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Four Ways to Keep Miles and Points Hobby from Taking Over Your Life

So, you found our ridiculously lucrative hobby and now you are hooked. Of course, you will only do the simple stuff like occasionally signing up for credit card bonuses. No manufactured spending or any other shenanigans. And you will only read one, maybe two blogs, right? Right? After all, you have a job,  family and a million things to do each day.

Well, the bad news is, most hobbyists start out the same way. But then, before you know it, here they are, hitting several Walmart stores per day and covering up the word “gift” on that Visa card (don’t ask). They barely see their wife or kids because they are so busy MS-ing (a term) enough miles for that fancy trip the family will surely appreciate. It’s not the quantity but quality, right? Well, not according to the song “Cat’s in the cradle” And everything in it rhymes, so it must be true.

“But there were planes to catch and MS bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away”

OK, I added the word “MS.” The good news  is, you don’t have to follow the same pattern. And it’s not too late to change things. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.  So, here is a list of things I recommend to help keep your miles and points  life simple:

1) Keeping track of new credit cards 

Cardwatchdog tool. It’s free and extremely user-friendly. You don’t have to insert your credit card numbers or give out any sensitive information. It helps you keep track of your application dates, specifics of the sign-up bonus and more. Thumbs up!

2) Figuring out award mileage requirements via different programs

New (and free) calculator from Travel Codex I am so impressed by this tool! It compares various options for your desired route, so you know which program you should focus on. Then pick a credit card bonus based on that.

Of course, there are many variables when it comes to award tickets. The biggest concern for family: how easy is it to find availability? Still, this tool is an excellent place to start if you don’t have all the charts memorized like I do ( kidding!) I would stick to “Basic” mode if you are a beginner.

3) Figuring out award rates for hotels

HotelHustle Hands down, the best tool for hotel award availability. You plug in the dates, and it shows you various lodging options in the area, plus points’ requirements.

Honorable mention:

AwardMapper

Not as good or accurate as HotelHustle, but it does cover bigger area, so could be helpful when you plan on visiting national parks, do a  road trip etc.

4) Cut the fat

No, I’m not talking about actual fat. I suggest you pick a few miles and points blogs that are pertinent to your particular situation in life. If you barely do any manufactured spending, do you really need to read 10 MS blogs? I suggest you follow no more than five sites, and don’t search out new ones. Go ahead, unsubscribe from the ones that don’t add any value to your life. I realize that I might be  shooting myself in the foot here because my blog could be on the chopping block (sniff sniff).

Of course, I’m not telling you what you should or shouldn’t read. You will never see me put out lists of blogs that IMO don’t deserve your patronage. That is none of my business. I’m simply encouraging you to be aware of the time this hobby sucks out of your day. Between reading, commenting and obsessive checking of Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any $5 coupons, what does it add up to?

Try to disconnect from miles and points on a regular basis and take up new hobbies, or go back to the old ones. I’m trying to catch up on reading of “Time” and “Wired” magazines and you know what? After reading articles about world issues, miles and points drama doesn’t seem all that important anymore.

Do something fun where you don’t have to think or do math. I wrote awhile back that I joined Zumba dancing class at the local Gold’s gym. And I love it! It’s fun, it’s good for your health and I get to disconnect from all the nonsense in this industry.

Speaking of Zumba, check out this YouTube video of dancing routine that’s identical to what we do at the gym. This couple films themselves around the world and I dare you not to smile when you watch them!  Unfortunately, I’m not as good as these guys. Not yet.

P.S. If you have a few minutes, check out my interview on Intentional Travelers blog.

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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and 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.

9 thoughts on “Four Ways to Keep Miles and Points Hobby from Taking Over Your Life

  1. In addition to your own blog, what are the 4-5 blogs that you would recommend as “must read”? (Feel free to email me your thoughts if this is too sensitive to answer publicly.)

    • @Anonymous Thanks for stopping by! I don’t mind answering in the comments section. I did have to think about it for a minute since I could only pick five. For “family” miles and points angle, here are three blogs I recommend, in no particular order: http://www.thedealmommy.com, http://www.mommypoints.com and http://www.pointswithacrew.com I hope I got the website names right, otherwise, google them.
      For overall deal-type posts, promos, credit cards, bank bonuses etc, without question http://www.doctorofcredit.com For hotel promotions, you might want to subscribe to http://www.loyaltylobby.com I follow more than 5 sites, but this is my business. Still, I’ve cut back significantly in this area because I just don’t have the time. I suspect most of my readers are in the same boat.
      P.S. I don’t know if my blog is a “must read” for families, but that’s the goal! 🙂

  2. I would add 5) be notified of crazy deal events (mistake fares, flash sales, fares that are incredible when combined with another discount like AARP, etc.) If there is a ridiculously cheap fare to a place you want to visit, why use miles when you can actually earn them on the cheap! Or be the first alerted when there is an award sale or award inventory event that blows availability wide open. Follow @airfarewatchdog, @theflightdeal, and @secretflying on Twitter and enable notifications for these accounts on your device. All three have blogs too, but the nature of these deals are usually “act quick before it’s gone”.

    • @Erik You make a good point, and I have mentioned these sites before. It can be a double-edged sword, though. People end up glued to their phones watching these deals and hoping for mistake fare to pop up. Frankly, I decided to skip subscribing in order to avoid temptation. We can’t just add another trip on the fly. Most of our spontaneous getaways occur in the state of Florida where no airfare is required. But I agree, for those with flexibility, it can be a goldmine. Honestly, there are a lot of useful sites I didn’t add. I see that I forgot Awardwallet which should have made the list. Perhaps sequel is in order! The point of the post was to encourage folks to simplify.

  3. Excellent post! You convinced me to try Hotel Hustle, and I am happy I did – it is fantastic, much better than Award-mapper!

    The “how many miles” by TravelCodex is nice too.

    • @Uri I’m glad you found the info beneficial! Hotel hustle is an awesome tool, no question. This new calculator from Travel Codex is pretty neat as well. It does have some bugs, but I love how easy it is to use. I hope to make this hobby more accessible for normal families, and these tools make it possible.

  4. Pingback: Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs: Missed Payment, Interest Charges and Late Fee | Miles For Family

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