Sakariasen's Cheapskate Blog

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Signing Up for Programs: Three Different Ways to Save You Money November 27, 2010

Being a cheapskate is a lot of work sometimes and you really have to know what you’re doing. It actually takes awhile to get into the flow of things and there is definitely a learning curve at the beginning. I think if miserliness was somewhat ingrained in you as a child, it’s much easier to understand and get into the flow of being a cheapskate like me.

 

I had only received one set of coupons this past week so I decided to let the update slide and get back to writing a real entry about being a cheapskate. I wanted to talk about the three things you should sign-up for as a cheapskate.

 

Club Cards: Most large chains now have a little card that you keep on your person to swipe before or after your transaction to get a deal. I cannot believe how many people I see getting on line in a store trying to buy things on sale and then are completely clueless as to why the sale isn’t working for them. You really need to be careful and know your prices because sometimes a “sale” isn’t really one. For example, I went by Stop N Shop and they had a big pile of Cheez-It boxes at the front of the store that said “2 for $6.00” with your card of course. I know that these are regularly on sale for $1.50-$2.00 elsewhere so I would skip that—I don’t want to shop at places that jack up their prices to “lower” them at a later time. Hint: You might realize you have more of these club cards on your key ring than actual keys after awhile. My solution is to simply keep all of your cards on a separate key ring and only bring them with you if you are going to the store or if you think you are going to the store. If you drive everywhere, that’s easy to keep in your car. If you walk everywhere, that’s easy to keep in your bag.

 

Coupon Sites: There are the main coupon sites (RedPlum.com, Coupons.com and SmartSource.com) that many people frequent. If you are lucky enough, you shop at a chain that allows you to directly place coupons on your card online, avoiding the hassle and waste of printing and cutting them out yourself. I also check out other sites (BettyCrocker.com and P&Gs website) that also put coupons up that may or may not cross-over with the main coupon sites. If you have specific brands or companies that you are loyal to, sign-up for their mailing lists. Many companies will mail you coupons or offers from time to time and others will tell you to contact them every three months if they do not have a “coupon list.” Hint: If you do not want to clog your e-mail with coupons and coupon-related offers, set-up a separate e-mail account for this.

 

Free Samples: I have received a number of free samples ever since I started signing up to receive them a month ago. I know more samples will be on their way and that’s good for me. As mentioned above, if you don’t want to clog your e-mail with “stuff” you can use your separate e-mail address for this as well. Many times you can just click on the box that you do not want to be contacted. Not only are the free samples useful but some even come with coupons. I have received travel-sized toothpaste (good so that I don’t have to buy my own), Breathe-Right strips (good because I have always wanted to try before I buy), cat food (good because it will provide 3-5 meals), tissues (good for the car) and a dish washing packet. Hint: You don’t have to search around for these free samples, as there are people who already do that for you. Subscribe to a blog (Money Saving Mom, for example) and check daily in the freebies section. Websites like hers are great because she posts tons of other information as well—limited coupon offers, advice, drugstore deals, etc and they’re all right there for you—no work on your part necessary.

 

Stay cheap my friends!

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Cheapskate Coupon Challenge: Week Two Round-Up November 21, 2010

Ah, yes. I am back again. I didn’t have time to write about one of the many topics I would like to cover in my blog but I would like to provide an update on my coupon challenge. I have received some great coupons as a result of my work and I am fairly happy with the results. Here is an update of the coupons I have received as of the second week of my challenge.

Aleve (Bayer)

Amy’s Kitchen

Arm & Hammer (Church & Dwight Co.) Success! Enclosed with the letter was a $1.00 off any one Arm & Hammer Aim, Close-Up, Pepsodent Toothpaste, Mentadent or Arm & Hammer Ultramax Product. To be clear, I specifically wrote about the effectiveness of their deodorant.

Arrid (Church & Dwight Co.)

Aunt Jemima (Quaker Oats Company)

Aussie (Procter & Gamble)

Ball Park Franks (Sara Lee Corporation)

Birds Eye

Burt’s Bees

Bush’s BeansSuccess! A nice letter along with four coupons: two save .55 on any two cans of Bush’s Best Beans and two .55 off any size/variety of Bush’s Baked Beans.

