Coupons and Store Cards Entice Us To Spend!

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published October 2014Coupon Pile Stock Photo
I have an inquisitive mind. I also like contests and coupons that give you something free. You know what they say: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. You would not think that it would apply to coupons from your favorite places such as grocery stores, clothing stores, etc.

Each week there are coupons in the newspaper. Each week my Sunday paper comes with those colorful enticing ads. My mailbox, both snail mail and email, are full of exciting offers that tell us we can’t pass up the latest and greatest deal.

This week, as I was sorting through all the paper I have accumulated, I looked at all the receipts that I have that offer you something if you go online and take a survey about your visit. I usually toss the receipts. I decided to put my receipts in a pile and actually take their surveys.

At one store, after taking the survey, I received $5 off my next purchase of $25 or more. It has an expiration date. Another receipt gave me a free cookie on my next visit. I missed the deadline on two receipts. I decided to try it anyway. One of the receipts registered me for their drawing and another told me I was too late. The other receipts registered me for drawings for a prize of anywhere from $500 to $1,000.

As I looked in my billfold I also sifted through all the cards that I have that are reward cards. If I would carry all my reward cards I would need another wallet to carry them. Many of the cards I have, I use when I take my grandchildren to places such as Orange Leaf and Cherry Berry and more kid-friendly, fun establishments.

I have reward cards for Erbert & Gerbert’s, Lego, Ulta Beauty, Shopko, Panera, Hy-Vee Gas, Lowe’s, Caribou Coffee, Pizza Ranch, Petco and the list could go on. I sift through my cards before I leave my house if I know I am going to be going to one of these establishments. I admit, I do frequent some of these more often because of my rewards cards.

I used to be the coupon queen when I had kids at home. No grocery item was bought without a coupon. I carefully planned my shopping trips.  Now that we are empty-nesters, except for the Meow Twins that inhabit my house, I am not so careful. I do find myself looking at the coupons each week and cutting them out, thinking I should buy something. If I look at the coupons when I am hungry I cut out the coupons for things I would never buy, but look good on the coupons. That is probably the reason for coupons.

Moving on to store cards. I love birthdays because the store cards send coupons for $10 and $15 to use in their store. There is no catch, you do not have to buy anything else. If you have a lot of will power that works. You visit the store and spend only the amount that they have given you. There is one store that used to put the coupon in the paper. I would suspect there are more people that don’t have willpower and those coupons bring people into the store and they buy more than their $10.

I love the store that gives you $10 for every $50 you buy in the store. Of course, you need to come back and spend that $10. It is my version of going to the grocery store to only purchase one item and coming out with a cart full of groceries. How many times have you heard the comment in the checkout line, “I only came in to buy one thing?”

J.C. Penney a few years ago tried doing away with sales and it almost did them in. There is something about a coupon and a sale that brings the I-need-this out in people. Although for me, I loved the prices that J.C. Penney offered, but I did not like the ads so I wasn’t drawn in.

I have always been baffled by people camping out to get the sales on Black Friday. There will always be another sale. That item will be back. The hype feeds people into thinking they need something because of the price. “It’s a good deal so I better buy it now.”

I thought it was interesting that when the iPhone 6 came out there was such a frenzy to get it. I love my iPhone 5 but I also know that quirks and bugs usually come with something new.

On Sunday’s as I read through the ads I find so many things that I know I need. I am very lucky that I have to drive for miles to get that product I absolutely can’t do without. By the time I get around to driving those miles I have usually decided I don’t need it.

The key word to all of this is time. How much time do we spend trying to save money but only end up being tempted and succumbing to buying more because we have a deal? I am going to continue taking the time to register with my receipts as an experiment. Will I be a winner? Tune in for updates.


Please Give Me My Discount. I am Older!

GrannySkewersSomething About Nothing by Julie Seedorf- Published in the Albert Lea Tribune and Courier Sentinel week of March 24.

It might surprise you know to know I am a senior citizen. All right, it’s no surprise because I am always telling you I am old. I happen to like being a senior citizen. I became a senior citizen at the age of 55 when I could order off of the senior menu at Perkins Family Restaurant. I loved it. It was great to get a few benefits for growing older.

One of the perks of growing older are senior citizen discounts. I have heard the arguments against these discounts because many people think senior citizens have a lot of money and don’t need the discounts. I suppose that is opening a can of worms.

There are many senior citizens who struggle to make ends meet. They worked hard all of their life, paid in to Social Security and worked at a time where there were not retirement accounts. They did what they had to do to put food on their table for their family.

There wasn’t any extra to save for that retirement. Many salaries were not what they are today even if you were a business owner. Senior citizen discounts are very valuable to these people.

I was 55 nine years ago. You can do the math to figure how old I am now. I haven’t in all those years thought too much about senior discounts until recently. I wasn’t aware of all the discounts out there for seniors.

I was aware that my local grocery store, Wells Marketplace Foods, offered a discount for senior citizens on Wednesdays. They are very good about applying that discount without us asking for it on Wednesday. I knew Wednesdays were a big day for those who live in our Broadway Apartments complex as the occupants must be over a certain age to live there. Wednesdays is grocery day for the older generation in my community. I knew the new Kiester Market offers senior discounts, too.

I happened to be in Mankato on a Tuesday and visited their local Hy-Vee store. I presented my coupons to the clerk, I am a coupon shopper and the clerk asked me if there were any other discounts. I looked at her with a confused face and she leaned forward so as to not embarrass me or her, just in case she was wrong, if I wanted to apply my senior discount. Of course, I did. Apparently at Hy-Vee in Mankato Hilltop and downtown they have two days where they offer senior discounts. I believe they are Monday and Tuesday.

I started thinking about all the discounts I might be missing. I started asking around. Juba’s in Blue Earth quit senior discounts in favor of spreading the discounts around in the place of discounts on gasoline.

The Hy-Vee in Owatonna offers senior discounts on Tuesdays. Hy-Vee in Albert Lea and Austin does not offer senior discounts, nor does Nelson’s Market Place. They may have other offers in place that I do not know about. However, Hy-Vee Wine & Spirits in Albert Lea does offer a senior discount. Check with the store for the day.

I have started asking each business I visit and make a purchase if they have senior discounts. I learned that at most places you have to ask. I have received a senior discount at Applebee’s and found out that starts at age 60. I could have had savings for many years as I dined in their establishment. I didn’t ask. Cost Cutters, a movie theater, Michaels and Herberger’s are a few other places that gave me a discount recently. Discounts vary by city and state. Many companies leave their discount plans up to local stores which is the case with the Hy-Vee chain.

It is no secret that I am doing freelance writing work and recently I have been asked to do a column twice a month called “Senior Cents” for one of my gigs.

I am excited to find out what all is out there for someone that is “older.” I will be researching restaurants, hotels, businesses and Internet for what is available for seniors in the southern Minnesota area.

I am excited to be able to help senior citizens save a little money and hopefully along the way I will meet many new people like myself. We’re not getting older; we’re getting better and having fun doing it.

After all as Doris Roberts quoted, “The minute you’re born, you’re getting older. Who can argue with that?”