Greetings, financial follower friends, it’s been a while, but here I am again! Since it’s been 3 months since my last post, I’m easing back into things with a fun post.
I just celebrated my birthday a few weeks ago. We didn’t have big plans. Last year my husband was in the hospital, so he set a pretty low bar for my day – I was just happy to have him home and healthy to spend time with us!
On the first of March, I started getting birthday deal emails! I’ve gotten these for years, but since the budget has been tight the last few months, I decided to challenge myself to use as many as I could. Every time I got an email, I added the free item to a list on the Notes app on my phone. I included the restaurant, deal, and expiration date. I also marked it as used once I’d redeemed the deal so I could see how many I actually enjoyed. Since I was more proactive and had a list, I was definitely successful in using more deals this year.
- California Pizza Kitchen Free Entree – $16 value – Usually I get a half size salad, but this time I sprung for the FULL size since it was free! Yay for leftovers!
- Olive Garden Free Dessert – $7+ value – Most of the birthday deals are free desserts and I really don’t use most of them. I’m not going to spend $30+ on a family meal just to get a free dessert that I wouldn’t get normally. It has to be a place that I would want to eat at without a deal. Olive Garden is a favorite of mine and I’ve been wanting to try their chocolate brownie lasagna so this free dessert reward was a perfect opportunity!
- Starbucks Free Beverage – $5 value – When I have a free coffee drink, I always make sure to get a large specialty beverage to maximize the value. My drink of choice at Starbucks is a frappuccino so I rocked the Venti, baby!
- Dunkin Free Beverage – $4 value – See #3. All about the large latte!
- IHOP Free Full Stack of Pancakes – $7 value – This was a lot of pancakes, so that meant I had leftovers.
- PDQ Free Combo Meal – $9 value – I had fun trying to maximize this one. My reward was good for any combo meal so I got a 5-tender meal (versus 3 or 4) and also had leftovers here.
- Panera Free Drink – $2+ value – Technically Corey used this one. He loves Panera coffee!
- Ruby Tuesday Free Burger Entree – $11 value – The free entree reward seems like the holy grail of birthday freebies. I was also excited that we had a 5% Chase offer so we’ll get 5% of our bill back as a statement credit on our Chase Freedom card.
- Saladworks Free Salad – $10 value – I don’t often pay full price for Saladworks. There’s always coupons and many locations in our area have $7.99 salads on Wednesdays so we try to go then. I used my freebie without coupons or discounts so it was worth a whole $10!
Deals I Didn’t Get To
Here are the rewards I received but didn’t want or get to use, in case you’re interested in signing up for your future birthday!
- Free Desserts from: PF Changs, Zoe’s Kitchen, TGIFridays, Chilis, Honeygrow, Subway
- Sonic Free Milkshake
- Primo Hoagies BOGO Primo-size Hoagie
- Disney Store 20% Off
- Walgreens Balance Rewards 10x points all month long
Eating out is our splurge, but we’ve been trying to cut back since I left my job last year. This is an expenditure that’s completely within our control and a great way to save some extra dough. I know we could do better, but eating out is a treat for us and sometimes just a necessary convenience when we didn’t plan a meal at home. Since I’m a ruthless expense tracker, at least I can see that we’ve moved the needle a bit since my income decreased. We try to only go places that we really enjoy and if we have options, we go where we have coupons or deals to use. I’ve also been gift card hacking so we’re usually getting 5% bonus credit card points for dining out, even when restaurants are not a quarterly bonus category.
While I advise people to unsubscribe from retail emails so you can resist the temptation to buy things you don’t need, I still get a ton of emails from restaurants. I usually just mark them as read without opening and then if I plan to go to a certain restaurant, I search in my email for any valid deals. Going to Olive Garden? Search my email for Olive Garden and if I’m lucky I have a deal for Soup, Salad and Breadsticks. JACKPOT!
Happy Birthday to YOU!
Do you get a lot of birthday rewards? I challenge you to take advantage of more this year (but don’t spend money you wouldn’t already to get a deal!). Then tell me how much you saved!