Diversify or Die

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There’s nowhere where diversification is more obviously beneficial then in the arena of investing.

It is one of the only “free lunches” in investing, actually. It allows you to reduce risk with no loss of expected reward. What a concept!

But that ground has been covered here before.

And diversification has benefits that extend far beyond investing.

Take the miles game. Having a nice collection of loyalty currencies, particularly flexible currencies such as Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, and Starpoints, makes booking valuable reward travel much easier. And with diversification you become much less susceptible to the deflationary pressures of a single loyalty currency devaluation.

And what about manufactured spending? You guessed it, diversification is a big asset in this game as well.

If you’ve been paying any attention at all to any of the miles and points blogs this week you will have seen that the big news is that CVS is rumored to have stopped accepting credit card payments for Vanilla Reload Cards.

Which really sucks. There’re no two ways about it.

This change doesn’t affect me personally, as there are no CVS stores in my hometown. But there’s no getting around the fact that for many this was the most convenient and cost-effective way of loading money onto their bluebird cards to manufacture spend.

But that’s life, and that’s the miles game. Both are constantly changing.

It’s up to us to adjust. And one of the best ways to adjust is to constantly expand your repertoire of manufactured spending techniques.

One of my favorite people at the hospital where I work is a cardiothoracic surgeon. Unlike your stereotypical conception of a heart surgeon, this guy is incredibly modest, self effacing and compassionate. He always, but always, puts his patients first. And these personality traits do not come at the expense of technical skills. He is a very skilled surgeon.

The point is that this is a very good human being. And someone whose opinion I take very seriously.

And one thing I remember him saying to me a few years back was something along the lines of, “once your practice has stopped growing, it has started dying.”

And I think this is valuable advice in most areas of life.

Whether it be in the personal, economic, romantic, professional, or recreational arenas, one of the biggest threats for us to beware of at all times is that of complacency.

Laziness is a fatal flaw.

And this remains true until the final disconnect of early retirement (and probably beyond), it is crucial for us to continue to grow in all facets of our life. Even manufactured spending.

For even as one door closes three more will open. And as long as we are open to new opportunities the game plays on.

So what are some specific avenues for diversification within the manufactured spending world ?

One that I would strongly consider would be to open a GoBank account. Click here for an application link.  (There is no benefit to me if you apply for any such card.)

This gives you the option of loading your account with Green Dot Moneypaks which are more widely available for credit card purchase than vanilla reloads. (though they are also slightly more expensive.)

You can also load up to $2500 a day at Walmart on the Gobank card with Visa gift cards.  (So with a Bluebird and a Gobank card for you and your spouse you can load $7000 in a single day at a single Walmart!)

Another avenue worth looking into is the newly released Evolvemoney platform which allows you to pay bills with Visa gift cards.

(I have yet to experiment with this product, but I will!)

And if you haven’t hopped on the Amazon payments bandwagon, what are you waiting for?

So if you are feeling devastated by the news of CVS’ policy change, might I direct you to frequent miler’s excellent post on 9 ways to manufacture spend without vanilla reloads.

The over arching point here is a philosophical one.

We all should, I think, keep in mind my cardiothoracic surgeon friend’s advice and always encourage our lives to grow in all directions, with lots of effort, and with minimal laziness.

Diversification and stepped up rewards are the welcome byproducts of such a life well lived.

The blessings of the miles game are too numerous and generous to counbt. But like any endeavor they require constant work and attention. For once we have stopped trying we have begun to recede.

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2 Responses to “Diversify or Die”

  1. christina April 6, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    I was really saddened by the news of the demise of the Vanilla. I had just decided to up the game and get another bluebird in the house to help with paying off my medical student loans (200k!). Oh well, just have to plan to pay for another year unless something else comes along!

    • Miles Dividend M.D. April 6, 2014 at 11:26 am #


      Not being able to buy vanilla reload’s with a credit card sucks, that’s for sure.

      But I hope my article has inspired you not to throw in the towel. There are at least eight different ways to skin this cat.

      For one you could pay your Sallie Mae loans off with evolve money. But be careful with Sally Mae. They are a crooked and dishonest company and will apply your principle only payments to interest. Watch them like a hawk.


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