Cabot CheeseSuccess! They sent me some information about their products, some recipes and two coupons for $1.00 off any two Cabot products.

Cape Cod Chips Success! Along with their letter, thanking me and inviting me to stop by their factory if I’m ever in town, I received four coupons for $0.55 off any 5 oz. bag or larger of their chips.

Carmex (Carma Laboratories)

Carnation Instant Breakfast (Nestle)

Carolina Rice (Riviana Foods)

Celestial SeasoningsSuccess! Along with a letter inviting me to visit their place if I’m ever in the area, I received three coupons to save $0.50 on any box of Celestial Seasonings Tea.

Cetaphil (Galderma Laboratories)

Cheez-It (Kellogg)Success! I received four coupons—-one for $1.00 off any Kellogg’s product, one for $1.00 off any one package of Keebler Cookies, Crackers or Cones, one for $1.00 off any MorningStar or Worthington Veggie Foods Product and one for $1.00 off any Sunshine Krispy of Cheez-It product.

Classico (Heinz)Success! Attached to their “thank you” insert was a coupon for a free jar of Classico Pasta Sauce.

Clif Bar

Crisco (J.M. Smucker)

Country Crock (Unilever) – Success! A nice letter and a holiday recipe collection. Included a booklet of coupons for savings between .50-$1.00 on Bertolli Frozen Products, Breyers Ice Cream, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, Helmann’s, Lipton Tea, Wish-Bone Salad Dressings, Degree Anti-Perspirant, Dove Bar/Body Wash, Ponds Towelettes, Q-Tips, Suave and Vaseline.

Dannon Yogurt (Dannon Company)Success! Along with a letter were two coupons for $0.25 off any one yogurt product.

Del Monte (Pounce, Meow Mix, Del Monte Veggies)Success! Along with their little insert that thanked me for purchasing their products, they also sent me two coupons for $0.50 off any size or variety of Pounce Cat Treats. (I told them how much my cats love Pounce, which is true. They’re fiends for that stuff!) A few days later I received more coupons, probably regarding their veggies, in which I got: $1.00 off two College Inn Broth Cartons and two $0.50 off any Del Monte Canned Food Snack Cup or Ketchup Product.

Dial (Henkel)Success! $0.40 off any Renuzit product except candles, $0.35 off any Dial product, $0.35 off any Soft & Dri product, $0.50 off any Liquid or Dry Purex Detergent, $0.50 off any Soft Scrub product and $0.35 off any Right Guard product. *Note: Company also stated in their letter that I could contact them for coupons every three months.

DoleSuccess! I actually have no recollection of contacting this company and they were not on my original list that I had created. However, I must’ve contacted them regarding something so here are the coupons I have received: 4 coupons for: $0.75 off any Dole Salad or Cut-Vegetable item, $0.75 off any Dole Fruit Bowls or Fruit Parfaits, $0.75 off any Dole Fruit in plastic jars and $0.50 off any two cans of Dole Canned Fruit.

Domino Sugar (Domino Foods)Success! Thank you Domino, for you are awesome. They gave me a little insert, thanking me for my loyalty. They gave me a save $0.25 on a future purchase of any Domino Sugar product (no expiration date either!) and even more awesome, a coupon for a free product! They also gave me a little recipe booklet.

Dunkin Donuts

Eggland’s Best

Ellio’s (McCain Foods)

El Monterey (Ruiz Foods) – Success! I received a nice little letter that told me that I am more than welcome to contact them every three months for coupons. I also received four coupons—two that would allow me to save $1.00 off on any El Monterey product and two that would allow me to save $0.50 on any El Monterey product.

EnergizerSuccess! This was majorly awesome. Along with their letter was a coupon—are you ready for this—FREE UP TO $10.00 off any one package of Energizer or Eveready Brand products! That is completely awesome.

Eveready

Fleichmann’s ActiveDry Yeast (ACH Foods)Success! I had actually complained that one of my packets did not cause a reaction whereas my other ones did. (I had done the same recipe.) I got a coupon for one free 3-strip ActiveDry Yeast.

