I wanted to share with you something that I have been doing lately. This little step can help you save more money on everyday expenses.
I am using gift cards to maximize my savings and earn cash back. On average, I am able to save $3 or $4 per $100 gift card that I buy. This may not seem like a lot of money but if you do this multiple times over the course of the month and repeat it each month, you could be looking at hundreds of dollars in savings a year.
Here’s how I use gift cards to maximize my savings:
1. You will need to have a grocery store that participates in a fuel savings program. I shop at Kroger and utilize the Kroger Fuel Program. I’m in Ohio but I know there are other stores across the country that do this. Check out the fuel program link and see if there’s one near you. If not a Kroger store, there may be a different one near you that does this.
2. Shop at the store. Buy your groceries there and make sure you have a loyalty card.
3. Purchase gift cards at the store for items that you will be purchasing over the course of the month. Buy them for your gas budget, for your dining out budget, for your shopping at places like Target or Walmart, buy for your clothing allowance at places like Old Navy or Kohl’s. You can buy gift cards for just about anything within your budget including Amazon and iTunes. The only cards that seem to not work with the program are Kroger gift cards and any major credit card company like Visa or American Express.
4. Use those gift cards to stay within your budget when you are school clothes shopping (leave your debit card at home and only carry $20 in cash in case you go over just a bit). If you don’t spend your full amount, then it will just be saved for the next time (but don’t reload the gift card, you’ll want to buy new ones next month).
For every $100 that you spend on gift cards, you earn 20cents off each gallon of gas that you buy. If your monthly budget for gas, dining out, clothing allowance, etc is $500, then you can get 50 cents off per gallon of gas. That will help out a lot with gas prices being so high these days.
Take It To Another Level
If you want to really maximize your savings, sign up for a PerkStreet Checking account. You can earn 1-2% cash back on the money you spend when you use your debit card. I’m earning 1% at Kroger so that $100 gift card that I just bought earned me another $1 in cash back bonuses.
Another way to maximize your savings is to buy gift cards to gas stations like BP to get gas but wait for the time when gas has dropped a bit at Kroger and then go there to get gas, using your fuel points and save as much as possible. The points are good for at least a month so you can wait for the best time to use them. You can purchase up to 35 gallons of gas using your fuel points. I only have a 15 gallon tank so again, with that $100 gift card, I will save $3.00. In my mind, that’s not a bad savings for something I have to buy anyways.
Truly maximize your savings by planning your entertainment and dining around what gift cards you can purchase. Only dine at the restaurants that have gift cards available.
Be sure to check for times when rewards increase. Right now, in preparation for Father’s Day there are gift cards you can purchase that will give you 4 times the rewards. So you’ll earn 40 cents off for each $100 you buy in specific gift cards.
Additional Savings Ideas
Another option you have is to sign up for Ebates. Currently you will automatically receive $5 when you sign up and make a qualifying purchase. After you sign up, you can buy gift cards for stores and businesses you may frequent. You can purchase gift cards to hotels that you may be thinking of staying at on an upcoming vacation. You can find places that you shop at online regularly, like Half.com.
Or you can do what I did recently and REALLY max out your savings. I have lost enough weight recently that I am in need of a new wardrobe. I shop mostly at thrift stores but also at places like Target and Old Navy. Recently, Ebates was offering an increase in their cashback bonuses to a number of stores, including Old Navy. I had been doing shopping at Old Navy and wanted to purchase a few things for the summer so I went to Kroger, purchased a $50 gift card earning myself 1o cents off per gallon of gas (2x the cost of the gift card), paid for it with my PerkStreet Checking Account, earning myself 1% cash back (just 50cents in this example) and then went to Ebates, clicked their link to purchase at Old Navy. I earned 13% cash back on my purchase at Old Navy.com.
For those who like spreadsheets (I’m not one of them):
|$0.10 off per gallon on 15 gallon tank|
I hope that I’ve explained this savings opportunity to you well and you can start to utilize it yourself. I like it for a couple of reasons: 1. I’m saving more money (because I will of course then do all my shopping with coupons and sales) but also 2. I’m sticking to my budget better.
Do you think it would work for you?
Photo Credit y2bk on Flickr (with a little help from me)
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