Would you spend $300,000 a month to travel the world luxuriously?
“Uh I’m not Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerburg?”
Today’s guest is here to tell you that you don’t have to be. Ariana from Points Chaser has gone one step beyond travel hacking. She is a teacher and blogger of luxury travel hacking, and specializes in “manufactured spending.”
Hence her ability to spend over $300k in a single month and fly to Hawaii and Australia in first-class…as a freelance writer.
No billions required.
We chat about
- The 2 steps a beginner should take regrading luxury travel hacking
- Gift Card Churning (what is it? How how how how how??)
- Why flexibility is king (even for non-FIRE folks)
- Why she wants to write a best-selling novel (similar to Money Penny)
- and how J is potentially weird 🙂
Ariana is amazing. Enjoy the show!
Show notes and links from today’s episode
- Ariana’s site: Points Chaser
- annnnd her beginner’s guide: This is a solid library of resources.
- The Plastic Merchant – Gift Card churning/arbitrage specifically built by points enthusiasts
- Mattress Running – further reading (most sources seem to mention this is out of fashion by now)
- Mint.com – track spending, dawg!
Key takeaways from our chat with Ariana from Points Chaser
1 – Travel Hacking – Steps #1 and #2
- Have a goal.
- Go to Ariana’s beginner’s guide and dive in for an hour or two.
The WORST thing you could do is not load yourself up with at least a little bit of practical information, and instead start applying for a dozen credit cards and spending an extra $4k a month.
Don’t be that person.
Don’t jump in with both feet because you’re excited, without doing at least a LITTLE bit of research and/or prep!
Start by Googling around where you actually want to go. What airlines? What hotels? What destination? What is the process going to look like?
Is this as exciting as signing up for a credit card? Absolutely not, but it’s a mandatory pre-requisite. Sorry.
Ariana’s beginner section is absolutely brilliant (and looks incredibly thorough). Do your homework there first, then start signing up for stuff 🙂
2 – MS (manufactured spending)
Here’s the lowdown for dummies:
- You spend money on something specific using your credit card
- You earn miles/points on that.
- You get most of your money back from that something specific.
Gift cards are an easy example.
Ariana mentioned one MS deal where she spent thousands of dollars on gift cards, then used the gift cards for money orders to pay herself, effectively getting her money right back (less some fees).
The idea is that the small amount of fees will be worth it, given the miles/points earned.
This is not travel hacking for beginners. This is serious, and sometimes complicated stuff.
Don’t proceed lightly, and be sure to read up on this via Ariana’s guides.
3 – Flexibility is king
You probably know that we know you know we all already know this….but..
FIRE is about flexibility.
Ariana had a nice little set-up for 3 years: she had decent income coming in through freelance writing, thus giving her flexibility to travel, etc. Not technically FIRE, but flexible at least.
Recently, she’s gone back to a 9-5. Sorta.
She’s currently very happy going back to full-time work. It seems odd, right? With a little further digging, however, we found the root cause: she still has total flexibility.
- Her boss loves her travel hacking hobby (obsession?)
- She’s been given permission to work from the road/at home when needed
- She works 7 hour days in general.
Flexibility = happiness?
This begs the question:
What if all of us 9-5ers requested an extra 10% flexibility this week?
Would this increase our happiness? If so, would this actually quell our thirst for FIRE? Food for thought.
(ok side note time: For some practical ways to increase flexibility **in your current situation/job**, reading the 4 Hour Work Week is a great place to start. This could be as simple as requesting 1 day of remote work a month…to 100% remote work outsourcing your entire job to an army of VAs. Seriously. Read the book).
4 – Don’t care about travel hacking? You can still save crazy money w/ Credit Card Churning
Or at least rewards points in general.
If, and this is a huge “if,” you can pay off the balances during the grace period, spending money on credit cards is THE way to go.
Almost all cards nowdays offer some type of rewards, including
- straight cash back
- free gas
- free groceries
If you have the responsibility necessary to hold a credit card, you should probably use one. The rewards add up!
5 – Sometimes I’m afraid of telling people how weird I could really get.”
Some of this stuff is crazy. Spending $300k in a month? You want to retire at what age?
Sharing this with strangers (or even friends/family who thinking differently) can be…difficult.
They honestly might not understand. They might judge you.
You know who won’t judge you though? Everyone in our private Facebook group.
Join us today as we talk about travel, financial independence, and other important life matters your friends may or may not understand.