If I had to summarize the FIRE movement in one word it would be intention. FIRE followers often go through a period where they’re trying to figure out what is important to them and if their spending habits are aligned with their values. From food to cars, cars to housing, and housing to traveling FIRE followers are asking if they’re seeing a bang for their spent bucks or whether they should alter or ditch certain spending habits.
I would describe FIRE followers as realists and disciplined planners. They understand the path to financial independence is typically not one decision, although GameStop holders during this short squeeze may say differently, but the accumulation of many small decisions working in brilliant harmony. One of these decisions is which credit card aligns the most with your spending habits. I was on a FIRE Facebook group and I came across a new site that analyzes that very question. That site is Luci.
For the Dave Ramsey diehards who refuse to open a credit card I don’t think you’ll get too much from this post… But if you feel like you’ve become a disciplined financial samurai who pays off their credit card before accruing interest then why not get the card that gives you the maximum return on your specific spending habits?
“Hi Luci.” When I moved to Charlotte, a city with an American Airlines hub, I thought it would be a good idea, with my traveling habits and Michigan-based family, to get an American Airlines credit card. While I feel happy with this decision I did not put a ton of work into comparing and contrasting different cards and rewards at the time. Almost six years later, in COVID times, I feel like I’m reevaluating everything, including if my credit is working hard for me.
On Luci one has the option to import their transactions from a specific credit card they’ve been using or enter estimates for spending in the following six categories: Restaurants, Gas Stations, Supermarkets and Groceries, Travel, Recreation, and Other
Since my newest American Airline card is relatively new instead of importing two months worth of uncharacteristic transactions (honeymoon spending) I thought I would put guesstimates in the categories as a baseline and work from there.
I give you my baseline budget:
I’m sure some people will see my restaurant budget and think WTF but the past few years, since I have been house hacking with little to no housing expense, my food budget has become a bit loose. It’s probably something I should reflect on but I do like my food. Maybe I should start learning more dishes to cook… but I digress.
click, “Find Your Perfect Card” and here we go! I wanted to give a sense of the layout of the Luci site but I apologize as you will probably need to zoom in on parts to read the text. The site is very intuitive.
Now something else that I haven’t really thought of is the time element of these cards, but Luci gives you a glimpse into those differences. Personally I don’t want to be bouncing around from card to card every year, and don’t know how that would affect my credit score, but some of these differences do underline that fact that some are better/worse over different time frames. Luci says the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card would be my best card over a one year period. Instead if I look at a three year time frame I get a different card, the US Bank Altitude Go Visa Signature Card:
There are a couple other things I’d like to point out. It is very easy to see if there are applicable annual fees with the card and it shows “Features & Other Rewards”. I had no idea that some cards were offering streaming bonuses for streaming services like NetFlix and Spotify, things I both currently use (although I only pay for NetFlix at the moment).
What I really like about Luci is that I can perform what-if scenarios. As you know I loved performing what-if scenarios on the Personal Capital Retirement Planner (The Personal Capital Retirement Planner – Fired to FIRE (fired-to-fire.com)). The question that comes to my mind immediately is how will my marriage affect my/our spending. I think that I don’t want to live with my wife and three roommates, under one roof, for much longer. If we had the kitchen to ourselves I think we’d cook much more, thus eating at restaurants less, so I’ll run a different type of budget:
While I still get the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card over the one year time frame I’m now seeing the Chase Freedom Unlimited card over a three year time frame.
At the bottom of each of these screens one can see more details and notes for a specific card. This is where I caught that there was a 3% foreign transaction fee with the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, where as those didn’t exist on the others I was matched with:
While I understand there are thousands of cards to choose from Luci does a great job getting one started thinking about the benefits one is currently getting, and educating oneself on the potential benefits available in the market. From time to time in life one needs to question what they’re doing. Are your actions/habits actually the best or did you just get used to doing the same old thing, year after year? Maybe it’s time for a change.
Have a look: luci Smart Finance (joinluci.com)