A Guide to Using Rebates:
If you haven’t already begun taking advantage of rebates, I highly recommend it! Rebates are available all the time for a wide variety of products. The rebates I like most are “try me FREE” ones. I’ve gotten several items “free” by using these rebates. I say “free” in quotes because it isn’t quite free, it does cost me sales tax and a postage stamp, but for the products I’m getting, it’s worth it! Lately we’ve had several “Free Groceries” rebates. These can be great deals too!
Here are a few tips to being successful with rebates:
- Analyze if it’s worth the cost of a stamp + sales tax. If the item is normally .99, a rebate makes very little sense as it will cost you over half that to just mail it in!
- Make sure the amount of the rebate really does cover the cost. If it doesn’t, again, make sure it’s worth it. For example, I recently found a rebate on a bottle of shampoo priced at $6.99. The rebate said, “Maximum rebate value not to exceed $6.49.” Sales tax was .46, a stamp is now .44, and the amount not covered by the rebate was .50. I’m already up to$1.40! For a bottle of shampoo, I determined it just wasn’t worth it!
- Use coupons! Rebates are given for the line item cost and don’t account for coupons used. You might be able to recoup the cost of tax and postage stamp by using a coupon with a rebate item!
- Read the fine print and follow the instructions. Rebates almost always have a deadline for mailing. Make sure you follow all the rules!
- Pay for the rebate item separately. It’s easier to just mail in the small receipt and not have to worry about not having a receipt for another purchase made in the same transaction.
- Process and mail all of your rebates fast! I usually keep all my rebate items (rebate form & receipt) in one location and fill everything out once a week. I also keep envelopes, stamps and anything else I’d need in the same location!
- Keep track of your rebates. Most rebates take anywhere from 4-10 weeks to process. Write down the terms and contact info and if you haven’t heard from them by the indicated date, give them a call!
- Take the full item amount out of your budget when you bought it and don’t add it back in until you receive the rebate. For instance, one week, I bought 2 items totalling $15.98. Both have full rebates, but for now, I’m going to deduct the $16 from my $35 weekly grocery budget. In several weeks, when I get my rebate checks, I’ll just cash them and put the amount back in my grocery envelope. This way, you don’t account for the rebate twice, acting like it’s free when you buy it, then adding it in (again) when you get the check.