How Much Effort Do You Put into Getting Rewards or Deals?

victory at computerThis week, we bribed our friends with Papa John’s pizza to help us move our furniture and some boxes.  Just like the last few times we’ve ordered pizza for a group, we searched for a promo code and found one for 50% off our order.  Easy-peasy.


Also this week, we bought a wedding gift off a registry.  As usual, we searched for promo codes for each retailer the couple registered at to see who would give us a discount or free shipping or something.  We found that Macy’s gave us the best options.  But then things got really complicated.


The exploration/conversation that followed took about 20 minutes of our time:


We can get free shipping if we spend $100, but that’s more than we spend on wedding gifts.


We found a 15% off discount code that applies to our purchase.  That combined with the fact that we only buy items on sale from Macy’s, and we have “saved” a bunch of money already.


If we go through this other link to get to the site, we can get some money back – should be about $8.


Can we ship to store to avoid paying for shipping?  The website says we can, but after chatting with a CSR we find out that’s not available in our state.


Maybe we should buy in-store and avoid the shipping cost.  But then we will lose the promo code discount, etc.  Which is more?


It looks like we will spend less by shipping the order with the 15% discount than we will by buying in-store.


Oh look, there is another special of getting $20 off your next purchase of at least $50 when you buy a wedding registry item.  Are we planning on buying anything else from Macy’s soon?  No.


What if we split this order into two?  It doesn’t say there is a minimum purchase on the first purchase, just that it has to be off the registry.  We could buy one small item to get the $20 off and follow up with the purchase of anther $50 of registry items when we get the $20 off code.


Is it still worth it to pay for shipping for two items?  Yes, it would still be a savings.  But what if the 15% sale goes away before we get the code?  Is this too much hassle?


Yes, it’s too much hassle.  Just make the one purchase now and ship it and maybe we’ll be able to use the $20 credit before it expires.  If not, it’s OK.


Phew – that was such a rabbit hole!  But if we don’t investigate all these avenues, we feel like we’re leaving money on the table.  And in this case we did leave $20, maybe, on the table.  We could have split the purchase but we decided it was too much work for us and we wanted the transaction to be over, not drawn out over a couple days.  Maybe we’ll end up using it (NOT for something we wouldn’t have bought anyway).


I wish all promo code investigations could be as easy as the one we had with Papa John’s, but it seems like more of them are moving toward the Macy’s side of the spectrum (although that one was the most extreme we’ve experienced).  On top of everything we discussed here, of course, we also had rewards coming from the credit card we paid with – in this case our base card, but sometimes with those rotating category cards department stores might give you 5% back.  It’s a lot to keep track of!  But in the end we were able to get a more expensive gift for our friends as well as a bit of rewards for us, so maybe it’s worth it.


How far do you take your investigations into sales, coupons, and promo codes?  What is the most time you’ve spent searching one out and was it worth it?


photo from Free Digital Photos


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20 Responses to "How Much Effort Do You Put into Getting Rewards or Deals?"

  1. I generally just do a quick google search and if it’s a big enough purchase I check our cards to see if there’s a bonus by going through their affiliate links, but don’t usually spend more than 5-10 minutes worrying about getting the best deal.
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..Extending the ~5 Year Consumer Product Lifecycle

    1. Emily says:

      I think the quick Google search and only checking a few cards is sufficient to get most of the benefit!

  2. Matt Becker says:

    I’m with Mrs. Pop. I usually do a quick search only and if there isn’t something obvious and easy I forget about it. If money was a little tighter maybe I’d spend a little bit more time, but it’s generally not worth prioritizing for me unless we’re talking about a major purchase.
    Matt Becker recently posted..5 Simple Questions to Ask Before Investing in Anything

  3. Holy complicated batman! I haven’t gone through that detailed a process to get a deal (my brand prohibits from doing so, I guess!), but I’ve definitely spent a few minutes determining if the minimum order for free shipping is a better deal than the coupon code for 15% off when I add my rewards points to the order. If anything, it’s a good mental exercise! This post makes it obvious that I need to step up my game…
    Kendal @HassleFreeSaver recently posted..6 Ways to Redecorate for Free

  4. […] and coupon codes — I always search for coupon codes when shopping online, but Emily over at Evolving Personal Finance recently put us all to shame when she summarized her deal-comparison process. She raises an […]

  5. I do a basic search for deals. A lot of it comes down to a time vs cost analysis. How much of my time should I spend to save a few bucks? Really depends on the situation and what I would be doing otherwise with my time.

    I do always sign up for free trail memberships to get free shipping and then immediately cancel them before I default into a paid membership. I also pay for Amazon Prime, so if anything can be purchased via Amazon instead of from the retailer directly I’ll go that route.
    Broke Millennial recently posted..The Ethics of Becoming Wealthy

    1. Emily says:

      Yeah, I don’t really value my time that highly. I don’t have a side hustle or anything that I could be working on. 🙂 We have Amazon Prime for free (for now) but I don’t tend to sign up and then cancel for stuff – I’ve had some difficulty doing that in the past that, to me, makes it too much of a hassle.

  6. We always use coupons for fresh pizza. It’s just too expensive without them. Online purchases, well, if I can find a good coupon code I always take advantage. If not, I think about how bad I want the item, and how much I am willing to pay. In most cases, if I cannot easily stomach the retail price, then I don’t buy.
    Bryce @ Save and Conquer recently posted..401(k) Balances Are Up, But Millennials Should Save More

    1. Emily says:

      I don’t feel like retail prices have much relevance to real value any longer… Look at what’s happened to JC Penney. It’s out of control!

  7. I rarely bother with rewards hacking. I’ll only spend about t minutes searching for deals and pick out whichever one seems best.

    1. Emily says:

      I think it’s smart to limit the amount of time you spend searching!

  8. Like others, I’ll usually give it a good google search and then stop. Though sometimes I’ll go as keeping emails that seem like good deals (like those Papa John’s offers) and then going back to that email folder when we might use the deal.

    In general I don’t think I give enough effort to finding or stockpiling discounts, and I’m probably leaving a bit of money on the table in exchange for less hassle/time.
    Done by Forty recently posted..How We Negotiate, Part II

    1. Emily says:

      I am signed up to get coupons for a few companies but I archive those emails and literally never look at them! So I may as well unsubscribe. I think I’ve searched it like once and didn’t find what I wanted.

  9. Lucas says:

    I usually do a quick search to see if there are any coupons or better deals, but I don’t spend too much time on it. The bigger the item then more likely I am to wait, price watch, and watch for deals 🙂

    1. Emily says:

      We definitely wait and pricewatch for big purchases – sometime to our detriment!

  10. I don’t put too much effort into it. I will usually see if I can get a discount through my credit cards online shopping mall or ebates, whichever is more. If they don’t have discounts, I end up googling coupon codes and that usually does the trick.
    Jon @ MoneySmartGuides recently posted..Fast Food Workers Pay: How Much is Enough?

    1. Emily says:

      We don’t always check out credit cards for discounting relationships so that is a good reminder!

  11. […] from Hassle-Free Savings included How Much Effort Do You Put into Getting Rewards or Deals? in her strategies for hassle-free […]

  12. […] How Much Effort Do You Put into Getting Rewards or Deals? was featured in the Yakezie Carnival. […]

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