Well, as promised, here is my post on how to efficiently use your birthday freebies. If you are like me, you actually ended up with many more than you could (or should use). To get the most bang for the buck, I followed a few "rules" when I redeemed many of them:
1. Only print out the ones you know you'll use - goes without saying that you'll save on ink and paper (plus create less clutter).
2. Evaluate if it is truly a good deal - for example, a free dessert is nice, but if it's with the purchase of an entree and you wouldn't normally go to that restaurant without the freebie, you've just spend $10 - $15 for a "free" dessert you don't want or need.
3. If it's a $ off deal, try to stay very close to the free dollar amount - saving $10 on a $50 purchase isn't a great deal (unless you were going to buy that item anyways), however $10 off a $10 purchase is a great deal - free!
4. Try to map out your shopping so you don't waste time and gas driving all over town.
5. Don't feel obligated to purchase more - this is a tough one for me, I always feel I should "repay" the free item, but I'm working on reminding myself that I only cash in freebies for places I visit throughout the year and do spend money at.
So, how did I apply these principles? Here's my day:
I started out at Starbucks for a free birthday month coffee. I got a Carmel Macchiato - an expensive drink I don't normally treat myself to. I ate an english muffin from home before I left, so didn't need to make an additional purchase.
After Starbucks, I ran a few errands, and near where I was headed was one of the stores that sent out a $10 gift card (Occasionally Yours). I used it to purchase a $12 Vera Bradley coin purse that matches my beach bag (place for id's, money, etc.). So, it cost me less than $3 out of pocket - which I was pleased with since the resale on Vera is great so when I tire of it, I'll sell it for about what I paid for it.
Next stop was JCPenney's as I had a $10 off $10 coupon (not birthday) and I purchased a clearance top and a sale pair of pants for my son. $2.93 out of pocket and he needed the dress shirt for church.
It was getting close to lunch, so I went to Moe's Southwest Grill and used my free birthday entree coupon. I ordered water to drink - which is what I would have ordered even without the coupon. Cost was $0.
After lunch I went back home, and later that evening after we put the kids to bed (with my MIL watching them), my DH and I went out to Bonefish Grill for a drink in the bar. While enjoying our $5 cocktails (special in the bar), we had a free order of Bang Bang shrimp using my birthday freebie. This is a place we go regularly for drinks and appetizers, so it was a nice treat to keep it under $15 including tip for a change.
There are still a few coupons I'll use, although many of them I won't - if I used everything I was sent I'd spend a lot of unecessary money out of pocket (and be eating a lot of dessert). The few left I plan on using are:
Free coffee at Borders Bookstore
Free dinner at Benihana - my husband will get sushi, my daughter a kids meal and we'll still have food to take home!
$10 off $10 at World Market - I'll probably use this to buy coffee next Wed on their double stamp day since I need coffee anyway!