Saturday, January 28, 2012

Membership Programs and Mailing Lists

There are always two sides to the budget equation: revenues and expenses.  If you want more spending power, you have to look toward increasing the revenue side of the equation, meaning you have to either get a raise at your job (or get a job if you don't have one) or find alternate sources of income.  This is generally pretty difficult considering you have no direct control over how much you can move this bar.  However, increasing your revenues will often lead to a bigger change in your budget than penny-pinching your expenses, which is often much easier to do.  This post is going to look at a couple benefits you can get by finding some discounts right under your nose to help with the expense side.

We all know that you can clip coupons to get savings on your purchases, but there are more targeted programs a lot of companies offer to give you discounts on their products.  These membership programs usually don't cost anything and usually the only cost is getting an email newsletter every once in a while (which you can usually disable just by unsubscribing).  For example, Kellogg's emails out discounts for their products on a regular basis.  CVS has an ExtraCare program which gives you 2% back on your purchases in the form of ExtraBucks (essentially money to be used in store) as well as paperless coupons you can just send electronically to your ExtraCare card.  Papa John's has a new promotion where signing up for their email blasts can potentially get you a free pizza if America votes correctly on the coin toss for the upcoming Superbowl (I voted tails, but it's either everyone gets a pizza or no one does).  Starbucks gives you a free birthday drink with their most basic program (which you use through a gift card).  Most grocery stores have special discounts specifically for people signed up for their programs.  Some restaurants give you a 20% coupon, a free entree on your birthday, or some other deal if you sign up for their mailing list.  And the list goes on.

Most of these are probably self-explanatory (I'm pretty sure everyone knows about the program with their local grocery store), but sometimes usual places will have these programs of their own.  Although these discounts don't seem like much, a few dollars here and there will eventually add up.  It is also becoming more convenient to browse stores specials online in case you want to see if they have any of your regular purchases on a discount.

Of course, for people who are extremely annoyed by emails with discounts, this might not be worth it.  Just remember that if you want a better balanced budget, something has to change and it is going to take work either way.  These programs keep you in the loop and let business contact you about special deals.  Some people may find it annoying but I find it a great opportunity to get the things you planned on purchasing anyway at a discount.  Do you know of any great membership programs offered that I haven't mentioned here?

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