Lately, I have been thinking about all the rewards programs I belong too. There is one at the grocery store that gives me a special price with my card; there is one at two different drug stores, that give me points to be redeemed for I don’t know what. My Nordstrom purchases give me “reward” points, which periodically shows up in the form of a $20 Nordstrom Note. I have no idea what threshold I have to spend to get the $20 Note. Interestingly enough, when my account was hacked and someone charged $7000 worth of designer merchandize on my card (and had it shipped to Philadelphia), I got a $200 Nordstrom Note, but then it wasn’t mine to keep. When I shopped at Talbots, before the clothes got so dowdy again, I got a $25 reward for spending over $500, if I used my Talbots charge. And Chico’s where I do shop sends me certificates all the time for a discount – usually $25 after I spend $100. But everything is priced ending in “9” so nothing is ever $100. If I buy a top for $99.00, I will have to go look for another pair of earrings, a scarf or some other thing that will take me over the magic $100, and my total will end up $129. It never ends.
It occurs to me that root of all of these rewards is me spending money. If I go into the store and buy something, my purchase never quite reaches the amount needed for the discount, so therefore, I have to buy more things to meet the threshold, 90% of the time spending well over the threshold. Right now I have two ten dollar off coupons for DSW, and of course, I’m on the site and in the store, looking for something that I want. I got these for already buying 2 pairs of shoes. But who passes up the chance to get 20% off shoes.
And now the banks have gotten into the act. For years I avoided credit cards with an annual fee so I could get points for airlines that only honored my rewards on the 3rd Tuesday of the month, if I flew after midnight and consented to sit in the very last row. Now I have 5 credit cards that offer me cash back, some tiny fraction of what ever I spend on groceries, gas and my online purchases. The best one, accumulates cash that can be applied to my balance. But the others either require that I spend them in a specific place (think Costco and American Express). But the bottom line is always I have to spend money to get money.
When I used to travel, everyone used to buy things they didn’t need because the price was so great. Sapphire bracelets, ruby rings, emerald earrings because when would you be able to buy something like this again at this price? Most of the stuff ended up in the safety deposit box, never worn, but we all saved a bunch. In the Middle East, it was rugs. It wasn’t that we needed rugs, but once again who could pass up the price? We all could have retired early on all we saved, by spending our money on things we didn’t need. In one rug store the seller kept lowering his price, because I kept telling him my husband would be upset if I spent the money. He thought it was my negotiating strategy, but in fact it was quite true.
So I’m thinking about the nature of spending cash. No more rewards, but I would probably only buy the things I really need. And I could stop going broke saving money.
Until next time – Elsie