Friskies (Nestle)Success! Along with an enclosed message, I received three coupons: one to save $2.00 on any 72 oz or larger package of Purina Pet Food, one to save $2.00 on one package of Tidy Cats Cat Litter, and one coupon for two free cans or pouches of Purina brand pet food.

Frito-Lay (*Do not recall what specifically I wrote about to them—probably Lay’s or Doritos.)

Hebrew National (ConAgra)

Heckers Flour – Fail! I did not get any coupons but I did receive a booklet of recipes for whole wheat rolls, breads, bagels, pizza, cookies, muffins and coffee cake, which I felt was a nice gesture.

Hostess (Spoke about Mini Muffins, Donettes and 100 calorie packs—IBC)

Hungry Man (Pinnacle) Success! I received a nice little letter and two coupons to save $0.50 on any one Hungry-Man dinner.

Hunt’s (ConAgra)

Ivory (Procter & Gamble)

Jif (J.M. Smucker)Success! I received a nice little letter with two coupons attached, each allowing me to save $0.35 on the purchase of any 1 Jif product.

Johnsonville Sausage

Jolly Time (American Pop Corn Company)

Kleenex (Kimberly-Clark)

Kozy Shack

Liquid Plumr (Clorox Company)Success! This was one of only a couple of companies I submitted a complaint for, as the LP did not remove the clog from my tub. Unfortunately, the cashier from a very well known food chain did not hand me my receipt, which I didn’t realize until I got home. The reason for this was because on the bottle was a sticker saying that if I submitted the UPC along with the receipt I could get a rebate if my product did not work. It didn’t but they were nice enough to give me a coupon for a free product anyway so thank you LP!

McCain Potatoes (McCain Foods)

Mrs. Dash (Alberto-Culver)Success! They sent me a nice letter, two sample packets and two coupons for .50 off my next purchase. They also generously included a small booklet of healthy recipes.

Old El Paso (Betty Crocker)

Olivio

Pace Salsa (CSC Brands)Success! Along with an insert thanking me they sent me a tiny recipe booklet and $1.00 off coupon for any of the following Campbell Products: Pace, Swanson, V8, Pepperidge Farm, Prego, and of course, Campbell’s.

Pam (ConAgra Foods)

Pantene (Procter & Gamble)

Pepsi (PepsiCo)

Polly-O (Kraft)

Quaker Oats (Quaker Oats)

Ragu (Unilever)

SCJohnson (*Do not recall all products discussed. Scrubbing Bubbles was probably one of them.) Success! Scrubbing Bubbles must have been the product I complemented because I received a coupon for a free product up to $3.50. SCJohnson also sent me a little booklet with additional coupons: two more coupons for Scrubbing Bubbles products ($3.00 & $1.50 for a Power Sprayer starter kit and Power Sprayer refill, respectively), $2.00 off any Pledge/Armstrong floor cleaner, .50 off any Windex Multi-Surface cleaning product, .50 off any Ziploc brand bags, $1.00 off any Shout Color Catcher, $3.00 off any Glade Sense & Spray starter kit, $1.00 off any Glade Relaxing Moments Collection, $1.00 off any Glade Tough Odor Solutions, $2.00 off any OFF! Clip-on kit, and $4.00 off any Raid Max Bug Barrier starter.

Shady Brook Farms (Cargill Meat Solutions)

Simple Green (Sunshine Makers) Success! I believe I actually asked them for a sample and they sent me a plastic spray bottle, a small bottle of concentrated solution and very short instructions on diluting it. They also sent me a $2.00 coupon. This was the first thing I got and they sent it first class mail. Thanks Simple Green! You are awesome!

Sorrento (Lactalis)

Snyder’s

Splenda (McNeil Nutritionals)Success! I just want to say that this company is completely awesome! They sent me a giant stirring spoon with the Kool-Aid face on it. They sent me a TON of recipes, 3-4 booklets of them. They also sent me four $1 off coupons on any Benecol spread as well as a giant magnet for Splenda conversions and three $1 off any Splenda product.

Stacy’s Pita Chips (Frito-Lay)

Starkist Success!Two coupons for $0.75 two pouches of StarKist tuna.

