How to Get Started Travel Hacking

GET STARTED TRAVEL HACKING Interested in learning how to maximize your good credit score for free and discounted travel? In this video, I walk you through the art of travel hacking step-by-step. This travel hacking method leverages the lucrative sign-up bonuses from credit cards, earning you points and miles to be redeemed for free travel.

  1. Check, and know, your credit score You can check sites like to get your free three-digit score. The best offers are for those with great credit of 700+

  2. Know your monthly spending on things you’d already be spending your money on such as gas, groceries, and monthly bills.

  3. Find the right card that has a welcome bonus that is awarded once you can meet the minimum spend. Several options are listed below to help get you started

  4. Stay organized and make sure that you are meeting the minimum spend requirements within the timeframe required to earn bonus points

  5. Pay it off by paying the entire balance at the end of each billing cycle.

  6. Redeem! Use your points to offset the cost of travel.

If you are interested in getting started, here are some cards with low-to-no annual fees that you can check out. These may be affiliate links, meaning I may be paid or earn points at no additional cost to you if you click through and are approved.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Earn $150 bonus with Chase Freedom Unlimited if approved.

Chase World of Hyatt Earn up to 50,000 bonus points with the World of Hyatt Credit Card if approved.

American Express Preferred Everyday Earn 20,000 Membership Rewards Points if approved and you meet the minimum spend requirement!

American Express Blue Cash Everyday Earn a $200 statement credit if approved and you meet minimum spend requirement!

American Express Platinum Delta Skymiles Earn 75,000 Delta Skymiles if you are approved with this link and you meet minimum spend requirements!

American Express Simply Cash Business Apply for an American Express Card with this link. Earn a $250 statement credit if approved and you meet minimum spend requirements!

Raise Your Rates Worry Free ft. Dr. Marie Fang

As a financial therapist, I get asked often about how to go about raising ones rates, especially for those who are fee-for-service or hourly-based providers. In this video, a collaboration with psychologist Dr. Marie Fang of Private Practice Skills, I review some of the common emotional reasons you may be struggling to raise your rates.

Here is a summary of what I cover in the video above

1. Imposter syndrome. Feeling like you are a fraud or somehow got to where you are by mistake. Reframe these negative thoughts by reminding yourself of all you’ve accomplished and what you’ve had to learn or achieve to get where you are today.

2. Feeling like you are “selling” or “pushy.” Thinking of your ability to solve a problem as being "slimy" or "gross." Instead of feeling slimy, think of yourself as providing a service or solving a problem (which is probably what you are doing!). This helps your frame your thoughts in a positive way, allowing the marketing to feel more authentic than salesy.

3. Anxious about attaching a fee to doing something you enjoy. Worrying about charging for something that you enjoy doing. Remember that your zone of genius or think you like to do could very well be someone else’s nightmare. Embrace what you are good at and charge accordingly!

4. Fear of losing clients or not getting new ones. Worrying about turning away potential clients because of your rate increase. While there may be a smidge of truth in this, the reality is the clients who are bound to be a better fit for you are willing and able to pay the fee you are charging. There are plenty of cheap and free resources out there if someone feels they can’t afford your service.

I hope those tips help to get your mind and money in balance so you can stand confidently in your fees. After you’ve finished the video, be sure to check out her video below where she talks specifically about the things she sees therapists struggling with when it comes to raising their hourly rates.

Here's a summary of her top reasons therapists don't charge their worth:

1. Emotional reasons. Dr. Fang thinks this is hands-down the main barrier keeping therapists from charging what they’re worth.

2. Lack of Financial Education. Programs aren't teaching their students how to go about charging for their services, or the difference between a posted hourly rate and actual take-home pay.

3. Stigma. While in grad school, there was a HUGE stigma around therapists and others in the helping profession earning income higher than a basic living wage. Somehow in our culture, we’ve fostered a belief that if we truly desire to help people, we shouldn’t be earning more than a bare minimum for it to be genuine.

