Money and financial planning can be a looming dark cloud for some people. With money being the biggest stressor and leading cause of divorce, it can sometimes be a tricky topic to navigate.
My longtime friend Chris Hutchins joins me as we discuss ways you can optimize your life. Chris and I both worked as photographers and have grown our professional careers in parallel. Chris is a Life Hacker, Product Builder at Wealthfront—a company that helps people grow wealth through investing—and host of All the Hacks Podcast.
As an avid life hacker, Chris has seen success upgrading his life without having to spend a fortune. Chris has been featured in a documentary and other media outlets for collecting over 10 million credit card points! Chris’ insight on the topic can help you take inventory of untapped potential and hack your life as well. Here are five tips for hacking your life.
Set Aside a Few Months of Savings
Before getting into the more intricate aspects of life hacking, it’s important to have a solid financial base. A way to do so is to set aside a few months’ worth of cash. Whether you can afford to set aside 3 months, 5 months or 8 months—having that cash is essential to laying a solid ground for financial success.
If you’re ever in an unfortunate instance where you unexpectedly need cash, borrowing will prove to be a huge burden. Interest rates are typically going to be high, which could set you back a lot financially. Having a few months’ worth of savings ensures that you’re financially prepared for the unexpected.
Pay Off any High Interest Debt
This is another basic rule for laying the ground for financial success. It doesn’t make sense to start growing your financial surplus if you’re still in the process of paying off any high interest debt. This will only cause you to go in circles financially. If you can’t pay your credit card debt off every month, taking care of that should certainly be your biggest priority. Once you learn to manage that, you’re ready to start upgrading your life.
Take Advantage of the “New Customer” Deals
Now that you’ve gotten your savings and high interest debt taken care of, you’re ready to move on to the big leagues.
Banks and credit card companies are eager to get new customers. Cards are offering miles and points for new customers that sign up and spend X amount of money within a certain time span of joining. Obviously, this doesn’t make sense if you’re not going to spend the minimum amount of money to earn the free miles or points—but if you are, you’re essentially traveling for free.
Or if you join a bank that’s offering a $500 bonus for depositing a certain amount of money, by joining that bank and making the deposit you’re signing up for free money. If you have the means to take advantage of the deal, do it.
Be the “Planner”
Say you and your friends are planning a trip. Offer to be the trip planner. Book the flights for everyone. Book the rooms. Put it all on your credit card. It’s a little extra work of course, but before you know it, you’ve racked up thousands of points and miles by spending other people’s money.
Do this any chance you get—whether it’s offering to put your work expenses on your card and doing a write-off or offering to book or plan something for a friend or family member. The little extra work will be well worth the free miles and points.
Reach Out to Your Hotels
Ending on an easy life hack that anyone can take advantage of—reach out to your hotels. If you’re planning a trip at a hotel with nice rooms or accommodations, book the regular room. Shortly after booking reach out to the hotel to let them know that you just booked a room with them and that you’re thrilled for your stay. Follow up with another email a few days before your trip to let them know you’re checking in in a few days and you’re so excited. Nine times out of ten, the hotel will give you some acknowledgement. This could be anything from a free bottle of champagne when you check in to an upgraded suite. It never hurts to reach out!
For more financial and travel life hacks, listen to the full episode with Chris Hutchins.
Listen to the Podcast
Chase Jarvis: Hey there. What's up? It's Chase. Welcome to another episode of the Chase Jarvis Live Show here on CreativeLive. What if I told you that you could travel the world for free or super cheap without really changing much of your behavior? Would it have your attention? What if I told you that by simply tweaking a couple of other areas of your life, you could have more time to pursue what lights you up, and more money to spend on the things that bring you joy? What if I told you that if nothing else, in this episode, we will tell you how to get two round trip tickets to go anywhere in the world? The way you do that is by listening to my guest today on the show, the one and only, Chris Hutchins.
Chase Jarvis: Now, Chris is a long time friend of mine, and he is an avid life hacker. He's a financial optimizer, and he's a host of the top rank podcast, All The Hacks, where he shares his advice on his quest to upgrade his life. Now, I've been on Chris's show before. He's a fantastic interviewer. In this episode, we get to turn the tables and hear from Chris how all of the things that he's learned from all the top life hackers in the world, on his show, how he applies them, and how you can too. I'm going to get out of the way, and let you enjoy this episode. Yours truly and Chris Hutchins.
Chase Jarvis: Chris, my man, thanks so much for being on the show. I'm excited. We finally made it happen.
Chris Hutchins: I'm excited. Thanks for having me.
Chase Jarvis: Well, I think two things are in order. One for the few folks who do not know you and or your work, I like to start off by giving you the stage to share a little bit about yourself, what you want people to know in the first 90 seconds, two minutes here. Then I will ask you after that for a cursory review of our short but interesting history together. In fact, I was on your show, which is one of the things I want to talk about, building an amazing podcast. We'll take the second part second. I want to start with the first part first, which is orient us around you and your world.
Chris Hutchins: You know what, probably everyone listening has one of those friends that's crazy and has a spreadsheet for everything. That's definitely me. I've just applied that level of diligence and optimization to every aspect of my life. I finally brought it to life, I guess, with a podcast and a newsletter called All The Hacks. But ultimately, I am the kind of person that wants to find every single way that you can optimize and upgrade what you're doing, and living, and how you're living to travel your finances, your health, your family, your relationships, your career, and find all the little hacks that make it better, more optimal.
Chris Hutchins: I like to do it from a lens of spending less and saving more because... I don't know. I think there are so many ways that you can live what I'll call the high life, but without having to spend $3,000 a night to stay in some ridiculous over water bungalow. You could do that for free if you want. You could fly across the world in business class for free if you want. I always tell people, "I'm not trying to optimize my way to a $10 a night stay at the motel eight." I want to say the four seasons. I just don't want to pay for it.
Chase Jarvis: I love it, confession. I'm in the process of working another book. I draw inspiration from a wide range of sources. It's part of what... I love the research part of the book more than actually the writing. I was reading a section from the 4-Hour Workweek, our mutual buddy, Tim Ferris. There's a line in there. The goal is not to necessarily be a millionaire because that's going to take you N number of days, months, years to do it. But what if you could start living like one tomorrow, how would that affect your deal? When I recount my both experience on your show and the episodes that I've enjoyed, that is I think that when I'm thinking of the word hack, there's all kinds of connotations with that word, but just the fastest path to the actual experiences that you want to have you just described.
Chase Jarvis: I don't want to... The motel eight versus the four seasons I thought was fascinating. So with the concept of all the hacks, but more importantly with your life, what has been the journey of doing that as a human, and you doing it in your work life and all these things, and then realizing that that meta orientation that you have, that that is a thing that you want to share, that that actually is your art? I know if I'm going to ask a question for the people who are listening right now, so many people are clear what they want to do, but most are like, "Oh gosh, I really... If I was to double down, he had a gun to my head. I can't actually say what my thing is or..."
Chase Jarvis: How did you recognize that this meta skill, like learning how to optimize things across a number and number of channels, was the gift that you could give the world because you'd done it yourself? Talk to me about that realization process.
