How To Save More Of The One Thing You Can Never Earn More Of

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How To Save Time

How To Save Time

Several years ago, I decided that time was more important than money to me.  It’s the primary reason I pursued financial independence and quit my job after reaching my goal.  And I still enjoy refining processes so that I can fully optimize all of the time ahead.  Blowhards like me incessantly analyze points and miles currencies, attempting to slay the maximization dragon.  I feel we should focus more on a constantly decreasing currency, one that we all face.  Here’s how to save time in our much beloved hobby.

Not Using That Card?  Close It, Maybe

New credit cards offer some of the sweetest rewards in our hobby.  But many of them don’t bring us anything substantial beyond year one.  Instead of tracking old accounts, forgetting and resetting usernames and passwords, overthinking their “age of accounts” value, and making small random purchases to keep the cards open, consider closing them.  The cumulative time saved can be just as satisfying as the uncluttered mind that comes with it.

Paper Is Your Friend

Now, from an uncluttered mind to actual clutter (if you’re not careful).  I prefer to receive paper statements for all accounts, place them in the to-do tray, pay them off, shred, and recycle.  Some may call my process archaic, but I feel it’s more streamlined than relying on a virtual one.  I take no pleasure in unnecessarily looking at a computer or phone screen, and opting for e-statements on everything would overwhelm me.

Of course, that’s just my perspective – many of you may feel the opposite.  And it’s not like my process is bulletproof, either.  Thoughtfully craft and change your strategy as you see fit.

How To Save Time

Just Say No

I know that I cannot pursue every deal or play.  Even if I could, would I want to?  No, because – gasp – I have other priorities beyond points and travel.  I feel points can augment my life, but I should not be defined by them.

Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should do it.  This may sound tremendously obvious, but I must periodically remind myself of this.  Do I want to spend a few hours for x amount of points?  Maybe.  Will I enjoy the process?  If so, I’ll probably be more open to pursuing that deal.  While many enjoy lucrative rewards from a given play, some of those just aren’t for me.  And I’m fine with that.  Time wins out.

Periodically Organize

Organizing is something that I can always do better.  But I also try not to get too caught up in it.  Taking it to an extreme can cut into other hobby tasks I enjoy more.

But there is a happy medium, in my view.  I set aside a couple hours a month to purely focus on organization.  These are just a few tasks I accomplish: catch up on all my monthly credits, update any outstanding annual ones, file key documents from new cards, recheck existing reservations for better rates, and shred any other clutter I’ve missed.

And Mark created a handy Google Sheet for Amex credits.  Tweak to your heart’s content!

How To Save Time

Avoid Multitasking

I’ll probably lose some of you here, if I haven’t already.  I strongly believe that multitasking is a myth.  It is for me, at least.  I know that if I’m attempting to do more than one thing at a time, I will probably do one or more tasks less accurately and/or efficiently.  When I’ve simultaneously completed tasks, I’m less confident in their outcomes, even if the results were actually satisfactory.

I’ll end up unnecessarily double-checking stuff, which defeats one of the perceived benefits of multitasking – time savings.  In the long run, I end up blowing more time going back on stuff that I supposedly completed during a tossed task salad.  Instead, I try to individually focus on each task, check it off the to-do list, and move onto the next one.  Crisp and concise.

Define and Revalidate Your Goals

I’ve written ad nauseam about the importance of defining and revalidating goals, travel-related and otherwise.  Any hobby chore I take on should map directly to one of my priority goals.  If the item doesn’t relate to any of my goals, what’s the point?  All that stuff is just noise, and it all fades out if you just have your goals squared away.  I encourage each of you to define your goals and check back on them often.

Conclusion

I can accept that how to save time in our hobby can vary by the individual.  What works best for me may not work for you, and vice versa.  But I feel it’s key to challenge ourselves to improve where we can.  I know I can always do better.  And speaking of, educate me on your time-saving tricks in the comments!

Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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4 COMMENTS

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4 COMMENTS

  1. About a year ago I switched to “paperless” statements on my Barclays AAdvantage Aviator credit card. On more than one occasion I was unable to download my statement on the website and had to call and wait on hold to get an agent to send me my statement via email. Amazing that in 2022 snail mail is more reliable than electronic means but it’s clearly the case. I’ll give them a few years to perfect this, meanwhile I’m firmly committed to paper statements.

    • Bobby,
      Yikes! I’m glad paper statements have simplified things for you since, though. Thanks for reading!

  2. Many good pieces of advice, but just can’t get over the one idea to just close all my rarely used cards. There is a reason to keep them, for example the legacy IHG with the $49 AF. But will take another look and validate all my reasons and see if they still make sense.

    • Ken,
      Agreed! As I mentioned above, I’m talking about rarely-used cards that don’t provide any substantial benefit. The annual FNC from the legacy IHG card is definitely a substantial benefit, and I held this one for years without spending on it (until I upgraded to the Premier not too long ago).

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