Hey, this site uses sponsored adverts to make a lil' money. If you'd like to whitelist firebythirtyfive.blogspot.com.au that'd be ace.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Adventures in shared finances: The case of the missing rewards points

I should open by saying the Mr. FIRE and I keep our finances separate. This is pretty important to household harmony, because it means when I come home and find packages on the doorstep I can shrug my shoulders and think "when I'm retired and he heads into work on a Monday morning, I'm going to remind him of this." I'm a wonderful girlfriend aren't I?

One thing we do share is a FlyBuys account. Enter the case of the missing rewards points.

Sometime last year I was sent a promotion from FlyBuys telling me to switch my insurance to Medibank and earn FlyBuys points. After investigating their offerings I laughed and went back to my cheaper, lower cover with NIB. There is only so much health insurance I need at 26, and Australia has a pretty good health care system, so if I'm not covered by my private insurance I can just get treated in the public system. It takes longer but it costs next to nothing.

But Mr. FIRE is with Medibank on an old deal that they don't offer anymore. He had also just switched jobs and now his local supermarket was a Coles instead of a Woolworths. So with minimal badgering from me he set up a FlyBuys account linked to mine. Here's how that went down:

LadyFIRE: Here's my card - you should sign up. I think there's a bonus if we link our accounts. Plus we get points from the household bills and you pay those, so might as well link the accounts.
MrFIRE: K. *dutifully signs up like he was told"

some weeks later

MrFIRE: Hey, I've got like, 2,000 points.
LadyFIRE: That's odd, I've got heaps more than that. We must have separate points pools.

about a month ago

MrFIRE: Hey I've got a fair few points. What's the best way to spend them?
LadyFIRE: Dunno, I haven't really looked into it. I was just going to let them build up till I wanted something.
MrFIRE: Hmmm, well it's mostly crap like football merchandise, so I might just use it for money off shopping
LadyFIRE: Go your hardest, your points not mine.

late last night...

LadyFIRE: So hey... remember how I got you a flybuys account? and how our accounts are linked? You used all my points....
MrFIRE: I... ermm... wait... huh....  didn't we figure out that they appeared to be different pools?
LadyFIRE: Apparently not...

So yeah, that happened. Over the last month Mr. FIRE has quietly used up all my FlyBuys points getting $10 off a grocery shop each time.

On one hand, I know I shouldn't be that concerned. We've been sharing the account for a few months so he would have contributed a lot to the balance and the money was spent on groceries, which I've definitely been eating (yay food!). But, those were my points.

When I opened the account today I was looking to see if we could afford passes to the theme parks in Queensland. I was planning on suggesting we head up in a few months once the weather warmed up and check out the parks, and a few other attractions I have fond childhood memories of. Then I opened the account and saw a zero missing from the balance and my stomach sank.

Here I was, quietly hoarding points like a dragon on a pile of gold. I signed up for every offer, tried out different brands when they had a points special and religiously scanned my card for extra points. I'd been sitting on the points for years, apart from one budget crisis where I used them to cover my ass for a couple of weeks. They were a promise against a rainy day, and a vague dream of a holiday at some point. They were mine, I loved them, I cherished them... and he stole them!

Okay, so maybe I'm totally being melodramatic. The points were worth about $75 in groceries, or two 7-day park passes. Not a massive deal in the scheme of things, but I was so smug about those points, especially after I scored bonus points and $100 of free groceries with a sneaky credit card hack. I was pretty emotionally invested in those points.

It's given me a taste of how people must feel sharing a bank account with their partner, and opening it to see that after a big shop on shared necessaries the money is all gone. Some kind of resigned grumpy where you know it was 'fair' spending, but also totally not fair! It's that feeling of coming home and finding all the snacks are gone. Of having a warm blanket stolen in the middle of the night. Technically Mr. FIRE had as much right to (some of) those points as I did, but they were mine!

All I can say is thank god for not mixing bank accounts. I salute couples who can do that and maintain the harmony. As it is I'm making Mr. FIRE give me a massage since he 'stole' my points. I guess this works out well for me!


  1. We only ever use our flybuys points for money off our shops haha. I didn't even think people really did buy the "stuff" they offer with their points - you're the first one I've come across! Also you guys mustn't go to Coles or Coles Express for petrol very often, I'm ashamed to say we get about $75 of points maybe twice a year (Aldi primary shop, Coles supplementary).

