Why the photo of the Jeep? Well not only is it a cool photo, but it represents one of the goals I had in my late 20s to commit to own a tiny home before age thirty. While it may not be the traditional definition of a tiny home, it serves the same purpose temporarily for the time being.

With unyielding resolve, I mentally reduced my wants to necessity. First, I dreamed of a tiny home, then it was Van Life, and eventually it was Jeep Life, thanks to the inspiration provided by venture4wd who portrayed an ideal into practice over an extended period of time.

I do not necessarily require a Rubicon model Jeep, but it brings me peace of mind knowing that I have access to some of the best off-road capabilities and mechanics to extricate myself from difficult situations. When I say “necessity” I refer to the fact that owning a Jeep not only allows me to live a fulfilling life without adhering to traditional societal norms, but also grants me the ability to have mobility without being anchored to one place, a decision that I have yet to fully decide on.

As I have now reached the age of 30, I can look back and reflect on how my goal of obtaining a tiny home on wheels, in this case the Jeep, was achieved right on schedule. However, this asset will only become more valuable as I move forward, helping me to achieve my goals in the years to come.

Goals for my Thirties


1.
Remove toxic programming for the sake of energy, time, an healthy relationships.


2.
Consistently become physically stronger than yesterday.


3.
Strict commit to goal of becoming financially independent (Coast -> Regular F.I.R.E.) by forty.


4.
Pursue mastery in the field of Quality Assurance Engineering.


5.
Explore alternative solutions for preventing and overcoming burnout.


6.
Leverage blog to bring order to thought processes in times of uncertainty and unpredictability (chaos).


7.
While maintaining weekly to-do lists, create daily ones for work to eliminate indecisiveness.


8.
Maintain health on a consistent basis (diet, energy, oral, mental, physical, and emotional)


9.
Attempt to deepen relationships with friends and family.


10.
Intentionally work through and heal from C-PTSD.


While, this concludes the original post to highlight my goals for my 30s, I do feel I should at least give the details of where the parent photo was taken, so here’s to that…

Occasionally, because I can, go off-roading in areas I really shouldn’t be alone. In fact, DO NOT attempt this trail alone with your vehicle unless it is a bike. While this trail provided many challenging feats that my Jeep handled with almost zero issue, there was one particular spot where I needed to be perfect to prevent my Jeep from rolling. It was a narrow track as wide as the width of the Jeep on a side-hill with a small obstacle with a potential down hill roll without trees to stop me. For those of you who don’t know what side hills are, it is basically sloped trek where the vehicle is driving at an angle. The dangers of a side hill mixed with an obstacle, is simply the bumps that shift the weight of the vehicle more towards the down slope. It was the kind of track that made me happy the majority of my weight was strapped down on the left side of my vehicle, and even now, thinking back to it still makes me anxious.

I meticulously planned my route after hiking ahead and studying the map to ensure there wasn’t another chance of encountering another side-hill. To avoid tilting, I reattached the sway bar, which I typically kept detached for better traction and maneuverability on rocky terrain. To ensure a safe passage over the rocky obstacle, I would need to turn my wheels towards the hill so to eliminate the risk of any slip, I activated both the front and rear differential lockers. I was fully aware that any misstep could cause a wheel to completely derail, potentially prompting my instinctual response to abandon the situation or panic which could likely result in flooring it, which could then make the situation worse. With steady and controlled movements, I drove through the obstacle in 4-Low, 1-st gear knowing that failure was not an option given the potential consequences.

After my experience, I’m definitely done with solo off-roading. All I need to do to deter myself from doing this again is remind myself of what I risked previously during my Hurricane Creek trek.

Why would I ever solo off-road?

I ventured solo due to a personal challenge before my thirtieth birthday, which was coming up soon. I enjoy the solitude and felt confident in my decision-making abilities to turn back if necessary. However, in retrospect, I now understand that my actions were unwise. The impending milestone of turning thirty made me hesitant to let go of this immature behavior.

Why off-roading?