4. Gender Socialization. This message is for those who identify as ladies. She knows many of us are taught to believe that we shouldn’t be big earners. This messaging can run deep, whether we believe that we shouldn’t earn as much as the men in our lives, or if we believe that we’re genuinely less capable of being as skillful as men. She thinks we’re not taught to have a mindset that earning a higher income is something worth pursuing.

Money in your 30s, Asking for a Raise, and Trip Planning

Did you miss any of April’s videos? No worries, I’ve got you covered below!

I say this all the time, and it bears repeating: you can only save so much money; to truly become financially stable, you have to earn more money.

  1. How long have you been with the company? Loyalty is important to companies. It’s more expensive to hire and train someone new than to offer a raise to a consistent employee. Review your length of time with the company in addition to responsibilities you’ve taken on over the years as additional factors in your ask.

  2. What raises have you received in the past? If you’ve been getting the standard 2.5-3% raise to account for inflation for several years, it’s high time to get in and ask for a more substantial increase. What the employer is doing is essentially paying you the same amount year after year! Consider whether or not you would have stayed at your current job if you had your starting salary. If the answer is no, get yourself a raise.

  3. Do your homework. Ask colleagues about their pay (seriously, I’m pro-pay transparency) and look at sites like or for average salaries for people in your field to help you gauge an appropriate pay raise for your job. The often-touted 76 cents-on-the-dollar statistic often comes from women leaving the workforce for a period of time and re-entering at their former salary.

  4. Demonstrate a willingness to learn. Certificates, training, make sure you tell the employer you are willing to do the work to get the money don't get discouraged.

  5. If you are told no, don’t get discouraged. See if there is a possibility for a raise over the course of several years; e.g., 5% a year for three years instead of a 15% raise outright. Ask for other fringe benefits the company may be more willing to give you, such as additional vacation days or the ability to work remotely. If neither is possible, start shopping for a new job. You are worth it.

If you are in your 30s there are six things you must know about money. By the time you’re in your 30s, you can no longer claim that you don’t care about it, that you’ll think about it later on or think that you think you have plenty of time. It’s time to wise up. I’ll walk you through.

  1. Smash those limiting beliefs. So much of the things that we do are tied to our negative beliefs or negative thoughts. So if you are thinking things like “I’ll never be able to get out of my student loan debt,” or “I’ll never be able to save money for a vacation.” Those types of things are harming your ability toward taking steps to achieve those goals. Good news, I have a freebie in the description box below on how to untangle your cognitive distortions, so be sure to click on that.

  2. You must know about credit. Not just your credit report, but also your credit score. It doesn't matter if you want to pay cash for everything and credit doesn't matter. The real reality is credit score is that you're going to be more desirable when it comes to things like getting a new apartment, purchasing a new car, or purchasing a house. If you have good credit, that is telling lenders you are worthy of getting a loan and getting it at a decent rate. The worse your credit it, the more likely it is that you’ll get denied for loan or credit cards, or get bad terms if you are approved. You can check it out at a bunch of different sites, credit karma, credit sesame, and Yes. Know your credit score, know your report.

  3. Life insurance. This is one of those things that people get freaked out about it think it's a scam they don't want to think about it because it means you have to think about death or dying but the reality is that having life insurance helps to protect you and your loved one is especially important if you have children or if you have a partner that you want to make sure that you're insured for enough so that if something were to happen to you your family your partner would be able to continue life as they already are able to live it now.

  4. Make sure you are investing in retirement. Erin Lowry has a new book out called Broke Millennial Takes on Investing where she talks about the importance of changing our language from saving to retirement to investing in retirement. The general rule of thumb is to have two times your annual salary invested in retirement by the time you are in your 30s. so make sure to look up things like your 401k 403b. If you are self-employed look into a SEP or a Solo 401k. Anyone can look up whether or not they meet criteria for a Roth IRA or traditional IRA, so make sure that you are investing in your retirement.

