Being an adult is a costly exercise! Money seems to evaporate from my wallet no matter how careful I am.
Adding kids to the mix can double or even triple your household bills, so I try to take advantage of rewards programs to get something back from the money I spend every day.
So, I make a point (excuse the pun) to ensure that I earn at least 1 frequent flyer point for every dollar I spend.
In this guide, I’ll show you my budgets and how they result in as many points as possible for our everyday expenses, to try to convince you that you don’t need to be a high flying exec to earn enough points to actually use for a trip.
To achieve this, I have a strict budget and ensure that all my fixed costs, such as groceries, fuel, phone bills, insurance, electricity and rates are paid for with my reward earning credit card – it’s really that simple.
So if you do it right, shop smart and pay off your credit card in full each month, you are actually getting something for nothing. The points you earn come from bills or expenses you already had to pay!
Here’s how I earn my frequent flyer points
Below is a breakdown of exactly how I earn my points over a 12 month period. I have only included my fixed costs; the bills that I have to pay each and every month / quarter / year, as these are my guaranteed points.
I pay half my bills with an ANZ Platinum American Express that earns me 1.5 points for every dollar I spend. Only half my bills can be paid on an American Express as some business and government agencies do not accept Amex as a form of payment.
Things I pay for with American Express – 1.5 Qantas Points per $1.00
|Item||Monthly Cost||Yearly Cost||Points Earned|
|Total Points Earned||21,822|
The remainder of my fixed costs are paid for with the Jetstar Platinum MasterCard that earns me 1 Qantas Point for every dollar I spend.
Things I pay for with MasterCard – 1 Qantas Point per $1.00
|Item||Monthly Cost||Yearly Cost||Points Earned|
|Hair Cuts / Grooming||$40.00||$480.00||480|
|Total Points Earned||10,410|
Over a 12 month period my guaranteed points earn on my fixed costs will be 32,232 points.
That’s enough to get me a one-way flight to Hawaii, Tokyo, Singapore or even Hong Kong.
At this point, I haven’t even added other discretionary expenses like clothing, shoes, school books, presents, travel or entertainment into the equation, which normally earn me another 10,000 points or more on top of my fixed costs.
So that’s about 42,000 Qantas Points per year by just putting my expenses on a points earning credit card, enough for a one-way business class flight from Brisbane to New Zealand with points to spare, or a good start to saving those points for an international trip.
How I advise people who are just getting started
We’ve just run a series on how to get started with earning frequent flyer points, and unsurprisingly, this is where we’d recommend you start. If you’ve got a grasp of the basic concepts, the ‘earn more points from your credit card’ email course should come next, which outlines some points-earning concepts in more depth.
Once you’ve got your head around the different credit cards on the market and picked one that works for you, then you can get started with budgeting.
First, make a list of your fixed costs. This is not only a great exercise to check on the health of your finances but it ensures that you will be able to afford to pay your credit card off in full each month. If you are carrying a balance on your card and are being charged interest there is usually no advantage to earning points.
Next, before you make a purchase, ask yourself: how could this earn me more points, without me spending more?
For example, here are a few simple things that I do to boost my points balance each year without flying.
I set up direct debits. I have fixed costs automatically charged to my card, all I have to do is pay off the balance each month and I will automatically earn points.
Most places offer free shipping and easy returns, so not only could you earn up to 10 points for every dollar you spend, you can also shop from the comfort of your own home. AND if you’re like me and pay for your purchase on your credit card you could all another 1 point or more per dollar onto those purchase.
Take for example my Christmas shopping online with David Jones: I spent $200 on various gifts and earnt 1,300 points just by making sure I logged onto the online mall portal prior to starting my shopping.
I use restaurant points portals when I eat out. Make a reservation for your date night and earn points just by going out to dinner. You can earn 100 points per diner with Qantas and 300 points per booking with Virgin.
I look for points earning opportunities when I fuel up: if you are earning points with Virgin Australia, fuel up at a BP and with a swipe of your velocity frequent flyer card you will be earning 2 Velocity points per litre.
When Shopping, I plan ahead: I have a set budget to stick to each week, so to make sure I don’t overspend I always tackle the grocery shopping with a list.
I pre-plan the family’s snacks, lunches and dinner for the week, scan the pantry and fridge for ingredients and only buy what I need. I also keep an eye out for the best discounts in store and stock up on necessities like washing detergent or shampoo when it is half price.
And when it comes to clothing or toys I never pay retail, the end of season sales are my friend! I purchase the kids wardrobe for the next year online (normally at around 60% off retail) and always buy licensed toys like lego when they are on sale. Budgeting and planning can take time and effort BUT all these savings mean that I can afford to take my kids on a holiday each year.
So that’s how I earn my points!
Just because I am not a high flying executive doesn’t mean I can’t earn enough frequent flyer points to make a meaningful difference to my travel costs, enabling our family to travel when we would otherwise be wary of the cost of doing so.
There are hundreds of ways you can earn points on top of your fixed costs each year, and I have only mentioned a handful – keep an eye on the active points offers page here for one, and for notifications of points deals and our tips on using your points, sign up by email or follow on Facebook.