It’s sort of hard to explain the excitement from off-roading. I certainly am not a adrenaline junky by any variation, but I love myself a road in the middle of nowhere for solitude that doesn’t offer too much risk to my safety. Said, here are some visuals of the what and how to better explain the why:

If you hear scraping in the video, it’s probably me shifting gears in 4-Low, as I infrequently (once or twice) scrape the bottom of my Jeep. Though the Rubicon package comes with skid plates so even if I did scrape the bottom, it’s probably just the skid plates.

This is a good example of a place where disconnecting sway bars is optimal so the front tires can move independently of each other to help get up an over the obstacle.

In most cases, I keep the sway bar disconnected any time I’m off-road, usually providing a smoother ride. If I’m having trouble maneuvering an obstacle, I’ll engage my lockers which will lock both wheels on the same axle together, guaranteeing equal power between the wheels. In reality, the lockers have only been engaged three times since ownership. In fact, during my second off-roading experience while observing a line of off-roaders on how to get down and back up the road between Flagpole Knob and Meadow Knob, a fellow off-roader pointed out my sway bar being disconnected should be enough to maneuver the mountain, but if I were ever in a situation I were stuck, my lockers are essentially my cheat code. Shortly after hearing his take, I made it down and back up the mountain without needing to touch my lockers.

This was captured after that challenging side hill maneuver. If you look closely you can see the mixture of relief and regret detailed in my face.

While I could have camped pretty much anywhere along this road, I was actually making my way up to Max Patch. A place I haven’t been to since my Appalachian Trail thru-hike.

Max Patch

NameHurricane Creek Road
LocationFines Creek, NC
TrailheadHurricane Creek Trail

Note:
Entrance is on a highway without a ramp. I suggest using you hazards to slow down to make that turn.
Length6-7 miles
Gaia GPS LinkHurricane Creek 4×4 Road
Notes:
  • Always fill up before off-roading.
  • Generally you should be deflating your tires while off-roading. The upside is increasing surface area for grip and shock absorption which would have been stellar for that side hill maneuver mentioned above. The downside is that it lowers your clearance and increases the risk of punctures. I do believe the upside is worth, but have not made the moves to purchase the air compressor required to fill back up those tires. A part of me also believes that I do not currently off-road enough to quantify such a purchase.
  • For those of you who are experienced off-roaders (not like myself), I could see a remote controlled camera being useful to better guide yourself through difficult obstacles.
    • I could also see how anchoring yourself through this obstacle to a tree(s) via a winch could prevent the risk of falling off the hill entirely.
      • Everyone I’ve ever met who has one has said to me, you’ll never need it until you need it, so maybe that’s the next piece of gear I’ll get just to have it, if I continue to off-road.

Personal Updates

New things I’ve learned about Jeep Life:
  • I’ve realized that I can get an Airbnb for one day of the week for relatively cheap, every week to meal prep instead of relying on my parents while staying local, which I did throughout the Fall until Thanksgiving. While I found fair prices, I’m still pretty upset that Airbnb doesn’t offer any ability to filter by total price. Some of the cleaning fees I’ve found are often 50% to 200% the the price of the stay, which makes the process of finding a reasonably priced place so much more time consuming. I would like to note that I can cook out of the back of my car, but choose not to for meal prep.

  • There are way more people (like 20-50x more people) uploading videos for Van Life and Car Life on YouTube now than when I was doing my research, which has offered me way more perspective than I could have imagined on my own and resulted in new and creative places to sleep without digging too deep.

  • While I like being open about my life, it can often be draining explaining to people who have a hard time understanding the why of this lifestyle, so I’ve largely been keeping that detail about me on the backburner unless directly asked.
Changes I’ve noticed:
  • I’m starting to dream in my sleep. Before every other night, I would have nightmares about getting woken up in the middle of the night, so I’m now at the point of comfort. My only concerns with comfort is getting to a point of too comfortable to the point where I become lazy. Recently I have added a 5-inch memory foam to place over my original 4-inch one and I have to say, it’s a massive improvement in comfort. Now that I’m sleeping higher up, I’m able to sleep with my feet on the center console between the two front seats, allowing me to stretch out fully, adding to the value of my sleep.
Direction:

I thought about getting a place to buy and even went on a few tours, however after further thought and choice paralysis, I’ve decided to stay the course. What brought up the second guessing? Well I’m glad you’ve asked. 😅

Simply put, my parent’s inability to sympathize with my desired life style. Back in July, I thought my parents and I were on good terms regarding my desired lifestyle, but as soon I was comfortable enough to open up to them about some of my experiences thus far, they 180’d. In short, I was angry, but more so angry with myself for misplacing my trust.