Chris Hutchins: I wish that realization process was faster and easier. In hindsight, it always looks so obvious, right? If you ask anyone, ask our mutual friend, Kevin Rose, he's like, "Chris was going to do this. He knew this a decade ago," but for some reason, it just took a long time. It wasn't because I didn't try. If you go look on... I had a medium blog, and I wrote a post about credit card points and getting 80% off a Peloton. That was eight, nine years ago maybe. It's not that I didn't love this stuff, and I didn't feel like I should put it out in the world, but I don't think I found the right channel if you will, so I tried to blog.
Chris Hutchins: Didn't love it. I'd had a newsletter that I sent when I was doing another project, but it didn't feel right at the time. Then finally, someone was like, "You just got to do a podcast." So I was like, "Well, I can buy a microphone. That's not hard." I got some really good advice that you only have to make it a season. It doesn't... You can try a podcast, do six episodes, and call it quits. I was like, "Okay." So season one, let's just record six episodes. If no one likes it, I don't... I didn't quit my job over it. I was like, "Oh, I found the channel," and people just started coming, and people were really excited.
Chris Hutchins: I think a slight accelerant that maybe... I can't decide whether this is true or storytelling. History is sometimes made up in your own mind, but I was... I get a lot of energy being around people. I'm definitely like energy from others, extrovert. I would always go to dinners, and I would be like, "Oh my gosh, you got to... Here's this way to do this thing. That's so much better and so much cheaper." People would be like, "Tell me about it. Send me links." It just always happened. But in COVID, there were none of those. I was missing out on that, being able to share the cool thing. So during COVID, we had a baby.
Chris Hutchins: A baby forces you to figure out optimizing your life and your time. Baby costs money. There were all these things happening that I was diving into so much research to figure out, and I had no channel to share that. I built probably a 45-page notion site about having a child and all the different things of registry, the stroller. I have a stroller spreadsheet that would blow most people's minds. I was like, "I don't know where to share it," so I was like, "I would join the moms groups." I was like, "Here's my stroller spreadsheet in case anyone wants it." I just got a lot of validation from putting stuff out there.
Chris Hutchins: Then I was like, "What's the right channel?" I was like, "Every time I go on a podcast as a guest, I love it. I share things. I get good feedback. Let's just flip it around and do it the other way." Honestly, it was experimenting with the channels, even though I knew the thing. So a lot of people out there, listen, you might know the thing you love, but you don't know how to put it out in the world. Are you building an app? Are you creating a website? Do you have a product, or are you a consultant? Do you have a service where you provide things? For me, I didn't know what it was, and then it almost clicked when I recorded a few episodes.
Chris Hutchins: I never even released it as a series because after putting one out there, and even before it was out there, I was like, "This is it. I got to keep doing this." Because for me, interviews aren't a way to get information just to the people listening. They're a way for me to get the information. I want... The people I interview like you, I was like, "I want to unlock more creativity in my life. I want to hear this." I'm just sharing my journey to optimize and upgrade every aspect of life with the people listening.
Chris Hutchins: If one person listens, who cares because it's enriching my life. It just happens that a lot of people listen, and that lets me get more interesting people, and it's a win-win for all of us.
Chase Jarvis: I think there's a gem in there, which if I could clip it out and paste it on the headline of today, it's that you didn't realize you had a vague idea, and you didn't... It wasn't clear until you actually started doing it. I think that is a huge thing that most people try and think their way out of a pickle, or conundrum or... In fact, I do not have experiences of... or they are very, very few and far between where the thinking part gets you free. It's usually thinking, and you've got 10 ideas, and you actually have to put them to bear in the real world in order to feel it. You talked about being energy or energetic.
Chase Jarvis: I absolutely 100% concur. I think one of the reasons I wanted to open the show with that here in my show notes is I believe that that is one of the most important messages for people, the handful of us, who don't know exactly the thing we're supposed to be doing, not with our one big precious life, but now. What are we supposed to be doing now? What's engaging to us? What's inspiring us? Maybe stalled out in our job or our relationship or whatever, and we need to do a thing, and the actions.
Chase Jarvis: You have to do the verb in order to be the noun, right? You're not a podcaster unless you podcast. You're not an artist unless you art. You're not an entrepreneur unless you build a business.
Chris Hutchins: I would say ask the people around you because sometimes it's easier for someone else to say, "Hey." You say hey to your wife, to your husband, to your kids, to your parents, to your friends. What's the thing that when I talk about, I just light up? Everyone else knows it, right? Everyone knew that I was going to be... Everyone told me, "Oh, you should do this. You should do this." I didn't know, but if I just did, my friends and my family were like, "That's your thing. Find a way to make it work."
Chris Hutchins: A hack is just asking others what lights you up, because sometimes you don't realize it. Then the other... I interviewed a guy named Dan Pink, who just recently wrote a book about regret. He said he researched tens of thousands of regrets from so many people. They came into four categories, and go listen to the podcast. If you want to... All the details, but one of the top four regrets, and really, they all fell into four categories, was a regret of boldness, which is people regret not taking that chance, not doing that thing that felt scary.
Chris Hutchins: If you don't want that, you could just do it. You don't have to quit your job to start a podcast. You don't have to leave your family to go learn how to do a new hobby. You could do these things on the side until you realize that maybe they're more than that. I'd say ask people what to do. Ask people what lights you up, and then just try it. It's sometimes scary to go record something of your voice, and go put it on the internet for a million people to hear.
Chris Hutchins: But guess what? One of two things happens. A lot of people listen to it, or no one listens to it. If no one listens to it, who cares? What's embarrassing about releasing something no one saw? If lots of people listen to it, that's fantastic. You validate it that it is something people are interested in, so it feels scary.
Chase Jarvis: Yeah, or if you feel that, "Wow, that was fun and exciting and interesting, something I'd like to do again," that's internal realization. It's fascinating to me that we're talking about this like it's novel, and yet people have been discovering things about themselves all the time. Yet here we are in modern times, we have the internet at our fingertips, these devices that are crazy powerful, the ability to distribute our voice across the internet for free or cheap. Yet, so many people are still paralyzed.
Chase Jarvis: I'm speaking about this... I'm not immune from this either. I have been in that position at a number of different times. So before we move on, as a closure to our opening salvo here, do you recall our first encounter together, yours and mine?
Chris Hutchins: I do. I don't remember when, but let's call it a decade ago in the CreativeLive studios, I think, in Potrero Hill in San Francisco. I think Kevin Rose, who at the time, he and I and a few other people were running a small startup. I think he was maybe coming on a show with you, or we were just coming to hang out, but I believe that was our first, our first meeting. I don't know if you remember differently.
Chase Jarvis: No, I do. It was... Kevin was also an investor because he was at Google Ventures at that time.
Chris Hutchins: So we met then, so I'm slightly off. It was right... It was after milk, the startup. Kevin and I were both investors at Google Ventures, and I guess we invested and visited you, but it was about 10 years ago.
Chase Jarvis: It was a long time ago. I also have a strong memory of you dabbling in finance, in FinTech. Talk to me about that.
Chris Hutchins: It's funny. When I started a company called Grove, and it was all about trying to make the mess of financial planning easier for most people. I left Google Ventures. We raised some money. We started this company, and the idea was everyone is stressed out about money, right? It's the number one cause of stress, the number one cause of divorce. What if we could help people go through a process to relieve some of that stress? There's an actual process called financial planning, and there are certified financial planners. There are things you do to take an inventory of your assets and your liabilities and your income, and go through this process.
