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With multiple “low-hanging fruits” available to manufacture spend with, an increasing number of beginners are jumping into the game without asking the simple question of, “Should I?” Well, that’s probably not entirely true. It’s likely a subconscious question and decision, or one that isn’t explored in the depth that it should be, due to trip report syndrome clouding their judgement.
What’s trip report syndrome, you ask? It refers to the feeling you get after looking at amazing pictures of lavish vacations and learning that it cost a fraction of the retail price. This syndrome lures the unknowing into replicating without researching (e.g. the Singapore Airlines Suite Class story that went viral), which can be very dangerous. I just made this term up, but I think it perfectly portrays the feeling people get when they first learn about manufactured spending – at least that’s how I felt.
If that sounds like you or someone you know, ask yourself the following questions before deciding to manufacture spend.
The only way to manufacture spend is to buy large amounts of something (e.g. gift cards, product) and turn those things back into cash. This could all happen in a matter of a few minutes, a few hours, or even a few weeks, which means your money will not always be readily available to you. If this is a problem, maybe you shouldn’t start manufacturing spend.
New MS methods come out all the time that will require you to learn a new process and “break the mold” of your current system. If that’s something you don’t think you could handle, maybe you shouldn’t manufacture spend.
MS methods disappear just as fast as they appear, so you will need to be able to roll with the punches. For example, let’s say you go to store A three times a week to buy a few gift cards and one day they decide to only accept cash for those gift cards, what do you do? Make a fuss and demand that they accept your payment? Ask to
speak yell to a manager? Or just politely walk away and move on to the next method (see rule 2)? If you answered anything other than the last option, maybe you shouldn’t manufacture spend.
Manufacturing spend is very time-consuming. I’m talking like “part-time job” time-consuming, which means you need to be willing to put in the effort. It’s not as easy as many forums, blogs, and tweets make it out to be – at least at first. So, if you’re not willing to put the time into it, maybe you shouldn’t be manufacturing spend.
If you’re willing to put the time into it, I hope you enjoy it. If you don’t, you shouldn’t do it – it’s that simple. Doing a job you hate for cheaper travel doesn’t make sense. You might as well find a job you love and pay for the travel. You’ll have a much more enjoyable experience that way. If you don’t love the game, maybe you shouldn’t manufacture spend.
Organization is key in the world of manufacture spending. Without it, you run the risk of losing thousands of dollars, missing payments, and/or not staying up to date on current methods. If you’re not organized, maybe you shouldn’t manufacture spend.
As easy as some make it out to be, you cannot open credit cards willy-nilly. You need a solid credit score for most credit cards, especially the better ones, which means you need to have good credit. If you’re score is under 720, maybe you shouldn’t manufacture spend.
Credit card applications require you to report your annual income. If you don’t have one (e.g. in college full-time, living at home, unemployed) then you likely cannot get a credit card and you definitely cannot be manufacturing spend. But wait, couldn’t you just lie on the application? You could, but if they find out they will probably close your account and you will lose any rewards you earned. It’s not worth it to burn bridges. A good rule of thumb is to spend at most half of your reported annual income on each card. If you do not have a large enough annual income, maybe you shouldn’t manufacture spend.
Interest negates all the points, miles, and cash back you earn, so never pay it. If you have or plan on paying interest on a credit card, maybe you shouldn’t manufacture spend.
Manufactured spending is not for the faint of heart. It requires a lot of hard work, a lot of time, and a lot of time. If you can answer yes to all of these questions, maybe you should manufacture spend.
If you can’t, don’t.