Edit (2.6.23) – I respectfully want to emphasize that my well-being is a top priority for my parents, and while I appreciate their perspective, it is not fair for them to doubt my ability to make responsible choices regarding my own livelihood, especially when I am more than capable of supporting myself.

After some time, low energy due to their relentlessness, and my own personal rumination second guessing my choices, I decided to try and understand their perspective. I looked into a life style that could be better than my existing one out of the Jeep. After looking into a life style that I would prefer, I had realized that I would need to become a landlord to keep my existing goals of becoming FI before 40 (a responsibility I did not want), so I looked in cheaper locations and became paralyzed by choice. The longer I searched, the more I was reminded the reason, I opted for my lifestyle. While their are certainly negatives, the positives always outweigh, so until the negatives out weigh the positives, I’m going to keep committing.

After I’ve paid down the loan on the Jeep, I’ll have the ability to get an apartment, but will likely keep on Jeeping due to the sheer amount of freedom I currently have. Really the only thing that could convince me to get an apartment is the warmth of a partner who is content with my life direction or another world lock down where I would be required to work from home.


Blog Direction

For a while, I’ve been sitting on a lot of content due to the unrelenting amount of energy towards my other more important goals, most of which does not have a lot of fluff, though I want to make the content accessible sooner rather than later. Thus, by increasing my frequency, my future blogs will result in lower quality content even if I leverage the tech by OpenAI. I still plan to keep up quality for longer trips, but as one could expect, those will be far and few in-between. If the frequency does not change, it will be as a result of my more important goals which include:

  • Finishing a test wrapper that I’ve been working on for the past couple of years in my free time for work
    • There is not time to take on this work during work, though I’ve been working on ways to mitigate my work load to do do through a series of automated tests and work flow processes.

  • Financial Independence by 40
    • This is the sort of thing that keeps me up at night so if I’m not well researched enough or don’t know the answer to a particular question, I figure it out as soon as I can. The reason for this is that like money, decisions compound over time, making decisions a higher priority than the money itself.
      • For instance, figuring out the best way to create a down market fund. Figuring out where (which vehicle) to place the money is important because if you decide it is more important to put it elsewhere later down the line, you may find yourself paying quite a bit in taxes to move that money.

  • Work towards excellence in Quality Assurance Engineering field.

At this point in time, I have the time to work on my blog, but I’m largely using that time to recover my energy. Because of this struggle, I’m starting to realize the most valuable resource isn’t time, but energy, hence my goal to eliminate the toxic programming in my life.


I should preface this upcoming section with the fact that this will read more like a brain dump on the topic of credit cards. Said, if you are not interested in my findings on credit cards as a means to save money then please consider this as the end of this blog. 😅


Update to Core Cashback Credit Cards

CategoryCardCashback (%)Foreign Transaction Fee
GroceryVerizon Visa4%No
Eating Out (Dining/Fast Food/Bars)USBank Altitude Go Visa4%No
GasVerizon Visa4%No
Travel (Flights/Parking/Rideshare/Hotel/Airbnb/Public Transportation) USBank Connect Visa4%No
Online PurchasesAMEX Blue Cash Everyday3%Yes
Health (Gym/Drug Store/Haircut)Venmo Visa3%No
Cell Phone (Verizon)USBank Cash+ Visa5%Yes
GymUSBank Cash+ Visa5%Yes
REI REI Co-op Mastercard5%Yes
Everything ElseFidelity Visa2%Yes

Planned Core Cashback Additions

CategoryCardCashbackForeign Transaction Fee
Grocery OR Gas UpgradeCiti Custom Cash Mastercard5%Yes
Citi 10% Rebate BonusCiti Rewards+x.1%Yes
No Annual Fee Travel (Flights/Parking/Rideshare/Hotel/Airbnb/Public Transportation) Wells Fargo Autograph Visa3%No
Auto Repair/Maintenance & Medical Bills (Could also replace Venmo Visa)Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards3%No

Side Notes:
  • I’ve been denied the Citi Custom Cash Mastercard three times. In efforts to get this card, I managed to get one of their “premium” cards, which will allow me to eventually downgrade to get this card after the first year. I have excellent credit, so I’m thinking I did not match their target profile. Interestingly, the premium option turned out to be more lucrative. Instead of a $200 cashback intro bonus with the Custom cash card, I received a $600 intro with Citi Platinum Select, which I am using to visit my brother who presently resides in Kentucky.