    Would you ever share finances? It's always curious how different couples manage their money - we have always been firm sharers and have never had a blip sharing our flybuys card.. But I do admit I was a little nervous when we finally took the plunge to share a transaction account (we dipped the toe in by sharing a savings account first). Thankfully we've never had any issues with our sharing *touch wood*

    Mrs DDU

    1. When Mr. FIRE can answer the questions "What's your savings rate" and "How much did you spend last month" in less than 60seconds, I might think about sharing a bank account, haha. Although we now have a shared offset account for our investment we're (slowly) buying. Since the only thing that comes out of that will be property expenses, it's not really a worry.

      I've so far only used the FlyBuys for points off, but I felt like it wasn't the best deal so I was so was semi-hoarding them to see if something better happened. I have fond memories of visiting QLD as a kid with a three-park super pass I know was bought with FlyBuys, so that's why I hoarded.

    2. I like your money knowledge test for Mr. FIRE there! Sounds like you two are slowly dipping the toe into shared finances with the offset account, and of course the flybuys! Sounds like the flybuys will be a great lesson and kind of a practice run for sharing a transaction account (if you guys ever decide to go down that path).

      Maybe I haven't done enough research into the points value for each type of points redeeming, but getting the points off your shop probably isn't too bad value and you might be able to find better deals for three-park super passes elsewhere (like Martin suggested below). Sounds like a nostalgic pull to use the flybuys points directly to buy it, but you could think of it like "I saved $75 off our food shopping.. so if we spend $75 actual dollars on an amazing deal elsewhere for the three-park pass then that's a win-win and we have broken even" who knows, you could find that even better price than the flybuys pass deal and pocket a few dollars! now that would be awesome.

      Mrs DDU

    3. I don't think the FlyBuys points are ever going to be an amazing return, just a small chipping away it would be silly not to collect. I have noticed that when you redeem bigger amounts you end up doing slightly better, but it's definitely not amazing.

      The theme park deals are available on FlyBuys at the moment as well (half their normal price) so I think that's reflecting the current sale that Martin mentioned.

  2. I so get it. It's hard to be the saver in a relationship and see your hard earned dollars (points) just disappear. When I met my partner, he had as much in debt as I had in savings.

    But different spending patterns is only one thing to be worried about. Also look at generosity with money. It isn't necessarily important while you are both earning an income, but may be if one of you stops to look after children for a couple of years. There is nothing a spender likes less than having their spending curtailed.

    1. He's definitely not a bad spender - just lacking my ultra-frugal values. I won't even buy a six dollar game unless I'm sure it'll give me six hours entertainment, whereas Mr. FIRE is comfortable with spending. I'm probably a spend-o-phobe so it don't understand his ways.

      I should say most of the packages are small $2-$3 electrical components, not big exciting things :)

  3. Ms MM and I have been together about 4 years and in that time the discussion of shared bank accounts has never raised its head. We just don't see the need and for shared costs like food and utilities, one of us pays it and tells the other who transfers their share to the other's account. Seems a little messy when I spell it out but we're comfortable with it.

    As for our Flybuys and Woolies cards, we linked them but like the DDUs we are never going to be big points earners as most shopping is at Aldi.

    I do use the fuel discounts tho but nowadays I would be filling my car around once every 6 weeks as I use my bike as much as possible.

    I guess the point is, you've got to do what works for your situation and if it's not working, make the changes so that it does. As an aside, I think that the GC theme parks are offering some pretty good specials at the mo. They've been a bit quiet since........well, you know.

    1. Great to hear! I have no idea why people insist on combining finances!

      Mr. FIRE pays the internet bill, and I pay everything else. I keep a spreadsheet running to see what the balance is and ask him to shoot some money my way every time I get ahead. I make sure we come out even at the end of the year - works for us.

      One thing we don't do well is groceries. I know he spends more than me, but he doesn't complain and I can't convince him to track it any better. I kind of let it slide now.

  4. Ha! I get the same way about our points. I'm always directing my wife on which credit cards to use so that we can max out our points. But then when she doesn't remember or uses a different card, I just see the money flying away. :)

    1. Mr. FIRE has just opened his first card for rewards points - It's like watching a puppy learning to walk :)

  5. Lol, this is exactly how I felt when I had to share my reward points for the first time. I had hustled so much for those points. Then I got together with my SO. We were planning a trip to Europe. He was not a rewards person. It hurt to use twice as many points to cover both our flights (when normally it would have been just me) But now he gets the credit cards I tell him to, so it's all good. But it hurt like a mother the first time I had to share, not gonna lie.

    1. It's just like being a little kid and being asked to share your toys :D

      Since writing this Mr. FIRE has started working the credit cards a little bit - he just opened a card for rewards points with the first year annual fee waived, super smart move. Hopefully when we go on the big Euro-trip we'll both have enough points to cover ourselves :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...