Savings on Every Purchase

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I get a thrill out of saving money. Some saving comes with more hassle/work than other saving. I’m sure my tolerance level is higher than most, but I’m definitely not cut out for Extreme Couponing at the grocery store. Often the benefit/thrill of saving 20¢ on a jar of pickles isn’t worth the hassle of maintaining a binder full of coupons. However, there is a happy medium. Some of the things I’ll mention may seem petty. It’s hard to get excited about getting 2% off a purchase, but think about adding discounts together and saving 5% off all your spending as a whole. Spend $3k/month? That’s $150 extra per month or $1800/year. Hopefully my message here will help you see savings everywhere.

Our history of buying appliances shows a few different saving strategies:

  1. First washer/dryer set – Bought from a used appliance store. Haggled down to about $200 for a set with a 2 year “warranty”. After first use the dryer timer stopped working. I lugged it back to the store where they “fixed” it and the timer worked exactly 1 more cycle. I probably should’ve just Googled how to fix it or bought a replacement part, so we didn’t have to stress about remembering to turn off the dryer. Otherwise, clothes would get teeny and toasty. Anyway, it got us through our poor days, and we sold the set 2-3 years later for $150.
  2. Second washer/dryer set – I decided to buy new this time, for some more features and less headache. At the time, Chase Freedom offered 5% back at department stores, including Sears. Clicking through Chase’s website to shop Sears, got me 10% back. After a few weeks, I found one for $500/piece + free shipping that was being sold elsewhere for at best, $575/piece. On Chase’s site, there was another coupon for $50 off $350+ purchase. I bought the washer in one transaction and the dryer in another. At other retailers I would’ve paid $1150 before tax. I paid: $900 after coupons – $90 in cash rewards through Chase = $810. $340 savings! The dryer also qualified for a $50 rebate from my utility provider (which I of course applied for).

If cheap works (or is necessary) and isn’t too much headache, Example 1 can be great. If you just gotta have something nicer, stack deals like in Example 2.

Credit Card Savings

I have definitely utilized lots of credit card perk programs over the years. My favorite one is probably the Cell Phone Insurance program. If your cell phone breaks due to physical damage or theft, there are a handful of credit cards at Wells Fargo and US Bank that will reimburse up to $600 for the purchase of a new phone. I’ve used that feature twice. All you have to do is pay your monthly cell phone bill with an eligible credit card. It’s the only purchase on my Wells Fargo card each month.

Many credit cards also have deals programs, like AMEX Offers or Bank Amerideals. I don’t use these often, but occasionally something will catch my eye or I’ll check them when I have a purchase in mind. For example, I wanted a Nest E Thermostat, and the Delta AMEX offered $50 statement credit with a $250+ purchase at Nest.com. The Nest was $169. I bought 2, filed 2 rebates with my utility providers ($150 rebate per Nest), and after taxes+shipping ended up costing $11 for 2 Nests. I sold the extra one for $100. Gotta love when you can stack rewards.Nest

Finally, find out where you spend regularly and find a card(s) that rewards well for it. For example, the Citi Costco Card 4% back at gas stations, 3% at restaurants and travel, and 2% at Costco. So $3/gallon turns into $2.88/gallon. Chase Freedom has 5% back at various places, rotated quarterly. So sometimes 5% at gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, Apple Pay, Walmart, Amazon, etc. My wife may roll her eyes when I say “this month, use your {insert card name} for gas” but those points really do add up. If you put company expenses on personal cards and get reimbursed for it, find a card that rewards well for those purchases. My wife was doing lots of food orders for work, so I made sure she was putting those purchases on a card getting us 4.5% back on restaurants rather than 1%. That caused $2000 in purchases to get us $90 back instead of $20. If you’re booking company travel 💰💰… free flights and hotel accumulate quickly.

Random Shopping Discounts

Ebates is a popular click-through coupon site we use. Their database of retailers offers cash back for all over the place. They’ve made it really easy by adding a browser extension, so an alert will pop up when you visit a site that offers extra rewards. Click it and you’ll save. They will send you a check quarterly for all your earnings. A great thing about programs like this, is that you can stack multiple discounts/rewards. For example, if you go to Hotels.com and book a room for $100. Ebates is offering 8% cash back. Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 9.34.43 PMThe Chase Sapphire Reserve is getting you 4.5% back with travel. Hotels.com gives you a free night for every 10 nights booked (10% back). So that $100 hotel room purchase can equate to rewards of: $8+$4.50+$10 = $22.50. So $22.50 in rewards for a $100 purchase.Pretty Pretty Good

It might also be worth checking RetailMeNot if you ever need a discount. Users and the website itself stock this full of coupon codes and promotions for pretty much anyone on the internet. Occasionally I’ll upload referral codes to this site too, which once got me 2 years of free Dish service.

I always ask restaurants if they have rewards, app, text deals, or punch card program. If I’m going to be there anyway, why not get discounts and rewards? When dining with friends, often they say “you can have my rewards too.” They feel they’ve lost nothing, but I’m closer to a freebie. One of my favorite lunch places offers a free dessert at 5 stamps then a free entree at 10. One stamp for every $5 increment. Double stamps on Wednesdays. I’m always going here with friends or for business lunches. Rarely do I spend more than $10 personally, but I probably get a free entree every 4th visit. Definitely worth a paper card slipped into the middle of my wallet. Even more worth it when it’s in an app.

Final Words

Use credit card bonuses wisely! DON’T EVER OPEN A CREDIT CARD FOR ITS REWARDS, IF YOU AREN’T PAYING THE CARDS OFF EACH MONTH, WHICH RESULTS IN PAYING INTEREST! If you’re doing awesome and getting 3% back in rewards on your everyday spending, it’s not worth it if you’re paying 18% in interest.

Decide what your coupon stamina is. Add a few to your shopping, and you’ll realize it’s not all that difficult. But it’ll be fun, and you’ll save lots of money!

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