  • After I get the Citi Custom Cash Mastercard, I’ll likely get the Citi Rewards+ card which has an interesting perk of adding a 10% bonus to pooling your points through the Rewards+ card, which will then make the category chosen for the Citi Custom Cash card 5.5% instead of 5%. Another odd bonus this card has is that it gives you is a round to the nearest 10 points per purchase, which simply means the lower the charge on the card, the better the reward rate = 10-cents/purchase total). For instance:
    • < $1 beats a 10% card
    • < $2 beats a 5% card
    • < $3 beats a 3% card
    • < $5 beats a 2% card
    • < $6 beats a 1.5% card

  • I’ve also have been denied the Upgrade Triple Cash Cash Rewards card, which unfortunately does not have a work around like the Citi Custom Cash Mastercard, so the best possible way I could get this card is if I stop applying for cards. Said, if you have a mortgage, car, or a human that keeps up on their maintenance this would be a great card for you. This particular card gives you unlimited cashback on expenses for expenses in Auto, Health, and Home.
  • None of my cards are on AutoPay. I’m currently tracking my spend to get an idea of how much I would need to go on living in retirement. It’s actually a good habit to make so you can verify your purchases, however that is not the point I’d like to make. The more cards you have, the more financial maintenance you will have. If you want simplicity, I recommend Verizon’s Visa card (4% – Grocery | 4% -Gas | 3% – Eating Out | 2% – Verizon | 1% Everything Else | No Foreign Transaction Fees). However, you’ll need a Verizon account to qualify for one, which also happens to be largest network in the United States, so there’s that if you needed convincing.
  • There is a lesser known trick to using a credit card to pay for your Verizon Wireless Bill. In order to get the $10 autopay discount off your bill, you need to attach the Verizon Visa CC as your autopay card, but manually pay with a Verizon Gift card (leaving less than $10 on the balance) paid for with the USBank Cash+ CC a few days before it’s due to get the 5% cashback opposed to the 2% cashback. In order to get the $10 autopay discount, you need to have attached your checking account information or a Verizon Visa CC. If this sounds like a lot, it is and I don’t know if I regret setting this up yet. 😅
  • Please be sure to read my previous post on this subject matter before committing to any of these cards: “Non-nature Credit Card Passion.” Credit cards can be leveraged as a tool, however it is important to note that “the benefits to these cards will be meaningless if you don’t pay at least the statement balance by or before the payment due date of your credit cards.”

Travel Credit Cards

There are many varieties of travel credit cards, however for purposes of time, I’m going to compare the big three credit card travel stacks one could utilize:

American Express (AMEX)ChaseCapital One
Platinum ($695)Sapphire Reserve ($550)Venture X ($395)
Gold ($250)Freedom Flex ($0)SavorOne Rewards ($0)
Everyday Preferred ($95)Freedom Unlimited ($0)~

All three provide the following:

  1. Concierge Service
  2. TSA Precheck or Global
  3. Lounge Access

All three benefits are standard in this category of travel card. Since they are standard, I personally don’t assign a dollar value to those services when comparing. The other credits and the cashback categories will most certainly recover the expense of the annual fee. The types of available rewards largely depend how often you travel as well as how much your current expenses overlap with the available benefits.

The purpose of this section is to compare the value of travel cards to the cashback credit cards, so I’m not going to go into a ton of detail about what those other credits would be.

First I’m going to show each travel credit card stack and it’s value at what I would like to call it’s max value, which the rewards rate of 2-cents/point via the available transfer partners, which is double the value of redeeming those points through each individual card’s portal. I would like to note that this entire process of finding a transfer rate of 2 cents/point is time consuming. Also, 2-cents/point is not the cap for transfer partners. If you are looking for a hobby, are retired, or make money finding this kind of information… I’m exaggerating, though I’ve heard/read the first iteration of this process is incredibly time consuming. In the same table, in the following column, is the baseline guaranteed value through the card companies portal which will be valued at 1-cent/point.