Chris Hutchins: What I found was that when people go through that process, they come out the other end with a whole lot less stress about money. Whether you have a lot or a little, it works for both, and you would be wildly surprised at how many people with a lot of money are still stressed out about it because they don't know that they have enough, even if they do. The goal was to take that process, and systematize it with software. The unfortunate reality is that people don't prioritize their money, and so we would ha... We learned this thing that I thought was the best learning ever.
Chris Hutchins: We raised another round of financing for the company because of it. It turns out it was an early indicator of why the business wasn't going to work, but we had a wait list, because we had humans involved in the process. We put this product out in the world. We said, "You can't sign up, but if you want to hold your spot, give us a $100." Hundreds and hundreds of people gave us hundred dollars. Then when we were ready to let them in, they were like, "No, I'm not ready to get started." We were like, "We can refund you the $100." They're like, "No, I don't want to get back the $100. I want to do this, just not now."
Chris Hutchins: What we learned was no matter how many emails we sent, they were always willing to keep their $100 on the line because they knew it was important, and they were never willing to get started. So ultimately, the learning was that financial planning in any mass scale is something that people are going to do on their own time. You're not going to be able to grow that exponentially, but maybe if you could offer a product in the world that people could use, which was much lower friction and easier to get started, you could start to offer financial products and services, and help people slowly work their way into the process of financial planning, and so we joined a company called Wealthfront.
Chris Hutchins: Wealthfront's helping people build wealth through investing. When you use the product, you can save cash. You can invest money. You can link external accounts, and we slowly let you through our software, figure out how to better enrich your life. How much home can I afford? What happens if I send my kids to this college? We didn't try to make people go through the entire process upfront, and so it was an unfortunate outcome for the company, and that we didn't... Everyone starts a company to go build something huge, but we ended up building something great, and landing at Wealthfront.
Chris Hutchins: It's been an awesome experience there getting to build the same kind of experience at more scale. I thought to loop back and close the door on our first conversation, when I started Grove, I was like, "I love personal finance. I love people helping people with money. Let's start a company that's me." A lot of my investors have since said, "Wow, when you started Grove, I was like, "This is Chris as a company." Now that you're running this podcast, All The Hacks, I'm like, "that's actually... It was like a proxy for Chris as a company."
Chris Hutchins: I loved financial things and optimization, but it wasn't at its core the thing that I think I'm best and known for. Now, I'm finally doing that. I didn't even realize it then, but ultimately, I just want to help people not be stressed out about money, but also not have to make rakes out of sticks in their backyard, and eat rice and beans. There's a way to find a balance. I feel like there are a lot of tricks and tactics and hacks out there to help you do it more efficiently.
Chase Jarvis: I think that is also true. I'm sure that if I could see just an immediate Zoom call with 111,612 people who are watching this episode or listening to it, there's a lot of head nodding going on right now because this idea that you think you have the thing, and it's just this peeling of an onion, and you went from your early iterations at Google Ventures then to Grove and now to the show, All The Hacks. Each one is more authentic, more in connection with who you are, what you want. It's not always linear.
Chase Jarvis: We don't... We're not always going the right direction, but I know having known you for a long time and just to have seen you on the current trajectory you're on with the show and whatnot, I think it's fascinating. It gives... I hope if you're listening, you have hope wherever you are on your own journey that this peeling of the onion is the way it works. You can only connect the dots really looking backwards, right?
Chris Hutchins: People always asks-
Chase Jarvis: so-
Chris Hutchins: Oh, sorry.
Chase Jarvis: No, no, go ahead. keep-
Chris Hutchins: People always-
Chase Jarvis: Dive in.
Chris Hutchins: People always ask me why I care about optimizing and why I'm so... Some people say cheap. I like to think of it as more frugal and value oriented. It took me 10 years to figure out what at my core made me this way. Maybe it took me 20 years. It's something that you just can't figure out. You just have to figure out over time. Ultimately, I was never happy in a job. That sounds so pessimistic. It's not that I wasn't happy, but I never found a job that I was like, "I could do this my whole life. This is my calling."
Chris Hutchins: I was like, "If this isn't my calling, I can't do it forever. If I can't do it forever, I have no income forever, and so if I have no income forever, I don't have money, so I have to save everything I have." That slowly over time-
Chase Jarvis: Oh wow.
Chris Hutchins: I realized that I tried one job. I didn't love it. I tried investment banking, then management consulting, then freelance consulting. Then I went to one startup, another startup, Google, venture capital, running my own company. Through that series of events, I was either at companies that I knew I couldn't do forever to fulfill myself, or I found a startup, and I was like, "This is it. I love doing this," but it didn't work. I was still on this quest to find what the thing is.
Chris Hutchins: Now, I'm like, "Oh, the thing is All The Hacks." All The Hacks doesn't make enough money right now to cover an entire lifestyle. It probably hopefully will one day, but I at least understand why I am so default saver. It's because I've never felt like I could make money on my own, and be happy, but I wish I knew... I wish that was obvious to me earlier, because it just would've unlocked a whole lot of answers to questions I was so confused about, but sometimes you just got to learn by waiting and letting the pieces all fall together.
Chase Jarvis: You highlighted in that recap there a number of different... your personal vector around say personal finance, whether it's saving, but I want to zoom out maybe one click further just to the concept of all the hacks, because obviously, you cover a lot of ground on your show and in life, and that you've made a show. I would argue you've made maybe most or part of a living and certainly your life around this concept of optimization. The idea of optimizing personal finance is that's easily understood, right?
Chase Jarvis: We want to be able to save effectively and efficiently, and have automated systems, but what I was fascinated by... First, when you shared with me that you'd launch the show, I'm like, "Oh, I want to see where he goes with this." Where you've gone has been very wide ranging, very. I mean, from having me on your show, and optimizing your life through creating the life of your dreams, that's the optimization of your life is being able to create the one that you want, and that's not a passive process. That's an active process.
Chase Jarvis: So from personal finance to say lifestyle design to... Obviously, you also alluded earlier in our conversation already about points and miles, and just touched on a couple of areas that are what you would say your areas where you personally find a lot of value and where your audience is the most engaged. I think we've named a couple of those areas. Maybe name an outlier as well. Then I'll want to dive into a couple of those, so the most popular things that's going to be relevant to a majority of our audience, and then maybe an outlier, and then I'll go deep.
Chris Hutchins: It's interesting. I just ran a survey with my listeners, and said, "Of these 20 topics, what do you love? What do you hate? What do you want to hear more of?" I wasn't that surprised. Personal finance, credit cards, travel is the core of the optimization because it's one of the highest variable expenses, your lifestyle, your travel, and so a vacation can be... Not having enough disposable income is to take the vacation or not, so being able to optimize that lets people live this life that they want to live, that costs a lot of money for free.
Chris Hutchins: But, I find that on the internet, there are sites like The Points Guy, where someone who wants to go 10 miles deep on points in credit cards can go, and there's other sites for every topic. Some of the topics we've done, I had Johannes Mallow who I don't think anyone listening to this maybe has heard of, but he's a two time world memory champion. This kind of stuff he can do with his mind blows... It's like less than... In under five minutes, he's memorizing a deck or two of cards. He's just learned tactics to unlock your memory in ways that aren't just about memorizing cards, but memorizing people who you meet, and their names, and their faces, and that kind of stuff.
