Pick Your Prize: Supermarket Savvy
People are motivated by prizes, which is no doubt why grocery stores run different types of prize programs — but are they worth it?
Where I live, there’s one store that offers specific prizes, like fancy knives or dish sets. For each dollar you spend, you get closer to getting the prize for a low price. Notice that these types of prizes aren’t actually free — your rewards just allow you to purchase them cheaper. And in reality, such prizes are often overstocked items that the store is looking to get rid of anyway (and they’re items that you probably don’t even need).
But something we do always need, though, is gas — and that’s the prize I’ve got my eye on. (Especially since I traded in my compact car for a minivan exactly when gas prices spiked!) Another of my local stores rewards me with gas points for every dollar I spend, as well as giving me bonus points for buying different items that are featured weekly. The gas points earn me discounts at the pump.
This week, my gas points saved me fifty cents a gallon. I put 15 gallons of gas in my car, so that was a savings of $7.50. If I did that weekly for a year, I’d save $390.
Regular readers know that one of my hard-fast rules for supermarket savings is this: don’t buy what you don’t need. A bargain isn’t a bargain if you’re buying something you’re not going to use. And stores know that rewards programs can actually entice you to spend more, because they get you into the mindset of “the more you spend, the bigger your rewards.” In reality, the more you spend … well, the more you spend.
My gas rewards make sense, though. I don’t have to buy expensive items to get the rewards. Better yet, every dollar I spend gets me the rewards, and the range of weekly bonus items always includes things I’d buy anyway. So my advice is: pick your prize. Don’t go for every reward that’s out there. Target rewards that make sense for you, and then shop toward those rewards.
Remember, too, to check coupon previews. If you see a coupon coming for an item in the prize promotion you’re targeting, ask your store how long the item is scheduled to be part of the promotion. Most promotions credit you for the dollars you spend before coupons.
Shop smart and save! Check out more tips on couponing and savvy shopping!