I love reading books and this book by David Bach is one of my favorites. David wrote The Automatic Millionaire in 2004, but the lessons are still as valid today as they are today. What I like to do is take what I learn in personal finance and apply those strategies to the world of travel rewards. Here’s how you, too, can become an automatic miles millionaire in seven simple steps.
What is The Automatic Millionaire?
The Automatic Millionaire (Amazon referral link) is a personal finance book that is “a powerful one-step plan to live and finish rich.” This book is about growing your wealth by paying yourself first with strategies that require minimal effort.
The author, David Bach, has written several other personal finance books such as (Amazon referral links):
- Debt Free For Life
- Fight For Your Money: How to Stop Getting Ripped Off and Save a Fortune
- Smart Couples Finish Rich
- Start Late, Finish Rich
- Smart Women Finish Rich
What I like most is that his approach does not require that you make a lot of money and it can be set up in less than one hour. And, of course, his focus on avoiding unhealthy debt and setting up systems to maximize your finances.
How do the lessons of The Automatic Millionaire apply to travel rewards?
There are plenty of miles and points strategies that require hours upon hours of research and effort. If you’re like most people that have a family, a job, or other hobbies, you don’t have that kind of time.
By setting up a simple plan where you’ll earn a lot of miles and points with minimal effort, you’ll be able to travel in style without ignoring other important parts of your life.
How do you become The Automatic (Miles) Millionaire?
David created seven steps to help readers go down the path toward becoming an automatic millionaire. These are excellent personal finance tips, but I’ve reworked these strategies to focus on becoming an automatic miles millionaire so you can travel for free.
The Latte Factor
The book’s Latte Factor focuses on not spending on the small things that you don’t value. This way you can afford the big things that are important to you. I avoid soda and coffee to drink water with most of my meals. If you must have your morning coffee, make it at home for a fraction of the cost.
The money saved goes into my vacation savings account so I have extra cash for fun activities, meals, and experiences when I travel.
Pay yourself first
Pay yourself first is a concept about setting aside money towards your goals before spending it on daily bills.
When it comes to miles and points, pay yourself first by earning rewards on every transaction.
- Use a rewards credit card to earn miles, points, or cash back on everything you buy.
- Earn additional rewards when shopping online by using a shopping portal like CashBackMonitor.com.
- Sign up for third-party apps to earn even more points, miles, or cash back.
Now make it automatic
One of the best ways to become an automatic millionaire of miles and points is to automate earning rewards. I focus on paying as many bills as possible paid via credit card to earn rewards on all of those bills. And most companies allow you to set up automatic payment of your bill every month, so you don’t need to worry about it. However, it is a good idea to log in periodically and review the bills to ensure that the charges are correct.
Then, I have my credit cards paid in full automatically from my bank account. This ensures that I won’t get hit with any late charges or pay any interest on my purchases. If your cash flow is a little tight, at least set up automatic payment of the minimum amount due to avoid paying late fees. You can manually pay the remaining balance when you have the money in your bank account.
Automate for a rainy day
I also register my credit cards to earn rewards via various programs automatically. These programs are amazing. Once you set them up, you’ll earn rewards without doing anything extra going forward:
- Dosh (referral link) – cash back when dining at participating restaurants and retailers
- Dining rewards – earn miles or points at participating restaurants
- Bumped (referral link) – get stock when shopping at select retailers
With these extra rewards, I earn free travel quicker and get extra cash to splurge on fun activities or experiences while we’re there.
Automatic debt-free lifestyle
Earning travel rewards is a great way to travel for free. However, if you’re carrying balances on your credit cards, the interest you pay outweighs the value of the miles and points you receive.
If you’re carrying a balance on your credit cards, take a break from miles and points to focus on paying off the debt. Get a debt consolidation loan or use a 0% balance transfer offer. This will reduce the interest charges so more of your money goes towards reducing the balance every month.
And it is even worse when the bank charges you fees. Make sure that you’ve signed up for automatic payment of the minimum balance due so you don’t get charged a fee or get hit with a 30-day late mark on your credit report.
Make a difference
As much as we all want to travel the world and experience incredible destinations, your travel rewards can make a difference to others as well. Here are a few suggestions to help you make a positive impact on the world with your miles, points, and cash back:
- Use cash back rewards to fund charitable donations
- Donate flights to families needing to travel for medical procedures
- Book hotel rooms for displaced families during natural disasters
And, if you’re not in a giving mood, incorporate cultural experiences into your travels. I love introducing new foods and rituals to my kids when we travel to different countries. By interacting with locals, they learn how similar we are (even when we don’t always look the same) and embrace the differences to learn from them.
The journey to becoming an automatic millionaire in travel rewards begins today
There is no time like today to start automating your miles and points. Even if you don’t take all of these steps right away, pick one to begin with. Then set reminders once a week to implement one more step until you’ve completed them all.
Like most things in life, if you make drastic changes right away, it’s harder to stick with them. That’s why it is better to implement new behaviors over time to create new habits. And make sure that you celebrate your successes along the way to reinforce the benefits of your wins.
The Bald Thoughts
When earning airline miles and hotel points, the goal is to earn as many as possible with the least amount of effort. I love the adopted strategies from The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach because many of them offer a huge return on your investment of time. As much as I enjoy earning travel rewards, I’d rather be spending time with my wife and kids.
How do you earn miles and points with little effort? Share your favorite strategy in the comment section below.