Max Performing: The $20,000 Kitchen Upgrade

This “series” (as I don’t have the mental capacity to write it all in one post) is like the Olympics of couponing. What began seven years ago as a way to save a couple bucks on tires when I was (ironically) $20,000 in credit card debt now becomes an attempt to get about $4,000 worth of goodies for free after spending around $13,000 on the wanted luxury kitchen appliances, plus $3,500 worth of airfare just for fun. Don’t try this at home. Oh, and I apologize for the super short post but tomorrow is tax-filing day and I’m behind on the paperwork…

 

Part I – Introduction, Outline and Numbers

Introduction

A brave friend of mine has trusted me to figure this one out and I don’t take that lightly! I was provided with the new kitchen’s floorplan and set to figuring out what appliances would fit in each space. I was stunned with the 48″ slot for the range. A four foot stove? What could that be? I plugged in the allocated model number and it turns out it’s an $8,000 (on the low end!) professional range. Holy cow. At this point, I realized we had a big project to work out.

The Big Picture

My intent is to get as much as possible for free in addition to the $13,000 worth of kitchen appliances (that’s their sale price!) For fun, we’ll also accumulate $3,500 worth of airfare. My goal is to get a ‘free’ washer and dryer out of the gig. (What’s with the quotes? I’ll be shuffling around Sears Shop Your Way Rewards credits in doing my math, so please be patient and it’ll all come together.)

Three Part Process

This is a significant undertaking, so I have broken it into three parts:

Part I is the introduction, where I will also tally the numbers.

Part II is achieving loyalty status.

Part III is max performing loyalty status.

Each part will be broken into day by day steps to make this manageable for me, the author, and for you, the reader. Check back often for updates. Without further ado…

Part II – Achieving Loyalty Status

Day By Day Steps

Day One: Aquire Discounted Gift Cards for Washer + Dryer

Day Two: Purchase Dryer

Day Three: Purchase Washer

Day Four: Complete Shop Your Way Platinum Requirements

Up to $75 Worth of Free Food!

It appears that LivingSocial is rolling out a “portal” of their own called Restaurants Plus – but, unlike the online version, all you have to do is register your card and remember to use it at participating stores.

The current offer is valid in Atlanta, DC, and San Francisco only – though I am looking into whether or not that is actually true. Here’s the summary:

Restaurants Plus

You can participate once per day through Jan 3 for up to $15 cash back, which is a total of $75 in free food. I would expect that you can simply purchase a $15 gift card every day and redeem it all at once or when convenient. That’s what I’d do if I was in a participating city!

An Easy $75 Worth of Credit Card Spend – and Free Miles!

This is my favorite type of offer. You’ll spend $15 and they’ll give you $15 back. That’s a manufactured-spend dream! This spend should trigger miles, cash back, or whatever promotion you’re working on. If you’re trying to meet a spend minimum (such as spend $500, get $100 back on Chase Freedom) this will count toward that as well!

Will you use this offer?

If you have a bachelor or bachelorette, bridal shower, or any other activities coming up and any of these restaurants are potential venues, it might be worth trying to stock up on gift cards to see if the promotion comes through! Or, maybe you could use the gift cards as welcome gifts to your out-of-town guests.

Leave a comment if you’re able to participate. I’d love to hear how it works and how you’re using the credit!

Wine, Magazines, and 1600 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points for $50

Vinesse Wine Club: $42 for 1400 Points

I think this is a good deal, since I would pay $50 for six bottles of wine, anyway. If you are hosting or need gifts (you wouldn’t show up to a holiday party empty handed, would you? New Year’s Eve is coming up!), this is an even better opportunity. As for us? We don’t need an excuse to stock up…

There do not appear to be any restrictions requiring a year long membership and the policy says you can cancel your membership immediately. For me, that means when the first shipment arrives, I’ll call to cancel. This comes out to around 32 pts/dollar, depending on your state’s tax situation. There aren’t many valuable offers out there for products you’ll actually use at this earn rate. Simply navigate to rapidrewardsshopping.southwest.com for this offer.

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$7 for 200 points (oh, and a magazine subscription…)

I’m not a big magazine reader – but paying $7 for 200 points is a rate of around 28 pts/dollar. This is actually slightly less than the price to buy points (36 pts/dollar) – but these count toward your Companion Pass and you get the magazine subscription out of it.

