These days I have a pretty simple manufactured spending routine, which consists of a two step process:
1. Ordering Visa gift cards from Giftcards.com.
2. Liquidating these gift cards on twice weekly trips to Walmart.
Since I’ve found two ms-friendly locations, I can liquidate $22,000 worth of Visa gift cards on a single trip. One of these locations no longer allows me to do multiple transactions when buying money orders, so I’m down to buying just $2,000 at this particular store. That location does, however, allow split payments on bill pay, so I can still do a lot of damage this way.
Unfortunately, the only credit cards I’ve been able to pay with Walmart bill pay has been Discover. A few readers have given me tips on how to circumvent this problem, which I plan on trying out eventually. At the moment I’m putting my five Discover It Miles cards to good use, so I haven’t had a shortage of credit card bills to pay. Not all of the Discover It Miles cards were obtained at the same time (mine was about 3 months ahead of everyone else’s), but if everything goes as planned, next year when everyone is cashing in their tax returns, I’ll receive an extra $15,000 from Discover. Or maybe all five accounts will get shut down and I’ll lose everything, in which case, oh well.
This week it was business as usual. I’m finding the one Walmart store that still lets me do multiple money order transactions is getting friendlier and friendlier. On my visit last Tuesday, I got a free bottle of Downey. The week before, the manager was surprised when I wanted to buy $7,000 worth of money orders. He seemed thrown off by my request and responded with, “But you usually get $10,000. Are you sure? We can do 10 if you want”. They were really accommodating. He called over a new employee to watch the transaction, pointing out that even though I was “the only customer” buying this many money orders, it was still a good learning opportunity for her.
When I returned a few days later, I was told another woman from Sacramento has been coming in and “doing the same $500 payment thing”. This has me worried because I think if too many people start coming into that location and buying money orders with $500 gift cards, they’ll start to restrict purchases.
For now I’m safe and saving up for that trip to Europe I’m planning on recreating later this year. My parents and younger sister may be traveling to India in December (assuming the Visa approval process isn’t a nightmare like everyone says). So I’m working on topping off a few accounts here and there so they can travel in business class.
Meanwhile, I’ll be cutting my workweek down to one day (Sunday) while I focus on grad school test prep. I know I’ve talked about doing this in the past, but after the time I spent in Thessaloniki and Calais, it hit me how much of a difference I could be making if I focused my energy on doing something more worthwhile with my time.
I kept thinking if I was a medical professional, I could be invaluable to the many sick people who lacked access to healthcare. If I was a lawyer, I could help get qualified refugees to the UK safely and legally. Hell, if I had carpentry skills, I could help rebuild shelters that were destroyed during the evacuation. In places of real desperation, you realize the value of skilled workers and professionals. That, and all of those young guys who expressed their desperate desires to continue their university studies in a foreign country where they did not even speak the language, made me realize I don’t want to waste any more time or squander the opportunities available to me.
I’ve scheduled posts through the end of the week and will be auto-posting on social media. Other than that I’ll be on a tech hiatus. No laptop and only 30 minutes of phone time per day, which is enough to check social media and respond to emails. Somehow, big news always comes around when I’m taking a hiatus, but hopefully that will not be the case. My manufactured spending routine, on the other hand, will continue as usual.
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