St. Ives

Stonyfield

Suave (Unilever)

Super Pretzel (J&J)

Sweet Baby Rays

Tetley TeaSuccess! Along with their letter were two coupons for $0.50 off any Tetley Tea product.

Thomas’ English Muffins (Bimbo Bakeries)Success! Two coupons for me to save $1.00 on any Thomas’ product.

Tidy Cats (Nestle)

TRESemme (Alberto-Culver)

Tropicana

Turkey Hill Success! Their cute little decorated envelope included a magnet. I received: 2 $1.00 off any Turkey Hill Dairy product (excluding milk), 1 $1.00 off one 1.5 QT of Turkey Hill Dynamic Duos, 3 $0.35 off any ½ gallon or larger Turkey Hill Iced Tea, Lemonade or Nature’s Accents and 3 $0.50 off any 1.5 QT Turkey Hill Ice Cream, Duetto, Dynamic Duos, Frozen Yogurt or Sherbet.

Unilever (Other products I cannot recall.)

White CastleSuccess! I received two separate coupons, each good for three free hamburgers. That means six free hamburgers for me. Yes! They also advised me that for future promotions, I could sign-up to be on their e-mail list.

Wonder Bread (HBI)

YoPlait

Zatarain’sSuccess! They sent me a little letter with a recipe at the bottom. They gave me two coupons for $0.50 off any two Zatarain’s rice or pasta mixes.

 

Cheapskate Coupon Challenge: Week One Round-Up November 13, 2010

I decided to update my list of the coupons I have received as of this week. If I received something from the company, I  bolded the name. If it was a coupon success, I underlined the word success for your ease visually. Hopefully I have more to add next week!

 

Aleve (Bayer)

Amy’s Kitchen

Arm & Hammer (Church & Dwight Co.)

Arrid (Church & Dwight Co.)

Aunt Jemima (Quaker Oats Company)

Aussie (Procter & Gamble)

Ball Park Franks (Sara Lee Corporation)

Birds Eye

Burt’s Bees

Bush’s BeansSuccess! A nice letter along with four coupons: two save .55 on any two cans of Bush’s Best Beans and two .55 off any size/variety of Bush’s Baked Beans.

Cabot CheeseSuccess! They sent me some information about their products, some recipes and two coupons for $1.00 off any two Cabot products.

Cape Cod Chips

Carmex (Carma Laboratories)

Carnation Instant Breakfast (Nestle)

Carolina Rice (Riviana Foods)

Celestial Seasonings

Cetaphil (Galderma Laboratories)

Cheez-It (Kellogg)

Clif Bar

Crisco (J.M. Smucker)

Country Crock (Unilever) – Success! A nice letter and a holiday recipe collection. Included a booklet of coupons for savings between .50-$1.00 on Bertolli Frozen Products, Breyers Ice Cream, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, Helmann’s, Lipton Tea, Wish-Bone Salad Dressings, Degree Anti-Perspirant, Dove Bar/Body Wash, Ponds Towelettes, Q-Tips, Suave and Vaseline.

Dannon Yogurt (Dannon Company)

Del Monte (Pounce, Meow Mix, Del Monte Veggies)

Dial (Henkel)Success! $0.40 off any Renuzit product except candles, $0.35 off any Dial product, $0.35 off any Soft & Dri product, $0.50 off any Liquid or Dry Purex Detergent, $0.50 off any Soft Scrub product and $0.35 off any Right Guard product. *Note: Company also stated in their letter that I could contact them for coupons every three months.

Domino Sugar (Domino Foods)

Dunkin Donuts

Eggland’s Best

Ellio’s (McCain Foods)

El Monterey (Ruiz Foods)

Energizer

Eveready

Fleichmann’s ActiveDry Yeast (ACH Foods)Success! I had actually complained that one of my packets did not cause a reaction whereas my other ones did. (I had done the same recipe.) I got a coupon for one free 3-strip ActiveDry Yeast.

Friskies (Nestle)

Frito-Lay (*Do not recall what specifically I wrote about to them—probably Lay’s or Doritos.)

Hebrew National (ConAgra)

Heckers Flour – Fail! I did not get any coupons but I did receive a booklet of recipes for whole wheat rolls, breads, bagels, pizza, cookies, muffins and coffee cake, which I felt was a nice gesture.

