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Shop at the Gap for free… by paying my cable bill!?!

14 Jan

This guest post is written by my charming boyfriend George. He was able to get free rewards gift certificates to Gap brands in excess of $1,000! Read on to learn how.

I’ve had a Banana Republic card for about a year. I opened the card to get a discount on a coat I was buying. Like many credit cards, there is a rewards program on this card. The program works as follows:

  • Earn 5 points per dollar spent at any “Gap Family” (Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Piperlime, and Athleta) store.
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent anywhere else.
  • For every 1,000 points you accrue, you will receive a $10 gift certificate good to any Gap Family store.

A month ago I received a promotional postcard from Banana Republic which caught my attention:

Banana Card rewards notice

The postcard states that I would receive 200 points for every purchase that I made on the card until December 31st. I skimmed the fine print on the postcard, and there was no minimum dollar amount for each purchase, and there was no maximum to the number of points I could earn. This meant that every purchase made on the card would earn me $2 worth of gift certificates.

Fast forward a few days, to when I was paying my cable bill online. I remembered the Banana Republic promotion, and I found that the system allowed me to pay my cable bill $1 at a time. By paying my $36 cable bill one dollar at a time, I was able to make 36 separate transactions and net $72 worth of gift certificates!

Interestingly, the cable company’s online system even allowed me to continue paying even after my December bill had been paid in full. These extra payments would go toward my January bill, then February, and so on.

While making a single $1 payment did not consume a ton of time, it wasn’t entirely quick either. I’d estimate it took between 30 and 45 seconds. Fortunately, using my computer background, I was able to automate this and “record” myself making a single $1 payment, and subsequently “play back” that recording multiple times. This allowed my computer to continue making payments when I was washing dishes or reading.

In all, I managed to make 526 different purchases on the Banana Republic card during this promotion, the bulk of which were $1 cable bill payments. As a result, I earned $1,052 in gift certificates to any Gap brand, and my cable bill is paid for the next 8 months.

Check back tomorrow to see what we have purchased with these credit card rewards!

Winter date ideas | Outside of the House

9 Jan

This is the time of year where I get completely antsy. I enjoy having all four seasons, but summer is definitely my favorite time of year. In cold winter, I have to rack my brain to keep busy and avoid cabin fever. Here are some relatively cheap ideas for winter dates, or just hanging out with friends.

Winter date ideas Hudson River

Grab a book and head to the coffee shop
Sometimes all we need is a change of scenery. Head to your local library to pick up a book, and then enjoy a nice cup of coffee or tea, relaxing on cozy couches. The bonus is that coffee shops have prime people-watching opportunity.

Volunteer
For the past year, I have been volunteering at my local food bank roughly once a month. It can pull me out of any bad mood, because I am so focused on the task at hand and how lucky I am. This Sunday George is going to accompany me. Check with your neighborhood organizations, like senior centers, animal shelters, libraries or soup kitchens, to see if you can help.

Cheap night out
If you do decide to go out, make it inexpensive. Head to your local college bar for happy hour and play darts or pool. Check specials online and eat out when there’s a deal for a large percentage off meals or drinks. Often places that are busy during the warmer months will run specials in the winter to draw you in.

GH and I Six Flags cropped

Local arts events and free activities
In my town I am clued into the arts scene, since I work in it. You would be surprised how many free activities there are every single week. You can often hear live music, or go to galleries for completely free. Local colleges may have inexpensive performances. Make sure you check the local paper or find a local entertainment blog to discover all of the free events out there.

Snowy day
If you can’t avoid the snow, you might as well embrace it. There are a lot of things that can only be done with it’s cold. Turn into a kid and go sledding, build a snowman, and have a snowball fight. Try ice-skating or snowshoeing.

Whatever you end up doing, don’t forget to enjoy the winter and the people you’re with!

Staying on budget by: Avoiding temptation

29 Oct

Every person has things that they like to spend money on. Each person finds value in different things and is drawn to get the newest of a certain class of items. For some people it’s electronics and for others it is eating out. For me, it’s clothes.

I love to buy new clothes and have new outfits. I’m not an ultra-trendy person, but I love to be “with it” and love to look my best. Since my clothing budget is rather small, and I’m also trying to save money for Christmas, I have to be careful about clothing purchases.

Every day I get emails from my favorite stores telling me about the great sales and deals going on. I want to stay on these lists for when I am looking to make a purchase, but I have to be careful for when I’m not looking to spend money. It’s easy for me to be dragged in by a good deal or large discount.

My budget tip for the day is to avoid temptation by staying away from your hot button purchases.

For me this means that I shouldn’t click through to clothing websites when I don’t want to spend money on clothing. I shouldn’t even look and tempt myself into making a purchase. For you this may mean something entirely different. The concept is simple, but it’s harder to control yourself. If you don’t want to spend on a certain item, don’t even allow the opportunity to arise. Avoiding temptation is just one way to stay on budget, which helps you keep financial health and helps you to afford the things you really want.

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