My Week in Manufactured Spending: A Family Connection

I haven’t done one of these weekly manufactured spending posts in a couple of weeks, mainly because they get pretty repetitive. I’ve written about my current approach to manufactured spending, which is basically just liquidating a larger number of gift cards during fewer runs. Well, this weekend was particularly productive, for several reasons. First, I went to a barbecue in Roseville to celebrate my cousin’s high school graduation. After eating my weight in macaroni salad and kebabs, I headed out to a few nearby Walmarts to liquidate some leftover gift cards. It’s nice to go someplace new for a change, so I hit up two local stores before heading back to the park. 

Walmart Money Order

My other cousin, who graduated from college not too long ago and is trying to rid herself of her student loans, gave me some good news: She got a job as a customer service manager at my local Walmart. She’s only working evenings, since she does have a day job, but that’s good enough for me. It turns out the store she’s working in is fairly new (I still haven’t been there) and she says it’s one of those rare Walmarts that’s clean, with non-ratchet customers who don’t do things like change their kids’ diapers in the produce aisle and use a head of lettuce to clean the mess (This actually happened, according to People of Walmart). She’s not involved in this hobby at all, so it was tough for me to convey to her what a big deal this was.

I wouldn’t do anything out of the ordinary or ask her to break the rules – having someone I know working there simply means I can do what I normally do, but with far less hassle. I even started training her about the purchase limits (she thought customers had to fill out forms when purchasing $2,000 worth of money orders and that the daily limit was $5,000), so she’ll be all set when she actually starts working there and I make my weekly trips to the store. 

I tweeted about this development and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten this many likes on any tweet. 

Having a family member working as a manager at Walmart is just about the best case scenario for someone in this hobby. If a cashier gives me trouble and decides to call a manager because of the number of money orders I’m asking for, at least I’ll know the manager won’t be a tool or wonder if I’m committing a crime. It’s not just good for me – because she understands the purpose of gift card churning, she’ll be less likely to give other churners a hard time when they stroll in and try to purchase a large batch of money orders. For the sake of her privacy (and because some people in this hobby are a**holes who might take their anger over my blogging about ms out on her via negative reviews or other shenanigans), she’s asked me not to share her name or store location on the blog, so I’ll respect her wishes.

While I already have a nice manufactured spending route worked out, it can only help to have my cousin as a backup to make the gift card churning process smoother. 

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Ariana Arghandewal


  1. Wow awesome. Can yiu give some insight on the new WM reporting system? Had to give my ID and phone to start a new ‘acct’ with the new financial services screens. What do you think about the new tracking they’re going to do, supposedly centrally? So the screen will show your history of all bill pays starting now. Not sure if money orders will be added to that since I haven’t purchased one yet with the new system.

    • My WM does this for bill pay only, and when you return to pay more bills, they look you up with your phone number. I have no idea how this will affect our ms activities, but I imagine it will be tracked the way mo purchases over $3k are tracked (i.e. not very well). I do hope they’re careful with our data at least. The WM manager tells me the paperwork I fill out is kept safely “in the back” but last time I was there, the cs rep pulled out the binder from under the register and when she pulled a new sheet for me to fill out, the old one with my SSN and other info was right underneath.

  2. You are SO lucky to live in a city where Walmart lets you buy money orders using gift/debit cards with PINs. Not uniform-not allowed in a lot of cities.

  3. Ariana
    Do you normally buy more than $3k in mo or try to buy less so you don’t need to give your info? Did you have any problems due to depositing large amount of mo? I am thinking to try to unload $40k per month, is it too much?

    • I usually just buy the full $10k since it means I make fewer trips and spend less time on ms. I’ve found a couple of WM’s that are really cool about it, so it hasn’t been a problem. I imagine my bank will shut me down pretty soon (I’ve been depositing large numbers of mo’s for at the past three months), but its a secondary account so it won’t disrupt my normal banking activities.

  4. I wonder if your family connection could tell you what’s going on with KATEs all over – they don’t seem to be accepting MB-issued VGCs (you can still load them with cashiers, but it’s much more time consuming ). Is it a glitch? A permanent software change?
    I know, not many people have surviving BBs and Serves, but some do,

    • I had the same issue just this week
      The WM ATM is not accepting Visa Gift Cards from Simon Malls

  5. neither Simon Mall nor Staples. They can still be loaded at WM money Center though (or with cashiers). For the time being, that is.
    Wonder how long that would last before they stop accepting them altogether – for loading as well as money orders.

  6. @Ariana: Do you know any WM in and around San Jose, that accepts gift cards for MO. I am going to kickstart my MS fr 1st time. Thanks for all your infos and details in the website.

    • Glad you’re finding it helpful! Unfortunately San Jose is a wasteland. Every time I’ve gone out there, I’ve either been rejected at WM or (and this happened twice) their MO machine was broken! I would still make the rounds and see if things have changed, since WM seems to have a revolving door when it comes to the staff. Also, try Kwik Stop gas stations and the post office for mo’s – a bit more pricier, but it might be better than nothing.

  7. Sweet! I’m in West Sac, can I mooch off your connection? JK. 😉
    My only dabble in MS was Redbird for two months until it got shut down then Bluebird for another two months until my account with almost everyone else got flagged and shut down.
    If I’m ever in the mood to end MO as a MS option, I’ll start doing it.

    • Only if you’re up for an hour drive. Hey, isn’t sacramento ms heaven? It hasn’t been my experience personally, but at the Berkeley meet up a reader insisted it was a great spot.

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