100% For free

100% for free! 100% reimbursed! 100% money back!

I love it when I see these words in advertisement leaflets. When I see these words next to a product that I usually buy or next to staple products, I kind of get an adrenaline rush and have the feeling that I’ve won a contest! It may sound ridiculous or silly, but it’s true, it feels like a contest where you always win a price.

So 100% for free, what exactly does it mean? It depends on the brand, product and store, but most of the time it means that you first have to buy the product, fill in a form, send it to the correct address, and a few weeks later you receive your money back on your bank account (sometimes even the stamp is refunded). Occasionally you can find a 100% for free coupon that you just have to hand in at the cash register and then you don’t even have to pay for the product.

A few years ago, I discovered these 100% for free promotions. At the beginning I was really sceptical “Will they really repay me ? I often buy this toothpaste and now they will pay me back for buying it?”… One day I put my worries aside and just tried it and found that indeed, this was the case! No loopholes, no strings attached (with the possible exception of the fact that they now have more ‘data’ on me), no nothing! It was quite wonderful to see the deposit of 2,99 euro on my account. After this discovery I often buy such reimbursed products. Once a week I browse through the advertisement leaflets, and these 100% for free promotions always catch my eye since they are written in huge and flashy letters and after a while you know in which folders to look.100%

Over the past few years I have bought toothpaste (a lot of toothpaste), shampoo, razor blades, hair gel, laundry detergent, toilet paper … and so much more. And so far, I always received my money back. I have no idea how much money I have saved by these promotions, maybe around 50 euro per year … It’s nice to save that amount of money. I am also someone who does not stick to certain brands (there are some exceptions though), so I really don’t mind if my toilet paper or laundry detergent is from a different brand …

One of the products that I bought this week was dishwasher detergent. The store (Kruidvat) always has some products 100% reimbursed so when I saw this detergent being one of them I didn’t hesitate! Even if my own 100% for freedetergent wasn’t running low (which it is) this would still be a good idea since there’s not really an expiration date on detergent. It’s nice to save 6,99 euro … I bought the product, filled in the form, cut out the barcode, put everything in an envelope and mailed it with the post … Whoop, another contest won :).

This week (until Saturday) you can find this promotion in Belgium. A lot of you are however from different countries. Do you also have such kind of promotions? Do you participate? What are your experiences?

To end this blog 9 tips for such 100% free promotions:

  1. Only buy what you need. Even though your money gets reimbursed, there is no point in buying something you will never use (you don’t need dishwater detergent when you don’t have a dishwasher).
  2. Be sure to buy the right product (the right brand, series, size … ). In the advertisement it is always explained which products are part of the promotion. They won’t reimburse you if you bought the wrong product.
  3. Keep your receipt. You always have to send your receipt together with a form by post in order to get your money back. The same goes for the packing, don’t immediately throw it away, you often have to cut out the barcode.
  4. If there are two different products at the same time that get reimbursed, and you really want them both, ask for two separate receipts.
  5. Fill in the form and send it as soon as possible. Procrastination is never good, and most brands only accept the form a week or twee weeks after buying the product.
  6. Make sure everything is filled in perfect. It would be regrettable is you forget to fill in your account number, or if they cannot read your writing.
  7. Don’t do crazy things … There’s no point in taking a half an hour detour to save 2,99 euro. Staying pragmatic is key.
  8. Don’t feel obliged to buy some other stuff too. If you don’t need anything else just stick to the reimbursed product (you will not be the only person who only buys the product that is reimbursed).
  9. Keep in mind that it can happen that the product is already sold out when you have the chance to go to the store.

Enjoy your free product!

Regards,
Frugal Fiona

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My digital piggy bank

While I was browsing for financial apps, I came across a very nice (and cute) app mypiggybankappfor getting an overview of your savings. I immediately liked it. The app is called “Piggy Bank – Saving Money” created by Georgio Sterk. It is a very simple app that visually shows you how much money you have saved and how close you are to your saving goal. The app is really simple to use, it has an elegant design, and it’s for free.