Chris Hutchins: I didn't want to be a place where you could go all the way down one rabbit hole. There are a lot of places that are really good for that, for every topic. If you want to learn memory, I bet there's a forum you could go deep on Reddit or somewhere. I wanted to be across all the areas. How can you learn how to get the 80-20, the Pareto principle of all of these, and apply them to your life? Aside from the travel, the money, the investing, the credit card stuff, we talked about negotiating. We had the director of the American Negotiation Institute to talk about negotiating tactics.
Chris Hutchins: If you want to go for a really edge case one, Logan Yuri is the director of relationship science at Hinge, the dating app. I'm not even sing... I've been married for over a decade, but I was fascinated to understand what has she learned about the science of dating, which applies to relationships also. How does that apply to your life? I've gone deep on all these strange topics, sports related, Kerri Walsh Jennings, three-time gold medal Olympic volleyball player. I was like, "How?" That is the...
Chris Hutchins: I wanted to ask both the crazy questions, the fun questions, the learning questions. I always tie it a little bit back to my core passion of travel. I'm like, "Look, you've traveled to..." She's been to tournaments all over the world. You've racked up a lot of miles. How does Kerri fly around the world? You're upgrading, right? You're not sitting in the back. There's a fun travel and money angle to a lot of the conversations, but sometimes there's not. I think that's at least a little bit of a range of what we've talked to people about.
Chris Hutchins: I'm looking for people in lots of walks of life because I keep finding, "Oh my gosh, you're someone..." Laura Vanderkam's written six books about time management and productivity. I have a child and another one on the way. Time is dwindling by the day, so help me figure that out. I think that's a little bit of an overview, but there's probably 20 other topics that we didn't mention that we've gone on with someone.
Chase Jarvis: No, it's... No, other comparative say lenses. Guy Raz's How I Built This, it's very... You're basically understanding the people who have optimized different areas of their life. I do want to get back to personal finance travel. I'd say credit card miles points. I do have a couple specific questions I want to say to the end. But as we're pulling on this thread, I want to go back to right before we started recording. We started down a topic, and I was like, "Stop. I don't want to talk about it. I want to record it."
Chase Jarvis: I guess you could put it under just personal health and wellness. I was complaining about how cold I was, because I had... It was 19 degrees this morning when I woke up in Seattle, which means it probably got down to about 16, which is extremely cold by Seattle centers. I mentioned that my cold plunge was frozen, so I had to literally break ice this morning with a hammer, not talking like I just pushed on it or... I had to hit it with a hammer to get into my bucket of cold water that I do every night. Then you posed the question. These are personal problems here that we're going to get into.
Chase Jarvis: You pose the question, "Hey, Chase, with your hot tub, do you take care of it, or do you hire someone to take care of it?" Now, this on the surface may seem like a petty and simple exploration, but I think there's something one layer deeper here, which is you are finding the hacks in how to optimize this. You're asking me this question. I'm just paying the bill. I'm paying the man to come by and clean my pool, my hot tub every week. It's not not expensive, but it's work that I am either not good at or do not have an interest in, and I choose to separate that.
Chase Jarvis: So I'm wondering if you can... We'll take on this particular issue. You know what I do. What I want to know is what do you do with your hot tub, and why? Is it the same frugality that you mentioned that you don't want to pay a person, I don't know, say $75 a visit to show up at your house, clean the hot tub, put the chemicals in it, or a pool or whatever, your cold plunge, whatever thing it is? What part of that... I want to understand. I want you to tell me this story about yourself and the psychology behind it.
Chris Hutchins: I asked the question because we moved into a new place, and it had a hot tub. I know lots of people that have had hot tubs. You've been to hot tubs before. At one point in time, we got... I know that you're supposed to balance the level, so I get the little sticks out. I put in the pH up and down, and the alkalinity, and the chlorine, and all this stuff. But I'm like, "Gosh, this is a lot of work." It never crossed my mind that to own a hot tub is every single week, you're balancing all of these chemicals. I don't know about you, but I'm not in the hot tub every week. For us, it wasn't something that we were like, "We are hot tub people. We want to use this three nights a week," so I just crossed my mind.
Chris Hutchins: I'm like, "Gosh, you're supposed to drain and refill the hot tub three times a year." I was just like, "Is the maintenance of owning a hot tub even worth it for us?" Then I was like, "Oh, maybe you could just have a hot tub guy." I don't mean this as a man versus woman thing, but I've gone down this conversation in podcast pass of once you move to a non-condo where you have a lawn guy. Maybe you have a housekeeping guy. You got a hot tub guy. I'm just stacking up the guys. I'm like, "This is expensive." So for me, I'm looking at each one and wondering, "What enjoyment do I get from doing this? How much time does it take?"
Chris Hutchins: There's an amount of time. It takes someone to come to your home. If the hot tub takes 10 minutes or even one minute... Let's say all you have to do is come in and dump a chemical in. It's going to cost a lot because someone has to drive there, even if they're only there for one minute. If the task takes a lot less time, or if it's your neighbor's lawn guy, "Oh, well, to add me on, I should get a deal, because you're already coming to my neighbor's house. Maybe it's one and a half times for both our yards." Maybe I'll be nice. I'll split it with the neighbor, but I certainly shouldn't pay the same because you don't even have travel time.
Chris Hutchins: It's what goes on in my mind. But the hot tub guy, I was like, "Gosh, I just want to know the process." I find myself regularly wanting to call these services and say, "Hey, what does a hot tub guy do? What's the process?" They're like, "Well, we're going to come. We're going to do A, B, C. We're going to do it once a week." I was like, "Cool, that's all I needed." Now, I have my playbook. How much work is this actually? I would pay. I would call... If they just on their website said pay $5, and here's the simple maintenance plan, that's not filled with affiliate links trying to get you to buy chemicals from different companies, I'd do it.
Chris Hutchins: But I put together the plan, and now the question is, "Do we... Is this work worth it, or do we rip out the hot tub, and, I don't know, put a sauna in there?" I'm going to find out maybe from you. I don't know. Do you need a sauna guy? Now, I'm back at square one wondering what to do, but...
Chase Jarvis: Saunas are much easier to maintain than hot tubs for sure. Hot tubs and I would say my cold plunge is actually the hardest to maintain, although cold water gets funky, less easy than hot water. I try and leave that chemical free, so it has to be changed more regularly. I actually do most of the maintenance on the cold plunge, because it doesn't have the same... We didn't have enough equipment in a space for two sets of pool equipment, so one is we got all the pool equipment. The other is a very basic version of it, so I have to do a lot more work.
Chase Jarvis: I can't say I like it, but I find that it is worth it. There are some things in life that there is pain associated with them when that may be managing your finances or any N number of things that you have explored on your show. But I think that that exercise helped people understand a little bit of your psychology. Like, "I want to know, and I want to call the hot tub company." I want to say, "What do you do? I want to understand that," and I can decide, "Well, now that I understand the playbook, do I want to run that playbook? Do I want to pay somebody?
