Random Grunts


What a year it has been! A roller coaster, no less! Endless devaluations, endless rants, arguments, blogger wars, you name it. Our tiny, overcrowded niche is spilling over. Never before has our hobby been so entertaining, and not just to us–certified nutheads–but even to the folks standing on a sidewalk looking in.

Ah, the hell with it. I just finished the second edition of my book. Turn your eyes to the left. Yep, there. The first thing you’ll see is my recent pathetic attempt at creating the mailing list. Fill it in and push the button. Just for fun, you know, to see what happens.

Then, under the form you’ll find three main words: BUY MY BOOKS. This is my main secret of how to “monetize” a blog. Because, you see, all that talk about credit card affiliate commissions makes me dizzy.

Speaking of which, if you lift your eyes at the main menu–and you will at some point–you’ll see a bunch of the best credit card offers that pay me a big fat nada. No one’s getting rich here, folks. Apply at your heart’s content.

Oh credit cards! If it weren’t for you,  life would’ve been so much simpler. And oh, so dull.

I’m writing a book about getting out of debt. I was hoping to finish it by Christmas but it was not to be, unfortunately. I had met a guy at a Finance Blogger conference who changed my outlook on things somewhat. He told me a story about how his credit card debt had made him suicidal. He managed to get out of that mess, but he won’t touch a credit card ever again. Ever! And he’s doing great even though he pays real hard cash for his vacations.

Back in the 90-s I ran up a serious credit card debt so I can relate. Nothing mind-blowing, it was more of a life-style issue. Funny, but this very hobby of ours helped me see the light. The moment I learned about this symbiotic relationship between credit card industry and travel providers, the path became clear. My passion for travel turned out to be stronger than my habit to borrow from plastic. I have paid my credit card bills in full every months for the last 15-16 years.

So, what was I… oh yeah, devaluations. United stunt did hurt. I loved and valued Mileage Plus above everyone else just because they were so darn good, and then on that fateful Halloween night they kicked me in the guts. Without a slightest provocation.

Unlike United, Delta double-hook didn’t shock me at all. Honestly! I mean, anyone who had dealt with their award calendar in the last–what, 4-5 years–knew what to expect from those guys. I even wrote a bit called Delta Smacks United, and some people who were not my relatives thought it was funny.

But United? They were my primary. My path to the greater availability and uncomplicated luxury. Where is that luxury now?

Never again will I be able to book a free first-class suite on Asiana again. Of course, it’s funny how we believe that it was OK to fly on a ticket that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars. That’s because we deserve it. Why did we deserve it? Why? ‘Cause…

I have cooled down since then. Perhaps we just needed a little nudge to remind us that travel isn’t hedonism, or that at least it’s not supposed to be.

I bet, we’ll survive without decadent first-class suites and we will overcome the loss of the ten top Hilton properties. And we shall persevere in business class and (oh horror) even economy. And when we need those once or twice-in-a-lifetime aspirational trips when everything must be just perfect, we still can.

Yes, it’s gonna cost us.

Yes, it’s gonna cost us a few more credit card applications.

A tougher time meeting the spend requirements.

More fiscal discipline.

But nothing we couldn’t handle.

Although, I am looking forward to my Asiana suite flight to Siem Reap with a return in the Cathay suite from Honk Kong, separated by a few luxury hotel stays that include Conrad Koh Samui. What can I say? I’m only  human.

Things are so bad in our hobby that I’ve had five free vacations this year. That’s without long weekend local trips. I know people who don’t like this term “free vacation”, and for a good reason; a free vacation can still cost a lot of dough. But I know one thing: a free vacation is much, much cheaper than a paid one. Although, nothing beats staying home watching TV…

Popcorn, please!

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