Thursday, May 08, 2008

How I'm milking the system for all it's worth

Yesterday I put into place the first part of my plan to mooch as much free cash out of my purchases as I can. It was easy - I went to the grocery store and bought a combined $100 in gift cards to other stores where I was planning to shop.

My grocery store shopper's club keeps track of your purchases, and every $50 you spend gets you $0.10 off per gallon of gas at their stations. Given how expensive groceries are now, it doesn't take much to whack quite a bit off the price of a fill-up ... especially since the gift cards count as double points toward my gas discount. So $100 = $0.80 off per gallon, which if I wait until I'm on fumes and almost fill my gas tank translates to as much as $12.

And I paid for the cards with a credit card that gives me cash back on my purchases ... where I earn twice as much for grocery purchases. That means I earned about $2 from the credit card company.

And when I made my purchases today, anything in excess of the amount of cards I purchased went onto the same credit card, which is the one linked to my UPromise account. I earn UPromise money at Bed Bath and Beyond for any purchases made with that credit card, so that's another $1 or so. And I get the cash back on the credit card purchase, too, which is another $1 or so.

So basically it boils down to this: Buying the gift cards at the grocery instead of just paying with the credit card at the store earned me up to an extra $13, in addition to the $3 I would have earned if I just used the credit card linked to the UPromise account. Not too shabby, considering I was at the grocery store anyway, and I was going to buy the same stuff at the same stores whether I had gift cards or not.

Now, I know why the companies offer their cards for sale at the grocery. They're hoping that if you spend $25 on a gift card from Bath and Body Works, and your total comes to $22, you'll throw in an extra purchase so you won't have to carry around a piece of plastic that only has $3 left on it. If you buy one extra thing in addition to what you would have bought if you weren't using the gift card, they're making money off of you. But if you have the willpower (and purse space) to walk away from the extra purchases, gift cards that earn you extra grocery store credit can be a very deal.

Now I plan to go clean the store out of Home Depot cards so I can buy a new sink for our bathroom ... bwahahahahahahaha!


zJayne said...

Very good information. Thanks~
I've done this (planned ahead) with Home Depot cards and bought them at Giant Eagle, but I haven't been diligent in planning ahead for other areas. With the rising prices, it makes a difference.

I try to get them a day ahead of time for Home Depot, not sure, but I think they sometimes can take a day to kick in.

You go girl! I mean...LazyMama!!

LazyTcrochet said...

I have to do my homework before I go shopping. One Giant Eagle is offering double fuel perks and another one is not. No double points for gift cards over in my neck of the woods either!

SToNZ said...

I have to get in on this...

Laura said...

Ah, Giant Eagle. I usually stick to Marc's - it comes out cheaper for me than Giant Eagle, even with the fuel perks. My daughter's Catholic schools sells gift cards, and you can earn money off your tuition by buying them.

Another thing you might find useful is Ebates - if you shop online through links on their website, you'll earn a percentage of what you spend back in cash. They'll send you a check (or you can have it deposited into a Paypal account) every three months for the balance in your account (as long as you have $5 or more in it). The money really adds up. I also always search for online coupon codes before buying anything online, through a website like or