Chase Jarvis: Now, am I in a better position to pay someone, because I know something about it? Now that we have an insight into your personal psychology, and we can... If you have any further questions, my friend, Chris, about hot tubs and cold plunges, I'm happy to answer them at this point before we move on. I will lay this on your desk. Do you have any other questions about this, my friend?
Chris Hutchins: I just want to... How often do you use the hot tub?
Chase Jarvis: Every single day.
Chris Hutchins: Okay.
Chase Jarvis: Often, twice.
Chris Hutchins: Wow.
Chase Jarvis: I mean, in the morning and in the evening. In the morning, I'm hot and cold and out. In the evening I'm either hot, cold, hot, cold, hot, or just hot. I do those two things. The morning thing wakes me up. I'm primarily interested in the cold part of it. I just use the hot tub in order to increase the contrast between, because if I get hotter, then my cold is colder. Then in the evening, I either am using the hot cold contrast to move my lymph system and for health reasons. You go to the spa. You get in the hot and the cold. You go back and forth, or the Russian spa or whatever, or I just get in hot to get really sleepy, and then I sleep better.
Chris Hutchins: I did find that the hot tub as a precursor to bed was very good. I just got to get it back balanced, drain it again. I mean, to give a little bit more of the psychology is hot tub, we turned it off for four months because we were just not using it, and then the pump's not working. I called someone. They're like, "It's going to cost $700 for a pump, $300 to replace it." I go online. I just buy the pump for $300 bucks. I'm taking the... I'm watching YouTube videos, taking the pump out, putting the pump in, fill it up. Oh, the heater's also out. Drain it again. Take the heater out. Put the heat...
Chris Hutchins: Buy it for $100. Put the new heater in. Put it together. Fill it up. Now we're good. Then I was like, "Ugh, I forgot that when you drain a hot tub, you also need to flush all the lines with some kind of chemical to make sure all... I got to drain it again. Flush all the line. I'm sitting here like, I've just-
Chase Jarvis: Now you're an old man.
Chris Hutchins: Yes. I was like, "This would be great in my retirement sitting in the backyard, having a beer," but we have a child. There's not that... That's not the weekend yet, but I do find... From an optimization standpoint, I do find that I can replacing a heater in a hot tub is an activity that takes a lot of time, but it doesn't take a lot of brain concentration, so I just schedule that during a call that I don't need to concentrate as much on... Maybe I'm listening to a meeting that I need to consume the information, but not a participant, or maybe I'm having a conversation with a friend I want to catch up with.
Chris Hutchins: At least I'm trying to multitask the event with a different type of activity, right? I couldn't paint and replace a hot tub heater, but I could have a call with an old friend or a family member while I replace it.
Chase Jarvis: Just optimize nobody's business. All right. Now we know how your brain works. We've seen some of the more popular shows and areas of interest and focus for you. I want to move specifically in there because I do think you have a shit ton to add to people's awareness about just credit cards. There's a relation between those credit cards and personal financing, good, bad, and in different cards. There's also optimizing specifically points. I know you have been featured in a documentary where you earned more than 10 million points, which is totally bonkers, unless you're buying companies for $10 million on your credit card.
Chase Jarvis: I want to shift our attention now to that part of your show. I'll just say you, because I think it's a big part of it. Let's start at the top. What is the most general advice that you can give folks who are interested in the personal finance universe, and for whom are at least moderately inspired and consumed by the way that you approach life, your show and whatnot? Let's talk to those people specifically, and give them some top-down advice.
Chris Hutchins: I'll give a few prereqs first. One is there's a few things that I think everyone should square away in their personal finances before they go down the rabbit hole I'm about to at least give a glimpse into. One is I feel like everyone should set aside... You pick the number, whether it's one, two, three, six months of cash so that if something comes up, you don't have to borrow money. When you need to borrow money, and you aren't planning for it, you're going to pay a lot. Interest rates on credit cards are high. Personal loans are high.
Chris Hutchins: So one is set aside some money so that if you need it, car breaks down, medical bill, something, you've got it covered. Number two is prioritize paying down any high interest debt. It doesn't make sense to play the credit card points game if you can't pay off your bills, because credit card interest is extremely high. There are cards that have 0% interest, but those cards are not the cards that relate to the points game. So I'm like, step one, set aside an emergency funds. Step two, pay off all your high interest debt. That doesn't mean maybe low interest student loans.
Chris Hutchins: That doesn't mean your mortgage, but it does mean your credit card debt, or medical debt, or personal debt, and that kind of stuff. Now, you're at this point where you're like, "I've done those two things." I think most people spend money, right? Most people in their lives have to spend money. They have to buy groceries. They have to buy a plane ticket. They have to pay their rent, all of those things now, rent included, thanks to a company called Built. You can put on a credit card, and you can earn points.
Chris Hutchins: I am also not a fan by the way of paying any fees to put something on a credit card. So given the option of pay with your bank account or pay 2.9% to pay with your credit card, never a good deal. But for all the things we can put our credit cards on as the payment method, there is an opportunity to get paid probably more than you're getting paid by using the right card. That's one piece of it. The other piece is for some reason, banks really love new customers, and they are willing to pay extreme amounts to get you as a new customer. So, for example, right now, when we're recording this at least the, Capital One Venture X card, you sign up for it.
Chris Hutchins: They're going to you $100,000 Capital One points if you spend... I think it's $10,000 in six months, which if you're listening, and you don't spend anywhere near that, probably not worth it. But if you do, $100,000 Capital One miles, you can go anywhere in the world, literally anywhere in the world, and not pay for it. So for me, the idea of maximizing this thing that lets you travel and explore the world for free, which doesn't really cost you anything is a no brainer. My whole life, I've realized this and realized that there are some fun ways that you can accelerate it, right?
Chris Hutchins: I don't want to go spend $500,000 a year, because I don't have $500,000 a year to spend. I can't rack my points up that way. But when my friends were like, "Oh, let's go on this bachelor party. This person's getting married." I'm like, "How about I manage the whole trip for you guys?" Everyone's like, "Oh my gosh, nobody ever wants to do that. Nobody wants to be the person that books the hotels and the flights." I'm like, "I will gladly be that person. I'll book 10 flights on my credit card. I'll book the hotel or the villa on my credit card, and everybody will send me a Venmo, and I racked up the points for the whole trip."
Chris Hutchins: So finding ways that I could take advantage of spending money that wasn't mine, whether it was at work. When I was at Google, it's like, "Oh, I need a new monitor." I'm like, "Can I just buy that on my own card? Can I put the travel on my own card?" It's a little bit of extra work to go and submit my expenses then using Google's corporate card. But every time I took a trip for work, I was using a card that earned three points, some five points on travel or hotels or airlines, and just racking out points. It wasn't that I spend so crazily. A lot of it was, "This card's got 120,000 point sign bonus. Let's open it."
Chris Hutchins: I might keep it open for a year. Maybe there's an annual fee. If it's not worth it, maybe towards the end of the year I'll call and say, "Hey, this fee's a little high. I'm not sure if I could do it." They'll say, "Oh, we'll wave it," or, "Oh, if you downgrade it to this card, it's free." They'll say nothing, and I'll say, "Unfortunately, I'm going to cancel it." I try to respect the system, right? I never want to get blacklisted for a card, sign up, get the bonus, cancel it the next day. But if banks want to...
