“I’m too disorganized to do this stuff.” No you are not!
Friends and relatives often tell me they wouldn’t be able to manage having multiple credit cards at once because they are simply not an organized person. As I pointed out in this post, the majority of my tracking and recording isn’t necessary to get the full benefit of the tactics presented on this site. That being said, there are a few vital things you need to keep track of:
If you’re playing the credit card game there are two absolutely required things to keep on top of: on-time payments and bonus spends. Making a late payment is devastating to your success with the credit card game. Likewise, if you miscalculate something fail to make the required bonus spend, your card has just lost its most valuable benefit: the sign-up bonus. In other tactics presented on this site mistakes tend to be less costly, but there are a few you’ll want to avoid, such as missing the post-marked deadline for mail-in rebates.
Aside from avoiding these few vital errors, your level of organization and detailed tracking is up to you. Some people track every cent spent on vacations; some only redeem airline miles when they can max out their value; some coordinate app parties with their spouse to maximize card benefit duration. Others, like my parents, are very hands off. They get the few cards I recommend to them, set up automatic payments, and never look back (until they want to redeem their points!) My personal preference is to focus on recording and tracking progress, and to avoid long-term strategizing. Your level of organization is, to a large extent, a matter of personal preference.
If you still think you are too disorganized or forgetful to “get in the game” you might be interested to know that I myself am by nature extremely disorganized, prone to being late, forgetful of appointments, and generally irresponsible. This has come back to bite me on several occasions, but I try to learn from my mistakes. The only reason I manage to keep it all together most of the time is because I force myself to be organized . . . if only in this one aspect of my life. The way I see it, making a few entries in a spreadsheet or calendar (painful as it may be) is potentially worth hundreds or thousands of dollars in value. In my opinion, that’s a trade-off that is worth fighting against my nature for a few minutes a day.
I may eventually post a blank version of the spreadsheet I use to keep track of credit card payments, miles expiration, annual fee dates, etc. Until then, feel free to send me any tips or examples of your record keeping.
Read my response to the similar nay-sayers’ comment, “Value tactics are not worth the time when you consider all your tracking and recording,” in this post.