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Here’s a snapshot of the cheapest subscription offers. Note that there does not appear to be a 1 per household limit, so you could stock up on this. Price is going to be somewhere around $35/1000 points. If you’re close to that Companion Pass or in need of topping off for an award flight, it’s worth considering.

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What do you think?

Are these offers worthwhile to you? Which magazine did you choose?

$1 for 1,100 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points

My fabulous sister-in-law found this one on her pursuit to close out her Companion Pass this year. I had to jump on it! 1,100 points are worth $10-20, depending on whether you have an active Companion Pass.

Locating the Offer

Just log in to Southwest Rapid Rewards and navigate to “All Online Offers” (mid way down on the left.) Sort by highest earn rate and you’ll find The Wall Street Journal at 1100 points. You’ll want to hover your mouse over the name until the “Store Details” icon pops up. Click there to get access to the screen below.

1100 Points

Just select one of the radio buttons that offers 2 months for $1 (two month subscription) and you’ll be on your way. My advice is to set a reminder to cancel the subscription in about a week, or as soon as you see the purchase track through your account. How do you check? From the top right corner of the Rapid Rewards Shopping site, click your rewards number under your name. You should see recent transactions and visited sites.

What do you think?

Is this a deal you’ll participate in? I wish it was always $1 for 1,100 points! This offer certainly takes a minimal amount of time and money to complete – just don’t forget to cancel that subscription!

Rules of Engagement: How to Save on Every Purchase

This three-part series will cover the foundation of any bargain hunter’s “training.” These are simple, minimal-effort rules (no coupon clipping or poring over sales flyers.) Once you understand them, you’ll find 5% off or more on almost every dollar you spend! Be creative in applying these guidelines to both your wedding expenses and every day shopping.

#1: The Credit Card Game
#2: Portal Shopping
#3: Discount Gift Cards

Rules of Engagement, #2 – Portal Shopping

These rules are so important to being a budget savvy shopper (bride, groom, event planner – whatever!) that they’re getting high priority here at Unveiled Savings.This trick works for almost every online purchase you’re going to make, whether for your wedding or general shopping.

How to get Free Cash and Miles from Online Shopping: A Portal Example

Let’s say you want to buy toasting flutes over at Things Remembered.
1. Remember that Things Remembered has a website. Go shop around and pick out what you like in store or online.
2. Visit topcashback.com.
3. Search for Things Remembered, then click Cashback.

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7% Cashback on a purchase you were gonna make anyway!
4. Check the Merchant Notes. Some vendors may restrict the transactions that earn cash back or are completed with gift cards. Make sure you know the rules.
5. Click “Get Cashback Now”- a new window or tab will open that directs you to ThingsRemembered.com. This is an important page, because it is tracked from topcashback. The track is how you get paid!

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Make sure you shop on the page opened by topcashback!
6. Complete your purchase directly from the window opened by topcashback. Otherwise, your purchase may not be tracked, and you may not receive cash back.

Which rewards programs can I use?

Visit cashbackmonitor.com and search for Things Remembered. You’ll see all of your options for earning points or cash. If you value airline miles more, then of course…shop through the appropriate portal. The steps will be almost identical to what I’ve outlined above. When you search for Things Remembered, you’ll initially see a one-line summary of options. On the far right, it will say “More…” Choose that link to expand to an example like this – look at all those options!

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So many rewards to choose from!

How much can I get for free?

In this example, you would get 7% back on your purchase. Isn’t that  easy? Our toasting flutes were over $100, and it was $6 to get one engraved. Pretty obviously, the 7% covered the engraving on one of the flutes. Why wouldn’t you use a portal for all of your shopping?Maybe you’re trying to accumulate Southwest Rapid Rewards miles for that trip to Aruba I mentioned. Here, your $100 purchase would earn you 500 Rapid Rewards points. Nice!

Now, consider how many event expenses you are going to accumulate online (or, just regular shopping, holiday gifts, whatever!) and think about how many rewards you’ll accumulate when you’re getting 5 miles per dollar or 7% back. It adds up quickly, so don’t underestimate the value of shopping portals!

Summary

Always consider whether an in-store purchase can be made online. Aside from opportunities to get free shipping or use discount codes, you can rack up cash back and rewards on almost every dollar you spend!Use cashbackmonitor.com for reward options.

