I’ve been sort of half-heartedly using MyPoints.com to try to rack up some points for gift certificates. I’ve never shopped through the sites, but I read the e-mails, and they do have offers for some pretty great free sites (unfortunately, mostly sites I already belong to like SparkPeople and Kaboodle). I realized that I was getting close to a reward level and decided to look at what sorts of rewards I could get.
Admittedly, the list is limited, but there’s a decent enough variety that I found a few different gift certificates I would like. But now, my question is this: Do I spend the points for something practical, like a CVS gift certificate, or do I spend them for fun on something like an iTunes gift certificate?
I tried to think about what I do with other rewards programs. The two I use the most are on my Amazon.com Chase Visa and my Discover Card. With the Discover Card, rather than cashback, I tend to bump up to a gift certificate, as you get more – $20 cashback gets you a $25 gift certificate for some merchants, for example. I’ve used those for both a shoe store (which I spent on shoes for work) and for Lands End (which I spent on new sheets). Sort of practical, I suppose.
I treat the Amazon rewards differently. These are used for either fun items or for gifts for family and friends for birthdays and holidays. I have bought grocery items from Amazon, but never used the Amazon rewards gift certificates for the purchase.
I’m not sure what I’ll do with my rewards at MyPoints. Maybe I’ll wait and see how my budget looks before I make a decision.
How do you treat these types of rewards? Are they fun extras or are they just more funds to be used in your normal budget?
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.