Chris Hutchins: The way it works is Capital One is saying, "Hey, we're going to give you this huge thing, because we think you'll love it so much that you'll stick around." If you don't, and you just use those points to go on a free vacation, that's not the end of the world for them. That's baked into their model. I think that travel's just an expense that's really hard to get for free. If you want to get exercise for free, there's probably community gyms. You can go on a run. But if you're really excited to go see the pyramids in Egypt, there's not a free way to do that.
Chris Hutchins: That's just obvious, but there's 20 airlines that fly to Cairo, and all of them have some award program that's probably a transfer partner of Capital one or Amex or Chase. So if you optimize it correctly, you're going to Cairo for free. I guarantee you there's a Marriott or a Hyatt or a Hilton hotel there that takes points, so you could stay there for free. My love for travel and my lack of a belief that I have a way to make money, which is purely psychological, I've been able to consistently find jobs that pay me, but have forced me down this path of like, "Let's find a way to continue that passion without spending the money."
Chase Jarvis: For many of my friends who I think would align with your set of values around money and whether that's frugality, there's just also a certain curiosity, and there's a joy of the game. How much of that is true for you?
Chris Hutchins: I think the joy of the game dwindles over time. 10 years ago, I love the game. There are people out there that open up three or four credit cards every quarter, right? They're opening up. Every quarter, they're like, "Today's the day I'm going to open up these cards." Even if the bonus to open up a card is $100, they're like, "I'm going to do it, because it's a system, and every month, I'm doing this, and I'm racking all this up." For me, I'm like, "If there's enough bonuses that come that are really big, then I might open up a couple cards a year," but I've lost the desire to go too deep down the rabbit hole, which is, I think, what a lot of people like about All The Hacks is that I'm not trying to tell people the crazy version of it.
Chris Hutchins: It's like, "What's the more manageable version?" It's like, "Here is a really great bonus right now." Also, right now, if you go... I even put... So two things, one, usually, I try to keep updated a list of what I think are the top cards and the top signup bonuses at allthehacks.com/cards. But right now, I don't know if this'll be true when this comes out, so definitely check it out. But at allthehacks.com/southwest, here's a great hack. Southwest has this amazing program called Companion Pass.
Chris Hutchins: Normally, you have to earn, I think, it's 120 or 125,000 Southwest points in order to earn Companion Pass, which takes a lot of travel and a lot of spending. But once you're there, any one you want, you can name any person, and whenever you buy a ticket or use your points for a ticket, they fly free. By free, I mean, I think domestically, you pay $5.60 in taxes. Internationally, it's maybe a little higher, but it's effectively free, right? You buy a $700 ticket to Hawaii. Pay couple dollars in taxes. They're coming free. You want to take 50 trips a year. That's 50 free trips.
Chris Hutchins: Right now, as we're speaking today, if you sign up for any one of the three consumers Southwest cards, and you spend five grand in the first three months, you get companion pass until February 2023, so a full year of buy one, get one free on Southwest for putting $5,000 on a credit card. That's it. In three months, most people can probably put $5,000 on a credit card without having to stretch. If not, there are plenty of fun hacks, like just go to the grocery store. Buy some Amazon gift cards. Buy some Whole Foods gift cards, and use those over the next year instead of your credit card, so you're not buying things you don't need.
Chris Hutchins: That's another example of you don't necessarily rack up the points, although you also get 30,000 points. They're giving away points and buy one, get one free travel, but it's stuff like that where these rare opportunities, and it turns out they're not actually as rare as you think, pop up that I'll jump on them. But I'm not going to jump on every card that offers any bonus, because I think I'm at a point where I want something that's a little bit more manageable, so I try to be like, "Hey, this really amazing thing is happening. Check it out."
Chris Hutchins: But not, "Here's the thing this week. Here's the thing this week. Here's the thing this week." I think with not a lot of work, maybe open one or two cards a year, and maybe you just optimize your spending. If all your money's on groceries, get a card that earns on groceries. If all your money's on flights, get a card that's optimized for flights. I think if you just make a few tweaks, sign up for a couple cards, you're taking a vacation like a nice vacation every few years, and if you are lucky enough to be a business owner, and have a lot of business expenses, maybe you're taking a baller vacation every six months.
Chris Hutchins: One of my listeners spends a million dollars a year on his credit card for work. I'm like, "Man, this dude is racking up." He's staying in overwater bungalows, flying first class as often as he wants.
Chase Jarvis: i know a founder, maybe a mutual friend of ours. I don't know if you know this particular person, but he was running a startup that he sold for 600 million, high $500 million. It was an ad tech company. They had huge AWS bills as one might imagine. He paid him on his personal credit card. The amount of miles that this cat who's now very rich... He doesn't need the miles, but it was unreal. I think that idea of if you're a business owner, and you can afford to put those points on your, that is a great way to amass points. Now, venture-backed companies, Amazon bills are... There is some risk there.
Chase Jarvis: I am not a financial advisor. This is not a financial advice, but I think that's an interesting example that just using a card for business or that is oriented rather towards your area of passion, whether groceries or travel. Let's explore the dark side of all of this upside that we've been speaking about. So cheerly recently, the concept of opening multiple cards per quarter to someone like myself just sounds... It's almost like a... I just almost gasp out loud like, "Oh my God, who does that? How is that possible?"
Chase Jarvis: I mean, again, different passions, different areas of interest, but let's talk about what are some of the cautionary tales toward the hacks, if you will.
Chris Hutchins: There are a lot, right? Credit card debt is probably a debilitating thing for millions of peop... tens of maybe even 100 million people in this country. I can't enough say like, "If you cannot pay your credit cards off each month, that is your priority." That should be the priority. That's the biggest one, right? The other big one is, "Look, your credit score affects what rate you get when you buy a car." It affects the interest rate you get when you buy a home. There are jobs that sometimes look at your credit score to evaluate just what kind of person you are financially.
Chris Hutchins: I know that some venture capital firms run credit reports on founders to figure out whether they owe debt and all this stuff. Your credit report is something that you want to keep in good shape. Opening up a credit card has a bunch of effects, some of which are actually really positive to your credit score, and some are negative, so they... The biggest thing that your credit score looks at is your total debt to your total credit, right? They want to know if you are able to borrow $50,000 right now, are you borrowing 49,500, or are you borrowing 3000?
Chris Hutchins: So if you have another credit card, it increases the denominator of total debt you can borrow, and assuming you don't spend more, it actually makes it appear to creditors like, "Oh, this person isn't borrowing every dollar they have available to them." That helps. It hurts in that they want to say, "What is the average length of all of your credit lines?" Well, if you open up 15 new credit cards today, and you only had one before, it's going to be the average of 15 that have opened up for one day, and one that's maybe 10 years old.
Chris Hutchins: That's a tough one. The only thing I can say there is the more things you open on earlier, the better you'll be later, but it's also a smaller factor of your credit. Then the last is you get a ding every time your credit's checked, at least for a lending purpose. If you open a bank account, they might check your credit. It's called a soft pull, which doesn't affect your credit score. If you apply for a loan, they do what's called a hard pull, and that affects your credit score. It stays on there for anywhere from one to two years.
