The Point of Earning Rewards Points

 

Tambo

THE tambourine

My man JP and I went to NY state last weekend to watch the Cult play live AGAIN, for the second time in the same week. The band’s name is very fitting for fans like us who obsessively follow them. It was so worth it as the lead singer, Ian Astbury, tossed me his tambourine!

For this trip, we had two free nights at a hotel, paid for by gas points collected on our credit card. The whole trip, including the concert tickets, cost us very little. For years, I’ve joined points programs to get money off my purchases or money back; now it’s more of a joint effort between me and JP and it’s really paying off. This year so far, we received from reward points alone the following:

Rogers Bank Mastercard: $158 cash back, applied to our credit card balance

Cineplex Scene Membership: Seven free movies

CIBC Mastercard Petro-Canada Points: Three free nights in hotels 

PC Membership Points: $20 off our groceries

JP and I recently signed up for the PC Financial Mastercard to really up our game in getting more off our groceries than what our basic membership points card could get us. Of course, this is all worth doing if you pay off your balance each month. It’s also extremely useful and more effective to have a good tracking system. There are some really savvy consumers out there (like Mommy Points and The Points Guy) who really know how to maximize their purchases and rewards points usage and do amazing things like fly the world, stay at hotels, and eat in nice restaurants for free or for very little.

We’re a two-person household. Between the two of us, there are multiple bank accounts, investment accounts, trading accounts, credit cards, and reward memberships. I won’t pretend that I’m on top of keeping track of it all since in the last year, I’d become more focused on writing and marketing my book. We have to pool our efforts. I’m quite lazy with tracking all our rewards points, but thankfully, JP is a whiz when it comes to price comparison on everything we buy and how much our points accumulate. I’m the one who ensures all the bills get paid on time and that we’re within our budget range.

me at upstate

Me at Upstate Concert Hall

A few years ago, we made it our goal to reduce our monthly expenses to as little as possible, and we did. Last year, we made it our goal to become more aware of how to get rewarded for what we actually spend. This has not only made life cheaper, it’s made it more fun!

 

Buying Concert Tickets vs Buying Stocks

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Billy Duffy from the Cult, in sync with the universe

Last night my man and I went to see the Cult play live–they are one of the greatest bands to watch live as they are masters of sound. When the Cult’s March 31 show tickets were available for pre-sale, we were locked and loaded and ready to buy what was available in the floor seating, which was…TWO SEATS?!? Before we could even hit “BUY,” those seats were gone. We had to be faster than, ahem, day traders to get these tickets. When the general ticket sales opened up, we weren’t crazy about the next best seating which was much higher up, but we got what we could get.

Most of the best seats are already held by the promoters and those connected to the event; the tickets for these seats go to VIPs, the media, promotional contests, fan clubbers, and the connected. The other tickets are snatched up quickly by scalpers who apply their techniques and buying programs; then these tickets are sold at inflated prices through the secondary market. These ticket prices fluctuate depending on the demand of buyers.

This sounds a lot like the stock market. Publicly traded stocks are stocks being sold in the secondary market. A new company needs money to grow, so to seek financing, it’ll go to an investment dealer, like a bank or a brokerage firm. So now, the dealer has the responsibility of finding investors at this early stage. The dealer sells shares of ownership of the company at lower prices, but owning these cheap shares often come with conditions and restrictions. This is the primary market involving the dealer and early investors, kind of like the event promoter issuing tickets during pre-sale. As the company grows, it needs more money to fund further growth, so the dealer goes to the public seeking to sell the rest of its shares. The share prices in the secondary market are often set higher but they could go down if people don’t want to pay those prices for them.

Just out of interest, here is a screenshot of Apple’s stock trading this morning. You can see the orders of bids to buy shares of Apple in the first column. In the second, it’s a list of the orders of people wanting to sell their shares. In the third, it shows the actual buy and sell orders that had just gone through and the times they were bought or sold at.

AAPL

Imagine being able to see ticket sales like this! I mean, to get this feed of live information on stock orders, I have to pay through my brokerage or trade a certain number of times a month to get this for free. The truth is there are additional markets (called dark pools) where shares are being bought and sold which the public can’t access. How refreshing it would be to achieve full transparency in all the different markets out there, so buyers can see ALL the prices things are going for!

I trade stocks with my own money. I study their share prices first, and if they seem fair, I buy them. If they look like they might go down in price later, I’ll wait. I have missed opportunities waiting for cheaper prices; however, I try as a trader–and in general as a consumer–to only pay at prices that seem fair to me.

We felt severely disadvantaged by the ticket sale experience for last night’s show, but we refused to go through the secondary market and pay much more to ticket re-sellers. As you can see from the up-close photo of Billy Duffy that I took with my phone, we worked our edge and got closer seats.