  5. Pay off all debt aside from your mortgage. I know this one is controversial and I know some people say that it's fine to keep your debt especially if you have a low interest rate you can probably earn more in the stock market so it's fine to keep your debt but I argue the opposite. For many of us, debt acts as a barrier and it pulls us down even if it's just emotionally or mentally so the more we can throw money at your debt the better off you're going to be.

  6. Have fun with your money! This should be intentional and feel really good for you to carve out a savings account that is just for things like travel or clothes or beauty or cars or whatever your hobby is. Make sure that you're still treating yourself and spending money on things that matter to you.

In your thirties, you want to make sure that you are spending money that is fun money on things that you want to spend it on. I want you to put some money towards your debt, I want you to be investing in your retirement accounts, AND to be enjoying your money. So those are the six things you need to know about money when you are in your 30s don't forget I have that freebie down below about untangling cognitive distortions especially when it comes to your money.

Untwisting Negative Thoughts--FREE Cognitive Distortions Worksheet


Lifestyle Creep and Travel Hacking

Two new videos up! Watch below and if you are in space where you can’t watch, the transcripts are available as well.

I’ve had countless financial therapy clients who are making BANK on paper, but are still living paycheck-to-paycheck. If you are technically making good money or you've been getting raises but you still feel like you're having a hard time figuring out where that money goes or feeling like you have a hard time making ends meet, you might be falling victim to something called lifestyle creep.

I shared a post on this topic on The Middle Edit, a site for women in their  30s and it got great feedback so I wanted to share it with you here. The link for that post is here.

Lifestyle creep is what happens when you start making more money and start subsequently spending more money. This happens gradually as we get raises or bonuses. Maybe you and your partner used to do date nights once a month at a nice restaurant and then once you got a raise, you found yourself on date nights weekly. Another example is going to purchase a new car (or new for you that is preowned) and looking in the next band of pricing instead of your current band of pricing.

You feel like you're saving and spending more money in a way that feels good to you easy I want you to First plan it out. Write down or put this on your phone. What would your dream be if you had a bit more money? Ask yourself, “What would I do if i had an extra 2 or 5 or 10 thousand dollars land in my lap?” Would you upgrade your house or take a vacation? So once you get that raise or bonus, go back to that dream and see if your raise can fund it. Even better if there is money leftover afterward! You can throw that towards saving or investing in your retirement. So this is how you mindfully, intentionally plan to save and spend your money so you don’t fall victim to lifestyle creep.

If you wanna travel but you feel like it is out of reach for you financially, I’m going to show you something called travel hacking so you can travel for pennies on the dollar. Today’s video is a little outside of the realm of the type of content I usually publish, but I put this on my Instagram stories and got a lot of comments, questions, and feedback so I want. I got asked for more information about how I travel hack. In this video, I’ll show you the exact breakdown of how I took my partner and I to Europe in 2016 for a 20,000 dollar vacation and paid under 800 dollars out of pocket for it.

First things first. Travel hacking relies on credit cards. It does not mean I want you to rack up debt or carry a credit card balance. This is ONLY for people who are organized financially, who are in good standing with their credit and have a good credit score, and know that opening up a credit card won’t tempt them to spend more than they can safely pay off. If that is not you, I want you to hit pause and bounce out of this video because this information is not for you.  

Now that we got that out of the way, let me show you exactly how that trip broke down. I’m going to hop over to my computer and show you the spreadsheet that tracked how I did everything.

This is the actual spreadsheet where I put everything. In this column what we were purchasing, the second column is what things cost in retail in 2016, this one is what we paid whether it was taxes or fees, and this one is what types of points we used or redeemed. So I’ll just go through a couple so you can see what I’m talking about. On this first line we flew from Detroit to London Heathrow on business class and it cost $8,100 dollars retail, we paid $11 in fees, and it cost us 100 thousand American Airlines miles to do that. We went to London for several nights and the Edwardian Vanderbilt Hotel and it cost $1,300 retail and we paid zero. And we used 150 thousand Club Carlson points. You can see how that broke down.

