By: Suzanne Reisler Litwin
Years ago, I had an Aunt who was excellent at cutting discount coupons out of newspapers and magazines. As a child I frequently asked her what she was doing and how she saved money by doing it. She told me that she was playing the “Store Game”. My Aunt was playing a game that retail stores and product manufactures had set up. If she played it well, she saved a lot of money. Also, the more often she played, the more money she saved.
As an adult, I now realize that she was cutting out discount and rebate coupons the retail stores provided to encourage her to shop at their stores. The more money she spent in a particular store, the more money she saved. It was a win, win situation. She became a frequent customer of some stores which encouraged her to purchase their products at a discount. Anyway you sliced it; my Aunt was saving her money and playing their game.
This sounded like a lot of fun to me. I love to participate in games. My beloved Aunt has passed away, but she left me with an interest in playing the store game. Would I call myself a coupon cutter, a discount chaser, a money pincher? Not really. I’m a participant in the Store Game!
Lately, I signed up to earn “points” at a grocery store. Basically, every time I go to this grocery store I give them my points card when I check out. I collect points in my account based on the items I purchase. Obviously, the more I go to this particular grocery store, the more points I will collect. Fair enough!
With a family of five and extended family and friends, it’s easy to collect large amounts of points. Every three months this grocery store sends me a credit voucher to use at their store. This month I received a credit voucher worth $23.00!
What will I buy? Should I buy stuff I need or splurge on candy? How’s about expensive steaks and wine or a tub of decadent ice cream? Should I buy cleaning products that are so expensive or splurge on silly magazines? Oh, the joy of free stuff! This is crazy fun from store collected points!
Am I encouraged to continue shopping at this grocery store when they give me free items? Hell, ya! How’s about when I collect all those Air mile points and the cashier at the pharmacy tells me that I’m entitled to $10.00 off my purchase. What?! More free stuff? Am I encouraged to use my Air miles points card when they are willing to give me $10.00 off a purchase? Definitely!
The other day I was with my son having lunch. We bought deli sandwiches. The cashier asked me if I had a points card for this restaurant. I found it in my wallet and gave it to her. Guess what? My sandwich was free that day! Seriously, can this game get any better?
If these retailers are trying to encourage me to shop at their stores, they have succeeded. If all I have to do is carry their points card and give it to the cashier when I check out, I’m in!
It seems that many stores are encouraging people to collect points in exchange for free items. Due to the fact that I love to participate in these games, I have a new mini wallet specifically designed to carry all these points cards. Actually, with some stores you can collect purchase points with your smart phone if you use their specific apps.
While in New York City, I often go to a favorite store with my daughter. This place specializes in optimizing the points system. We are champion players in their game. We are able to amass discounts on top of discounts. Points tripled and doubled and even quadrupled on our birthdays. All these collected points equal up to free gifts, free beauty products, bonuses bags, and prizes. Are we having fun? Oooooooh, ya! It sounds more like a carnival game than a retail store game to me.
Last week I bought steaks, wine and chocolate with my $23.00 voucher at the grocery store. I also got $25.00 off my next purchase at a shoe store. I got a free deli sandwich and $10.00 off my pharmacy order. Crazy fun!
What’s pending in the store game for me? Perhaps I will get $5.00 off my next purchase at a dollar store, a free cosmetic item at a department store, and a $25.00 gift card that’s in the mail from the bank.
My dearly beloved Aunt would be so proud me!
Suzanne Reisler Litwin is an author/writer/columnist/educator. She contributes every Monday morning to the West Island Blog’s Keeping it Real Column.
She is an instructor at Concordia University in The Centre for Continuing Education. Suzanne is a freelance contributor to The Suburban newspaper. She is the author of the children’s book, The Black Velvet Jacket. She lives in Montreal, Canada with her 3 children, Allyn, Taylor, and Duke and her husband Laurie. Suzanne contributes regularly to West Island Blog under her column Keeping it Real. Please visit her website www.suzannereislerlitwin.com to read more of her published articles, books, and poetry.