A reader reached out to me recently with the following question, that I thought was worth answering on the blog:
How long did it take before you ramped up to $40K in MS/month? Perhaps you could share some of the lessons you learned via mistakes/successes while on the way to $40K/month in MS.
My post on how to generate $40,000 in manufactured spending each month is one of my most popular ones to date. While it’s still quite easy for me to generate that caliber of manufactured spending, I’m not really doing it much due to the time it takes to unload those gift cards. Once I learned about manufactured spending, it probably took 6 months or so before I had the resources in place. That included a reliable Vanilla Reload source, a mile-earning debit card, and a “route” I could follow to easily load/unload gift cards and deposit money orders, etc.
My approach to manufactured spending is to start small, then take on more as I see fit. I can easily unload $10,000 in American Express gift cards per month, so that’s what I start off with. When the cards arrive (within 1-2 days), I unload most of them within 1-3 days.
Once this is done, I look over my statement closing dates and decide whether I can do another round of gift card churning in time to pay my credit cards off before my statement closes. There’s also the issue of time. If it looks like I’ll have to hold onto a set of gift cards for longer than a week, I don’t place another order until I can set aside time to liquidate them in a timely manner.
So if you’re considering ramping up your manufactured spending, start out small. Plan out any additional purchases and unloading, and take on more as you get comfortable with your own process. More importantly, keep track of when your credit card bills are due, hold onto all of your receipts, and remember to have a back-up plan in case your go-to method of unloading gift cards goes bust – like the recent discovery that Bluebird could no longer be loaded with a Vanilla Visa gift card.
As for mistakes, the biggest mistake you can make is to take on too much, too fast. You don’t want to be left with thousands of dollars in gift cards you can’t liquidate because of a small bump in the road (i.e. you’ve hit your maximum load on Amex for Target, the Target cashier won’t let you use American Express gift cards to load Amex for Target, the Bluebird kiosk is down and the Walmart cashier won’t accept a “debit card” without your name on it, etc.).
Paying interest on your credit card because you waited too long to liquidate your gift cards is another common manufactured spending mistake you want to avoid. It all comes down to being organized, keeping track of where all the money is going, and not biting off more than you can chew.