I really get excited when I total everything up and what it came down to is the total cost of the trip was almost twenty thousand dollars but we ended up paying about seven hundred sixty-four so when you break it up we paid 4% of the retail cost. So that is how we did it so now I’ll hop back over to how the heck you get all these points.

Almost every credit card issuer is going to offer a card that offers some sort of reward. Some of them are cash back, some of them are for things like frequent flier miles, and some of them are more general rewards points like Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership points. What you do is sign up for a credit card that has a sign-up bonus. Make sure to read the fine print. Usually, there is something called a minimum spend. That is the amount of money you have to spend in a certain amount of time on that credit card in order to get that sign up bonus. For some of them, it's spending three thousand dollars, for some its one thousand dollars. To meet minimum spend, I like to put a charge on the card that is large and something I’d have to pay anyway. An example would be putting six months of car insurance on a card to meet the minimum spend, then pay it off right away. So that’s how I did it several times over. I’ve put some of my favorite cards below that you can check out.

The other thing is that I’m getting ready to take another Euro trip on points with my partner this summer. If you’re interested in learning more about that or seeing that points breakdown, be sure to hit the thumbs up on the video so I’ll know to make a video on this summer’s trip to Amsterdam and Berlin.

If you are interested in getting started, here are some cards with low-to-no annual fees that you can check out. These may be affiliate links, meaning I may be paid or earn points at no additional cost to you if you click through.

Chase Freedom Unlimited: Earn $150 bonus with Chase Freedom Unlimited if approved.

Chase World of Hyatt: Earn up to 50,000 bonus points with the World of Hyatt Credit Card if approved.

American Express Preferred Everyday: Earn 20,000 Membership Rewards Points if approved and you meet the minimum spend requirement!

American Express Blue Cash Everyday: Earn a $200 statement credit if approved and you meet minimum spend requirement!

American Express Platinum Delta Skymiles: Earn 75,000 Delta Skymiles if you are approved with this link and you meet minimum spend requirements!

American Express Simply Cash Business: Apply for an American Express Card with this link. Earn a $250 statement credit if approved and you meet minimum spend requirements!

The information and content provided by Lindsay Bryan-Podvin LMSW, LLC/Mind Money Balance is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice. You should consult with an attorney or other professional to determine what may be best for your individual needs. No one should make any investment changes without first consulting his or her financial advisor and conducting his or her research and due diligence. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Lindsay Bryan-Podvin LMSW, LLC/Mind Money Balance disclaims any and all liability in the event any information, opinions, advice and/or recommendations prove to be inaccurate, incomplete or unreliable, or result in any investment or other losses.

My Pay Transparency Mistake

In this video, I talk about a time where I wish I would have been a better advocate for myself financially. As a social worker and financial therapist, I’m a huge advocate of talking about salary as it helps everyone de-stigmatize money and invites a conversation about the importance of earning a comfortable living. Click above to watch the video. Have you ever dealt with a pay transparency issue?

5 Steps to Spend in Line with Your Values: Using ACT for your money

Check out my latest financial therapy video on how to apply acceptance and commitment therapy to your money. Transcript below:

Are you feeling like you are spending money on shit you don’t care about? Watch the video above, or check out the steps below, and I’ll give you the exact exercise you can do to spend in a way that feels right for you.

If you look at your spending at the end of the month and feel like you are flushing money on stuff you don’t need, I’m here to tell you how you can shift that so you can spend on the things that matter. I guarantee that practicing this will help you feel good about your spending habits. 

First, let me break down what ACT it. ACT stands for acceptance and commitment therapy. The idea is that when we live our lives aligned with our values, we feel better about ourselves.

