Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Life's Little Pleasures: Free Perks!

Many months ago when I was pregnant with Lily, I started a baby registry like many moms-to-be. Upon choosing the store I wanted to register at (which was BuyBuyBaby) I had a few criteria: helpful and very knowledgeable staff, clean/organized store that's easy for me and those buying from the registry to shop in and they offered all of the types of products I was most interested in, it was an easy decision. What I loved most was the free perks that other stores didn't offer, and in life that often helps us decide when going with one company vs. another or one product compares with a competing one. I loved that the store offered complimentary gift wrapping/ tissue paper and gift giving bags (with the store's name on it) to those buying gifts in the store. They also offered the ability to use coupons from their own store or their parent company (Bed Bath & Beyond) which were typically 20% off. In addition, they also offer price matching to assure you are getting the best price and a no hassle return policy even if you don't have your receipt or it's not on your registry. One nice little gift to me was a goody bag upon signing up that had some really great products like a brand new pacifier, one bottle, little toy for a girl, and  a whole lot more. This post is not sponsored by my chosen registry store but it was just one example when I got to thinking about how often we're a member of a program, store or organization and how we end up missing out on life's little pleasures.

Recently I found out that my husband's bank (TD Bank) offers a really neat program for those who enjoy concerts. We always think of banks for mainly just banking and saving money however many have some neat programs like referral programs that get both you and the person you refer some cash in hand or in this case with TD Music access, the ability to take advantage of VIP experiences, concert credits, merchandise discounts, special offers, etc., just for being a member of the bank. I thought that was pretty neat considering there was no fee.

Here is a List of 10 Free Perks:

1. Credit cards-Many not only offer rewards points but offer free trip protection for flights or insurance coverage for rental cars, extended warranty coverage, emergency travel assistance, roadside assistance and more. This is huge-let your credit card do more to work for you!

2. OfficeMax-For business owners or anyone, I personally love the MaxPerks rewards program. You collect points for purchases but I accumulate them quickly by recycling my ink cartridges. My HP all-in-one uses one black and 5 color cartridges so I turn them in and collect $3 in credits for each one, that's an easy $18 towards anything I want in the store (it's usually spent on ink and paper).

3. Starbucks Rewards-Instead of using cash, use/buy yourself a gift card and sign up online for an account. After 5 drink purchases you become part of the rewards program where you can earn free drinks/food on your birthday and other fun freebies like free refills in-store. Once you have 30 drinks/food items purchased you become a gold member and there are a bunch of other great rewards like personalized offers and free food or drink every 12th visit. Alternatively, if you like the taste of Starbucks but prefer the cost of at-home brewing instead, here's a great little recipe I posted many moons ago on how to make homemade iced coffee drinks for pennies.

4. Meet with a Personal Trainer-Many gyms offer freebies that members don't even realize such as a free health assessment or meeting with a personal trainer. If you are new to a gym, absolutely have them give you a tour and have trainer or another staff member properly show you how to use each piece of equipment-that's what they are there for and it will help you feel less intimidated and become successful.

5. In-Service Car Washes- Many car dealerships offer a free car wash service after the vehicle has been worked on, some will even give it a quick vacuum as well.

6. Massage Therapy- I know of many people who work within companies which offer specific benefits such as $500 per calendar year in Massage Therapy, Acupuncture and Chiropractic care (a company I worked for previously offered a really nice package and I took full advantage of it). While it's essential when you are injured, there is nothing wrong with spending a Saturday afternoon at the spa getting in a relaxing and soothing massage. Too many people get so busy that they forget all about it and really if you're sitting at a desk for work, it's important to care for your back and spine.

7. Home Energy Audit- A few years ago we learned that our utility company offered a free home energy report. We had someone come out and see where we had leaks in our windows/doors, looked at our HVAC system, inspected our attic and insulation, etc. They offered ways to save money, ie: lowering our hot water tank and provided a free kit which included a CFL light bulb, a low flow shower head, some weather stripping and aerators for our taps.

8. Energy Credits-Two years ago we decided to replace all of the original windows in our 55 year old home. It made a considerable difference as we opted for tinted low-e windows which are double pane. We qualified for 2 energy credits. One was a lump sum credit towards our utility bill which actually covered roughly 3 months and the other was a check with another nice total for us as an additional credit. They exist for windows, insulation, replacing toilets, changing thermostats and more. Don't miss out! If you're changing these items in your home anyway, it will help offset the cost.

9. Frequent Visitor Punch Cards-These are more small scale, but if you frequent a few locals, why not keep the punch card in your wallet. I keep 3 on hand that I use regularly, one being the fresh juice bar card from Whole Foods Market, I've now received a few free drinks and at $5-6 dollars a pop, it's a nice little thank you.

10. Free Delivery- Many places offer free delivery and we sometimes don't even realize it. Target is a great example of this and you don't have to meet a spending requirement. By using your Target Red card (Credit or Debit) at checkout, you automatically save 5% on your purchase total and receive free shipping not matter what the amount. That alone is reason enough to sign up for a Red card. I have the debit version and love it. For those who do not wish to sign up, they'll still offer free shipping but the minimum purchase requirement is $50.  I was also surprised several years ago to learn that my library allows you to order books and educational DVD's online and they'll be delivered to your home. It's one less trip I have to make which is nice. Grocery stores, pharmacies, etc., sometimes offer free delivery. Get in the habit of asking!

I enjoy saving money and taking advantage of life's little pleasures at the same time. With just a bit of planning and thought, we can all enjoy more from life with the perks that are available to us. If you enjoy saving money and using coupons to stay on budget, here's a post from my archives on Extreme Couponing Etquette.

Now, what are YOUR favorite perks?

Thanks for Reading!


*image source

*This was a sponsored post by TD Bank however all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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