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  • Jenn Steliga

Are the points really worth it?

Credit card points seem to be an enticing reward that many people can’t walk away from. The number one objection I hear in my coaching practice when I encourage people to stop using credit (or at least to pause for a time) is that they’ll lose out on points, and all the free gas, airplane tickets, etc that are won through these points. It’s fascinating that we will spend so much time and energy considering ways to get “free stuff” when in reality we are usually overspending in order to achieve these awards. And the awards probably don’t make up for our overspending. It’s a game we play, and the behaviors I often witness seem to border that of a mild addiction. Have you ever paused to ask yourself why you invest so much thought into getting points on your credit card? And why you might spend less time planning for how you’ll spend the cash that flows into your account each month? It’s an interesting question and might be worth your time to ponder.

As a coach, I want my clients to learn what it feels like to create distance between themselves and credit as a way of spending. More often than not the observations clients come back with include statements like “I had no idea I was spending so much! All of those little transactions sure add up”. Observations such as these make sense in the context of the psychological principal known as “coupling”. When we pay cash for something, we quickly associate the handing over of money with the experience or item purchased – they become linked, or coupled, in our brain. But when we pay for something with credit, that sense of having handed over money is not present. We know we’ve delayed the payment, and thus have mentally discounted the price of the item. We certainly enjoy our purchase, but our brains haven’t coupled together how much that purchase cost us.

What about those staunch advocates of paying off credit cards at the end of every month? I still challenge them to an experiment. See what spending looks like for a month or two without credit. Are you using credit to bridge a gap in cash flow? Does it feel different to pay for something with your debit card or cash than it did with credit?

Studies show that we will pay up to 100% more for items when selecting credit as our payment method over cash/debit. To me, that’s a powerful point for consideration, especially for the die-hard card users out there. Are you really willing to pay more for something just because you justify it with all the great “free” stuff you’ll get because of earned points? You might think you’re not paying more, but the only way to really find out for sure is to challenge yourself to the experiment of living without credit for a while and see what’s different. At the very least it will make you more mindful of what you choose to spend on. Spending isn’t bad. It’s the mindless spending we engage in that drains our bank accounts of a very valuable resource that we work incredibly hard for. With a bit of intentionality, we can redirect those dollars to a more productive job of saving, investing or giving – those are just a few ideas. The point is to consider how your values are expressed in the way you use your money.

Challenge yourself to be more mindful and intentional with your money! I guarantee you’ll walk away having learned at least one helpful thing that you can implement right away to change your life for the better.


Financial coaching can help you learn to be more mindful with your resources and understand how you use your money as an expression of your values. If you'd like to live more intentionally, achieve your dreams, and stop worrying about money set up your free consultation here.

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