Sunday, March 28, 2010

Using Rebates

Do rebates really work? I know when I send in rebates it seems to take for-ev-er to get anything back. I practically forget that I'm even waiting for them. Then it seems like such a small amount to have even been worth the effort to begin with. So is it even worth messing with it? I say yes. Here's a few things I do to manage my rebates without going crazy.

1. Make a list. If I send a rebate, I add it to the list, along with the date that I mailed it. Ideally I also add a phone number to call if the time goes by and I still haven't received it. Once I receive the check in the mail, I check it off on my list.

2. Read the fine print. How many times have you bought a product, then got home to fill out the rebate form and find out you didn't buy the right thing, or the right quantity? Take a few minutes to read the fine print before you waste your time and money.

3. Get everything together to mail out IMMEDIATELY. If you let the receipt sit in your purse, then you'll forget about it. Most rebates are time sensitive. If it sits, you might miss out on the cash back. A good rule of thumb is to fill out the form and envelope, and get your UPC off of the product as soon as you get home while it's still fresh in your mind. Or if you intend to purchase a product that you have a form for, go ahead and prepare the form and envelope. Then it just takes a couple seconds to get everything else together.

4. Combine rebates. One of my favorite rebate deals to take advantage of is the awesome offers on beer in the summer months. Often you can find rebates for $20 on groceries when you buy a 12 pack of beer. This is great! Buy the beer, then for the groceries, buy other things that have rebates. Last year there was a rebate for a 6 pack of Snapple. And a pack of Pediasure. So I got those products within the same order, made sure the cashier printed me multiple receipts of the same order, then I got a ton of money back on the transaction. It takes planning, but it's so worth it. Transactions like this can usually end up profitable, with a higher cash back than what you spent!

If you track your rebates over the course of a year, you'll see how much money you're saving. It helps if it's on products you need or really want to try. But because of couponing, sometimes I have trouble getting to the total order amount. That's when it really helps to combine rebates, even if I don't really need the product. Last year I probably got over $200 back on different groceries by using rebates. Is it worth the trouble? Absolutely!

Check out this link for a listing of rebate offers that are currently available: http://dealseekingmom.com/tag/mail-in-rebates-roundup/

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pet Savings

One of the regular expenses in my household that I've had a hard time finding much savings on is pet stuff. With big dogs, we have to use special big dog food. And we can't really change brands because that can be dangerous (ie messy and gross.) Luckily my cats aren't as high maintenance. Here are a few things that I'm working on in order to save money in this category:

1. Food. With the Purina ONE big dog food, I never pay more than $1/pound. I try to have a coupon or find a deal to get it cheaper. And note to self, getting the wet food, even as a treat, is a bad idea that results in big dog gas. Cat food I can usually get about 3 pounds for a dollar. I don't have to stick to one brand, and it comes in smaller bags. Small bag plus a high value coupon equals cheap food.

2. Flea treatments. I haven't done this yet, but I will be just as soon as it comes in the mail. (I use 1800petmeds.com and go through Mr. Rebates to get 10% back.) Instead of buying doses for each animal, I'm getting it in the largest dose available. I will be pouring the medication into a bottle and measuring it out for each animal. Normally this would cost $175 to cover all four animals for 3 months. By buying larger doses and measuring myself, it ends up being about $100 for all for animals. Then after my 10% rebate, only about $90. (I am using the dog medication on the cats too. The dog version seems to be slightly weaker, but my cats stay indoors so I'm not worried about it. If you decide to try this, do so at your own risk.)

3. Dog licenses. Be sure to purchase your license as soon as possible each year. The price doubles after January if you forget!

4. Shots. I'm still researching this aspect. I'm shopping around at local vets and clinics to find a reasonable price. I've also read that it's possible to purchase the medicine and give the shot myself for a cost savings. I used to have a cat with diabetes who I had to give insulin shots twice a day, so I would be comfortable enough doing it myself so long as it all works the same way.

MIA - Preterm Labor Scare

Sorry I've been away for a bit. I had a preterm labor scare about a week and a half ago. At the time I was only 31 weeks along, so I've been taking it easy from that. They were able to stop it with medicine, so everything is good. But the medicine makes me soooo tired. So I'm just lucky to be out of bed for a couple hours everyday. At my last dr appointment, the medicine was reduced some, and that helps me feel better. We're 32 weeks along now, and I've not had any more problems, so I'm not stressing as badly about it anymore. Just trying to hold out until April. My son was born at 35 weeks, and we'll be at that point on April 2nd, so if I can get that far again, I'm happy enough! Each day that goes by makes me feel better.