lawns and delivering ice can definitely change people's lives. It can if you're in some serious debt or struggling to make ends meet or just fired up about getting some extra cash. I'm extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to have those jobs which allowed me to pay off my loans so quickly and have a little fun along the way.

    But at this point, I have the luxury to thing bigger picture. Sure, I wouldn't mind a few extra bucks here and there, but I would honestly probably just end up mostly spending it on more beer which would render my healthy lifestyle improvements useless.

    Almost every minute I spent on the ice truck or behind the mower when I wasn't listening to the Tribe (and sometimes zoning out of even the Tribe game), I was thinking about building businesses.

    It's something I talked about my whole life and something I had even begun to work toward with Smart Money Seed and 9vnow. Ideas would come and go for new businesses, ways to improve the projects I was working on, and what my next move should be. The inability to take immediate action on my thoughts drove me crazy.

    Losing time out of my week chasing a few bucks that I could've spent learning about and building businesses to maximize my progress on my long term goal of becoming an entrepreneur just didn't seem to make sense anymore.

    The reason I stopped maximizing my income is the same exact reason why I started. I wanted to go all in on my goals. Just like I was all in on my goal of paying off my student loans. And I needed to tailor my life to allow myself to completely buy in to my vision just like I did when I moved back home.

    I'm not certain if I've made the correct decision. I likely won't know that for many years. I do know that I enjoy the hell out of building Smart Money Seed and all the highs and even the lows that come with it. I love interacting with entrepreneurs through our interviews and now dabbling in helping them with Facebook marketing.

    I'm incredibly grateful to be able to focus on my long term goals and working toward my dream life that I hope to live in the next 5 years and not just the next 5 months. Not everybody has that luxury. I intend to take advantage of the opportunity in front of me to set myself up for levels of success I currently can only dream of.

    If you could see some life changing benefits with a few extra bucks, check out my post 4 Ways To Beef Up Your Income, And How I've Used All 4.

    If you're in a position to be able to focus more on your long-term goals, I want to hear from you. Leave us a comment or message us on Facebook and tell us what you're working toward and how you're designing your life to go all-in on your goals.

    Maybe the Smart Money Squad will be able to hold you accountable and give you that extra push you need to get fired up about achieving exactly what you want.