Rebates: It’s what you spend, not what you save!

18 May


Rebates are EVERYWHERE!  All of the major drug stores have some sort of rebate program;  Large chain stores such as Target and Wal-mart occasionally offer gift cards when you purchase certain items;  And many, many brand names offer additional rebates as well.  But in order to effectively use rebates, I learned that if you are looking to stick to your budget, you must count what you spend, not what you save or what you will get back eventually! …Even if the rebate is immediate, like with register rewards at Walgreens. 


I’m sure not everyone agrees, and I would love to hear about how you effectively use rebates while sticking to a budget, but as I was just starting out, I quickly learned that I was still going over my budget while waiting for Rite Aid to send me my Single Check Rebate! 


So what do I suggest? Rebates can be profitable!  I actually profited $50 at Rite Aid one month!  And if you qualify for them, but aren’t applying for them, then I would say you are throwing money away!  Here are a few ways to manage rebates without blowing your budget:

  1. Roll your rebates. Save your Extra Care bucks for next week when something else will be free after ECB.  Use the rebates you receive to purchase other items that will have rebates.  This is very effective at Walgreens and CVS where you receive immediate rebates that can be used immediately.  As you are building your stockpile, or if you are a weekly customer at either of these stores this can help you save big and even profit!
  2. Budget a certain amount for rebates each month.  Separate from your grocery budget, maybe you could budget a monthly amount specifically for rebate programs.  If you budget $50/month and choose the most profitable rebates to apply for, you may even make that $50 increase over time!
  3. Count rebates as income. This is my preference.  If I have spent it, it is gone.  Then when I get a rebate in the mail, HOT DOG!  Free money!  I started doing this after experiencing disappointment after forgetting to apply for a few rebates, as well as incorrectly applying for them and then getting a rejection notice! 
  4. Use your rebates immediately.  I found that if I saved my rebates for next week, that I may not make it back to that store, and my rebates would expire – losing money!  So now, I only shop at Walgreens or CVS when something I need is on sale.  Then, I make my list of items that are free or cheap after rebate that week and create a scenario to roll those rebates.  For example, if I can buy coke products for $2.33 for 5 packs, I will look to earn $11-$12 in Register Rewards or Extra Care Bucks to buy them with.  That way, I am still getting a good deal on my Dr. Pepper, but in addition and getting a bunch of other free product as well!

How do you use rebates without blowing your budget?  I would love any additional money saving/making tips!

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