First you hMypiggybankave to choose for what goal you want to save money and how much you want to save. You can for example save for a car, to buy a house, for early retirement … If you have set your goal, you get a really cute piggy(bank) that shows you how much you have saved and how much remains. At the moment my boyfriend and me are trying to save as much money as we can. Our goal is to save 25000 euro per year. So I entered 25000 euro.

Every time when you then save an amount of money (even a small amount), you insert the numbermypiggybank2 in the app, and you can see the piggy filling up. You can also see how much money you still need to reach your goal. It’s so nice to see the evolution. I just want to save some money and enter the amount in the app, to see the belly of the piggy filling up.

To help you achieve your goal, the app also allows you to calculate how mucmypiggybank3h money you have to save per day, week, month or year. For example, if we want to save 25000 euro in one year, we have to save 2083.33 euro each month. If we succeed to save this amount of money each month we will achieve our goal and the belly of our piggy will be full, yay :). However we are not there yet.

I like the app because its so simple to use and it is beautifully designed with only one goal, showing you how close you are to your saving goal, and how much money you have already saved. For me it really is a visual encouragement to reach my saving goal! I just want to start saving some money and fill that little piggy’s belly! There is however one downside, when you have set your goal of how much money you want to save, you cannot insert a time limit. I for example have a goal for one year, but there is nowhere to include this. I think it would have been a nice addition (for now I will just add in the title that it is my goal for the year 2015). The app also does not show you the history of what you have saved per time period, it just shows you your total. When you want to keep track of the exact amounts you have saved  you will have to use another app or for example keep track of it in an excel sheet.

The app is for free, however, if you want to set more than one goal, you have to upgrade the app for €0.99 (or $0.99). It is available in English and Dutch. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

What do you think of this app? Does anyone of you use an app to keep track of your savings?

Regards,
Frugal Fiona

Where to start?

Living frugally, where do I start? I think that I already live quite thrifty, I for example pay attention to what I spend, I use home made cleaning products, I try to limit our waste … but as I mentioned in my previous blog, there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

I think that a good way to start (or continue) living frugally would be by first of all focussing on my spending. I have a sense of how much money my boyfriend and me spend each month, however I have no idea where our money exactly goes to. We can save a lot of money each month but I don’t know the exact amount we give on food, clothes, going out … We’ve created a budget for most household items (such as groceries) but we don’t really reflect back on the accuracy of our estimates. So maybe I have a completely wrong sense of our expenses. It is possible that in my mind several purchases are forgotten or are considered as futile (such as that box of chocolates that I bought yesterday), giving me a completely false sense of being thrifty and could have a big impact on my financial future.

So I think it would be good to start tracking our expenses. Just writing everything down and dividing our expenses in different categories, to get a view of our spending habits (we will definitely need a separate category for chocolates). It would be a good exercise to see where our money goes to, and it will help us to budget our expenses in the future!

At the moment I am figuring out which tracking system would be best. I can for example write everything down in a notebook, use a spreadsheet application on the computer, or use an app. I think I prefer using an app because it allows me to add my expenses on my Smartphone wherever I am.

A quick browse on the internet shows that there are numerous apps that can help me with this, I can enter my income and expenses, divide them in different categories and get a nice overview of what I spend each month for each category. Some apps can even help me to create a budget and tell how much money is left per category. The only ‘difficult’ part is finding a good app since there are so many to choose from. Based on a first quick search me and my boyfriend like dollarbird, spendee and accounts 2, but there are many more so in the following months I will test several money tracking apps including these three and see which one fits best to our needs. I will of course write a review on these apps in the next few weeks. I will also keep you up to date on how tracking my expenses works out for me. My boyfriend and I are very curious to see whether we spend as much money on food, clothes, going out, electricity … as we think we do, or whether we spend much more than we thought.

Regards,
Frugal Fiona