When Points are Pointless

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Another post from The Man…
Before I met Mommy Points, I had a motorcycle, a truck, and a nice boat.  Although there was a three year hiatus without a truck, one has returned to the fleet.  Sadly, the motorcycle hasn’t been replaced, partly because I have no time to ride, partly because we’ve moved to an area where I don’t know any other riders, and partly because they scare the living daylights out of Mommy Points.  That leaves the boat.  I’ve always been a water person; wakeboarding and partying on the lake was what brought MP and I closer when we first met.  At one point a good friend and I collectively had three boats in our arsenal.  He and I were tournament bass fishing partners, and spent most of our free time either prepping for tourneys or competing in them.  When we weren’t fishing, we were wakeboarding or just enjoying the lake.  For those of you who haven’t been fortunate enough to visit or live in Austin, Texas, the lakes there are unparalleled for many reasons, and for the ten years I lived in Austin, lakes LBJ, Travis, Buchanan, Austin, Dunlop, Belton, and Stillhouse called me to them like Sirens.

Life has a way of changing, rapidly.  When Little C joined us, and we made the decision to move from Austin to bring her closer to her Texas family, a boat simply didn’t make sense.  Yet not having one gave me phantom limb sensations, and it wasn’t long before we owned a boat once more.  Now when I say boat, some might think of a jon boat, some might think of a six-figure Ranger, others might think of a fully decked out Mastercraft, and still others might think of Paul Allen’s yacht.  Along that spectrum, the boat we now own falls much further to the jon boat side of the spectrum.  It is a little utility fishing boat, but it’s seaworthy, paid for, and it’s aluminum, which means I don’t get queasy if it bangs into a dock or slides over a stump (expensive fishing boats made of fiberglass tend to cause owners with big loan payments to avoid any structure because they don’t want to damage the exterior).  I actually love this boat, because it’s inexpensive, it puts me on the water quickly, and gets me to fish.  Little C went out for the first time last month in her new life jacket, and squealed with pure excitement the first time Daddy pulled in a fish.  That lasted all of four seconds before she found the horn, and gleefully proceeded to blast it all over the lake.  I certainly can’t wakeboard behind this rig, but it makes me happy nonetheless.

That being said, it’s an older boat.  Although it’s paid for, Christmas presents, birthday gifts, and discretionary cash tend to go toward items on the boat that I’ve either wanted to upgrade or replace entirely.  That list is pretty exhaustive, including a hydraulic lift assist for the rear motor, new seats, batteries, sonar, bow roller, jack, trailer wiring, on-board battery charger, and a pro-pole.  Everything was set until I destroyed the trolling motor.  Texas is in the midst of the worst drought in recorded history (we’ve been getting some rain recently, but still have a huge deficit).  As a result, many ramps are closed on the lakes state-wide.  On the lake nearest to us, more ramps are closed than open (only three are open, currently).  Every time I’ve taken the boat out has been a new adventure in trying to negotiate extremely low water conditions.  A few months back, shortly after launching the boat, I managed to drift into what used to be a dock, and before I could correct the drift, the pylon tore the manifold off of the tolling motor.  Although I was able to rig it to a semi-operable state, it was only a matter of time before it would give up the ghost for good.

So now we found ourselves in the market for a new trolling motor.  Although some motors can cost more than the total value of the boat itself, I really was only looking to get a serviceable, economical replacement for the one I’d unfortunately decapitated.  My goal was four hundred dollars or less.  What happens when you’re the spouse of Mommy Points?  You must, at ALL times, attempt to use a portal for points multipliers to maximize your dollars spent.  This was simply one of those times that it just did not make sense to do so.  I knew that the local sporting goods store had the motor I needed in stock.  However, I obliged by spending a few hours shopping through all portals and partner stores trying to find its equal.  Amazon didn’t have the model I needed.  A portal that partnered with Bass Pro Shops  would have worked, but for the fact that BPS wanted 15% more for the same unit, and had a phenomenally high shipping cost.  Same with Sears, Cabelas, and Gander Mountain.  Wal-Mart had a free ship to store, but after waiting through the holiday lay-a-way crowd to retrieve Little C’s birthday present, I vowed to avoid that fiasco ever again.  I was willing to bite the bullet and try again, but alas, just like Amazon, Wally World didn’t carry the model I sought.  After all of that searching, I finally went to the local store and bought the model I wanted.  I had the item that day, didn’t pay shipping, and didn’t settle for a brand or size that wasn’t what I was looking for.  The final total came to $407 with some mounting hardware.

