Everybody loves free money. Sorry Raymond. It’s why lotteries, gambling, and robbery remain so popular, not to mention debt, tax refunds, and other wildly mistaken interpretations of “free”. Being rather risk averse myself, and frugal at a near pre-awakening Scrooge level, I favour less lucrative but more assured methods of obtaining free money. Like cash back credit cards that pay me for doing what I do anyway.
I’ve just passed the second anniversary with my Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite card and pocketed another $1270.80 for doing nothing more strenuous than making every purchase possible with my credit card. Last year I wrote at length about the benefits of cash back credit cards for those of us with the discipline to use these financial tools smartly. Being my first year with the card, Scotiabank offered a promotion whereby my annual fee was reimbursed. This year I had to pay that fee as well as a second card fee for my wife. The total of those fees was $129 which is admittedly not minimal but when the return is well over $1000 it’s a price I’m happy to pay.
Our expenditures this year changed a fair bit from last, most notably in our gasoline consumption and work expenses. We embarked on an epic camping adventure over the summer which saw us drive to Ontario and back to Alberta while hauling a trailer, not to mention plenty of excursions during our stay, resulting in a worthwhile but substantial 50% increase in our gasoline purchases. Conversely, the dramatic economic turmoil in the energy sector meant that boom time luxuries like field trips and off-site conferences joined the Woolly Mammoth and Passenger Pigeon in the pantheon of extinct species. Thus nearly $14,000 of reimbursed work-related expenses was removed from our budget. Luckily, gasoline purchases earn 4% cash back while the work expenses only earned 1% cash back. Not a bad trade off.
Parents Are Another Fine Source of Free Money
Our grocery outlays, also earning 4% cash back, remained static, actually dropping a couple hundred dollars. This surprised me considering the well-documented and often painful inflation occurring in food. I suppose I should thank my parents for allowing us to eat on their dime for a few weeks while we were visiting. Parents, then, would be an even better source of free money than cash back credit cards.
Once again I am most pleased with the return on our credit card usage. $1270.80 is no small reward for using this card whenever and wherever possible. Even accounting for the card fees, I’m still pocketing over a grand each year. That alone covers our annual public transit fees or our annual natural gas expenses. You can’t go wrong heating your house for free. Corporations may not be pleased when I buy $3.28 of green peppers or skate laces with my card, but that won’t stop me from doing it. I highly recommend you start doing it too.
[Update: Since publishing this I have come to learn that my grocery spending is about as Scrooge-esque as Donald Trump is Gandhi-esque. This will need to be addressed in the upcoming year. Stay tuned!]
I was not paid for this blog post. Nor was I encouraged to. I have no affiliation or relationship with Scotiabank or Visa other than I use their credit card services. Research other cash back cards out there and find one that suits your budget and spending habits best.