Finances & Money

Helping my Father-in-Law with Credit

For many of us personal finance bloggers, the idea of debt and credit cards is comparable to living in the 4th circle of hell. However, for many others who are responsible with their credit, we treat credit and debt as opportunities.

My father-in-law is a self-employed carpenter and handyman. He is a master of his craft and has only ever advertised once for his business (15 years ago). He is in high demand by the richest of the rich in the nearby city, and never has an open schedule. However, he’s also one of the most humble of people and clearly undercharges his clients (but that’s for a different story).

Knowing his line of work, I asked him how he purchases his home improvement materials (for his clients). He replied that he just uses his Lowe’s store card, but that he doesn’t get any rewards on this card. A light bulb lit up over my head as I recalled one of the credit cards I highlighted in a recent post about 0% interest rate offers for 6 months.

Knowing that my father-in-law handles his credit responsibly by paying off the balance each month and never overextends himself financially, and since he must buy on credit until his clients reimburse the purchase (he does have overlap between receivables and card payments), I recommended the Chase Home Improvement Rewards Card to him.

The Chase Home Improvement Rewards Card offers 3% cash back on any purchase at qualifying home improvement stores, such as “a home supply warehouse store; a lumber/building supply store; a glass/paint/wallpaper store; or a hardware store”. Plus, he’ll get 1% back for any other purchase. He can receive a $25 gift card or check for every 2,500 points.

Since my “FIL” spends at least $5,000-7,000 per year at home improvement stores, this card can earn him between $150-210 per year (or more if he uses it for all other purchases).

My FIL signed up for the card, knowing it is a good opportunity to earn more money for his business purchases, and should be receiving it in about 2 weeks. The 0% rate on purchases and balance transfers probably isn’t a benefit he’ll utilize, but he knows it’s there. However, he also knows not to let his balance slide simply because the 0% is there; he’ll still be paying off the balance every month.

Now if only I can get them to set up a retirement fund. However, is it too late when you’re in your 60s?

About the author

Clever Dude


  • Kyle: Yes, I get commissions. I used to say so in my earlier posts, but I’ve been told that it’s not relevant to the post and just post the offers without the disclaimer.

    I’ve continually debated with myself about displaying credit card offers, but I’ve decided towards offering them. If it doesn’t prove to be lucrative, then I’ll drop them.

    More information than you asked for, but I figured I would share.

  • Smart. I don’t have a problem with the no disclaimer, especially since the CC offer is in the context of quality content and sound advice. Hope it makes you some money to offset the costs of running this blog!

  • I agree with the other commenters. It’s never too late to start saving for retirement. If anything, if you are in your 60’s and haven’t started yet, you should be much more aggressive about your savings, rather than giving up on the concept.

  • Yeah, might as well start some saving even at that age. I mean, he’s still working right? Who knows how long it might be until he actually retires. My FIL is nearing that age and he seems like the kind of guy who will never stop working.

  • Frank, he definitely is still working and he definitely will not stop unless he can’t work any longer. His work depends on his physical wellness, and he can’t crawl on his knees doing tile or hammer drywall forever. We hope he can because we want him to do alot for our house!

    They’re really going to depend on fixed income when they can’t work anymore. For their location and lack of debt, SS and medicare will work fine (I hope).

  • It could save him between $150-$210 per year, not earn. He is spending the money not investing it. A semantics point, but something to think about when credit card companies market cash back cards. Otherwise, a great idea.

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