The other week I was browsing some personal finance blogs before bed. One of the blogs I read talked about the Fidelity American Express card, which is offering a sign-up bonus. I left a comment to correct the author on the rewards terms and then proceeded to reply to a few other comments with the intent of being helpful by answering some questions.
One of the comment authors complained about “dealing with customer service for everyday purchases,” and mentioned that it was absolutely “critical to how (they) manage (their) finances,” to be able to download their daily credit card transactions automatically to Quicken. Seriously?
I manually enter my transactions into Quicken about once a week, and even then I feel that it’s too frequent. Every day? Come on man! You complain about what little time you have? It’s because you’re spending too much time worrying about your damn finances!
And how often are you really dealing with customer service when you use your credit card? About the only time I ever have to deal with customer service is when I am calling to activate my new card and they’re trying to up-sell me on other services. You’re really being too dramatic.
Look, I write about personal finance, and I will even admit that I am guilty of preaching to my family and friends. But please, stop taking your finances so seriously! There is such a thing as taking financial optimization too far.
When you’re constantly juggling more than a handful of different credit cards and analyzing which rewards program will benefit which purchase the most, and when you’re stressing out about your investment portfolio being 1% off of your ideal asset allocation, you’re taking personal finance way too seriously. Please, do yourself a favor and come back to the real world.
Stop Doing These 3 Things Right Now
- Stop stressing out about fraud. There is very little control you have over fraud happening. If, or when, it happens – you just deal with it. Sure, there are things you can do to prevent it, but if someone wants to commit a crime against you – they will. I have had credit card fraud happen to me a few times. You know what? It wasn’t a big deal. It took one simple phone call to correct the problem and my life didn’t change one bit.
- Stop tracking your budget, or your spending, everyday. If you’re constantly worried about where every penny is going, you’re never going to enjoy life. It’s all about finding a balance between enjoying life now, and preparing for a fruitful retirement. Please, don’t eat ramen everyday to save money and have a bunch of money for retirement, only to spend it on medical bills because you didn’t have a balanced diet when you were young.
- Stop trying to game the credit card rewards system. I admit, I like to have certain credit cards because they have the best rewards program. But guess what? I only have three accounts I use. My main card is the Fidelity American Express card. My backup/alternate card is the Chase Freedom Mastercard (in case merchants don’t take AMEX, or their quarterly rewards happen to be better than the flat 2% from Fidelity). And my travel card is a Capital One Visa (because Capital One doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, and they have a pretty good foreign exchange rate). There are a lot of people out there who will have a card just for Costco purchases, gas purchases, grocery purchases, restaurant purchases, retail purchases, and whatever other places they spend money on. That’s just ridiculous.
Instead, Do These 3 Things To Improve Your Financial Life
- If you’re worried about fraud, assign a unique password for each of your online accounts. If your banking institution offers additional security questions before allowing you to log-in, make sure you have answers that aren’t easily found on your social media presence. Take advantage of e-mail or text alerts that you can easily setup in your online account. Almost every banking institution offers this as a free service.
- Schedule times to pay your bills and track your finances. At most, do it once a week. Every other week is sufficient, especially if you have the majority of your bills on auto-pay.
- Pick 3 credit cards that you can’t live without. No matter the sign-up bonus, or the instant discount you get at a particular retailer (not including Target and Lowe’s, because 5% off every purchase is a good deal, if you pay in full), take it easy with the credit card rewards optimization. Have one main card that has a really good rewards system, a backup card (which also has a really good rewards system), and a travel card. That’s all you need.
So please, stop taking your finances so seriously. If you have a good plan and stick to it, everything will be alright.