Penny-wise, pound-foolish. Sorta. Not really?

They say the best way to save money is to not spend it. While I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment, I also think that, if you have to spend money, you may as well save as much of it as possible while spending it. (I would not be a good person to talk to about budgeting.)

The “saving while spending” mentality really fits in well with rewards credit cards. Because, at the end of the day, you’re only getting on average 1% back on your spending (maybe more, maybe less depending on your rewards/redemption value), which amounts to close to nothing individually. But when you add it up… That’s a whole ‘nother story. Leading me to do a bunch of research on credit cards I wanted to pick up for upcoming expenditures.

I recently applied for (and was approved for) a Capital One Quicksilver card w/ a 10k CL as a Visa (Signature). I’d rather have a MC, but that wasn’t available on the website, so I’ll deal w/ that later. Also, because I found out a friend of mine was unaware as to this tidbit, any Visa card with a CL >5k results in a “Visa Signature” card, yielding additional benefits which may or may not be useful. That CapOne card was the highest CL I’ve gotten off the bat, although at a terrible 22.9% APR (after 15 months of 0% introductory APR). (My avg APR’s across my cards is at 14.99%, w/ my Discover IT coming in at 9.99% and my Amex at the other end w/ 22.24%. And not that I ever plan on holding a balance, but the #’s game is still worthwhile to keep track of.) CapOne also includes a spend $500 get $100 back bonus offer. Perks of this card include a flat 1.5% CB, no AF, and no forex fees.

(While activating this card, I spoke to a very helpful CSR who helped note my account for overseas usage. Info included USA’s country code of 00. And that, while some places will not accept a mag stripe/signature CC, you can use the card as a pin/chip card by inputting the 16-digit CC # and the expiration date as the PIN. Cool info.)

I was also approved for a Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MC. The “World Elite” MC is similar to the Visa Signature, in that the “World Elite” part is for any MC w/ over a 5k CL, which grants additional benefits that may or may not be useful. I had originally applied for this in hopes of using it to book my plane tickets, but I couldn’t hold out any longer, so that didn’t work out. This card has a flat 2% pts return on all spending, and you get an addt’l 10% back on pts used against travel purchases, making it an effective 2.2% card if used properly. And by proper usage, all you have to do it use your earned pts as statement credit against any travel expenditure, of which people have found to be quite a generous list. Which beats any program/rewards because you can (for example) book with any website and use your earned points to redeem against that purchase, instead of being locked into one website/rewards program. This card is a chip/pin card, has a spend $3k get $400 back, no forex fees, and $89 AF (waived first year). I’m still waiting for this card to arrive (approved 7/28).

So the purpose of getting those CC’s was to offset my travel expenditures. I’m traveling with friends (a friend to meet another friend) to HK and Taiwan the 2nd half of August. While price watching the past month of so, I was prepared to shell out $1400 for my entire airfare. Imagine my surprise when I found tickets for my entire trip coming out to just under $1150. All on Cathay Pacific. That’s for LAX->HKG->TPE-(viaHKG)->LAX. Hell, when I went to HKG 2 years ago, I paid $1200. So. Heckuva deal. But since my Arrival+ CC hadn’t arrived yet, I couldn’t use it to pay for my tickets. Eh.

And of course, traveling means taking pictures, and the more I thought about it, the more I was sure I wasn’t gonna lug my DLSR and lenses over. And my P&S camera certainly wouldn’t make do. Which means, I’d need a new camera if I wanted to be happy about picture taking. So this research process involved and arduous 3 day focus looking into a myriad number of cameras and features and reviews and comparisons to find something I’d like. At one point, I listed 12 different cameras with different features, different price points, and different sizes for me to gloss over. After going into a shop today and getting a feel for a couple, I eventually decided that there wasn’t going to be a single camera (even at <1k price point) to satisfy all my desires. (Which included sub-dslr size (compact-ish), fast lens (low f-stop/aperture), large sensor, good UI, decent price, well-reviewed, optical viewfinder (or electronic, w/e), touchscreen?, swiveling screen?, wifi/NFC? I just closed a page containing 30 different tabs I had opened for reading. Ultimately, I kinda said eff-it and would just go with one of the consensus most-picked cameras, even if I felt iffy about/price was a bit high.

So I settled for a Sony RX 100 M2. Which on Amazon is sitting at $650 right now, a price that could bag you an entry-level DSLR and kit lens. So why the high price? Trust me, reviews lauded it well enough (over the 10+ other cameras I looked at). Admittedly, it’s not a Canon, a brand I’ve stuck to for years now, but I was able to snag a “like new” one tonight off craigslist for $420. Which is kinda a funny story in itself, as I texted the guy, and the guy ended up saying let’s do the deal tonight, and I was like sure. Got near the spot, hit up the atm (which only spits out 20’s), and met with the guy who was actually asking $425 on the ad. I tell him I have $420 and $3 in ones and $2 in quarters. He says, for my troubles (driving down to the OC), He’ll just take the $400. And I uphaggled him to take another 20 for a total of $420. He was viet (met in Westminster), I was asian, so curse the asian culture of not undercutting each other. I think I totally haggled wrong. But for saving $230 off the Amazon price through 1.5hrs of driving… I’d say that was pretty worth it. Except for the part where it was a cash transaction, and I still haven’t spent any dollars on my new CC’s yet.

This whole post is just about me spending money. And bragging about saving pennies on the dollar. (Well, the camera is less than 2/3’s the Amazon price, so that’s not just pennies).

TL;DR

  1. Got CC’s to save on big purchases
  2. Booked tickets to Asia. Failed to use new CC’s for plane tickets
  3. Which means I still need to spend $3.5k to get $500 back
  4. Bought a new camera (compact/advanced/enthusiast P&S), but still didn’t use CC’s

So that’s what’s up w/ me. And my money. Or lack thereof (now).

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