If you’re signing up for topcashback, please use my referral link!

Rules of Engagement, #1 – The Credit Card Game

These rules are so important to being a budget savvy shopper (bride, groom, event planner – whatever!) that they’re getting high priority here at Unveiled Savings. Read all the way through to find out how to get a five night stay with airfare just for paying your event deposits!

Without further ado…

Universally Awesome Credit Cards

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Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably received invitations to sign up for new credit cards by mail, been offered a stadium blanket when you get your college’s card, or heard about some limited time offer from an airline. Truth is, there are dozens of excellent offers out there, yours for the taking. Later, I’ll discuss in detail the pros and cons of opening credit cards, but for now I just want to highlight how this can work for you.

Assuming you intend to charge wedding (or other event) expenses, you can receive a round trip flight for almost any charge that exceeds $1,000. What?! Yes, that honeymoon doesn’t have to be your first major expense as Mr. and Mrs.! Here are my top recommendations, but I encourage you to contact me directly prior to opening a card; often, there are better deals – or, at the very least, I can provide you with a referral link which helps me earn free trips, too. And I do love a free trip!

  1. Chase Sapphire Preferred: although this card comes with an annual fee of about $100, if you are going to spend $4,000, you can get 40,000 points in return. These points are worth at least $400, but are better used toward airfare – they can be worth over $1,000 at that point, perhaps as a round trip flight for a pair of travelers! This is my go-to card, which I’ve had for years and use for any expense that doesn’t fall under a category bonus or sign up bonus.
  2. Chase Freedom: if you are not a big spender (although, with wedding planning…it is largely unavoidable) you can get a $100 statement credit by spending only $500 on this card. Or, if you’ve also got the Sapphire card, those dollars can be used for airfare. Of course, I’ll elaborate more on this in a future post.
  3. Discover It: this card allows you to take advantage of the very generous Shop Discover (now Discover Deals) portal, which is where I plan on sending you for major rewards on your flowers, etc!
  4. The card that goes with your favorite travel chain: if you’re a loyal Hilton, Marriott, Sheraton, United, Delta, or Southwest patron, there is a card for you – we just need to find it! I have taken advantage of so many offers and enjoyed many free flights and nights, just by getting the right credit card.

Maximizing Miles Earned

Keep in mind that many cards offer revolving bonuses of 5%. For example, Discover might offer 5% back at gas stations. Now, be creative – instead of just buying gas at the gas station, stop in and consider buying gift cards for places you shop, such as the grocery store, department store…this is a great way to get 5% on more of your purchases, and will also help you meet a spending requirement. If you need to spend $4,000, and that far exceeds your monthly expenses, consider buying gift cards to use in the future – as long as you’re able to pay the credit card bill at the end of the month without accumulating interest, this will be a great way for you to earn a ton of miles!

Proving My Point – 5 Nights Plus Airfare in Aruba

 

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Assume the following:

  1. $2,000 photographer
  2. $750 dress
  3. $500 DJ
  4. $1,000 florist bill
  5. $2,000 venue deposit
  6. $2,000 caterer deposit

That’s $8,250. Ugh!

Maybe your dream destination is Aruba – there’s a fancy Marriott there, and you want to spend five nights for free. A round trip flight from Baltimore to Aruba is only about 24,000 points on Southwest, or 48,000 for a couple. Here’s how you can get that done:

Assume you were to open the Chase Sapphire Preferred card – remember that it has a spend requirement of $4,000 in the first couple months. Done! Your reward? 40,000 miles, plus 4,000 miles for the $4,000 you spent earning one mile per dollar. Still $4,250 to go…

That Chase Freedom card only requires $1,000 spend in three months, and the reward is 10,000 points. If you’ve also got the Sapphire card, you can combine the points. You’re at 55,000 points, and your airfare is free! Done! Still $3,250…

Ritz Carlton (a Marriott partner) happens to offer a card with enough points for a 5 night stay after $3,000 spend. Perfect!

Check it out, folks. You already had to spend over $8,000 in just a few months. But, now you’re getting free airfare and a five night stay in Aruba…for nothing more than taxes and fees!

Convinced? Leave a comment or send me a message if you need some help with your particular dream getaway!