Saturday, April 21, 2012

Using Them Up

You've all read the stories about how merchants love gift cards. Great Aunt Sally buys you a $25 gift card from Bath and Body Works because she really doesn't know want to get you. You're okay with the card although B&BW isn't one of the places you go to a lot. You stick the card in your wallet and, 18 months later, it's still there. It might have even expired. The store got Aunt Sally's money. You have a piece of plastic.

It's the same way with loyalty cards. It doesn't really cost Hallmark anything to issue me a $7.00 gift certificate for being a loyal purchaser of their product. I forget what the percentage I saw quoted is about certificate redemption but it might have been just over 50%. That means, there are a huge bunch of certificates which will expire before the customer uses them. I know that first hand. I just don't have a need for cards so the certificate hangs on the fridge until I find it with the every other month cleaning.

When you're trying to make every penny stretch, this is and isn't a good practice. I tend to get Hallmark gift certificates when I really don't NEED cards or wrapping paper or anything they have to offer. I like having cards available so I don't have to swing by the store for a birthday card, so I have a stash. I don't want to get more cards so I can get $5 off a $15 purchase. That's not cost effective. But sometimes, the money off actually works.

As part of Panera's loyalty program, they send out Internet offers. One of them was for free soup. I love their chicken with wild rice soup. An Internet offer, I am not likely to remember, print out or use so it costs them nothing to send it to me. This time, however, I got soup...and a brownie...and a drink, so lunch on Thursday was $2.97.

Today, I hauled out all the cards I've received over the months and tried to use them up. I stopped at the hardware store and bought more ant killer and a rake. Now, I can feel guilty about not doing more yard work, because I have a rake. That was $5.00 off on my total purchase. It wound up that the ant killer was, essentially, free.

I went on to Target and bought groceries. It was just a lot of little stuff excepting the cat food and kitty litter. I'm in a cooking frame of mind and the things I wanted to cook required one ingredient I didn't have. I'm good, now, until the end of the month. I received a $25 American Express gift card so that took care of half of the purchase.

My friend, Patt, sent me a Starbucks card for my birthday last year. I did get several of Starbucks' seasonal hot cocoa drinks, but I never used the card up completely. On the way out of Target, I got a hot cocoa and used up the card.

I forgot the $1 off coupon from CVS where I picked up my vitamin D pill script this morning. It's not a very costly script, but saving a dollar is saving a dollar. I have it stuck to the fridge and I walked right by it.

So, that uses up all except one. I did rather well today to get things I needed for less. I have a Best Buy gift card, won for knowing more answers to a trivia questionnaire than anyone else in the office when we were doing mandatory training. I do not know the amount. Some were $20. Some were $25 and some were $50. I don't know what I want to use this for. I thought I'd be needing a new mouse but that got resolved. Should I buy movies? I don't watch many now. Adding to the collection seems like a waste. Hence this card just sits. I don't think it has an expiration date but I'd rather just use it up than hang onto it and, by extension, lose it.

Any suggestions, and no, I won't mail it to you.

Beverage:  Water


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