Thursday, August 21, 2008

Money Saving Tips for the Beginner Part D: Samples & Rebates

So now that you know how to get coupons, which coupons to clip and how to get organized, lets talk about samples and rebates. Most companies and one point will offer samples or rebates for their items. Companies use samples and rebates to get their product out there for the consumer to use, fall in love with, and continue to purchase.

I myself, love to receive samples in the mail. I also like that many companies send coupons with their samples. The down side is trying to figure out what to do with all the samples you receive. You may want to ask yourself, "Am I going to use this sample when I receive it?" If you would consider the product then sure, request a sample and see if you like it. If you would not use the product then maybe consider not requesting a sample and letting someone who will enjoy it receive it. Companies only distribute a certain number of samples.

If you receive samples that you will not use, consider donating them. There are many organizations that would gladly take or even prefer sample sized products to distribute to those in need. That could be one way for you to put those samples to good use.

Another thing to consider is that whenever you fill out a request for a product, that company now has all of your information. They have your address, phone number, email, etc. They also have the rights to contact you at their will since you offered them your information. Many people think "Well, they will get my information from the phone book anyways so I might as well get something for FREE in the process." If that is what you think then this is not an issue for you.

Rebates, unlike samples, take a little more work. You have to print or hold on to the rebate form, fill it out, purchase the product, photocopy your receipt (very important to do in case the company "loses" it), clip UPC codes off the product, place everything in an envelope, address & stamp the envelope and mail it out. You have to remember all the cost involved. You have to purchase the product out of pocket, envelopes (~$.01 each) and stamps ($.42).

Here is an example of your total cost:
  • Product Cost: $5
  • Tax: $.40
  • Envelope: $.01
  • Stamp: $42
  • Rebate: -$5

So for your FREE after rebate item, you will actually pay $.83! Now you have to decide if that item is worth all the work and the $.83. There is also the issue of timing. Mail in rebates have deadlines. If you miss the deadline, you will not receive your money back. So you are stuck with a product that you have now spent $5.83 and may or may not use.

One upside to mail in rebate offers is that you can use a coupon for the product when you purchase it. Say you buy a $5 scrubber. You use a $1/1 MFG for the scrubber. You will turn in the rebate for the total $5 amount (try to buy at least one other item in that same transaction or you may get the money back less the coupon). After using the $1/1 MFG, your item is truly FREE. In fact, you will make $.17 after all is said and done. That is really the key. If I do not have a coupon for a MIR item, I will probably not purchase it unless I know I will use it.

Hopefully you now have a greater understanding of what is really involved in requesting samples and rebates. If you have any thoughts or questions on the matter, please leave a comment here! Come back later for Part E: Combining Coupons.

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