5 Easy Steps to Spend Money in line with your Values

  1. Write down the five most important values in your life (example: empathy, freedom, love, health, and sustainability).

  2. Look at last month’s spending.

  3.  Highlight or write down the 2-3 areas where you spent in a way you aren’t proud of (fast food, parking, clothes).

  4. Reference your values and see if they match up. If they don’t, there is a good chance you feel conflicted or guilty when you spend For example, if you value health and love, your money would probably be better spent taking your partner rock climbing instead of buying another drive-through meal. Or if you value sustainability, maybe you could shift your spending from a parking pass to a bus pass.

  5. Shift your spending toward the things you value. The goal isn’t to spend less, though you might, but to spend in a way that feels more like YOU.

What areas are you going to shift your spending towards to align with your values? Or are you going to shift some spending away from a certain category that doesn’t match up with your values? Let me know in the comments!

If you are getting stumped on values, I have a free download full of values you can reference to practice the exercise I reviewed in the video. Here’s a free worksheet to help you find ways to line up your spending with your values.

Video: CBT For Your Money Mindset

In my financial therapy sessions, I often pull techniques from other evidence-based therapy methods. One that comes in handy quite often is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. Click above to watch the financial CBT video, or read on below to learn how you can apply this method for your mind-money balance.

Transcript Below:

What if a technique for re-framing your thoughts existed? In this video, I’ll show you exactly how to do that.

If you are looking for a proven technique for reframing your thoughts, Cognitive Behavioral therapy or CBT does just that. When it comes to our money, often our beliefs or thoughts are the things keeping us from achieving our goals. I’ll walk you through how we can use CBT, a proven intervention for anxiety and depression, and apply it to your money worries.

Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is a type of therapy coined by Aaron Beck and David Burns that asserts that your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all related. They way you think impacts how you feel, and how you feel changes the way you act or respond to something. This can lead a person to feeling like they are in a downward spiral. In CBT, a person works on reframing or changing their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors for a better, more positive outcome, or as I like to say, “spiraling up.”

Let’s try an example.

  • Thought, “I’m socially awkward”

  • Feeling: Nervous, anxious

  • Action: Avoid attending a neighborhood BBQ

A therapist would ask you how you’ve dealt with similar situations in the past, and encourage you to look at the thought realistically and objectively.

“I feel nervous and anxious and it’s making me worry I’m socially awkward. At a recent work party, I did feel nervous at first but after connecting with others in my department, my worry wore off and I ended up having a good time. Instead of avoiding this BBQ, I can try and find someone I know to go with me.”

Let’s do one that is money-related. Here’s a money one:

  • Thought “I’m terrible at saving money.”

  • Feeling: guilt, shame loathing

  • Behavior: spend money quickly when I get paid

Using CBT to spiral up to a positive or neutral place, we’d say:

  • Thought “I’m terrible at saving money;” becomes “I haven’t been great at saving money but it is important to me to have a little cushion in case of an emergency”

  • Feeling: apprehensive, excited, nervous

  • Behavior: move $100 to savings account before spending money

You can go in any order-work on your behavior first, see how it impacts your thoughts and feelings, etc. It doesn’t matter as your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are connected.

I’ve linked a free “spiraling up” worksheet for you! It provides a summary of what I’ve talked about in this CBT video so you can practice framing your thoughts in a positive way so you can stop spiraling down.

Please let me know in the comments below how you will use this technique. Will you start by un-spiraling a negative thought? Maybe changing a bad behavior.? Drop it below! This is the first video in a new series called Tips from a Therapist. I’ll talk about different therapy techniques and how they apply to your money.

Interview by Tess Wicks at Wander Wealthy

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Tess Wicks, a high-performance money coach. Her goal is to normalize and diversify money conversations. She and I talked about how I got into the field of financial therapy, some of my first money lessons, and a brief review of the four Money Stories archetypes. PLUS she totally punked me and got me to share an incredibly embarrassing money story from my early 20s. #facepalm

Click here to take a listen or click on the video above.