Hostess (Spoke about Mini Muffins, Donettes and 100 calorie packs—IBC)

Hungry Man (Pinnacle)

Hunt’s (ConAgra)

Ivory (Procter & Gamble)

Jif (J.M. Smucker)

Johnsonville Sausage

Jolly Time (American Pop Corn Company)

Kleenex (Kimberly-Clark)

Kozy Shack

Liquid Plumr (Clorox Company)

McCain Potatoes (McCain Foods)

Mrs. Dash (Alberto-Culver)Success! They sent me a nice letter, two sample packets and two coupons for .50 off my next purchase. They also generously included a small booklet of healthy recipes.

Old El Paso (Betty Crocker)

Olivio

Pace Salsa (CSC Brands)

Pam (ConAgra Foods)

Pantene (Procter & Gamble)

Pepsi (PepsiCo)

Polly-O (Kraft)

Quaker Oats (Quaker Oats)

Ragu (Unilever)

SCJohnson (*Do not recall all products discussed. Scrubbing Bubbles was probably one of them.) Success! Scrubbing Bubbles must have been the product I complemented because I received a coupon for a free product up to $3.50. SCJohnson also sent me a little booklet with additional coupons: two more coupons for Scrubbing Bubbles products ($3.00 & $1.50 for a Power Sprayer starter kit and Power Sprayer refill, respectively), $2.00 off any Pledge/Armstrong floor cleaner, .50 off any Windex Multi-Surface cleaning product, .50 off any Ziploc brand bags, $1.00 off any Shout Color Catcher, $3.00 off any Glade Sense & Spray starter kit, $1.00 off any Glade Relaxing Moments Collection, $1.00 off any Glade Tough Odor Solutions, $2.00 off any OFF! Clip-on kit, and $4.00 off any Raid Max Bug Barrier starter.

Shady Brook Farms (Cargill Meat Solutions)

Simple Green (Sunshine Makers) Success! I believe I actually asked them for a sample and they sent me a plastic spray bottle, a small bottle of concentrated solution and very short instructions on diluting it. They also sent me a $2.00 coupon. This was the first thing I got and they sent it first class mail. Thanks Simple Green! You are awesome!

Sorrento (Lactalis)

Snyder’s

Splenda (McNeil Nutritionals)Success! I just want to say that this company is completely awesome! They sent me a giant stirring spoon with the Kool-Aid face on it. They sent me a TON of recipes, 3-4 booklets of them. They also sent me four $1 off coupons on any Benecol spread as well as a giant magnet for Splenda conversions and three $1 off any Splenda product.

Stacy’s Pita Chips (Frito-Lay)

Starkist

St. Ives

Stonyfield

Suave (Unilever)

Super Pretzel (J&J)

Sweet Baby Rays

Tetley Tea

Thomas’ English Muffins (Bimbo Bakeries)Success! Two coupons for me to save $1.00 on any Thomas’ product.

Tidy Cats (Nestle)

TRESemme (Alberto-Culver)

Tropicana

Turkey Hill

Unilever (Other products I cannot recall.)

White Castle

Wonder Bread (HBI)

YoPlait

Zatarain’s

 

*I would just like to also mention Renuzit, who mailed me a coupon after I could not print one out from their site. Thank you Renuzit!

 

Cheapskate Coupon Challenge: Companies Contacted November 12, 2010

Below I have compiled the list of companies I have contacted thus far. Please keep in mind that many of these companies are owned by one overarching company. For example, P&G and ConAgra own many of the products that I contacted. Some of these I was able to recall and mention—others I was not. For ease, I put all of them in alphabetical order.

*NOTE: I will update this list if I continue to contact companies. Check the date to see when I added them.

Aleve (Bayer)

Amy’s Kitchen

Arm & Hammer (Church & Dwight Co.)

Arrid (Church & Dwight Co.)

