Point Me to First Class with Devon Gimbel MD | A New Way to Think About Expenses

1. A New Way to Think About Expenses

Mar 20, 2023

Are you ready to dive into the world of credit card points and miles so you can travel more, travel better, and travel often? If you’re a business owner, you can leverage your higher-than-average expenses in ways you might never have imagined possible, and I’m here to walk you through all of it.

If your travel wish list currently exceeds your travel budget, but you make a decent amount of money and have higher-than-average expenses, you’re in the right place. For this first episode, I’m sharing one simple thing you need to know that will fundamentally change the way you think about your everyday expenses and travel moving forward.

Tune in this week to discover how you can start having first-class travel experiences without the first-class price tag. I share why I’m so passionate about the opportunity to use credit card points for travel, and I’m showing you how to leverage your most important untapped asset, your expenses, to satisfy your wanderlust without compromising your savings and investments for your future.

To celebrate the launch of the show and to help get the podcast into as many ears as possible, I’m giving away 100 travel-related prizes for my first 100 honest reviews! All you have to do is follow, rate, and review the show during the next two weeks. Click here to learn more and enter now! 


What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why your business and personal expenses are an untapped asset you’re currently sitting on.
  • How most people see their expenses as something that just costs them, not something that can serve them.
  • Some of the incredible trips I’ve been able to take in the past few months for a small fraction of their $90,000 value.
  • What you need to know about credit card points for travel and what you can expect from the future of this podcast.
  • Where you’re leaving money on the table by not using the best rewards credit cards for your business and personal expenses.
  • How to start thinking about your opportunities to leverage your expenses to have amazing travel experiences.


Listen to the Full Episode:


Featured on the Show:

  • To celebrate the launch of the show and to help get the podcast into as many ears as possible, I’m giving away 100 travel-related prizes for my first 100 honest reviews! All you have to do is follow, rate, and review the show during the next two weeks. Click here to learn more and enter now! 


Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to Point Me to First Class, the only show for employed professionals, entrepreneurs, and business owners who are looking to optimize their higher-than-average expenses to travel the world. I'm your host, Devon Gimbel, and I believe that your expenses are your greatest untapped asset if you know how to leverage them. Ready to dive into the world of credit card points and miles so you can travel more, travel better, and travel often? Let's get started.

Welcome to the first episode of the Point Me to First Class podcast. I'm your host, Devon Gimbel, and I cannot wait to talk all things rewards, credit cards, points, and points travel with you. In this episode, I'm going to dive into what you can expect from this podcast, how to know if you're in the right place, as well as the one thing you need to know that will fundamentally change the way that you think about your everyday expenses and travel moving forward.

In case you found me for the first time, let me introduce myself. My name is Devon. I'm a now retired physician living in the northern suburbs of Chicago. I am obsessed with all things travel, in particular traveling as often as I can to as many different places as I can, and preferably in a lie flat airline seat if a flight is over six hours long.

If you found your way here, you probably love travel too. If you're anything like I was a few years ago, your travel wish list probably exceeds your travel budget. Even if you're well compensated and already spent a fair amount of money on travel. Mainstream financial education would tell you that if you're in your 20s, 30s, or 40s like me, you should be focused on paying down debt and saving for your future, not jetting off to Japan for a day in first class or vacationing in Hawaii with your kids for spring break.

But I'm here to tell you, you can have both. You're in the right place if you're someone who makes a decent amount of money, but also has a decent amount of expenses. But you don't want to sacrifice traveling for meeting your financial goals of saving and investing for your future. I've worked privately with physician colleagues and other high income professionals, as well as solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, and business owners teaching them how to have first class travel experiences without the first class price tag.

It all comes down to one thing. One realization that I had about nine years ago as I was learning more about personal finance and trying to figure out how I could satisfy my never ending wanderlust without sacrificing my financial goals of saving and investing for my future. That one thing that I realized is the one thing that I want you to take away from this podcast episode, even if you remember nothing else.

That one thing is this. Your expenses are assets. I'm going to say that again to let it really sink in. Your expenses are assets. The more expenses you have, whether they're personal, business, or both, the more untapped assets you're currently sitting on. Did you know that? Does that align with how you currently think about your expenses? Or do you see your expenses as just something that you accept and are a necessary part of adulting and taking care of life?

Because if you're like most people, you probably see your expenses right now, the things you spend money on every day to make your life function or to run your business, as something that just costs you. You pay your expenses with money after all, and that's money that then you don't have to use for things like airplane tickets or hotel stay. But I'm here to tell you that your expenses are so much more valuable than just the worth of the things they buy you. How valuable exactly? Potentially thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars’ worth.

For example, in the last three months, I've taken three incredible trips, including two weeks in Florida and Saint Kitts with my family over my kid’s winter break in December, a solo excursion to Tokyo for a day. Yeah, I said one day. Spending a luxurious 13 hours in first class on the way over and flying business class on the way home. I just got back from a weekend getaway with my husband to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico where we spent a few days indulging in warm weather, street tacos, and leisurely strolls through the beautiful cobblestone streets.

My travel for the year isn't even close to done. Next month, we'll be taking our kids to Hawaii for the first time where we'll be spending a week in an ocean view suite at the Grand Hyatt Kauai. We also have a few more family trips planned around my kid’s school breaks, and I'm sure I'll find some excuse to jump on a plane by myself at least one more time this year, and hopefully a bit more than that.

While all this travel should have cost me tens of thousands of dollars, a little over $90,000 to be exact, I paid only a tiny fraction of that. That oceanfront suite I mentioned we'll be enjoying for an entire week in Hawaii, that cost us $0 out of pocket for the suite reservation when that hotel charges about $17,000 for a week in that suite. That round trip flight to Japan I took last month where I flew first class on the way out and business class on my return, I paid less than $100 out of pocket for that flight that otherwise prices out over $20,000 to book in cash.

While taking four trips in four months is a little out of the ordinary for me, what's not out of the ordinary is getting $100,000 worth in hotel reservations and domestic and international flights on a yearly basis for myself and my family for very little out of pocket expense. In fact, I spend less now on flying international business or first class than the price of an economy ticket. I haven't paid for a hotel reservation since before the pandemic despite staying and amazing properties like the Park Hyatt Chicago, the Park Hyatt Saint Kitts, and more than one Miraval Resort.

All of the travel that I mentioned taking the last few months, and actually pretty much all the travel I've done for the last nine years, and all the money I save on luxury travel experiences is made possible by one simple thing, credit card points. That's right, credit card points.

Now, we're going to dive much deeper in future episodes on this podcast into exactly how points travel works, and how you can use points to get thousands of dollars or tens of thousands of dollars’ worth in travel annually too. But for now, here's all you really need to understand.

When you use specific credit cards to pay for things called rewards credit cards, you earn points or miles based on using those credit cards for everyday expenses like groceries, eating out, or online shopping as a reward from the credit card company for using their credit card products. Having higher expenses means you can earn more credit card points at a faster rate. Those points or miles that you earn for the money that you're already spending anyway are their own form of currency.

You can save them up, and you can use that currency to book things like domestic or international flights or hotels instead of using cash. When you use points or miles to book travel instead of cash, you can save money, a lot of money. If you're spending less cash on travel because you're using points instead, that means that you can travel much more frequently.

You can travel in a different class of service like business class or first class, if that appeals to you, and you start having travel experiences that maybe you thought would never be possible for you. Or that you'd have to wait to splurge on for a once in a lifetime event like your 50th birthday. With points, you can take those once in a lifetime trips every year.

When you have high expenses, either because you spend a lot of money in your personal life to make your life run or because you own a business that incurs ongoing expenses or both, what you actually have are enormous untapped assets that could be funding your travel.

Now, I know this may sound a little bit ludicrous or outrageous at first. So let me put this in a different context that you can probably relate to much more personally. What do you do with the money that you don't spend right now? The money you have beyond what it costs to pay your bills and buy the things you buy.

If you have disposable income that you don't need immediate access to, do you keep all of that money in a bank account and just leave it there? I'm guessing you don't. Maybe you set aside a certain amount every month or year to invest in a traditional retirement account like a 401 K account, or you max out your retirement contributions and then invest some extra money in a total market index fund in a taxable account. Maybe you like to use money to invest in real estate.

No matter what you do, there's a reason why you don't just leave large sums of money sitting in a bank account. That's because you know that when you invest your money instead, you can leverage the money you have now to theoretically, ideally, grow your money over the long term.

If you had a million dollars today, you could leave it sitting in a bank account for the next 20 years where it would grow in value very little. Or you could invest that million dollars and at a reasonable rate of return, say 5% over 20 years, that million dollars would grow to over $2.6 million. You can actually increase the value of the money you have now by putting it to work for you in investment vehicles.

Of course, you never have to do that. Certainly, there are people who keep all their liquid assets in a traditional savings account in a bank, but they're missing out on leveraging those assets to create more money, more wealth. The exact same thing is true of your expenses. If right now you're paying for your expenses with a debit card or a credit card that doesn't earn you any rewards, that's exactly like leaving your liquid cash in a low interest rate savings account for decades.

Now, you're obviously getting whatever it is that you're paying for that way, right? Whether it's groceries or school clothes for your kids or services or materials for your business, but you're not leveraging your expenses to get you anything else in addition to what you're buying.

Even if you're regularly using a cash back credit card where you earn a certain percentage of what you put on the card back as a cash equivalent, like a statement credit, I want you to consider that you're still leaving tons of potential money on the table. We'll do a deep dive into whether you can get more value from a cashback credit card or rewards credit card in a future episode, but for now what I want you to take away is that if your expenses aren't being treated as assets right now then you're not leveraging them to their fullest potential.

Now, whether this is the first time you've ever heard about using credit card points and miles for travel or you're points curious and wondering if earning and using points to travel is a good fit for you, or you actually already have a bunch of points stocked up from a rewards credit card but never really dove into how to use them effectively to book amazing travel experiences. Let me share with you what I've learned after spending the last nine years learning the ins and outs of earning and using credit card points for unbelievable travel experiences.

Getting a ton of value out of points really comes down to just three things. First, learning the basics of how credit cards can be used strategically and responsibly to earn lots of points for the things you're already spending money on. Second, understanding the opportunities for getting outsized value from your points when you go to redeem them. If all you've ever used your credit card points for before is trading them in for a few Amazon gift cards or wiping some charges off your statement, prepare for your mind to be blown about how much value you can really get from points.

Third, knowing the most common obstacles and pitfalls that inevitably get in the way of getting good at earning and using points so that you can avoid them altogether. Or at least have a roadmap for overcoming them so that you don't give up before you get started and you don't get stuck and stay stuck.

That's exactly what you can expect to learn every week on this podcast, including my best tips, tricks, travel stories, and real life examples about how you can use points to travel more, travel better, and travel often. You are in the right place if you're someone who loves to travel either domestically or internationally, in economy class or in a premium cabin, and you want to learn how to travel more without spending more.

This podcast is called Point Me to First Class, but we're not going to be talking exclusively about how to travel first class using points, even though that's one way that I personally love to use my points. One of the reasons that I feel so passionate about credit card points and the opportunity to use them for travel is because when I started flying in the front cabins of flights in business class and first class, especially on long haul international flights which tend to be outrageously expensive if you book them using cash.

I started to notice something very quickly again and again on pretty much every single flight I've taken using points the last few years, regardless of what country I'm flying to or what airline I'm on. What I noticed when I looked around at who else was flying in the front of the airplane was that for the most part, it was a lot of men. It was a lot of men who tend to look a bit older than me, even though at 42 I don't think I look particularly young. Those men predominantly look like they were European or North American.

Now I'm sure most of these people are perfectly lovely human beings who are friendly and nice to puppies, but I noticed. I noticed how similar it tended to look flying first class. While I could easily use what I know about credit card points to continue flying myself around the world, I want airplanes to look different. I especially want the cabins closer to the front of airplanes to look different. I want to see more people in the front of the plane. More women, especially more women of color, more families, more elderly parents traveling with their adult children. Yes, even more children.