AMEX – Point Valuation
CategoryTransfer Partner “Max Value”Portal RedemptionCard
Flight10x 5xPlatinum
Amex HotelN/A5xPlatinum
Dining8x4xGold
Travel6x3xGold
Grocery9x4.5xEveryday Preferred
Gas6x3xEveryday Preferred
Everything3x1.5xEveryday Preferred
Note: Everyday Preferred total includes the 50% bonus benefit
Chase – Point Valuation
CategoryTransfer Partner “Max Value”Portal Redemption (50% bonus)Card
Chase FlightN/A7.5xSapphire Reserve
Chase Rental CarN/A15xSapphire Reserve
Chase HotelN/A15xSapphire Reserve
Chase DiningN/A15xSapphire Reserve
Dining6x4.5xSapphire Reserve
Lyft (through March 2025)20x10xSapphire Reserve
Quarterly Category 10x7.5xFreedom Flex
Drug Stores6x4.5xFreedom Flex
Everything3x2.25Freedom Unlimited
Capital One – Point Valuation
CategoryTransfer Partner “Max Value”Portal RedemptionCard
Capital One FlightN/A5xOne Venture X
Capital One Rental CarN/A10xOne Venture X
Capital One HotelN/A10xVenture X
Everything4x2xVenture X
Capital One EntertainmentN/A8% (cashback card by itself)SavorOne Rewards
Entertainment6x3% (cashback card by itself)SavorOne Rewards
Streaming6x3% (cashback card by itself)SavorOne Rewards
Grocery6x3% (cashback card by itself)SavorOne Rewards
Dining6x3% (cashback card by itself)SavorOne Rewards

Looking at value, you may be asking the question – if you travel already then why are you not taking advantage of these very high category rewards that are higher than the cashback value of your Core Cashback Credit Cards?

I prefer cashback because it offers more flexibility compared to points. Points can be redeemed for higher value, but for the most part only for non-economy travel (learned from research not experience), which is not ideal for those who do not care for spending extra towards luxury travel. However, for those who do enjoy non-economy travel, comfortable travel, then these cards are an easy choice.


In order to figure out which stack is for you, ideally you’d want to:

  1. Figure out which stack will overlap your existing expenses, earning you more travel.

  2. Compare which credits/benefits compliment your life the most.

  3. Figure out your comfort level of maintenance (excluding time it takes to acquire cards).
In this case:

AMEX covers many expenses, including grocery, gas, and dining, but has a collective high annual fee of $1040, which will require quite a bit of maintenance. In order to eliminate the annual fee, you’d have to not only make sure you activate each one of them, but use them. Fortunately, there are enough credits available on this card to easily offset the annual fee. Plus, in order to receive the 50% bonus in points on the Everyday Preferred (included in calculation in tables above as noted), you need to use the card at least 30 times per billing cycle.

Chase has limited overlap in expenses and moderate maintenance. This means fewer opportunities to earn travel points from daily expenses, but it does have dining. To offset the annual fee of $550 (after the $300 travel credit), one would need to spend $1666.67 for instance per year on hotels, rental cars, or dining through the Chase portal (high reward rate categories). This equates to earning $250 in cashback to cover the full cost before the travel points or cashback would make a difference.

Capital One has moderate overlap in grocery and dining and low maintenance. The card offers $400 in annual travel credits, which not only covers the annual fee but also provides a $5 surplus. This makes it a favorable option compared to the other two cards, as you only need to spend $395 on travel each year for this card to make sense.


If travel is limited due to another pandemic or personal preference, the rewards rate for redeeming points as cashback is shown in the following tables.