Aunt Jemima (Quaker Oats Company)

Aussie (Procter & Gamble)

Ball Park Franks (Sara Lee Corporation)

Birds Eye

Burt’s Bees

Bush’s Beans

Cabot Cheese

Cape Cod Chips

Carmex (Carma Laboratories)

Carnation Instant Breakfast (Nestle)

Carolina Rice (Riviana Foods)

Celestial Seasonings

Cetaphil (Galderma Laboratories)

Cheez-It (Kellogg)

Clif Bar

Crisco (J.M. Smucker)

Country Crock (Unilever)

Dannon Yogurt (Dannon Company)

Del Monte (Pounce, Meow Mix, Del Monte Veggies)

Dial (Henkel)

Domino Sugar (Domino Foods)

Dunkin Donuts

Eggland’s Best

Ellio’s (McCain Foods)

El Monterey (Ruiz Foods)

Energizer

Eveready

Fleichmann’s ActiveDry Yeast (ACH Foods)

Friskies (Nestle)

Frito-Lay (*Do not recall what specifically I wrote about to them—probably Lay’s or Doritos.)

Hebrew National (ConAgra)

Heckers Flour

Hostess (Spoke about Mini Muffins, Donettes and 100 calorie packs—IBC)

Hungry Man (Pinnacle)

Hunt’s (ConAgra)

Ivory (Procter & Gamble)

Jif (J.M. Smucker)

Johnsonville Sausage

Jolly Time (American Pop Corn Company)

Kleenex (Kimberly-Clark)

Kozy Shack

Liquid Plumr (Clorox Company)

McCain Potatoes (McCain Foods)

Mrs. Dash (Alberto-Culver)

Old El Paso (Betty Crocker)

Olivio

Pace Salsa (CSC Brands)

Pam (ConAgra Foods)

Pantene (Procter & Gamble)

Pepsi (PepsiCo)

Polly-O (Kraft)

Quaker Oats (Quaker Oats)

Ragu (Unilever)

SCJohnson (*Do not recall all products discussed. Scrubbing Bubbles was probably one of them.)

Shady Brook Farms (Cargill Meat Solutions)

Simple Green (Sunshine Makers)

Sorrento (Lactalis)

Snyder’s

Splenda (McNeil Nutritionals)

Stacy’s Pita Chips (Frito-Lay)

Starkist

St. Ives

Stonyfield

Suave (Unilever)

Super Pretzel (J&J)

Sweet Baby Rays

Tetley Tea

Thomas’ English Muffins (Bimbo Bakeries)

Tidy Cats (Nestle)

TRESemme (Alberto-Culver)

Tropicana

Turkey Hill

Unilever

White Castle

Wonder Bread (HBI)

YoPlait

Zatarain’s

 

Cheapskate Coupon Challenge November 9, 2010

I decided, after perusing a forum and reading The 39 Dollar Experiment, that I would try my own “Coupon Outreach” program, as I would like to call it. Now it requires some of my own personal time that I have been able to secure thanks to being jobless and endless typing but I am doing it nonetheless. And really, if you don’t have tons of free time, you can do it maybe for ten or fifteen minutes here or there while you’re on the computer or even while you’re watching television. So what am I doing?

 

I am contacting companies and seeing if they will send me coupons and/or freebies. For the most part, I am not asking for coupons. I find myself mostly complimenting companies of products that I have or currently use. In order to maintain my sanity, I am: (1) breaking it up into periods of time (2) writing relatively short generic messages unless I really, really mean it (3) allowing my browser to auto-fill the same information over and over again. Now, if you plan on doing this as well, keep these things in mind:

 

  • If you have a legitimate complaint, make that clear. They usually require you to provide information regarding the product.
  • If you’re looking for ideas, you can check out my list and my results. I am contacting a ton of companies.
  • If you’re looking for more ideas, check around your house. Every time I saw a product that I have purchased, I wrote it down on my list in order to contact them later. Contact companies if you are particularly loyal to them—after all, you’re probably making them a lot of money.
  • If you want to ask for coupons, go for it. There are a couple of companies for which I asked for a free sample or coupons so that I could try their product. If I haven’t used their product before, I’d rather not lie about it.
  • You can call, write or send an e-mail. To me, the easiest thing is finding the “contact us” button on the website and shooting them a quick message. Like I said, I am keeping my messages more or less the same.
  • Try keeping a list of the companies you contact and who actually sends you coupons or freebies. You might as well contact them another 6-12 months down the line.

