My credit card, like many, offers rewards points. I pay the balance in full each month, determined to keep my student loans my only debt right now, but still get points for every dollar spent. The number is not going up very quickly, since I am not really buying much on that card right now. There are countless retail establishments that offer gift cards starting at $25 for 3,000 points. Usually, when I hit 3,000 points, I redeem the points for a gift card for one shop or another. I am currently over 4,000 points and haven’t redeemed them yet. I did briefly consider redeeming the points for a T.J. Maxx/Marshalls/Homegoods gift card and returning to Marshalls and purchasing one of the things I wanted to buy when I went there last week, mindfully using my points to purchase something I would have anyway instead of mindlessly shopping, but decided against it. Even though the gift card would have paid for the Cynthia Rowley dress (except sales tax), that doesn’t mean I need the new dress any more than when I declined to pay for it with my own money. Regardless of how much I paid (or didn’t pay) for it, it would still needlessly clutter my closet.
In addition to my credit card, I am a member of a website that gives members points for filling out surveys. These points are redeemable for prizes. As you’ll remember, I recently redeemed quite a few of my points on this website for a $25 gift card for Macy’s to purchase a new collared shirt for work photographs–boss asked us to wear blue. That gift card, along with some Plenti points, allowed me to get this shirt, which I will wear for years to come in multiple situations, for free. While I’ve been very clear that I have more than my fair share of clothes, I think I’ll get much more use out of the shirt than the dress from Marshalls. Several of my dress shirts are getting old and will need to be replaced soon anyway, so I would have needed a new shirt soon enough, regardless of company photographs.
I reminded myself that minimalism is about using my resources to further what I value. We’ve talked about time and money as resources, but credit card points (or other “points”) are a resource just like anything else. Before, I have just picked a store and gone shopping, browsing the store with that gift card burning a hole in my pocket, feeling compelled to buy SOMETHING, ANYTHING with my gift card. I am very proud of myself for looking online first and choosing a specific item that I actually needed and then getting the gift card to purchase it rather than aimlessly browsing and buying something I otherwise might not have.
I still have quite a lot of Plenti points left and did not spend any of my credit card points. What to do with them? Instead of redeeming points for a gift card for some “retail therapy,” I am considering redeeming it for a gift card towards a massage instead, which I haven’t had in a long time and desperately need. (Yes, need. I do not use that word lightly.) Having been involved in multiple car accidents in the past, regular massage is more than just a pleasant way to unwind for me—it is an actual medical necessity that relieves pain. Though it would be more money out of my pocket (the massage would cost more than the $25 gift card put towards it from the points), I would be using my resources in a way that is consistent with my values—namely, health. Maybe I’ll use them for a restaurant instead of a store and go to dinner with my husband. Maybe I’ll let the points stack up and redeem them for something larger like airfare or hotel to put towards a future vacation. Definitely an experience or something consumable.