Amex – Cashback Valuation
CategoryCashback (0.6-cent/point)Card
Flight 3xPlatinum
Amex Hotel3xPlatinum
Dining2.4xGold
Travel1.8xGold
Grocery2.7xEveryday Preferred
Gas1.8xEveryday Preferred
Everything0.9xEveryday Preferred
Note: Everyday Preferred total includes the 50% bonus benefit
Chase – Cashback Valuation
CategoryCashback (1-cent/point)Card
Chase Flight5xSapphire Reserve
Chase Rental Car10xSapphire Reserve
Chase Hotel10xSapphire Reserve
Chase Dining10xSapphire Reserve
Dining3xSapphire Reserve
Lyft10xSapphire Reserve
Quarterly Category5xFreedom Flex
Drug Stores3xFreedom Flex
Everything1.5xFreedom Unlimited
Capital One – Cashback Valuation
CategoryCashback (0.5-cent/point)Card
Capital One Flight2.5xVenture X
Capital One Rental Car5xVenture X
Capital One Hotel5xVenture X
Everything1xVenture X
Capital One Entertainment8% (cashback card by itself)SavorOne Rewards
Entertainment3% (cashback card by itself)SavorOne Rewards
Streaming3% (cashback card by itself)SavorOne Rewards
Grocery3% (cashback card by itself)SavorOne Rewards
Dining3% (cashback card by itself)SavorOne Rewards

Fun fact:
If you were to product change the AMEX Platinum in to the Charles Schwab version of the Amex Platinum, you would be able to pool your points to cashback at a rate of 1.1-cents/point, directly to your brokerage account with Charles Schwab, then doing what ever you please with it, which will instead look like this for the Amex stack:

CategoryCashback (1.1-cent/point)Card
Flight5.5xPlatinum
Amex Hotel5.5xPlatinum
Dining4.4xGold
Travel3.3xGold
Grocery4.95xEveryday Preferred
Gas3.3xEveryday Preferred
Everything1.65xEveryday Preferred
Note: Everyday Preferred total includes the 50% bonus benefit

If I were to choose a stack, I would go with the Capital One stack, however I am making this decision solely based on the fact that it is easy to get the value without a ton of maintenance. There are however other factors to consider, which I did not go into at all such the travel insurances that accompany the cards, which you can see below:

Travel Insurance Coverage
CategoryAmex – PlatinumChase – Sapphire ReservedCapital One – Venture X
Road Side AssistanceNoYesNo
Emergency EvacuationYesYes No
Travel AccidentNoYes Yes
Emergency MedicalNoYes No
Trip DelayYes Yes Yes
Lost LuggageYesYes Yes
Baggage DelayNoYes No
Auto Rental CollisonYesYesYes
Trip CancelationYesYesYes

All in all even with the considerations, travel cards not only incentivize spend, but also require it to offset the annual fee. Will I commit to a travel stack in the future? Maybe.

I am thinking about the Capital One Credit Card based on it’s level of commitment, but that is solely based on my current priorities of traveling less to grow in my career. The $400 of travel credit should be adequate enough for the level of travel I want to commit to at this moment. I do currently have the Amex Platinum, but it is quite the coupon book, requiring a ton of time and maintenance as mentioned before.

If I committed to the Capital One stack, I’d likely have a hybrid situation that would look something like this:

CategoryCardCashback(%) || Points(x)Foreign Transaction Fee
GrocerySavorOne Rewards3-6xNo
Eating Out (Dining/Fast Food/Bars)SavorOne Rewards3-6xNo
GasCiti Custom Cash Mastercard
+
Citi Rewards+
5.5-11xNo
Travel (Flights/Parking/Rideshare/Hotel/Airbnb/Public Transportation) Venture X2-20xNo
Online PurchasesVenture X2-4xNo
Health (Gym/Drug Store/Haircut)Venture X24xNo
Cell Phone (Verizon)USBank Cash+ Visa5%Yes
GymUSBank Cash+ Visa5%Yes
REI REI Co-op Mastercard5%Yes
$1-2 PurchasesCiti Rewards+5-20xNo
Everything ElseVenture X2-4%No
Note: The range of points represents the 1-cent/point to a 2-cent/point evaluation.

I listed the Capital One (and Citi) point rate as range instead from the guaranteed (redeemed for travel) rate of 1-cent/point to 2-cent/point, but I do wonder despite the amount of work it will take if I’ll be able to find good deals with transfer partners for budget travel. Plus, even if I can’t find a good deal at 2-cents/point, a 1.5-cent valuation is still good and better than cashback rates. In the worst-case scenario of 1-cent/point, it will serve as a valuable lesson to switch back to a cashback core.

