Thursday, August 6, 2009

Discounts and Freebies

Looks as if a lot of food stores and other retailers are doing their part to keep customers coming in despite the current economy--and despite their general, yet sometimes disguised, raising of prices. I’m definitely displeased where an item is “on sale” for an amount less than the marked price--and the sale amount is more than the same thing cost a few months ago.

Even so, I’ll take advantage of whatever discounts I can these days, as long as I need the item that’s reduced. I’ll even go out of my way to get a discount or two.

Take pet stores, for example. I recently did an on-line survey and now have a coupon for $5 on my next $25 purchase at the store--which I undoubtedly will take advantage of within the next few days.

This week, my husband and I enjoyed a freebie at a fast-food place that e-mailed us coupons for free tacos on one particular day. Of course we bought a salad with it, too, so they at least got a little payback from us. I seem to be getting a lot of e-mails about BOGOs (buy one, get one) at fast food places, or buy a full meal and receive extra stuff on the side. Or buy a meal and get more food for a reduced price. My family has started forwarding this kind of e-mail to one another so we can all choose which to use.

Then there’s my local supermarket. It was recently remodeled (although I was perfectly happy with it the way it previously was). One of the employees gave me a card worth $10 one day when I was about to walk in but the store was closed because work was being performed--despite its formerly being open 24 hours a day. It’s back to being constantly open, starting this week, but to encourage customers to come back, and to thank us for our (supposed) patience, I received two coupons in the mail, each for $10 off a $25 purchase. Plus, on the day of the store’s grand opening this week, my husband and I were among the first 300 people to pop in and therefore got coupons for free breakfast food: eggs, orange juice and English muffins. They’ll last us through several breakfasts.

Other stores, too, are trying to encourage patronage--like book stores. Heaven! Of course that means I have to spend money to save money, but books are entirely worth it. I’ve cut back on clothing purchases, though, so even really good discounts are a lot less tempting to me than they used to be.

Of course the protagonist of my pet-sitter mystery series, Kendra Ballantyne, has already gone through scaling down her lifestyle after all the stuff that happened to her before the first book in the series, so I’m sure she identifies with this.

So... how are you and your characters spending money to save money these days?


Monica Ferris said...

I keep thinking I should comment on how the new laws Congress is passing affects Betsy's business, but am afraid that will give away my political views, so I'm pretending they don't affect her.

Linda O. Johnston said...

It's an interesting dilemma, Monica--keeping our characters' views separate from our own, when appropriate. Kendra is my alter ego in many ways, but not all ways, so I have to honor her opinion on various matters.

Janie Emaus said...

I can identify with this. I save all sorts of "buy one meal, get the second one free" coupons and I'm always looking for ways to save money. I wish the gas stations would give out coupons!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

A topic after my own family often teases me about the little Scot within me that drives me to pinch pennies. And sometimes, I wind up spending all sorts of money trying to be thrifty!

Linda O. Johnston said...

I agree with you about gas stations, Janie. I try to buy my gas whenever possible at the lowest priced stations around--unlike the days when I worked for Unocal and had brand loyalty.

I don't think I have any Scottish ancestry, Joanna, but I probably should have!

Julie said...

I'm a Scot from way back, both Robertson and Hamilton, and I looooove the feature on my cellphone that let's me check gas prices at stations near my GPS location, or any other location I enter. Prices can vary up to 10 cents, so I've gotten used to checking before I fill up my big SUV.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Great idea, Julie! I know there are websites that give the best gas prices. I was taught that by my younger son, who must have inherited a frugality gene from both parents.

Betty Hechtman said...

The only reference to the economy I've mentioned in the crochet mysteries is that Molly's son moves back home due to finances. Things seem to be changing so fast these days that you never know what might sound dated when a book comes out.

I remember reading an article in the Costco magazine by David Horowitz ranting on about $5 gas, but by the time the magazine came out, gas had already gone way down.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Let's hope that gas prices don't start skyrocketing again, Betty!