Sneaky Shit | Store Rewards

I went out shopping on Independence Day because I was sent a coupon. I didn’t need anything. I don’t like to shop on holidays. But I felt like I had to get the value out of the coupon while it presented itself. I want to read these books. I will have time to read them eventually.

I have totally allowed this store to control me in this way. I bought (with a little push from my husband, honestly) a $25 membership to my local big box bookstore. The membership granted me 10% off all* purchases for one year, plus additional coupons when they fancied sending them (like slow traffic days — a.k.a. holidays — to drum up business).


Now let’s do the math. 10% isn’t much. It barely covers New Jersey sales tax. And I already made a $25 investment into the program. To save $25 at 10% off, I would first need to spend $250 before I actually ended up saving any money.

That is why, before my husband suggested it, I never bought into one of those membership programs before, even though I love books. He reasoned that I would spend that much money on books within the year anyway. Yeah, I thought. That makes sense.

But here’s the problem: then I felt obligated to spend that much money on books before the year was up. I felt I needed to make my up-front “investment” worth it. I felt obligated to make use of the random 20% off coupons they would send me, even if I wouldn’t normally have bought a book at that time, to be able to reach the $25 savings mark sooner, so I could then actually start saving money. I did all of my gift shopping there, to try to get more value out of my membership. Good for them, eh?

Ugh. This system works so well for the stores. They had gained control of how much I spent at their store, when and how often I spent at their store, and they got ME to pay for the “privilege” of it.

My membership recently ended a few days ago. I had very intelligently opted OUT of the automatic renewal system (where they would charge a linked credit card account another $25 when the year was up to automatically start the whole maniacal cycle all over again). I did not manually renew my account. I even went the next step further to unsubscribe from all future emails. I don’t need the inbox clutter or unnecessary temptation to spend because of a coupon, special promotion, or new release.

I feel freer because of this. I can read the books I have. I can borrow books from the library. I can still even buy a book if I want — when I want, how I want. Or not. Distancing myself from this store’s membership rewards has given me more space to think about my money and what I really want to spend it on. I am able to act for my own benefit, on my own wishes, a little easier now.

Are any membership or rewards programs bogging you down more than they are benefitting you? Maybe it’s time to let them go.


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