Edit (2.4.2023)

I realized after I posted this blog that it would actually make more sense to do a hybrid stack which would include the Amex Gold in addition to the Capital One Stack, which would look like the following:

CategoryCardCashback (%) || Points (x)Foreign Transaction Fee
GroceryGold4-8xNo
Eating Out (Dining/Fast Food)Gold4-8xNo
BarsSavorOne Rewards3-6xNo
GasCiti Custom Cash
+
Citi Rewards+
5.5-11xNo
FlightsGold3-6xNo
Travel (hotel/rental/flight/transit)Venture X2-20xNo
Online PurchasesVenture X2-4xNo
Health (Gym/Drug/Haircut)Venture X2-4xNo
Cell Phone (Verizon)US Bank Cash+5%Yes
Gym US Bank Cash+5%Yes
REIREI Co-op Mastercard5%Yes
$1-2 PurchasesCiti Rewards+5-20xNo
Everything ElseVenture X2-4xNo
Note: The range of points represents the 1-cent/point to a 2-cent/point evaluation.

Isn’t the AMEX Stack high maintenance?

Yes, but the Gold AMEX card is the least maintenance between the three. The annual fee is $250, but you get $240 in credits in Grubhub and Uber (including Uber Eats), so effectively this annual fee is only $10, which would be eliminated if the points on the card were redeemed for travel after $500 in spend when comparing to the max value of the SavorOne Rewards card, which is very easy for a typical person in the United States. I am aware there is also a $100 credit given to you when you book a hotel/resort through the AMEX Travel Portal to further offset this annual fee entirely, but I’m more of a sleep in my rental car during my travels sorta guy so I don’t count it. Plus, those hotels are generally in large cities and more expensive than the average hotel.


Why do I call these categories core?

I actually earn more cash back per year than what I get just from the core cashback credit cards. Despite overlapping almost every expense in my life with a core card, the game plan before AI is used for lending credit, is to chain intro-bonuses. So when I’m not pursuing an intro bonus, I am using my core credit cards to fill the gaps. We honestly already have the tech to prevent lending to those who are gaming the system, though I have a theory that this tech is not currently utilized since the people who are gaming the system will indirectly advertise to their peers about their findings, resulting in profit via word of mouth.

To explain the chaining process, what I am basically doing is signing up for a new credit card with an intro bonus that matches my spend almost every quarter, which usually is something along the lines of, “Spend $3,000 in 3-months and get $600 in statement credits or travel,” which is 20% back on all purchases up to $3000 as long as that spending takes place in that first 3-months. After I’ve spent the money, I’ll use my core credit cards to fill in the gaps until the next card. However, the core cards play two roles. The second is to maintain a long credit history, which is the biggest contributor to your credit score.

There in actuality is a third. In the situation lenders stop lending new credit for any reason, I have these cards to fall back on with good reward rates. Plus, if a new card does come along that has better reward rates, I could then product change to that credit card, exchanging the credit and keeping the history.


Thank you for reading! 🤠

Notes:

  • If you find that this blog is more coherent than my previous ones, it is because I have utilized OpenAI’s ChatGPT dialogue tool into my iterative flow. Not only does it help me ensure the clarity and logic of my sentences, but it also enables me to overcome writer’s block and transition my thoughts smoothly when I’m unsure of which direction to take.

    • Things I’ve noticed:
      • I would argue that this tool is way better at coding than writing at this point in time.
        • Maybe it is my line of questioning, but 60% of the time, I’m choosing my way versus the tool’s way for phrasing, though I can only see this get better with time.
      • It is faster than Google to look up better ways to rephrase anything, though I do still find myself using Google for simpler things like synonyms.
      • Just like coding, you really need to know what to look for before using it, however you could also use the tool to explain why something is the way that it is, which is pretty neat.
    • I enjoy the creation of writing through thought (pen/paper||apple pencil/iPad) so I don’t see a future where I start my iterative process with OpenAI.

  • I am currently exploring a solution to integrate a listen along feature into my blogs. Currently, you can still use browser extensions or Apple’s accessibility features built into their operating system to listen, but I believe making this feature more readily accessible will be beneficial for everyone.
    • So hopefully I’ll have that integrated by the end of this year.

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