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Purchases That Make Cents – How To Save Money By Spending It

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Smart Spending Habits

Smart Spending Habits

I reached financial independence by following my three guiding financial principles of sensible spending, active saving, and sound investing.  Sensible spending has been the foundational principle, though – strictly adhering to this one enables the other two even more.  One of my smart spending habits is buying goods and services that save us money down the road.  Here are a few of those purchases that I have made and others can consider to come out ahead.

Home Improvement

Those two words aren’t my favorite – I’m not exactly the handiest guy in the world.  Home improvement projects are generally not fun to me, and I’d rather spend my time in other ways.  But as a homeowner, certain stuff has to be done.  And many projects, whether stuff I do with my wife or items we hire for, have brought substantial savings over the years.

Projects related to energy savings have been our first priority.  We replaced old doors and windows with higher quality, energy-efficient options.  Paying for new home insulation immediately lowered our monthly electric bill, as well.  Plus, we do the simpler stuff, such as replacing air filters on schedule.

Smart Spending Habits

We still have plenty more to get through on our list.  Regardless, many home improvement projects can save a homeowner both now (energy costs) and in the future (a higher home price when it’s time to sell).

AAA Membership

I inevitably groan when the annual AAA membership bill comes due.  We’ve only used their services once every two years or so.  But I quickly come to my senses knowing that one tow or other seemingly-small need makes paying for the annual service a no-brainer.  I know that annual fee can cover a lot of not-cheap matters, including the priceless headaches that arrive with a car emergency.

Of course, AAA members can save money in plenty of other ways.  But the car-related benefits and peace of mind are enough for me.

Smart Spending Habits

Credit Card Annual Fees

While I’m all for minimizing credit card annual fees, I know that paying certain ones (if I must) can make sense.  Over time, and supercharged by the pandemic, banks have started including certain credits and other benefits that cardholders must actively consume to lessen the blow of an annual fee.  In certain cases, detail-oriented individuals can zero out the annual fee or come out ahead.

For instance, I no longer pay for streaming services in general thanks to the Amex Platinum digital entertainment credit.  I took 95% off my cell phone service by using the Amex Business Platinum wireless credit.  Our dining out expenses have substantially decreased thanks to a variety of Chase and Amex credits.

Again, do everything you can to defray the cost of annual fees – pursuing card retention offers is a primary option.  Also, you can subsidize the annual fee with a first year welcome offer, cancel before paying the second year annual fee, and have player two (spouse or domestic partner) apply for a similar card for another welcome offer.  The list goes on.  Regardless, by crunching the numbers, many can stomach annual fees for the rewards and benefits they obtain in return.

Higher-Quality Items

I’m no expert landscaper, but I feel better paying more for a Honda lawn mower than a cheaper option that needs to be replaced much sooner.  Our previous Honda lasted about 15 years, and I made no hesitation to buy the updated model a few months ago.  The same can apply to clothes, travel gear, household items, you name it.

Smart Spending Habits
A beautiful photo, but not my car.

Routine Services

We bought both of our cars new and have religiously followed the routine service schedules for the past 12 and 5 years since we’ve owned them.  We haven’t had any major issues with either vehicle.  We’ll keep doing so for as long as the cars will last, until it makes no more financial sense.

We’re trying to keep our own motors going, too.  My family and I stick to our annual physical schedules and other routine health appointments to avoid or address health issues before they become more expensive.

Smart Spending Habits – Conclusion

It’s easy to get swept up in saving and avoid spending on items that seem optional in the near term.  But spending on such items now can end up saving you even more in the long term.  Even better, so many other similar areas exist – I’ve only covered a few here.  I look forward to doing this more and also learning from you.  So then, what are some of your favorite ways to save money by spending it?

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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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.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. In the state of Texas you can call the state for free roadside assistance. The number to call is listed on the back of your driver’s license.

    • Thanks Judith.
      I was not aware of the free roadside assistance in Texas. I just looked at my new Texas drivers license and sure enough on the back is the phone number for roadside assistance. Thanks John

  2. Benjy, I have north of 400k miles on my 2005 SUV. Can’t tell you how much money I’ve saved by not buying a car every five years or so. And, given its lack of value after about five years, insurance has been liability only. Saves quite a bit as well.

    • Lee,
      I love it! I recall going down to liability only on a few of our previous vehicles – definitely a good feeling!

  3. Good article, but I have found that I get a much better tow package using the Good Sam road service. More miles tow for less money which is important if you are gonna need a good long tow, plus good service and a fair number of associated discounts. Might look into it and compare.

  4. Do you not have a credit card with roadside assistance? A few months ago I locked the keys inside a rental car and I called Chase. To my surprise they dispatched a locksmith and he completed his service within 20 minutes of me making the call. I have never had roadside assistance from any one that quick. I have the benefit on my Chase Sapphire Reserve and also Capital One Venture.

    • I’m aware of other roadside assistance via credit cards and elsewhere. My paid Gas Buddy membership a few years ago offered such services. But I’ve found AAA is the best fit for us. But indeed, there are many options out there for consumers to consider!


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