Thursday, December 17, 2009

A day in the life of saving money, earning rewards points and discounts

While it’s very easy to discuss strategies in saving money, it might be more useful to demonstrate how one can do it. This advice is best meant for people who are already planning on doing the following, rather than advocating that it be done just for the sake of doing so.  Here goes:

Wake up, head down to your local Mc Donald's (or other major coffee purveyor), and take advantage of free wi-fi, and grab a coffee. Starting in January, Mc Donald's will offer customers free wi-fi.  As wi-fi becomes more of a necessity (or commodity) paying for it might become a thing of the past one day.  If you are there long enough, grab yourself a free refill just for the asking.

If it’s the weekend, you might just mill around a while until lunch time happens in which case be sure to take advantage of last minute discounts on lunch delivery/take out from Allmenus online ordering service.  Register with them and be sure to sign up for their emails.

Later, if you are feeling a bit sluggish, take your pre-tax, subsidized fare card to Metro and ride it to your local Gold’s Gym and take advantage of the reduced rate membership you got with your employer. You did remember to sign up, right?

After a recharge, you might start thinking about the evening’s activities which could include making a point-earning reservation with Open Table. It’s free, guarantees you a seat, and you earn points towards dining discounts.  Before you made your reservation, did you check to see if you can earn frequent flyer miles, too? Your favorite restaurant may participate in the Idine program as well which will give set miles/dollar spent in their network of restaurants. That $100 dinner just yielded you 300 or more miles—and you didn’t even leave your table.  That program is free, you just need to register a credit/debit card.

So your favorite restaurant doesn’t participate in Idine? Don’t worry, you can still save with a dining certificate. These certificates, which hover around $25, normally cost $10 a piece, with a minimum spending/tip requirement, but with a promotion code, which is easily found via Google, you can bring your dining certificate cost down to about $3.  That’s about an 88% return on your $3 spent on the certificate,  not bad.

But be sure you do your math before you purchase it. The minimum spending requirement may be more than you would have normally, especially since the certificate might not be eligible for alcoholic drinks with your food.  More than likely, you will walk away ahead on the deal, though.  Those certs make great gifts, too.
Also check to see if the restaurant for which you are buying a certificate participates in Idine as well.  A recent check indicated that there definitely are ones that participate in at least two of these programs. Thus, aim to eat out where you can take advantage of them simultaneously.

The day is over, time to think about how you will save tomorrow.  So, look for more strategies such as these in future posts.