I've always been skeptical of the notion that you can save money by spending it. But programs that reward you for spending money can work if you are smart about which ones you sign up for, and disciplined about only purchasing what you truly need.
Here are my rewards programs rules:
- Look for ways to save at the shops you already know and like. Credit card cash back programs may give you this kind of flexibility.
- Before buying something, ask yourself if you can delay the purchase. Don't switch into shopping mode and load up your cart in order to push you over the limit for a reward.
- Coordinate with your husband or partner so that you shop on the same account, and accumulate rewards that much faster.
- Track your actual use of the rewards program to see if it's worth continuing.
- If you do use a credit card for the rewards program, make sure to pay your balance in full each month. No free airplane trip or cash back can be worth paying 18 percent interest on a credit card balance!
What reward programs do you use and like? Which have you found that aren't worth the effort?
For more Thrifty Thursday advice from About.com Guides, see: