When is a Loophole or Hack Immoral? And Can It Be Considered Theft?? Asking for a friend…

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I have been sitting on an issue that has had my brain a mess and I didn’t think until now to get your take.  Maybe because I fear you would side against, or maybe because it is too multifaceted to really discuss.  In the end, I decided to write about it because this community means the world to me and I’d hate to let a little hiccup tarnish my view on it, or on people’s views of me.

First off, I would like to say that I am no Mother Teresa.  I stole when I was a kid.  A lot (sorry, mom). My best friend at the time, C, was a girl who had moved from the city to the burbs and for some reason still unknown to me, she befriended me first.  C immediately became the most popular girl in school and, by proximity, I became one too.  She was much more “mature” than the rest of us girls so I always felt like I was rushing to catch up.  C had boyfriends that were older, parents that were divorced, and a house that was bigger and more grand than any of my other friends.  Her older sister smoked cigarettes and I remember the day we sat out back of their large house, under the stair well, while they pressured me to try my first cigarette.  It was not my finest moment, and I certainly didn’t look cool.  But I am getting off track…

Image result for moral code

C also taught me how to steal.  She was used to being sneaky (escaping her big home to go out with boys at night took some mad skill), I was not.  I remember the time when her mom dropped us off at the mall.  These were the days of Z Cavaricci’s and IOU sweatshirts and to be anyone who is anyone you had to have them.  Both brands were expensive and my baby sitting money was precious to me.  I never thought much about brand names, but hanging with C meant I needed to up my game.  I used to borrow C’s clothes but, while in the mall that day, she decided it was time for me to have my own pair of Cavs.  We found our way to Merry Go Round, the hottest store in the mall, and picked a pair that she thought would look good on me.  C made sure there were no tags that would set the alarm off, then rolled them up, put them in my arms, and pushed me out the open doors to the mall.  I was shocked when nobody came yelling and screaming and so I followed her instructions, walked to the bathroom in the food court, and waited in a stall for her to meet me.  Those few minutes seemed like a lifetime while I played out all the things that could possibly be taking her sooooo long (360 seconds?), the worst being that she had been caught.  But she wasn’t.  A few minutes later she strolled in, knocked on the door, and I opened it to her Cheshire cat smile.  We had gotten away with it, but it didn’t feel good.  

For days I agonized over these jeans.  I didn’t dare wear them.  I approached my mom several times to tell her what I had done, but I couldn’t.  I told C that I wanted to take them back to the store, I wanted to return them to the owners.  She told me that was stupid and that I would get in trouble if I took them back.  I thought maybe I could just go to the mall, throw them inside, and run…the reverse action of what had gotten them in my possession in the first place.  I didn’t have the mindset to deal with this dilemma.  If I took them back, I could get in trouble.  If I kept them, I was a thief.  I decided to do nothing.  I didn’t tell anyone, I didn’t bring them back…I didn’t even wear them.  I let them sit in my closet until C noticed and took them for herself.

I wish I can say that was the last time I stole.  It wasn’t.  That was only the first.  My group of friends grew, and with it, the circle of stupidity.  We stole shoes (mostly Converse), flannels (dude, it was the 90’s), key chains, beads, candy.  Looking back (and even at the time) none of this made sense.  I babysat a bunch and had money but I wanted to be popular more than I wanted to be moral.  Turns out, you can’t buy popularity, but it does have a price. 

Two incidents got me to stop.

First, being witness to my friend, M, when she got caught stealing at Macy’s.  We had gone to the mall with another girl and, thankfully for me, the whole stealing thrill had already worn off .  When the ladies with faux shopping bags and walkie talkies came running up to the girls, the girls took off while I just stood there (similar to when the cops would bust our parties in the woods.  Playing possum always worked best – but that’s another story).  A few minutes later I saw my friends being dragged to a secret door (hidden in the paneling of the wall) and led up a flight of stairs.  A few moments later the ladies came back down for me, still standing in the same spot.  I was led upstairs to the Macy’s “jail cell” where my friends were now sitting.  After a brief interrogation (and aggressive rifling through my bag), I was sent home.  Like i said, I hadn’t taken anything but the guilt still coursed through me.  I spent the entire 1 hour bus ride home staring out the window at the oncoming traffic hoping to catch a glimpse of my friends mom on the way to get her.  I guess I wanted to see the disappointment on her face before M did.  Hundreds of cars passed by my bus in that hour, but never the one I was searching for.

The second incident happened the very next day.  M and I were in the cafeteria check out line when she asked if I wanted a brownie.  Sure, I like brownies.  Why wouldn’t I want one?  I just didn’t want to buy one so I said no.  She said not to worry, that she would hook me up.  Um, OK.  I finished checking out and left the line to wait for her.  When I looked back a few minutes later, the door between the cafeteria and the check out line had been closed.  I found out later that M was caught stealing a brownie.  For me.  I guess I didn’t realize what she meant when she said she would hook me up.  Ugh..  One fricking day after being locked up in the Macy’s jail cell, my friend get’s caught stealing a brownie.  Soooooo not cool.  This time I hoped I wouldn’t see her mom when she arrived.  The thought was terrifying!

Now 20+ years later, I remember both of those moments like they happened yesterday.  The feeling of guilt, the feeling of embarrassment.  The hope that my mom would NEVER find out but of course, she did.  It was too close to home.  My mom worked at my high school as the secretary to the Dean, there wasn’t much that got past her.  After M’s visit to her office, and M’s mom having to come and pick her up, the jig was up.  Mom knew everything.  She knew about Macy’s and that we had been caught.  She new about the brownie and that it was for me (of course M tried to blame it on me!), and she knew my friends were bordering on delinquent.  One of the greatest lessons that my mom now had reason to preach was “Birds of a feather flock together”.  As a result, I would hear that saying over and over for many years to come.  And she was right. Jim Rohn, anyone?

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My point in telling these stories is not to make myself look bad, but to explain that I learned my lesson the hard way.  I KNOW the difference between right and wrong and I now choose accordingly.  I am also aware of when my moral code is being bent or swayed.  I know the sick feeling inside when I am doing something wrong and I go out of my way to avoid it.  It is with this, that I try to explain how that feeling was recently struck upon me.  How something I was doing hadn’t occurred to me to be “stealing” or “immoral” but to others it was.  I will tell you now in hopes that you will weigh in.  I am still deciding…

THE HACK

My credit union offers a checking account with a 4% interest rate up to 25k.  Basically, if you fill it up, you can be making $100/month in interest.  It get’s better.  They allow us to open TWO accounts – if you max both you can make $200/month in interest!!  Of course, there’s a catch.  You have to have at least one direct deposit (no problemo) and 15 credit card swipes per month (for each card).  Being I use this checking account for my savings, the question has always been, how do I get those swipes without spending a bunch of extra money to make the swipes happen.  I have heard stories of people going to the self checkout just to make multiple transactions for their groceries.  Buying packs of 25 cent gum.  Paying for parking with only that card.  Perhaps Redbox a couple of nights per month?  I tried those things and was always scraping for swipes in the last days of each cycle.  There had to be a better way!!  A few years back, I found one.  A fellow flight attendant taught me this “hack”:

  • Get a Square card reader (free)
  • Designate all income from Square to go back to your checking account
  • Swipe your card 15 times (Square charges 3% for all swipes and minimum swipe is $1 so 15 swipes cost 45 cents).
  • Put card away until next month.

Easy, right?  Wellllllllll…

I recently posted this “hack” on a FIRE FB page.  People were talking about hacks of all sorts – travel, housing, groceries, and I thought I would toss mine into the mix in case anyone else was coming up with this same problem of minimum swipes.  I am of the “take what you want, leave what you don’t” mindset.  To say I wasn’t ready for the backlash is an understatement.

JUDGEMENT

Within minutes I found myself in a heated discussion trying to defend my actions.  A few nice people thought I was clever (though it wasn’t my idea so I can’t take credit) and then came the Negative Nancy’s.  One asked where the dislike button was.  Someone argued that I was stepping over dollars to pick up pennies (I don’t consider $2400/year in interest just pennies but whatevs).  And another insinuated that what I was doing was morally inept.

I pointed out that I was paying the fee on Square’s terms and none of the “purchases” had been flagged on the credit unions side despite my having been doing this for many months.  I argued that I keep a hefty balance in my account that the CU is free to do what they please until I instigate a withdraw (the percentage rate on loans given with MY money is how they make money, after all).  I even argued that a few years back said banks had made loans to many unqualified people (again, with our money) which then played a part in the housing market collapse taking many people (including me) down with them.  And I was lacking morals??

But I digress, I am not always right and I get that.  Perhaps the worst part of this hack (and the one I hadn’t thought of until it was pointed out at the end by a moderator) was the legalities of swiping from the same account that get’s the money back.  Of course, that would be an easy fix by switching which bank receives the money.  I could even put the Square card in my boyfriends name and have the money go to his account.  There are many ways around any legalities of charging yourself and benefiting from it and those I would have been open to discussing.  Unfortunately, constructive criticism or logistical warnings isn’t what came from this post.  A shit ton of negativity did.

As I typed furiously back and forth I wondered two things:

  1. Why do I fucking care what these people think.
  2. How is this ANY different from hacking for miles?  What about letting someone else use your credit score to boost their own (something I didn’t even know was a thing until recently)??

When I posed that question I was told that it isn’t any different.  Both are the reason why banks and points systems have changed over the years.  These types of hacks are to be blamed for ruining it for everyone else.  Ouch.  And with that response I became curious as to why it was my post that set off all the alarm bells.  This FB group that is saturated with high fives and back pats for finding ways to “game” the system was suddenly searching for a dislike button for finding a way to swipe a card 15 times without making stupid consumer purchases.  How is it that I was unaware of the double standard or the invisible line of morality??  And back to #1 – why the fuck do I care??

I care because it DOES matter what people think about me…specifically when they are calling out who I am at my core.  My character.  I consider myself someone who is honest (to a fault) and I go out of my way to make sure I never cross my (or society’s) moral line again.  But you can’t move the fucking line.  You can’t decide that opening a bunch of cards for points, transferring the points, and cancelling the cards before the annual fee is OK, but swiping your credit card to yourself to make a 4% interest rate isn’t.  What about bypassing taxes through a Roth conversion or taking advantage of government subsidies?  Are those OK??  You can’t decide that gaming the system is fair, then call a foul on someone who does the same.  Can you?  What loopholes are OK to jump through and which aren’t?  Are all loopholes immoral?  

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I feel like I will always be apologizing for the shitty things I did as a kid.  Getting away with something physically doesn’t mean you get away with it mentally.  The guilt is always there.  This conversation on FB made me question if what I was doing was really wrong.  It gave me that burning hot feeling in my stomach…you know the one.  The one that rises up and forms a lump in your throat wishing deeply you could undo what was done.  The only thing I could undo at the moment was my post.  I deleted it.  I deleted it specifically after the moderator pointed out the possible legal implications (that I was unaware of).  And that was fine.  But that wasn’t even the part that had upset me.  It was the attack mode of nay saying and finger wagging without being constructive.  And for the past month or so I have thought long and hard about that.

I am a pretty tough cookie, I don’t crumble often, but one thing I can’t have questioned is my integrity…especially from people who I have never met or interacted with in any way!  I learned a few lessons from this little episode.  One, I no longer post on FB groups. 😉  Two, I am good with who I am.  And three, my moral code doesn’t have to be the same as everyone else’s.  I am the one who has to be able to sleep at night and I won’t lose sleep over what strangers think about me.  The people who know me or have spent any time interacting with me (like many of you!!) are the only ones who count.

** So what do you think?  Where does the line get crossed?  Is hacking or loopholes immoral?  I would love to continue this discussion in a civilized way.  We all have our own opinions but we can exchange them with grace and, in that manner, I am always open to hearing the other side. **

Until next time…

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98 thoughts on “When is a Loophole or Hack Immoral? And Can It Be Considered Theft?? Asking for a friend…

  1. Kim

    Morality aside (I think you’re fine personally, and very clever), why are you keeping $50k in a checking account? Invest that stuff!

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  2. I mean, it’s not technically “illegal” unless it’s written out as a hack/loophole being such. But I’ve read tons about people doing sneaky or weird loopholes that make me feel icky. I can’t really explain why they make me feel icky, but it’s just something that I wouldn’t want to personally do. If you know you’re legally and morally right and feel comfortable, then you can do what you want.

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    1. Yes!! I totally get that. I felt fine about it until that conversation and then I started to question my actions. In then end you’re right, it does come down to what I’m comfortable with. I just hate the double standard!!

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  3. luxestrategist

    Honestly, if I had read about your hack I wouldn’t have thought anything of it. Seems like a normal hack to me, as long as it’s not at the expense of anybody else. I find the immoral judgments to be quite arbitrary. At the end of the day, what you are doing isn’t any different from buying a vanilla card from a drugstore to do manufactured spend.

    I totally understand the frustration of unexpected backlash. I recently wrote about something that some readers felt was controversial. I got a few email unsubs from it with some nasty notes like how I’m an evil person. I know that I’m not evil, but it did make me question whether or not it was right.

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    1. Exactly. It made me question myself and that’s the worst part. Wondering if how you see yourself is the same as others see you. In then end, I know if there was any wrongdoing it was from my ignorance more than anything else. I don’t mind claiming ignorance but I do mind being called immoral. Who is the judge and jury??

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  4. Doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun.

    Some thoughts:
    1) Everyone has their own moral code, what they consider to be right and wrong. Stay true to yours and you’ll sleep well at night.

    2) Any “hack” or “gaming the system” is cheating when you think about it, following the letter of the law rather than the intent of the law. It is why we feel so good about “winning”, but for there to be a winner somebody must also be losing as most things are a zero sum game. For whether that is a problem or not see your answer to (1)

    3) You can’t change the past, and woulda/coulda/shoulda never helped anyone Make your peace with it, get over it, and move on. All you can do is make good decisions going forwards, the rest is ancient history 😉

    4) Thar be trolls on the internet, lurking in forums and blog comments… anonymous keyboard warriors doling our vitriol and unsolicited advice to unwitting passers by. It is the one thing I certainly don’t miss about blogging!

    5) make your own choices, and try not to give a f*ck about what other people think… if you’re honest with yourself most of them don’t care what you think, so why let what they think bother you?

    Chin up, I still like you… even with your mysterious shady past and liking for insanely long walks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So sorry, Slow Dad, for the slow response. Steve sent out a tweet a few days ago to check our spam filters for legit comments and there this was. My apologies!!

      1 – I agree and feel good about taking that approach.
      2 – Never thought about it that way until now and am certainly glad you pointed it out!!
      3 – SO HARD to put that past away. I feel like because I never got caught I still need to feel the shame of it…maybe this post was enough to out myself and make amends with my conscious. 🙂
      4 – I guess you can’t please everyone! Trolls be damned…
      5 – SO true and yet it get’s me hung up every time. I shouldn’t care but I do!! I am working on that one still…

      And thanks for still liking me. That will go a long way with not giving a fuck what other’s think. I have cool dudes like you that got my back!

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  5. One of my first blog posts was akin to the few packs of gum for a few swipes to get a LOFT card bonus. I try to leave the judgement at the door.

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  6. Based on what I’ve learned about you from reading your blog and engaging with you on Twitter I’ve always thought that we’d be good buds, but after reading this post I have to admit I’m not so sure anymore. It has nothing to do with your hack (genius!) or your sticky fingers (been there, done that).

    Z-cavaricci? With those pleats? 🤢 I had you pegged as a Gibeau jeans kinda gal. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 😂 Thanks, Ty. Now you’ve appropriately called me out for not only being a thief but for being a cheap thief!! I should have aimed my sights a little higher. Girbaud was the bomb. I borrowed a few pairs but never had my own. I just did a search and can find them on Poshmark. Too bad you won’t be at FinCon…I might be rocking them for an 80’s meet up. 😉

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  7. steveark

    If you felt ok about it then you wouldn’t be so bothered. I’m not saying it is wrong. I’m saying apparently you think it is.

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    1. True – though I didn’t think it was wrong until it was pointed out that it could be. But then it had me second guessing a ton of other hacks that everyone else is doing and if those are wrong. I get that two wrongs don’t make a right – but is any loophole “right”? I think it’s a slippery slope.

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  8. I’m not familiar with the “hack” or the details surrounding it so I won’t comment on whether I think it’s legal or not.

    As for morals, I think that the fact that this has your nose out of joint says a lot about you. At least to me. It says that you are conscious and want to do things right (in your own mind). It takes a lot to admit that we might be wrong and/or ask for people’s opinions. I don’t know very many (guilty) people that do that. They just try to sweep it under the covers and move on to the next scam.

    I am a firm believer in, the person whose opinion should matter to you the most is yours.

    Besos Sarah.

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  9. I think they’ve got their panties in a wad over nothing. My rule has always been, if they make the rules, I’ll play by the rules, but I won’t bend over backward to intuit extra rules that aren’t spelled out.

    I consider myself to be a very, very moral person. I am honest to a fault, and if there is any doubt, I usually make sure a deal goes in the other person’s favor. (Example, someone bought a house from me on contract. She can no longer afford the house and is leaving owing me some back payments. However, I know she needs the money more than I do and is a good person who is doing her best, so I’m not going to pursue the money she owes me. Moreover, I’m going to send her a partial refund of her down payment even though that is absolutely not required by the contract. However, in my heart I feel it is the moral thing to do.)

    However, people have been brainwashed into thinking that they lack integrity if they DON’T look out for a corporation’s interest. That’s not our job. They (corporations) make the rules. We play by them. I was so angry when people were beating up on folks who walked away from their mortgages during the housing crisis around ’07-’09 because the mortgages were upside down. I don’t think that is immoral. There was a contract. The bank wrote the contract in their own favor and included a remedy should the buyer default. Their remedy was to repossess the house. However, the banks screwed up and made bad loans and when the prices tanked, people realized they were paying for a house that was worth $50K less than what they owed on it. They walked away. And it seemed like everyone and their brother was saying this was immoral. No. It’s business. The banks made a bad deal and they wanted people to ruin their own lives over the bank’s bad deal. It is not the individual’s job to watch out for the corporate interest. Now, I’m not saying that you don’t follow the rules. But when a large corporation with a huge budget for lawyers and advisors overlooks a loophole, it’s not my problem. I’ll use that loophole until they close it.

    On the other hand, that single mom living in my property who bit off more than she can chew? I’m going to do what I can to help her out, even if I don’t have to legally, because it IS my job to look out for fellow human beings. It is NOT my job to look out for huge corporations. Miss Mazuma, you have no reason to feel guilty. If they don’t like the rules, they can change them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jill – I can’t tell you how much this resonates with me as it is one of the reasons I am defensive. I lost all of my properties during the housing crash and my EXACT thought was that I played the game by the rules and the banks changed them. I put 20% down and paid on time. Of course, when my tenants lost jobs due to the recession, I had to cover the cost. Until I couldn’t. I let one tenant stay for 6 months without paying until I finally made her leave (she was not a single mom but a drug addict). The others moved out and the vacancies turned into short sales. At the time did I think it was immoral? Fuck yeah. I was hard on myself for getting caught up in the shit storm. And then I got right. I realized I had some responsibility but not all of it. The banks do what they do to make money. Like casinos, the house always wins. 😉

      In the end, most of these hacks are not the intended use of the product which is why this makes for a good discussion. What is right and wrong is different for everyone and that’s a personal decision. I am always open to hearing a counterpoint, but I’m not happy to have stones thrown at me by people living in glass houses.

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  10. First off — a fist bump for deciding that YOU define your moral code, not a facebook group. Facebook can go suck an egg.
    Second — a pat on the shoulder for putting up with all the abuse. Being different is never easy.
    And Third — A high-five for gaming the system. You followed the rules set forth, nothing wrong or illegal with that.

    Sometimes you have to push the limits a bit to break free. You go girl!

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    1. Haha – thanks! I love the term suck an egg. You don’t hear that much anymore. 🙂

      I know I shouldn’t let it bother me but the double standard is insanity!! How can one hack be better than the other?? Is it because I am getting cash and they are getting points (which equal cash)? It’s the spirit in which the naysayers nayed. I am all for conversation, even if it is against what I am saying, but it has to be in a civil tone.

      In the end, it doesn’t matter. I learned a valuable lesson to keep my mouth shut and my nose to the grindstone. Thanks for having my back! 🙂

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  11. Good for you for letting all this out to share. I’ve had my misdeeds growing up, though I’m not sure if I have the guts to post about them. Save maybe for that little Peace Corps ditty…

    I think a loophole is simply a loophole. It’s not a misdemeanor or a felony. And as soon as a bank realizes it has created a loophole, they’ll close it fast. Exhibit A: The Chase 5/24 rule. Bastards.

    By the way, I don’t know what Ty is smoking, but I wouldn’t put my friendship on the line over jeans. Z Cavs were the bomb. Dating myself, but who gives a shit.

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    1. Honestly, I couldn’t sit on it anymore. This shit really pisses me off!! It’s the exact reason why I can’t be on the MMM forums because people are so fucking judgey and often in attack mode (this based only on the couple times I have dared to log in & hearing others say the same). I am not one to stick my head in the sand but at some point you realize you can’t win. And that’s ok. If winning means trampling others to get to the top I am happy to sit at the bottom. 🙂

      As for Ty, jeans are not the way to settle the score. I would need to see both of your 90’s dance skills to decide who I actually want to be friends with. I can do the running man like nobody’s business.

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      1. I totally agree with you about the MMM forums! I wish I would have chatted with him about that when we were in Longmont. I quit reading there too because of all the attacks. I agree with Cubert – loopholes are closed when companies start losing money (most of the time!) Great discussion here – and looking forward to meeting you in a few weeks!

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        1. The MMM forum has been around longer and has a larger more intense audience. Nothing wrong with it if that’s your deal but I have heard many newbies say it’s too hardcore and it turns them off. Not to MMM, of course, just to the forum. That’s why Im partial to the RSF forum. It’s very civil, still a smallish community, and people really want to help you. As far as I know, I haven’t seen anyone be steamrolled yet. Who knows, as it grows that might change!

          We’ll keep the beer cold for your grand entrance. I’ll DM you my number so you can catch up with us if we move locals. 💃🏻

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I must be the odd ball that enjoys the MMM forums. Although I mainly go there to interact with a circle of friends who have journals and also for my own. I don’t dig into the rest of the forums too much.

            As for the credit card swipes….are you not able to just make your normal day to day purchases with that card? That is the only part I didn’t understand.

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            1. Haha – there are quite a few of you oddballs …far more than those who seem to be turned off by the hardcore nature. That being said, I am a big fan of the man himself so it isn’t the philosophy so much as the interpretation by others. I suppose that happens when anything reaches cult status. 😉

              As for the swipes, I don’t use my cards that often! Most of my bills only allow for ACH drafts, not cards. At this point it doesn’t matter, I don’t have money in that account anyway so I have been swipe free for awhile. I still think it’s a good hack though the legalities on Square’s side are something that should be looked into. In a perfect world we would get a good interest rate just for borrowing our money to the banks but unfortunately that is not the case. Now it is all about the investments. VTSAX for the win…I hope. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

  12. Barb

    I am a little late to the comments but here Are my thoughts on this hack. If you aren’t sure if an action is moral or acceptable, ask the other people or organization involved. You can visit your credit union and speak with the manager and tell them about your hack. If he/she says it is acceptable to them, then you are good to go. If they find it to be in violation of the intent or spirit of the offer, then you have that answer too.

    My rule of thumb for language and behavior is to be as transparent as possible. Don’t say anything you won’t say to a person’s face and don’t participate in a behavior you won’t happily discuss with any affected party. If I feel squeamish about a behavior, I don’t do it as that squeamish feeling is usually my conscience speaking.

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    1. Hi Barb – you are never late to this party!

      I am a big fan of full transparency…to the point I often overshare!! I guess I didn’t realize at the time that what I was doing could be considered “wrong” instead of clever…which is how I viewed it when I was first told. That being said, I would never want to lead anyone down the wrong road so when the possible legalities were pointed out I immediately took the post down. That being said, I stand by the original intent of the post which was to help others in the same way people were posting their hacks. With that intent in mind, the reaction was hurtful but that no longer matters. The people who know me know my integrity and that can’t be questioned by strangers in a FB group. 🙂

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  13. Consider the fact that corporations have entire departments of lawyers who’s job it is to try and game the system. They game the system out of paying billions in taxes. Meanwhile, most of us end up footing the bill.

    If the loophole is costing a company money, they can and will close it. I love travel hacking, and don’t see any issues, we are just abiding our contracts and playing by the rules.

    BTW, you can get a 5% interest rate with an insight card. I opened two $5k accounts. Financial Panther has a good writeup on the cards and how to avoid any fees 😉

    Like

    1. Great points!! And just to reiterate, I have no issues with travel hacking. I think it’s genius…I just happen to have a job that’s the ultimate hack. 😉

      I’ll have to check out that insight card. I know my money makes more (ideally) in the market but I love having a hefty cash cushion!

      Like

  14. Jeff D

    I am in complete agreement with you about moving the line. They’re called hacks for reason. The biggest one being the ACA. Every time Justin@rootofgood posts his expenses post someone always comments if he feels guilty for being a millionaire and paying essentially nothing for heathcare. His response is always the same “I play by the rules and those rules benefit me.” So IMHO you go be you.

    Like

    1. Yes!! I love to read the comments section because the hypocrisy is insane. Some people are uber smart at hacking the system. Many people have talked about takin advantage of government subsidies. GoCurryCracker has taxes down to a science – who wouldn’t want to learn how tinkerer pay taxes again?! MadFientist has taxes and the Roth conversion game all spelled out – again to keep from paying exorbitant taxes on your own savings. We are all learning and picking up tips that will help us succeed in the future. Who knew some cc swipes would be the straw that broke the morality camels back?! 😅

      Like

  15. Just found this gem from Our Next Life Blogroll. I have only this to say – How do I get in on this? This is genius! Haters and keyboard warriors will always be around to judge and hate. I’d say you’re fine, I am sure after looking at your post on the FB group all of them applied for the checking account and did the same thing while typing judgement laden comments.

    Like

    1. Haha – unfortunately my CU isn’t open to the public but Mr Crazy Kicks commented about Insight having a 5% interest rate. Not sure the details but I plan to look into it!! 🙂

      Like

      1. I did some research and the math doesn’t quite add up to help me out. I’ve got a couple 5 year CD’s worth 40k and the cost of breaking them and doing this for a sum of around 30k (15k each for 2 accounts – one for me and my spouse), would only give me a paltry sum of $360 a year extra. I think I’ve got enough credit card cash back rewards to not justify this move. But if I didn’t have to break CD’s to put cash in, I’d definitely do this. I don’t want to put money into a new account as I am investing all my cash into VTSAX which is definitely better returns than this, plus there is no cap. If I was starting out or building an emergency fund, I’d do this for sure.

        Like

  16. Ms99to1percent

    Hi Miss Mazuma,

    Some people out there lack common sense. It reminds me of a former co-worker of mine who was always like that. Let’s just say, I’m glad I no longer have to work with her.

    But don’t let that experience stop you from participating in FB groups. I’m sure you gained a few followers from that exchange. There’s no such thing as bad publicity after all!

    Like

    1. Ugh – bad coworkers are THE WORST!! Glad you aren’t dealing with that anymore. You’re right, I felt burned so I didn’t want to comment anymore but I will eventually get back in the ring. There’s too much fight in me to stay on the sidelines. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Ditto the MMM Forums. I stopped commenting, asking questions, or reading for fun over a year ago. I only search for a specific topic if I need info, just as I would on the Bogelheads site.

    I wouldn’t give a flying f–k about those responses. I just love the one about how you are ruining it for the rest of them. You mean the rest of the HACKERS?…From the moment you contacted Mr. G and me about the elephants, I/we’ve known how caring, kind, and moral you are.

    For every hack there’s someone paying triple the amount being saved or earned in fees or penalties. No qualms whatsoever. The companies are just waiting for missteps.

    I’ll tell you a hack I used recently that could be seen as immoral but I used a legitimate loophole. The last year of my job I used every bit of money I allotted for my FSA (I believe it was $1800) — even what was not deducted yet from my paycheck which was about $300. But conversely, if $1500 had already been deducted from my pay and I had no legitimate medical expenses to apply it to, I wouldn’t get it back, even if I had been terminated.

    Like

    1. Mrs. Groovy, you’re the best!! Thanks for setting me straight that I shouldn’t care. So funny you bring up the elephant email because my memory of that email is pure embarrassment that I crossed that line (and cried when I sent it!)!! Of course, it turned out for the best and I love that we are such great friends as a result!

      I think your hack makes sense. Similar to people who wait to get their bonus before quitting. Those are the perks of your job and are built in to your salary. You should be able to take full advantage! I am thinking about my job going forward. There are no minimums I have to work to stay there. I can continue to get insurance, flying benefits, 4 weeks paid vacation and what not even if I don’t fly a single trip. I still have to bid for my line (schedule), but I can then give it all away and never fly. When I first started working I thought this was preposterous! Why does the company pay peoples health insurance if they aren’t even working?? Some of these girls have been doing this for 5+ years since they had kids with no intention to ever come back. Now, since I have been here 16 years, my tune has changed. I even did it for 2 years straight about 10 years ago!! What I realized is that the company knows this is going on. We have had 3 contract negotiations since I began my career and each time this issue has come up it wasn’t worth it to them to change it. Does taking advantage of it make me wrong? Nope. It is there because it is a win for our work group – we lost other points as a result. Regardless, if it is changed going forward I have some big decisions to make. Until then, I am choosing to keep my job once I am FI so I can continue my insurance rates at the ridiculously low rate that they are.

      Like

    2. Wilkop

      Your FSA hack is not at all immoral, but can have consequences. In 2016 our small company had a couple of people leave early in the year after taking their full FSA allotment, even though it had not all been deducted from their pay. The company had to cover about $2,000. To limit their exposure the company reduced the individual maximum FSA deferral for 2017 to $1.000 per person. Some employees did not like this reduction and blamed the company. A few employees were aware that the employees who left in 2016 collected money they had not contributed and blamed these employees. Everyone can use the rules as written for their benefit, and no one should be surprised or feel cheated when the rules are changed to address unintended consequences.

      Like

  18. Some people are going to do way worse hacks than you and some are going to think that what you are doing is just horrific. You are spot on with the sleep approach. Do whatever lets you sleep at night. I use that with many of life’s tough decisions. It works for me!

    Like

  19. Chris @ Keep Thrifty

    Man, we could get philosophical here, couldn’t we?

    My take is this – morality exists so we can urge members of society to do things that are good for society as a whole.

    Your credit union is giving you 4% interest and still is (presumably) making money off of what you put in there. If they want to close the loophole, that’s their right, but in this case, your action isn’t causing abject harm to someone else.

    I had a small business and personal tax planning course in college (sounds thrilling, right?) and I loved my professor’s take on tax optimization:

    It’s your right and job as a US citizen to utilize the tax code to its fullest extent. If the tax code is broken, then fix the tax code. Attempting to cover holes in the system with judgments about “morality” is a slippery slope – because who is the ultimate judge of what’s moral and what isn’t?

    For me, that answer is God and while I have no guarantees, I bet he’d be chuckling about this whole thing – because money is so far down the list of what’s really important in life anyway 🙂

    People who swing the club of “morality” at your head are usually just looking to build themselves up to compensate for what they see as their own shortcomings. Follow your heart and your conscience and you’re in good shape.

    Like

    1. Good point, Chris. Money IS so far down the list of importance and I love your professor’s take. It is my guilty conscious from the past that is most sensitive in these cases. In my heart I feel good about my choices but my mind can always be swayed. I think a good lesson learned here to not let others ideas of me (specifically those who don’t know me) be the ones who sway it. Thanks for joining in the conversation. I always appreciate your point of view!

      Like

  20. I had a shoplifting phase myself around 8th grade, and like you it was an older, cooler girl that got me into it. I didn’t have that guilt at first you like you did. I liked the thrill. We mostly stole stickers and candy. But one day a good friend (not the older girl) saw me take a pack of gum and wanted me to put it back and I refused. She threatened to tell on my which pissed me off. Eventually she took the gum from me and put it back herself. I never stole again. Now I feel guilty about everything. I’m such a rule follower! I remember one time I got a sandwich from the deli counter at Bristol Farms. I was with a friend who was shopping for other stuff and I totally, honestly forgot to pay. I drove all the way back to my office and it was there where I realized I didn’t pay. I drove all the way back and walked in the store and told them I forgot to pay. They laughed and said it was OK. I guess I learned my lesson from that one experience. BTW, I think a lot of people go through that phase.

    Like

    1. Like I told Slow Dad, your comment went to spam for some reason so apologies for the delay in response!

      I love that you wouldn’t put it back!! Standing by your immoral grounds. 😉 I am mostly a rule follower now. I mean, legal rules I follow for the most part but stupid ones I can’t!! Like j-walking – that’s a ridiculous rule. I cross when no cars are coming. Period. As for your sandwich experience, I have been there!! Most times people are so nice about it you feel silly for going back. For the sake of conversation I will repeat the story I told you in LA:

      I went to Trader Joes and at the check out I saw a $20 bill on the ground between the two people checking out. I picked it up and asked the guy checking out in front of me if it was his. He said no. I then asked the lady in the other lane if it was hers. She looked at it and took it slowly and said thank you. I thought her response was a little strange but I moved on. When I walked outside she was waiting for me. She gave me back the $20 and said she had been confused. She realized walking out that she didn’t have $20 with her that day. I told her to keep it and she handed it back to me and said it was a gift. I believe in karma. I know what I used to do was wrong but I know that all the things I have done to make up for it were right. Some I did purposefully, but most I do because this is who I am now. Perhaps Karma (the good kind) is catching up with me!!

      Like

  21. I agree with the “We all draw our own lines” and “Gotta be able to sleep at night” ideas.

    Specifically in this case, for me, I don’t have an issue at all with what you did, I think it’s totally fine. Nothing was illegal, nothing was against any terms of service, I don’t see how it’s unethical. I mean, I genuinely don’t understand the argument against it is.

    I did have a chuckle reading this, because the first conversation I had with you was you saying I was doing something unethical (whereas I think it’s the opposite; the majority of the time it’s actually a net positive for someone). 😉

    As a former philosophy major, I love ethics discussions.

    Your personal story was super enjoyable to read, even as I cringed through it. I could totally feel your emotions; it was some very good writing. We’ve all done things we aren’t proud of, I’m sure. It took courage to share yours.

    Like

    1. Joe – our conversation was EXACTLY what I was thinking of when I wrote this!! My knee jerk reaction to your hack and the conversation that immediately followed. When I recognized what I said to you insinuated that I questioned your ethics, we squashed it right there. We were civil, we discussed, I saw your side, you saw mine, and we moved on. That is what I was hoping for of this FB group but it was soooooooo not that. And it’s unfortunate. You are one of my favorite people BECAUSE the moment I questioned you we were able to get to a place where we could both relate. Unfortunately, time cut us short to finish my side of that convo (particularly my crap mortgage story though it’s not as bad at it sounded!) and I look forward to seeing you later this month to chat more!!

      I didn’t finish school, but I took every psychology and sociology class available to me. Ethics and deviant behavior were by far my favorites. I knew when I met you we had kindred spirits. 🙂

      And finally, yes, my stories are cringe-worthy (especially to my mother who noticeably has not commented!). I did some terrible things, no doubt. And since, I have done many wonderful things to make up for my assholeness (totally a word). I am always questioning where I stand in the eyes of justice. Which way is the scale tipped? Have I done enough to right the wrong? When the time comes, will I pass the pearly gates? I think so. Does that stop me from doing more or questioning myself at times? Nope. I am who I am because of the things I have done. I challenge myself to always be better and it helps that I have friends like you that help me do the same. I sleep just fine at night knowing that I am succeeding.

      Like

  22. Madeline

    Hi,
    I thought this post was so you!
    The reason i read your blog,though I haven’t commented, is because your integrity and compassion shine like a beacon through your writing.
    The very fact that you are thinking and reflecting-not to mention having the courage to ask for feedback- says something lovely about your character…and your ability to learn from childish mistakes!

    Like

    1. Thanks, Madeline! It is so nice to hear such kind words from someone who has gotten the chance to “know” me through my writing. I try to be as transparent as possible (even when it’s ugly) because I believe that is how we both teach and learn the best. I am so thrilled and honored that you took the time to comment and share your thoughts and encouragement. Thank you!!!

      Like

  23. This is shocking to me that people had such a strong reaction to the hack. Honestly I think it’s fair, and it sounds perfectly legal on the basis that your credit union hasn’t shut down the loophole which they are free to do at any time. And it doesn’t sound that different from point hacking bloggers writing about ways to manufacture spending for bonus points. I’ve thought frequently how I can hit the 15 swipe minimum on a high interest checking account but have been moving my money too much into other sign up bonuses to investigate that particular account. Now I know a good hack 🙂

    Like

    1. Haha – glad you could use it!! FYI – for Square you can only swipe the same card 6 times in one hour. Do your 6, set a timer, then do the next six, timer, next 3. Put the card away and you’re done! 🙂

      Like

  24. NatPhorU

    First, I think you were stepping over dollars to get to pennies. 4%? Why not invest in something with 6% or 10% or 1,000,000% since I’m making up arbitrary numbers 🙂

    Anyway, I think there are only two ways to think about loopholes; they are either all unethical, or none are. For any loophole, it is either there by design – in which case it is not technically a loophole, or due to being overlooked. If it was overlooked, in all cases, you are taking advantage of someone else’s mistake. I won’t speculate as to whether that is unethical, but that’s the bottom line for any given loophole.

    On the other hand, consider that many loopholes are not loopholes. A lot of the time, people can be smarter that you may give them credit for. What appears to be a loophole may have intentionally been placed there as an exception that is not explicitly advertised. Sometimes it is so as to not draw attention to the exception and the intent was the creator of this exception was doing him/her self a favor. In other cases, such as with airline miles or bank cards, they know they’re creating the illusion of a loophole, and they profit from it. Every time you swipe a card, they get a fee. Study after study shows you spend more when you can’t see it coming out of your account (i.e., when using a credit card instead of cash). Even when you think you’re sticking it to the man by getting free miles and paying off your card on time with your clever hack, you’re more likely just doing exactly what they designed the program for – using their card and earning them fees on everything you purchase.

    This, I think, is the crux of the problem. It’s difficult to know whether this is a loophole or by design. Even if someone argued that all loopholes are unethical, you can’t easily know if you are actually taking advantage of a loophole, or being convinced by a cleverly designed program that you are an extra smart person who figured out the way to game the system.

    As the saying goes, if you’re getting something for nothing, you’re the product.

    Like

    1. Great insight. The stepping over dollars part I could see if that was my main way of “investing” but it isn’t. That money was there as a down payment to be used within the next 2 years and I am perfectly happy to have sit at a semi guaranteed 4%. Of course, the CU could also change those rates at any time and I would be off to find something else.

      As for the rest, you may be right that the loopholes are there on purpose and therefor should be taken advantage of. I have not done any kind of card hacking (not against it, I just haven’t gotten there) but the thing that stops me is the minimum spends. I don’t spend enough to have it be worth the hassle…yet. Of course, by the time I get around to it I am sure that loophole will be closed by everyone else “who ruins it for the rest”. 😉

      My thoughts on this whole thing, after much debate, is exactly what I thought in the beginning. Take what you want and leave the rest. If one feels dirty, don’t do it. If another feels clever, go for it! To stand in judgment for one over the other is hypocritical. To reiterate your point, perhaps that is why it was put there in the first place!

      Like

  25. Not much to add when reading the above comments, still like you 😉
    We all have had our laps in judgment at some point, it is what you do with it going forward that really matters. Seems like you are doing just fine.

    Like

  26. SweetD

    I’ve always learned that if I’m questioning the morality or integrity of my proposed action, I probably just shouldn’t do it. Just buy the gum or gas or parking with the card and call it a day. IMHO. Love the post (and I had friends like that too!)

    Like

    1. Hey Sweet D! I completely agree with your sentiment. When I have to question myself, I automatically go the opposite way. In this case, I figured what I was doing was just peachy considering every one in the equation was making money. Square get’s a cut, the CC company gets a cut, and I get 4%. Win win! Unfortunately, others didn’t see it that way which is what had me question myself. But then, I don’t agree with some of the hacks they do. So are all hacks immoral? It seems from the comment conversation that most think not but some are on the fence. I am still ok with mine, but not ok with some of theirs. In the end, you’re right, what makes us question ourselves is what should drive that decision.

      Thanks for popping in and taking the time to comment. 🙂

      Like

  27. I like to think of things that pass the Robin Hood test in these scenarios. 1) Can I (or someone else) benefit from it? 2) Is the person who I’m “stealing” from (for lack of a better word) going to get hurt? If I or someone else will benefit and the person I’m getting this from won’t be hurt, then I don’t see a problem with it.
    Of course, I’ll add in another point – 3) Is it even LEGAL? If no, then I don’t do it. That’s a line I don’t cross. If it is legal, I don’t have a problem with it.
    Of course, I do the travel hacking thing where I open and close credit cards just for the benefit. I pay my rent with a money order I pay for with credit cards. I know some people who do this and deposit the money order right back into their account, which theoretically means they can max out their credit cards rewards with as many credit cards as people are willing to give them. I can’t put my finger on it, but that just seems a little…off…to me. Maybe it’s just because I wouldn’t have the balls to go and get endless amounts of money orders. The cashiers where I do get the money orders made for my monthly rent payments already sometimes give me weird side glances, lol!

    Like

    1. Hey Lindsay! Great points. I am sorry this is a late response but it seems your comment went into spam. Still trying to figure out why some get caught there and others don’t…

      Anyhoo, interesting on the money order/cc idea. Now I just need to pay rent somewhere! Haha – all kidding aside, I think there are a lot of ways to get creative with purchases and meeting minimums whether it be swipes of minimum spends. In the end, if it doesn’t pass the sniff test on to the next idea! No side eye needed. 😉

      Like

  28. TJ

    I’m shocked that you haven’t been shut down by Square. Might as well milk it as long as you can. 😀

    It obviously costs them more than 3 cents to process a transaction.

    At first I did recurring sub-$5 donations for that type of thing. But then I realized I had zero problems spending the $$$ on normal purchases.

    Like

    1. Maybe, maybe not. If that was the case you’d think they would have a higher minimum for each swipe. Regardless, no one has said anything to me or the many others doing the same.

      I guess I’m just not a big swiper. My expenses are low but I just don’t use my debit card that often. If I do, swipe it is with my cc for points but even then it rarely gets used. Maybe I need to send my card to you do you can swipe it then reimburse me!! 😉

      Like

      1. TJ

        The best of my understanding is that they don’t have a higher minimum because it’s a loss leader. Paypal is a 30 cents flat fee + 3%.

        My understanding is in fact that if you found a third party you trusted to “trade” with, it would not be against the terms of services vs. the self charging which I’m pretty sure is against the terms of services.

        But I mean even if you went through that hassle, there’s no reason that they couldn’t shut it down if they want to. They aren’t obligated to do business with anyone.

        As long as four years ago people were getting shut down.

        https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/manufactured-spending/1428398-what-pay-yourself-i-e-square-merchants-out-there.html

        Like

        1. Glad to see I wasn’t the only one doing this!! As for the 100% shut down rate… obviously not true, at least anymore. At this point, we have beaten this horse dead. 😉 Plus they don’t even have to worry about me anymore! I’ve moved on to greener pastures since my latest investment fell through. All money is now safely ensconced in my brokerage account. 🤑

          Like

  29. Every so often I have to do CE for my professional licenses, usually there’s a section on ethics. In the ethics tranning they normally say, and I’m paraphrasing “when in doubt ask your suprivisor. If your not willing to tell your suprivisor what your doing then don’t do it” I think this concept is valid and if applied to this situation if your not William my to tell the credit union what your doing, then you probably know you shouldn’t be doing it.

    Like

    1. The bank knows what is happening. When I swipe the card too many times it alerts the fraud department and they shut down my card until they or I call. Then they ask me about the charges and I say I did authorize them and they turn it back on. If that is happening to me, it is happening to others. But even if that weren’t happening, you bring up a great point. I wonder this, if I call to ask them exactly where/who my money is being loaned to, would they tell me? My guess is no. We give our money to banks to let them do with as they please. I’m definitely not defending my actions, I am sincerely curious what the answer would be. Maybe the transparency should be on both sides? Food for thought.

      Like

      1. Hello Miss Mazuma

        My intent was not accuse anyone of any wrong do doing. Im just stating my philosophy is ‘when in doubt ask” and its served me fairly well in life. Now I would suggest there is a difference between doing something and saying they knew I was doing it because they saw me, and actually asking if you can do it. Its very possible they know exactly what you are doing and do not care, or what your doing is just getting drowned in the volume of business and they are missing it.

        I agree in a perfect world transparency should work both ways, and unfortunatly it doesn’t. I hate to dust of a cliche but just because someone is wrong doest make you right.

        either way its an interesting topic none-the-less and we could debate till the cows come home, thank you for the thought excercise and destraction from work on a cloudy afternoon.

        Like

        1. No worries – I didn’t take it that way. I totally agree that just because someone is wrong it doesn’t make you right. I also believe that if I am wrong I shouldn’t take down the whole ship. Knowing what I know now regarding the legalities on Square’s side, is all I needed to know to make my decision. The credit union was never my issue (judgement from my peers was), though I think the topic of transparency on that side (where/who they loan our money to and if we could have a say) would be a fascinating one to dissect!

          Regardless, you’re right, by the looks of this comments section we could talk about this until the cows come home. Thank goodness we all have better things to do! 🙂

          Like

  30. Lots of comments about how playing by the rules makes it OK… but this isn’t exactly playing by the rules.

    It is not illegal in the US (as far as I know) unless the details of the situation make it money laundering (which this is not), but self payment is against the rules of every payment provider’s TOS that I am aware of. It is also not allowed by the credit card agreement.

    This is not a loophole the provider has failed to close, it’s a loophole they have tried to close but, due to technical reasons, the abuse is difficult for them to pin down and put a stop to in some circumstances. If Square found out about it, they would close your account.

    You’re not a monster, but I don’t consider things loopholes or hacks if they actually violate my agreement with the bank (or payment processor or whatever) and can get my account closed.

    Plus you can get 15 swipes without losing processing fees without too much work, so doing it another way is at least 2.75% better based on that alone 🙂

    Like

    1. Hi Andrew! This is EXACTLY the type of conversation I was hoping for in my original FB post. A nice chat about the legalities without the harsh criticism against my morals when I didn’t even know what I was doing was wrong in any way…just a sheep following the herd. And thank you for saying I am not a monster…I could of sworn I heard people chasing me with torches that evening! 😉 At the end of the tirade, the moderator did point out the possibility of the legalities and I immediately removed my post so as not to lure anyone else down the dark road of illegal payments. Thanks for being civil and adding to the discussion. Time to start reading those long service agreements! 🙂

      Like

  31. If the system is in place and the credit union did not have a problem with it. Everybody tries to minimize their taxes legally. We all try to increase our upside and reduce our downside. I had to learn a long time ago, if they don’t sleep with you or pay your bills you are not required to accept their judgement.

    Like

    1. Hahahahaha! Love that line and will be using it
      in the future. 🙂

      I don’t know if the credit union has a problem with it (I never specifically asked) but they are aware of it. As Andrew (above) just pointed out, Square WOULD have a problem with it. For that I could definitely come up with another solution. But, again, you’re right. The shaming from people who take part in other (knowingly) devious ways to game a system is silly. After your comment I definitely won’t be taking any flack from them to heart…unless, of course, I start sleeping with one of them! 😉

      Like

      1. Eric J

        I’m not sure what the “hack” is for the Roth conversions, so I couldn’t say anything about those… To my knowledge, a Roth conversion just means you’re paying the taxes NOW so you DON’T have to pay them later… And that being the case, it’s not much of a “hack” or a “loophole”: it’s just a way to potentially lower your taxes before it’s all said and done.

        As for the “hack” of using a Square account, it’s already been pointed out about the legalities of such from the standpoint of Square. And while I admittedly haven’t read ALL of the comments, I can’t say I’ve seen anyone mention it from the government’s standpoint… Per the merchant account agreement (which Square is a provider of), transactions going through their account are intended for business sales: translation – business income. This is at least part of the reason why it’s against their TOS to charge things to your own account. You would have a heck of a time proving that those dollar charges were for (legitimate) business sales… Besides, even if by some chance you might be able to prove that, then comes the question of whether it was your intention to report that as business income to the IRS (so they could get THEIR “fair cut”) — and chances are, I doubt it (if you even thought that it might be a possibility, which is not highly probable).
        I’m not passing judgement; in fact, had you intended to report those swipes as business income that would have been mentioned as a possible justification for why it wasn’t “immoral”. In other words, the lack of mentioning that fact likely meant you weren’t aware of such a requirement.
        I’d chalk this up as something that sounded good at the time, but maybe too good to be true (and in reality, it isn’t).
        I’d be thankful that the IRS hadn’t caught wind else you might be looking at an audit… Not saying there’d be anything that necessarily come of an audit, but it’s not a fun process to go through. But if there’s anything “shady”, you can bet on them NOT giving you the benefit of the doubt. (And their audit doesn’t have to be limited to just the one potential return that might be affected.)
        Anyway, guilt is often associated with intention rather than “right-ness”. That is, you felt guilty when you were stealing because it was your intention to take something without paying for it like you ought. That would affect your integrity because you were knowingly and willfully doing something you knew was “wrong”. But on the other hand, if you didn’t know it was “wrong” to steal, you wouldn’t feel guilty about it if you happened to do it — at least until it was pointed out that it was.
        It’s kinda like the question parents love to ask (though it’s not just parents asking) after an apology: are you sorry for what you did, or are you sorry you got caught? One means you’re likely to change the behavior itself whereas the other just means you’ll take greater effort in not getting caught the second (etc.) time around.

        Like

        1. In the early retirement group, the Roth conversion is one of the biggest ways to game the system – more of a loophole than a hack. I won’t explain it right, but here are a few dudes who can:

          http://www.gocurrycracker.com/never-pay-taxes-again/

          http://retireby40.org/pay-no-tax-roth-ira-conversion/

          I’m still wrapping my brain around some of the finer points but I fully intend to take advantage of this when the time comes…provided it’s still available!

          As for the rest, I have thought about the governments part in this but was under the assumption that if your income is less than $600 you don’t have to report it. Of course, I could be 100% wrong on that but I also hope the government would have bigger fish to fry than hassle someone making less than 80k a year for $360 of unreported “income”. I suppose stranger things have happened!! AND making all my financial flaws public certainly doesn’t help. 😉

          Thanks for you comment!! The governments take of all side hustles is something that doesn’t get talked about often enough!

          Like

  32. I think your conclusions and takeaways from this are spot on. It is your moral code, not the other people in the Facebook group. They have a right to voice their opinion and you have the right to subsequently tell them to pound salt. The one thing is that I think it would be a shame if you stopped sharing your opinion in groups as a result of this. Your opinion should be shared and you should feel comfortable and confident enough to share your secret finance hacks with the world.

    As dumb as it sounds, if it was an illegal hack or against their pages upon pages of fine print, who cares. You knew that was a risk and I guess the credit union could audit you if they wanted (and they are a credit union, they most likely wouldn’t do that). You took on and accepted the risk. Much like your high school days, when you stole those items, you had to of known that there could be potential consequences. Heck you saw the consequences first hand when your friend was busted. But it is wrong for the haters to question your moral code or treat you like shit because of it. They should simply shut their mouths or either suggest something like “hey this isn’t for me, but good luck.” No need to make it personal. It sucks that sometimes the loudest voices are the nastiest. I love our community because everyone is typically positive and encouraging. Every once and a while though, you’ll run into this episode.

    Who care and just keep being you. You don’t owe any of those people a damn thing!

    Bert

    Like

    1. Thanks, Bert! It’s funny – someone put this post on that FB group and the conversation was much more civil. Maybe I got them on a bad night or maybe these comments helped to tone down the judgement. 😉

      I’m kinda digging the hack Daniel just posted about swiping for Amazon credit… that may be a better route in the future!

      Like

  33. I think it really depends on what standard you hold when you do such things. That’s what we do when we play any games and also true even if you consider following the laws in different religion. If your action is within the terms and condition of the usage, then I don’t see how you can be held guilty – both in terms of the black and white and even morally. But if you hold yourself certain values that’s above the policy, then you might feel guilty. To me, that doesn’t make a person wrong, it’s just their conscious.

    Like

  34. Daniel

    when i need swipes i just do $.50 loads only my Amazon account. 15 swipes on 2 cards would equal $15. I easily spend much more than that at Amazon a month.

    Like

  35. Simon

    I used to hack bookies in my home country for free bets, then take the other side with another bookie to ensure a win either way. I did this in my name, and in the name of everyone I knew. At its peak I was making about $2000 a week from it. I was then distributing the wealth among my friends… sharing the wealth and beating the corporations that prey on so many. Till one day someone snitched on me and the legal threats came. I couldn’t understand why someone would do that — dob me in when I felt like I was doing everyone a favour. I still don’t really understand it, but pretty sure it’s got to do with others seeing you winning and trying to drag you back down. I’ve never studied psychology, but I’m sure there’s an explanation for it. Doesn’t make sense to me, but it did to them. Even though they got nothing out of it except for the satisfaction of putting an end to my inner circle’s gravy train. Yay for them.

    Like

    1. Ohhhhh – interesting. So playing both sides knowing you would win. I’m surprised you didn’t get more than legal threats! 😉 I wonder who did the snitching. Someone you were helping or someone who wasn’t getting a piece of the pie?

      Like

      1. Simon

        Someone who saw what was happening but morally didn’t believe in gambling so didn’t want a piece of the pie. So only did they opt out themselves, they opted everyone else out too. Shut the whole thing down as a result and now have to earn an honest living. So there’s a silver lining!

        Like

  36. Joe told me I had to read this and it did not disappoint. Very nice post 🙂

    Morality is fiercely personal and internal, unlike legality which is allegedly impartial and external. We follow laws because we don’t want to suffer the consequences of breaking them, but we follow our moral code because that is what defined each of us and provides a framework for our behavior.

    The internet (and world in general) is full of people who want to impose their moral code upon you, and not because it is in your best interest. If enough people get pissed off enough about something they generally band together and turn their opinion of morality into a law.

    If the banks don’t like it they can close your account or make a rule against it. Swipe away fellow philosopher!

    My favorite framework of morality is laid out quite nicely in the book “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World” by Harry Browne. Check it out.

    Oh, and it was an absolute pleasure meeting you at FinCon.

    🙂

    Like

    1. Aww- thank you. I am glad to know you like me regardless of my criminal past (maybe present?). 😉

      I agree that the world is full of bitter and you get to choose what poison you drink. If you care what others think they can fill you up with positive or knock you down with negative – I prefer, for the most part, not to care. That being said, every once in a while my bubble gets penetrated and I am reminded why I choose not to care in the first place!

      It is nice to know the world is also full of people like you. Kind and caring and full of inspiration. THOSE are the people I choose to surround myself with and I am so happy I get to add you to the list. 🙂 I just reserved that book and look forward to reading it!

      Like

  37. A lot of good points here. Even if my main takeaway is yes, FB is getting real scary in some of the groups and I am better off without that judgement.

    We have never had credit cards. I see the allure (though benefits are not as good in Norway by far), and to a certain degree I see the argument that CC companies prey on the weak, so they can stand a couple beating the system. But another, much more docile part of me just feels like I don’t want to deal with all that hassle.

    Like

    1. I agree that all the hacking can be a hassle. I haven’t done anything to churn cards because I have the ultimate travel hack (being a flight attendant) but I can see how it would be useful to others. I am not sure I am sophisticated enough to keep it all straight!!

      Liked by 1 person

  38. wishicouldsurf

    Interesting. I like that you are asking the question and while I participate in travel hacking by getting my points and cancelling my card before the annual fee, I don’t go any farther than that. And honestly, I figure the credit card companies, when they model the profitability of said cards, count on a certain percentage of people doing that. Most of the credit card holders do not use the cards that way, so those companies are doing fine with us travel hackers doing our thing. Nothing about it feels illegal or immoral, just using the system to my advantage. I don’t fault people who do all the fancy manufactured spending hacks, but it’s not my jam and feels more in the gray area anyway, besides the fact that it’s more work. On the FB front, I dropped out of a few FB groups I participated in that were FI related for those very reasons. I tried to be value added and put what I thought were helpful and positive comments, and felt that certain folks were very aggressive and weird, likely for no other reason than the fact that they could hide behind a computer screen and say WTF they want with no backlash.

    Like

    1. LOVE your handle. I too wish I could surf and hope to learn in the next year or so.

      Excellent points on the hacking. The companies are well aware of the holes in their programs. I don’t need to worry about them making a profit considering most Americans are in debt and the companies are feeding off the interest charges.

      As for FB – the judgement is insane. I stay off of reddit for that very reason and am happy to stay out of groups these days. I am on there for family and friends and sunshine and ponies. The rest can suck it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  39. Pingback: The Ultra-Official FinCon 2017 Review | The Happy Philosopher

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  41. so, i stood in the wrong line for sainthood too.

    the mob mentality of internet douchebags knows no bounds. i remember commenting on a post by my wife on a speed limit change on a little highway here in town. a kid had been killed when a car drove off the road where there was no guard rail. i said just put up a guard rail instead of making everybody drive 30mph on this highway. the mob tried and tried but could not buckle me, but in time i have stopped wasting my time on any of this on FB with strangers.

    i worked at 2 different bars in new orleans some time ago. one was a hotel bar owned by huge corporation and i didn’t feel the least bit guilty giving away all the cheap draft beer my friends could drink. the other bar was owned by a woman i like named sunshine. never gave away a drink there, even if i had to go to my tip jar to buy one for a friend. my yardstick kinda works that way.

    it’s like having loyalty to some chiseling sidewinders like at+t, the cable company, or bank of america, each of which will rake you over the coals in new, creative sneaky ass ways faster than you can say jack robinson.

    Like

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