I most definitely used a points-earning credit card that had a minimum spend requirement (I like being married to MP, and not doing so might severely jeopardize that… 😉 ) but this was a clear instance of when to avoid chasing points and simply making the purchase I would have sought in the first place.  It also demonstrates the stereotype I fall into as a man when it comes to shopping: I’d much rather go get the thing I need, rather than spend a ton of time evaluating the options.  This does beg the question of “what is your time worth to you?”  To some, the pursuit of points outweighs the time and effort to get them.  Don’t get me wrong; it’s an absolute blessing to be married to a woman who can show my daughter and I the world for free.  But were we not married, I know that I wouldn’t be a miles and points fanatic, simply because I wasn’t one when I met her.  Myopic, I know, but it’s who I am.  I don’t begrudge the effort I spent to attempt to buy the motor through a portal, but it wouldn’t take too many of those failed attempts before I’d simply swear off the practice altogether.

Similarly, I was told that if I was going to buy Valentine’s flowers this year, to use a portal.  I told MP when we met that I abhorred Valentines, because it was a holiday invented by Esther Howland to move greeting card product.  All was well until last year, when at the end of the day on February 14th I realized the holiday meant more to her than she let on, and I vowed to participate for her.  (For the record, when we met I also informed her that I was never going to get married (again) and that I was absolutely never going to have any children.  She’s very persuasive.  And I’m very fortunate that she is.)  This year rolls around, the day comes, and I don’t have any portal provided for me to buy the flowers from.  Before repeating last year’s mistake, I simply went to the store and bought her some.  In this case, I don’t think her having to tell me to buy flowers would have meant as much, and brightening her day with roses was far more important that not getting them and saying, “you never gave me the portal info!”

I’m glad that scenarios like these are the exception.  Mommy Points pursues and obtains points and miles daily.  It is her hobby, her passion, and she understands the process like no one I’ve ever met.  In case you’re wondering, the flowers are beautiful, and although the motor is mounted and the battery fully charged, I’ve yet to take the boat out for a spin.

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  1. Too sweet….you are both incredibly lucky to have found each other…and continue to encourage the other’s passions-hobbies in life!

  2. I am curious to know what you do for a living. Your posts are extremely well written. If someday, you have free time, consider writing a book 🙂

  3. Perhaps a trip to Japan next 2-14 will take some of the pressure off.
    It is strict Japanese custom for only the woman to buy chocolates for her man on Valentines Day there.


  4. We mile and points obsessed wives truly appreciate the cooperation of our husbands. Mine has been trained to asked for points guidance everytime he spends money. Flying business class to London and staying at a beautiful hotel all on points and miles has finally made him see the worth of my “hobby”.

  5. Great post. Though I’d have to take issue with one thing. Having lived in Austin for a few years and Wisconsin for the rest of my life I have always found the lakes in Austin to be horribly inadequate and in some cases funny. Many of Austin’s lakes wouldn’t even qualify as lakes in this part of the country 🙂

  6. @Susan – Thanks. I am blessed!
    @Jimgotkp – Thank you. I’m glad you like a change of pace at times!
    @kyunbit – I’m a Director of Cloud Services for an Austin tech company, but my degree is in English, and I always planned to write. It’s cathartic, but in my adult life, I find it phenomenally hard to set aside writing time.
    @alohastephen – Is there a discernible difference between Western and Eastern chocolate? Sounds like another great reason to visit another part of the world.
    @Anne – I too am “trained”. Perhaps your husband and I should join a “Married Men” support group. “Hi, my name is The Man, and I am a trained husband.”
    @Perihelion – Honestly, she logs in (I think through Chase) finds the store, and then hands the computer to me. I’m the LAST person you’d want to write about portals. Thanks for the kudos.
    @Cory – I think it’s a “loving local” type of thing. All lakes in Texas are man-made, so perhaps they are an acquired taste for those accustomed to natural bodies of water. Maybe they are unparallelled because none of them are strait? 😉

    -The Man

  7. @MMS, trust me, it is my job to get him to the portals. ;). He just tells me what he wants to buy, and I do the research then turn the options over to him.

  8. Great way to look at things. I agree on the trolling motor however….it’s almost unforgivable to buy flowers without using a mileage offer. They are among the best points per dollar usage. On the other hand in a time crunch flowers you picked up are better than none at all. Besides I’m sure Mommy really appreciated the thought anyway.

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