Chris Hutchins: So every time you open up that card, you're getting a three, four, five-point ding on your credit score, which is often countered by the extra credit you're getting. I think if you were... I've never even been the person that opens up three or four credits a month. I feel like it would be gut wrenching just as a process to manage like, "Which one do I have to cancel now? Where's the annual fee? How much do I have to spend to get the $300 bonus?" It's just too much for me, but there's a whole Reddit thread, Reddit /r/churning, where people are churning through cards to optimize their life.
Chris Hutchins: Go down that rabbit hole if you want. My version of the rabbit hole is open up cards when there's a massive bonus. There's a business card right now from Capital One. They give you 300,000 miles. That's insane. It's called the Capital One Spark. I would say shoot me a note on Twitter, Instagram, if you're actually listening and interested as a business owner, because there may be another way to get 350,000 points, but you have to go through a channel that I'm happy to share, but that's crazy. If that applies to you, you should do that.
Chris Hutchins: That's an awesome opportunity to get what I would consider thousands of dollars of value. I save my card opening for huge opportunities, and then I'm only really adjusting what I'm doing regularly if some new card comes out. That if a new card came out tomorrow that's like, "We do 10 points on dining," I'm like, "Okay, well, I eat out, and right now I'm getting three or four points on dining. I would change my card usage for that card." Otherwise, I'm like, "I have more cards than most people." I probably have 10 credit cards right now, but I probably regularly spend on three or four of them, and the rest...
Chris Hutchins: There are these cards that the annual fee is $100, and they give you enough of a bonus each year of points that are worth $110, so I'm like, "I'm just going to keep it open, helps the credit score," but a core card that's one or two or three is enough for almost anyone. It's like, "Get the card that maximizes where you spend the money." Maybe that's a travel dining card, and then get the card that's good for everything else. For me right now, Capital One, Venture X, two points per dollar on everything. Then my Amex gold is four points per dollar on dining and groceries.
Chris Hutchins: Then I have another card, the Chase Reserve, that's three points on travel. That's it. Hotels and flights go on one. Groceries and dining go on the other, and everything else goes on the third. For me, that works. For a lot of people, that's too much. Start with one. Capital One, Venture X is great, two on everything. You don't have to think. I don't know. I have a lot of thoughts, but I don't think you have to go down the rabbit hole. I don't think you have to be checking out every single launch. That's what I've infused in the show. It's not every week we're talking about cards, because there's just not enough news.
Chris Hutchins: But when there's something crazy, I'll even... I think last week, I did a Friday episode. It's like, "There's just enough news going on today. We're going to do a special episode just because there's cool stuff happening," but I try not to overwhelm people with the depth of the rabbit hole that many people on the internet go down.
Chase Jarvis: Well, I appreciate that about you and the show, and look at this as the goal of providing All The Hacks across a number of industries is that you don't... If you get any number of these things, and there's 10 shows, and four books, and eight Instagram handles that you would follow to do any and all of these things at the highest level you could optimize for, but I'm hoping that you're doing that work for me.
Chris Hutchins: In the points of miles world last week, it was the huge news that Qatar Air is changing their miles program from their own to be the same... joining the miles program that British airways uses. I was just laughing because it was the biggest news ever. I was like, "To most people, this news doesn't matter." That news was the complete difference of what I'm trying to do is I want to help people figure out this world, but I don't want to inundate them with news like this, that unless you're planning on booking a trip using Qatar miles next month, which is probably maybe one person that listens to my show, if that, it's not going to matter.
Chris Hutchins: I'm like, "Here's the stuff you need to know." By the way, if credit cards aren't your thing, I want to talk... We talk about travel hacks. How do you get to Greece on a paid ticket for half the cost or a third of the cost? It turns out there's a very... I credit Scott Keyes from Scott's Cheap Flights for branding this the Greek island trick. But when you're searching for flights online, a big pitfall is searching for the destination if it's in a foreign country, and it's not a major city, because you're only going to find flights that go from where you start to where you finish.
Chris Hutchins: So if you want to go to Santorini, you're only going to see-
Chase Jarvis: You do not search Santorini. You search Athens.
Chris Hutchins: Exactly. Because if you look at Santorini, there's 15 airlines that fly to Santorini, but not... Maybe five of them fly to the United States, or their partners do, so there's these small... I can't remember. Olympic Air might have been one of them. It's like if you search Santorini, you're never going to... You're only going to get the Lufthansas, the Air Frances of the world. But if you go to Athens, you might get a much cheaper flight because American might fly to Athens, but they don't fly to Santorini. Then you just buy the Olympic Air flight to Santorini, and you can cut the cost in a third.
Chris Hutchins: That's true all over the world. If you want to fly to Osaka in Japan, most carriers don't fly to Osaka from the U.S. Buy a ticket to Tokyo, and then buy a flight to Osaka, and so tricks like that. The one that I think everyone here can benefit from, and I'd say this because it's the trick I've gotten the most emails back from listeners from, is when you book a hotel, do two things. Just everyone listening, the next time you book a hotel that has nice rooms that you're not booking, right? If you're booking a regular room at a Marriott, any hotel, book the hotel directly with the hotel's website.
Chris Hutchins: After you book it, email the hotel. If you can't find the hotel email, call up the hotel, and ask for the email and say, "Hey, I'm really excited to be staying with you guys on this upcoming trip for X, Y, Z purpose." Then follow up three days before you come and say, "Hey, going to be checking in in three days, super excited to stay with you. Really excited about XYZ." It doesn't matter. I have had over 100 people email me with pictures or stories of their bottle of champagne, their upgraded room, their huge balcony.
Chris Hutchins: The craziest one was, I can't remember which hotel it was, stitched the initials of the couple on their pillows, hand... I mean, maybe it was machine stitch, but their initials were sewn into their pillows, and it was... They didn't buy the upgraded room. They just sent an email to the hotel. It's probably the best travel hack out there that most people have never heard.
Chase Jarvis: Wow. In the time it takes you to send an email.
Chris Hutchins: I could tell you that suites and hotels are not 10% more than a regular room. They're sometimes five times more. Hotels make a lot of money on champagne. So if you can get that for free by sending an email, why not?
Chase Jarvis: The dark side of canceling credit cards, I've read that that's a thing, and you don't want to cancel too many things.
Chris Hutchins: So one dark... I mean, dark side sounds so scary, but when you cancel a car-
Chase Jarvis: That's what I'm trying to just fear and brow beating. That's our show.
Chris Hutchins: There's two things, and there's a hack in there. One is when you cancel a card, the total amount of debt you have or credit you have out there goes down, because whatever the credit limit on that card was is no longer accessible to you. So now, your ratio of how much you spend each month, how much credit you have, that goes up. That's not good. That's one thing. If it's a card you've had for a really long time, and you cancel it, now, your average history goes down. A thing that is very common is people who've never even thought about the points in miles world have their Bank of America basic credit card that earns them one point per dollar on everything, and can only be used in the Bank of America portal for buying gift cards or something.
Chris Hutchins: That horrible card... I mean, it's better than a debit card, right? You go cancel that card, and that card has 12 years or 15 years of history, which helps your credit score. I always say two things. One, don't cancel a card if the annual fee is zero, and it's adding value to your credit score, right? You've had it for a really long time. It has a high credit limit, all those things. You don't have to cancel it if it has no annual fee. A lot of cards, you can call Chase, Amex, and say, "Hey, I want to downgrade this card."
