NOT ALL MEMBERSHIP OR LOYALTY PROGRAMS ARE MADE EQUAL, THESE ARE THE ESSENTIALS.
There may not be a single person on Earth who doesn’t use or occasionally steal a Netflix or an Amazon Prime account. Hey they’re great products, but if you think that a Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription is the only one you need (or need to steal), you are deeply mistaken. Nearly every company and business on earth has some sort of subscription or membership service whether it’s a free boba tea with seven purchases, or a wider array of discounts. Many if not most of these services are free and have very few downsides. If you see one of these free memberships, take it. It’s no skin off your back and you save a buck here and there. It’s the long-term memberships though that are going to save you some real money. These memberships, and especially the ones that pertain to your most common purchases, can make a real difference to your bank account. In this article we’ll be talking about the essential shopping we do every week and how to save way more than a pretty penny.
From TP to paper towels and groceries to toiletries these are the things you will always and forever need. You don’t even put them on your shopping list each week because you’ll never forget to buy them. What you need to remember though, is to save money every time.
Everyone needs a wholesale membership. Even if you live alone, the amount you’ll save on certain essential items like paper towels, frozen and canned foods, bottled water, and even clothes and electronics is unparalleled. Sam’s Club and Big Lots are great, but we’re loyal to Costco (all those free samples). Like most wholesale stores you need a membership to shop at Costco.
Their basic “Gold Star” membership allows you to get in the door. It provides no other real benefits. Costs $60.00 annually.
Their executive membership is costs twice as much and is the only upgrade option. With it you get access to all potential discounts offered in their stores, online, and also through their subsidiary programs like Costco Travel or Costco gas.
The white and gray aisles of pharmacy are like home, in that we spend so much time there. Why wouldn’t you save money on items you spend so much time shopping for?When signing up for the ExtraCare card (which is free), CVS tracks your purchases throughout the year and rewards shoppers with ExtraBucks that act as free money to pay for your next shopping trip. Shoppers who sign up for the ExtraCare card also have access to special sale prices that regular customers don’t.
Once you have the ExtraCare card, you can also choose to join the ExtraCare Beauty Club, which includes $3 in ExtraBucks for every $30 spent on beauty, plus a free birthday surprise; or the ExtraCare Pharmacy & Health. Rewards, which lets you earn up to $50 in Pharmacy & Health ExtraBucks Rewards for filling prescriptions, getting flu shots, and more.
Pet Owners know that keeping their animals healthy and entertained isn’t cheap. That’s why saving money at pet stores like Petco is a no brainer. Petco Pals Rewards Card gives customers’ pets special birthday treats and helps frequent shoppers score some sweet deals. Shoppers get special pricing on certain items, earn 5 percent back on all purchases, and once you’ve spent $100, a $5 coupon is automatically sent to you.
Freelancers don’t get laptops from their jobs and have access to industrial-size printers every day. We need to outfit our own offices. These products include some of the more expensive purchases you might make in a year. Take away some of the anxiety of investing in a new laptop by saving money with some of these memberships.
Just because you may not be furnishing a full office doesn’t mean you can’t save some serious dough on your home office setup. The largest office supply chain in the U.S., Office Depot/Office Max encourages frequent shopping with exclusive savings for members of Office Depot/OfficeMax Rewards. The program is free to join and awards higher spenders with extra perks and a special VIP status.
The Office Depot/Office Max Rewards program gives shoppers the opportunity to earn Office Depot rewards on qualifying purchases. The program is divided into two membership levels based on annual spending. The regular membership includes 2% back in rewards on qualifying Office Depot/Office Max purchases, $2 back in rewards when you recycle ink & toner cartridges, and 2 rewards per product reviews for up to three approved reviews per month.
As a regular member of the rewards program, you are automatically awarded VIP status if you spend $500 or more in a 365-day period (basically if you buy a computer you’re in). With a VIP membership, you get all the benefits of regular member status, in addition to 5% back in rewards on ink, toner, paper and print/copy/ship services, and Free delivery on most purchases.
The items that we most regularly spend big on may be electronics. Not just computers but phones, hard drives, game consoles, and other products of the future worth getting a good deal on. The big-box electronics retailer’s longtime rewards program, My Best Buy is one of the best ways to save on all electronics. As with other programs, this one is free to join, but offers extra rewards to those who use a My Best Buy Visa credit card.
The My Best Buy Rewards program is made up of three membership levels. As soon as you first join the My Best Buy program, you unlock the basic level of rewards which includes 1% back in rewards points for every $1 spent on qualifying Best Buy purchases, a $5 reward certificate for every 250 points you earn, free shipping on purchases $35 and over, member access to exclusive offers and special sales with limited-quantity deals, and a Free birthday gift.
As a member of My Best Buy, you are automatically awarded the next level of rewards, or Elite status, if you spend $1,500 on qualifying purchases in a calendar year. You get all the benefits of an entry-level membership plus a higher percentage back in rewards points, an extend 30-day return window, and access to a dedicated customer service line. The final rewards level, Elite Plus, is awarded if you spend more than $3,500 in a calendar year. With Elite Plus, you get even higher percentage back in rewards points, and an even longer 45-day return window.
No office, home or otherwise, is complete without proper storage, which brings us to the favorite store of organization addicts: The Container Store. The work of proper organization and filing will never truly be done. You’ll be buying drawers, shelves, and other storage products for the rest of your life. You should be saving some money on it. With POP rewards you get 15% off your purchase when you join plus special savings on select items, receipt free returns, birthday and anniversary gifts, special “POP!” shopping days, and invitations to exclusive local events. The rewards program is good for the run-in-the-mill penny pincher and the OCD enthusiast alike.
Even leisure related purchases, despite being considered an excess buy, can still be something you save money on.
If you still love the smell and feel of parchment on your fingers then why not save some money the next time you add something to your bookshelf. Although sales are falling at Barnes & Noble, you can actually get surprisingly good value if you’re willing to fork over a $25 for a membership. You'll receive a $60 bonus coupon by email just for joining, plus 40% off pricing on hardcover bestsellers, 10% off on almost all other purchase, and free express shipping on all online purchases.
When you think of leisure, do you think of the great outdoors? If you do, then you know that despite the outdoors being free to use, you often need equipment to best enjoy it. That stuff isn’t so free. Fortunately, REI is known for having one of the best loyalty programs of any retailer out there. With one $20 purchase you get a lifetime membership which includes benefits like 10% back on purchases, members-only specials like 33% off outdoor gear rentals, and access to REI community classes, events and excursions. There’s also the wildly popular REI Garage sale events where you can buy returned gear at major discounts. Plus, you get no-questions-asked return policies, and if you lose your receipt, no worries, all your purchases are logged through your membership.
Coffee isn’t a culture, it’s an addiction. As long as your honest about your caffeine addiction, you might as well save some of that daily coffee money. You get two stars for every dollar you spend at Starbucks and you can use them to pay for any item, plus you get a free drink reward for every 125 stars. The real savings though, they come from the Starbucks app. You can download the app for free, and every day there are “Bonus Star” items you can buy to multiply your star count. Every month there is a “double-star day,” so make sure to look out for those to really get your money’s worth. Even on a random day, the app sometimes offers great perks out of nowhere like free refills, so make sure to check daily. Starbucks members also receive a free birthday rewards, and who wouldn’t want to spend their birthday at Starbucks.
Having all these memberships may feel a bit overwhelming or time consuming up front, but if you really want to save money (and as a freelancer you should) these things are worth every penny.