Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rebates: Get Your Money!

Part of the comparison cost I factored into the appliance purchases was rebates. As a result, I have a growing stack of paperwork to deal with as both the stove and the refrigerator had rebates. (I think every major appliance manufacturer had some kind of rebate running between April and May.) That’s a collective $100 coming back, thankuverymuch!

Then, we also still need to cash in on our mammoth Behr paint purchase during last month’s sale. Cha-ching. That’s another $35.

Rebates can be a lot of work. You have to fill out the form, carefully ensuring that you’ve crossed every t and dotted every I (I’ve had rebates denied for less.) Then, you have to make sure that you have every piece of paper that they want. (A copy of the invoice, sometimes a copy of your product registration card, UPC codes.) The paperwork can really pile up. I think all the red tape is part of the gimmick.

They know we’re going to factor the rebate into the cost when we make a decision. They also know that in the chaos of daily life (and the added chaos of trying to do DIY remodeling) that many of us are going to lose sight of all that paperwork or else we’ll miss the deadline for turning it in.

But then, I guess they never banked on me. Even so, there are things you can do to ease the burden. Because every company or manufacturer isn’t as user friendly as Walgreen’s when it comes to rebates, here’s a few tips for trying to make sense of it all.

1. Keep receipts. Keep them in one place. Your pocket, your wallet, your purse. Once you get home, put all of them together in an envelope. Store the envelope, together with any forms, in a file folder. Keep that folder with your monthly bills. Make it routine to check it.
2. Grab forms. Make sure you leave the store with a rebate form. If they don’t have any, find out if they’re available online.
3. Hold that package. Until you know what you need to send, don’t throw away your packaging. I put mine inside a plastic bag until I know what I need.
4. Go online. If you can file for your rebate online, do so. It will save you a lot of time and effort, not to mention postage. Plus, most companies will allow you to track the status of your rebate or else send you an email confirming its receipt.
5. Read carefully. Every rebate is different. The expiration date is particularly important. See what it is right away, jot this down on the file folder. Either write a reminder on your wall/desk calendar to mail it in or ping yourself through your Outlook calendar.

After all, it's your money. Go get it!