Chris Hutchins: I had the Chase preferred card, which lots of millennials had. Then they came out with the Chase Reserve. I was like, "Oh, that's even better. I want that one," but I didn't want to cancel the preferred because I'd had it for so long that I called and said, "Hey, can I downgrade this?" I downgraded to the Chase Freedom Unlimited, no annual fee. Great. Now, I keep the history, and I don't lose the... I don't have to spend money to have a card I don't need. That's one. Then the other... I've done this with Chase. I can't say for certain whether it works anywhere else, but you can shuffle your credit around.
Chris Hutchins: So if you want to... If you have a card with a big limit, and you don't want it, and there's no way to downgrade it, get rid of the annual fee. You can call Chase and say, "Hey, I've got these two cards. One has a $30,000 limit. One has a $5,000 limit. Could I move the 30 to the other one?" You can't move it all. You have to leave $1,000, so it's like, "Now, I'm going to move 29,000 over here. I've got a $34,000 limit on one card, and a $1,000 limit on the other card. Now, I'm going to close that card," because now it's going to have a much smaller effect on your debt to total credit ratio, because you've moved the credit somewhere else. You still kept it.
Chris Hutchins: The dark side is leaving a card open that you don't use that has a high annual fee, and you're just paying a fee for nothing. The dark side is you cancel a card that you've had forever, and has a high credit limit, has a big negative impact on your credit score. Downside is you open up for some signup bonus, and you cancel the card the second the bonus hits, and the bank flags you as the person who's not even going to give the card a try. There are a lot of people that have done this.
Chris Hutchins: You're not going to get banned from Amex if you open a card, get a bonus, use it for a year, and then annual fee posts. By the way, once it posts, you can cancel after it. You have 30 days usually. They're less going to treat you negatively there. But if it posts, and the next day you cancel it, you don't want to get blacklisted from a credit card company. There are some downfalls, but I think that you just have to go in eyes wide open and understand them. I'm a resource. If you're worried about any of these, just find me on Instagram, on Twitter, on email, and shoot me a message.
Chase Jarvis: Well, I do... I want to wrap up our episode. It went a little bit longer than I planned and reserved for our time today, so I apologize to you here very publicly, my friend. I do want to steer to that last point into the macro hacking things. There are a handful of episodes of the show that I think are worth steering attention to, this idea of beating inflation. Everyone's hearing in the news that there are money is if it's sitting in cash is becoming less valuable, so what do you want to do with it? There's discussions about crypto alternative assets, if you will, concepts around simplifying your personal finances.
Chase Jarvis: I think all these areas are areas that you've gone, I would say, reasonably deep on across your show. Also, you mentioned the show with Dan Pink, The Power of Regret. Dan, of course, wrote a great book on that. I think that is very, very powerful conceptually. Those are a couple ones that I'm interested and aware of that have been on your show recently. Are there a couple of other areas that you would point our listeners? Then please do give us some coordinates and the best place to find you out in the world.
Chase Jarvis: But first, answer that question, some other areas that you are particularly proud of, and that people who listen to watch the show most gravitate towards.
Chris Hutchins: I think episode one was... I'd done six interviews, and the first episode was not the first I recorded, but it was the first where I left the conversation, and was like, "That is it." There was just magic in that conversation. It's with someone no one's ever heard of name... Not no one, sorry, Lee, if you're listening. Not no one, but it's not a Tim Ferris name, right?
Chase Jarvis: Sure. Sure.
Chris Hutchins: We talk about travel hacks, but not deep on the points and miles, but a lot of the tactics for when you're traveling, what you do there, I thought it was just a great first episode for someone trying to understand the show. You could go to allthehacks.com/one to find it, or just open whatever app you're in right now listening to this, and scroll all the way to the bottom. Another one that's a detour from normal was a guy named Ben Nemtin, who just recently actually got named under Tony Robbins, and I can't remember the other one, as the number three best motivational speaker in the world.
Chris Hutchins: He is fantastic. He wrote this book about bucket lists and how expanding your bucket list past just this idea of adventure and travel can really enrich your lives. He has done some research, and read a ton of research about what people regret when they die, and the steps you can take to really set audacious goals in your life. I released it right at the beginning of the year. I know whenever you're listening to this, it's not January, but I'm sure you still want to... If you're here, you still want to live an amazing year, and it's something you could apply anytime of the year.
Chris Hutchins: I think that was a really great one. Obviously, if you want to hear the flip side of this conversation, and dig into the mind of our lovely host, Chase, I had a great episode with him, number 31. But I really say what's interesting is when I did this survey with my audience, I said, "What's your favorite episode or few episodes?" Every single episode someone thought was their favorite, and so I took this advice. There's a really long episode with Tim Ferris about how to start a podcast. I'd say if you have any interest in ever starting a podcast, it's a great episode.
Chris Hutchins: As I say in the intro, if you're not interested at all in starting a podcast-
Chase Jarvis: Don't listen.
Chris Hutchins: Maybe there are some nuggets there about how to interview someone, how to get things off the ground, but it's long, and there are better. But I make every episode with the expectation that some people will find this their favorite, but not everyone. So if you're looking at this, and you're like, "I don't care about X, or this episode's all about memory. It's just not interesting." Skip it. You don't need to listen to every single episode.
Chris Hutchins: But if you find yourself distracted all the time by your phone, around your family, Nir Eyal wrote this book called Indistractable, and we had an entire conversation about how you can become indistractable and focus on the things that matter to you in life. If that's interesting, go listen to that episode because it's fantastic.
Chase Jarvis: True.
Chris Hutchins: I just say-
Chase Jarvis: I got to recommend the Kevin Rose one also, mutual deer friend of ours.
Chris Hutchins: Mutual friend of ours.
Chase Jarvis: He was I think-
Chris Hutchins: We went into health and crypto and NFTs. We went all around the world in that episode. It was awesome.
Chase Jarvis: Well, crypto and NFTs part, I think, is very fascinating. Obviously, we know Kevin for some health hacks and whatnot. He was the episode right after me, number 32, in case people are interested.
Chris Hutchins: So scroll through, find something that excites you. Check it out. If you're not sure, go back to the beginning, and listen to number one, and send me feedback. If there's people you think would be good to have on, if there are topics you want me to explore, I am all ears on social. You can find... The show is allthehacks.com. Search all the hacks in wherever you're listening. I'm @Hutchins on Twitter, @ChrisHutchins on Instagram. You can find me either. You can shoot me a DM, or you can just email me. I'm just firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chase Jarvis: Awesome. Chris, thank you so much for being a guest on our show, for helping us hack our lives, and for you doing most of the work, and just telling us how to do it, which is the part that I like. Thanks very much for being on the show, buddy. Now, we know where to go and find you. For everyone out there in the world, grateful for your time today from both Chris and I. I am in sunny Seattle, and he is in sunny San Francisco-ish. Is that true? Is it ish?
Chris Hutchins: It's just a couple minutes south of San Francisco.
Chase Jarvis: Is that good enough? Fair enough. All right. We both bid you all adieu. Have a great day.
Chris Hutchins: Thanks for being here. Thanks for having me.
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