 

In the upcoming weeks, I plan on regularly updating my list. Feel free to contact companies who have sent me free stuff. If a company doesn’t send me free stuff, that is good information for you so that you don’t have to waste your time. Stay cheap my friends!

 

Why Credit Cards Are Not Always the Enemy October 29, 2010

I always hear things about credit card companies that, more or less, express nothing but complete disdain for them. People are often fighting against the “evil” credit card companies, as interest continues to pile onto the charges they so happily made days, weeks or even months back. Of course, things happen and sometimes credit cards appear to be the only way to pay for something that is necessary. But let’s face it: much of the debt accumulated by people is not absolutely necessary and in fact, people tend to overvalue what they need and pay much more than they have to for many things. It’s funny how fast personal responsibility fades when debt comes into play.

 

Of course, I think, more than anything, people really need to learn more about their finances. Period.

 

Now, back to the topic at hand. Frankly, I love using my credit card. I have two and primarily only use one. The one I use is a Discover card because of the cash back rewards that I receive. I have never, ever paid them a dime of interest. Ever. As  I always tell people, if you are very tight with money and cannot afford to pay whatever you are buying right off, then forget it. Like I said, emergencies arise and things happen. But I’m talking about people who really think having a newer TV is a necessity and plan on making payments over the course of the next few years. Right now, we are living paycheck to paycheck, as our income has been slashed in half, yet we are not in debt. And trust me, neither of us made a lot of money at all!

 

My first piece of advice to anyone who is considering getting a credit card is to shop around. There are a few main credit card companies out there but within each company are tons of different kinds of cards. Some have cash back rewards. Some have frequent flyer miles. Some offer nothing. It is really up to you to do your homework. I do not travel very often so frequent flyer miles seem pointless to me. Another reason to shop around is because you should not settle for any card. Cards also vary by interest rate. Now, if your credit isn’t so hot, you’re probably going to find some difficulty in getting the best interest rate out there. Thus, you need to be really careful with this. Do not get a credit card if your credit is terrible because you have an addiction to shopping. This is really ideal for people who are good with their money or for people who are trying to get their credit back on track and have self-control.

 

I chose this Discover card because of the 1% I get back on every purchase. Furthermore, every season, I can sign-up for things that will give me 5% cash back. For example, one season might offer 5% cash back on all grocery stores. That means every time that I shop at a grocery store, I will receive 5% cash back credited toward my Discover account.  (However, this can be limited. I have noticed it say, “Up to $300.” And that’s per season.) Additionally, Discover does something where if you shop through their website, you will receive a greater percentage back. For example, if I want to shop at Target.com, I will log into my Discover.com account first and then click through the website to get to the Target website. I have done this before to get 5% cash back as opposed to the 1% regular cash back. I actually went to check and they give anywhere from 5-20% extra cash back, if you click through their site to shop and use your Discover card for the purchase.

 

Now, when you want to cash in your rewards, you have a variety of options, which I also like. For straight shooters, you can have the cash deposited directly into your account. Personally, I do not choose this option because I like getting more bang for my buck. You can also purchase items directly off their website, which I’m not really interested in either. The thing I generally do is I turn my rewards into a certificate or gift card, especially considering I am usually buying things from these places. Discover offers a variety of stores to choose from so your options are seemingly endless. Let me explain why this is usually the best choice. I need to purchase books and I plan on purchasing them from B&N. Discover allows me to use $40 of my cash back rewards toward a $50 gift card. What does that mean? That means that Discover takes the $40 from your rewards account and applies it to a gift card, resulting in $10 of your gift card being free. Essentially, I just got $10 free to spend at B&N, which I was going to do anyway. But this way makes the most sense.

 

Keep in mind—you are not going to get rich by doing this. Again, I have not paid Discover a dime of interest but they have paid me, over the past few years, hundreds of dollars that I can use for whatever I want. We’re going to be really hard-up this Christmas, so my partner-in-crime, who has about $500 in cash back rewards and I will be either distributing gift cards to our families or buying gift cards and, in turn, buying things from those particular stores. Either way, this is why I love my credit cards—because I love getting things for free!