I was reading an excerpt from “Modern Romance” book written by comedian Aziz Ansari. It tackles a subject of, you guessed it, modern romance, and how things in this area are quite different now than they were just a few decades ago. Of course, most of it is due to technology and an abundance of choice. You have Facebook, Twitter, dating sites etc. Potential romantic partners are everywhere. How do you pick the most optimal candidate?
In this excerpt, Aziz was talking about his parents and their arranged marriage back in India. His father has met three potential mates. According to him, the first one was too short, second one too tall. The third one seemed just the right height (finally!). They talked for 30 minutes and decided they were a good match. Many years later, they are still happily married.
Aziz went on to describe how once, he wanted to investigate some food choices in Seattle where he was scheduled to do a stand-up tour. He went on TripAdvisor, Yelp and multiple other sites. He finally found the one, little restaurant that would be the perfect fit. Suddenly, it dawned on him that it took him more time to choose a place of his next meal than it took his parents to get to know each other before they got married. BTW, when he got to the restaurant, it was closed, so he ended up making a sandwich back in his hotel room.
Some of you may be familiar with the book “The paradox of choice: Why more is less” The description on Amazon gives this summary: “We assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. But beware of choice overload: it can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. “
It honestly made me think of miles and points hobby. There are so many choices, you can go nuts trying to pick the most optimal redemption, the best bang for your point. Should you burn Ultimate Rewards on this hotel? What if Chase doesn’t approve you for CSP card again? Should I use SPG points? After all, they are more valuable than my newborn. Cheapblackdad, I’m looking at you! Should I go with IHG offer or try to get Marriott card? After all, Marriott is so darn consistent. But IHG has PointBreaks program. Speaking of, I’m only going to use my IHG stash when I can get that overwater bungalow in Bora Bora for 5,000 points per night. I won’t settle for a less spectacular redemption!
You get the idea. This hobby can drive you nuts. Just look at some folks bragging about having gazillions of miles and points in every program under the sun. And yet, they still hit CVS like there is no tomorrow. But they will not part with their existing stash, no way, not till the moment is right.
I remember when my husband and I got married. The whole idea of taking a honeymoon is a foreign concept to an Eastern European. People just don’t do that back home. They get married and usually go to work few days later or even the next day. Of course, that’s probably because they are broke after paying for a huge wedding reception that lasts two long days, and involves an elaborate feast fit for a king.
Anyway, my husband isn’t a planner and didn’t really have a clue as to where to go. So, his mom suggested a place at the beach where they regularly vacationed as a family. Yes, my mother-in-law planned my honeymoon and we went to a spot where his family has been coming to for years. Awkward pause…
Of course, that was before I became Americanized (the term my parents use) and learned about miles and points. Imagine if I were to plan it today. It would take many agonizing months to pick the perfect spot, the right credit card combination etc. Naturally, we are talking Maldives or Tahiti, not a humble beach apartment in Florida. But you know what? That apartment was perfectly fine.
In the book “The paradox of choice” the author goes on to describe two types of people: The maximizers and satisficers. Naturally, maximizers are those who obsess about every single decision, making sure they get the most value out of everything. Satisficers have certain standards, but once they make their choice, they are not worried about the possibility that there might be something better. When it comes to miles and points, I believe you should be both maximizer and satisficer. Let me explain.
Be a maximizer when it comes to earning points. Make sure to pick the best combination of long-term credit cards and re-evaluate it at least yearly. It’s worth it to spend a few hours doing the math in order to get an extra couple of hundred bucks or an equivalent in points. The same goes for sign-up bonuses. I recommend you choose wisely and focus on cards that work for your unique situation. It goes without saying that you should only apply for the best possible offer. I try to keep my list of bonuses updated (a pain!), but recommend you email me so I can investigate it further.
I never intentionally hide anything, but I am human and occasionally miss links here and there. My policy is to treat readers as if they are my family, period. And incidentally, some of my relatives and friends do read the blog. I recommend you follow this Flyertalk thread for hot offers that may expire within days. You may also check CardMatch tool from time to time. Your credit is not pulled and it only takes a couple of minutes. Over the last few days, many have reported getting lucrative offers for Amex Platinum 100K bonus and Amex Premier Rewards Gold offer of 50K points. The latter is listed in my page of best credit card deals for family. I really like the fact that the minimum spending is only $1,000 in 3 months, quite doable for most non-manufacturers (aka normal people).
However, when it comes to burning, be a satisficer. You don’t have to follow the rule “get 2 cents per mile or use cash.” I almost never get that kind of CPM return, but burn them anyway. If you like a hotel, use the points on it. So what if you are not getting a terrific redemption? You are saving cash, and those points will only lose value over time. Use “bird in the hand” approach. It isn’t sexy, but family travel isn’t sexy anyway. Blogging about it isn’t either.
You don’t have to use Hyatt certificates on hotels in Maldives or Paris. In fact, you don’t really have to go to Maldives or Paris. Ok, I’m actually planning to go to Paris in two years. But it doesn’t mean you should. Yes, both are terrific redemptions when you look at the price. But so is Hyatt Clearwater Regency resort, so are many other places in the world.
Say it with me: I am a “burning satisficer,” and I’m darn proud of it!
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Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.