I am sort of “in the middle” when it comes to saving my latte money (i.e. couponing/frugality/small savings ). When I read money-saving blogs, I’m equally amazed and a bit confused about the lengths that people go to for free/cheap drugstore goods — multiple transactions, rolling over rewards, coupon tricks, stockpiling etc… At the same time, I do periodically try to snag deals at drugstores using a combination of manufacturer and store coupons AND sometimes it does take a lot of time/effort.
While I do think that saving big is more important in your overall financial health — learn to negotiate, improve job skills, get a better paying job, invest wisely, don’t buy more house than you can afford, etc.. — sometimes I do have the time and energy to work in small savings. I still make beginner “mistakes” and forget prices but I thought I write down some recent small savings and see if it makes any difference.
$20 gift card – Olay Rebate with $50 purchase of products, all of which I got on sale at pretty good prices.
$10 gift card – for signing up for online bill payment
$50 cash – for signing up for a savings account. While I don’t recommend opening and closing multiple accounts, this one did not have many restrictions.
$4 in Rite Aid register rewards – I used $2 rewards plus a $1 manufacturer coupon to get a “free” bottle of shampoo.
$6 cash – free meal at Panda Express for buying a $25 gift card. Panda Express never satisfies my craving for real Chinese food but I know I’ll end up using the gift card.
$20 in Target gift cards – for spending $50 at Target. I got this deal twice. In the first transaction, I had to buy a couple of kid toys and spent $61. In the second transaction (another visit), I bought a large bag of dog food and 2 other items, spending $55 total. I try to get good deals and stick to my shopping list rather than buy enough just to make the $50 requirement for the gift card.
$15 Ebates check – If you shop online, it’s worth signing up for Ebates or similar service. I don’t know how Ebates makes money but if you go to the ebates website first, then click through to an online retailer, they give you cash back quarterly just for making your usual purchases.
$7 cash – for signing up with the Fresh & Easy Friends loyalty card. I haven’t redeemed it yet but it should be pretty straightforward
$10 gift card – for watching a health care video.
Plus, “Bonus” unexpected savings that didn’t give me cash but helped the bottom line:
$25 savings – Found an obscure code on some tech forum that worked and got 1-year of McAfee at an amazingly low price; Previous year I got the entire year free with a little-advertised Bank of America customer promotion.
$12 (value) – one year free subscription to Whole Living magazine for Harry & David purchase.
$17 free haircut – at Supercuts. You have to get 10 cuts to get 1 free.
$4 in free food – Many businesses have survey information printed on the end of their receipts. It’s quick to fill out and you get small perks or a chance to win major money. Plus, it’s your chance to give valuable feedback that actually does get taken into consideration for a store location’s employees.
Lesson learned: Little savings do add up. However, I find the drugstore game tactics to be more of a headache than even rebates!
All of the above “little savings” is probably my subconscious way to avoid calling my phone company. I need to do that pronto and re-negotiate my rate (again).
Finally, as a reminder to everyone who hates to negotiate, all those little savings also do not compare at all to my recent negotiations at work that resulted in a nice bonus.
How far do you go to save money?