I've had so many amazing travel experiences that were only possible for me because of points. Because otherwise the cost of a flight or a particular hotel stay would have been so prohibitively expensive I never would have had that opportunity. But credit card points and miles changed all of that for me, for my family.

Points have been about opportunity and access. Not only access to premium cabins and actually being able to fly comfortably and love the journey of getting to a destination as much as the destination itself, but access to all of the experiences that travel can offer. I want more people to have access to that too.

So if learning how to turn your expenses into assets that then can increase your access to travel sounds good to you, you are in the right place. You're especially in the right place if you have high expenses. That's because most of the information out there about traveling using points focuses on how to optimize earning points when your expenses are a few thousand dollars a month.

But if you have higher expenses, either for your personal life, in order to run your business, or both than the average points earning strategies aren't going to be the best ones for you. You need an approach that takes into consideration the easiest, most impactful ways to turn those high expenses into assets. Into points and miles as easily and as sustainably as possible.

Even if you have high expenses, which I see as an enormous opportunity in the world of points, what you might not have a ton of is time. Time to sift through all the different resources out there on how to earn and use points. Time to figure out how it all actually works, or time to go digging for help when you need it.

Each week, I'll be distilling down the most high yield topics in the world of points travel for you here so you can spend your time doing what matters most to you while still getting actionable tips on how to earn and use points for travel.

I highly doubt that you would have landed here or listen to this long if you didn't love travel or weren't interested in learning more about how to use points and miles for travel. But if you're someone who could care less about travel, this probably isn't the podcast for you.

Points travel and specifically getting and using points earning credit cards isn't a good fit for you right now if you don't pay your credit card statements off in full every single month. That's because rewards credit cards tend to have very high interest rates. So carrying a balance of any amount will absolutely negate the value of any points you earn using these cards.

Also, I should point out that while I am a doctor, I'm not your doctor. While I highly doubt I will ever be touching on medical topics in this podcast, please know that this podcast is not a substitute for medical treatment. You should consult with a medical professional if you have specific questions about your health.

In addition, I am not and do not claim to be a financial or tax professional. The information in this podcast is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice that can be provided by your own accountant, tax, or financial advisor. You should consult with a tax or financial professional if you have specific questions about your own unique situation.

With all of that out of the way, I am so glad you're here. I can't wait to dive in deeper to the world of credit card points and travel with you in the next episode. See you there.

Hey there. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Do you know someone who would benefit from hearing this podcast? Do you have someone in your life who loves to travel but doesn't love how expensive it can be? Or someone in your life a solopreneur, entrepreneur, or business owner who wants to turn their business expenses into an amazing trip somewhere? Sharing is caring, and I would love for you to share the Point Me to First Class podcast.

To celebrate the launch of the show and to help get the podcast into as many ears as possible. I'm going to be having a 100 prizes for 100 reviews travel gift giveaway for anyone who listens, follows, rates, and reviews the podcasts during the next two weeks. Reviews help other people find the podcast, which means more people benefiting from learning how to travel the world using points.

I would love to get at least 100 honest reviews of the podcast to celebrate the launch of the show. You all are in luck because one of my love languages happens to be gift-giving. So if one of your love languages is gift receiving, we are a perfect match made in points podcast review heaven. Because when I give gifts, I don't mess around.

Not only will I be giving away 100, yes 100, of my favorite travel-related items as gifts you can win for following, rating, and reviewing the podcast, but these prizes are worth over $7,000 in total. You'll be eligible to win any of the 100 prizes if you follow rate and review the podcast in the next two weeks.

The 100 prizes for 100 podcast reviews giveaway ends on Monday, April 3. So submit your review today for your chance to win one of my favorite travel items. For all the details about the amazing travel inspired gifts you can win and to learn more about how to rate and review the podcast so you can enter our great podcast giveaway, visit pointmetofirstclass.com/podcastlaunch.

Thank you for joining me for this week's episode of Point Me to First Class. If you want more tips on turning your expenses into travel, visit pointmetofirstclass.com to learn more. See you next week.


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