As I've written here before, saving money is one of my favorite things to do. This time of year, many retailers use a lot of different strategies to get you into the store.There's the old strategy of those amazing sales where, once you read the fine print you realize that there are only about 5 of them per store. There are "loss leaders". And then there are rebates.

I have one piece of advice that you should absolutely positively follow when it comes to rebates...always send in the rebate.

More often than not, rebates work in favor of the retailers because most people simply either can't be bothered to fill everything out, or forget until the deadline has passed. One of the strategies they use is to make it as inconvenient as possible; send the original receipt, cut out the UPC code, fill out the rebate form, send in your birth certificate, a blood sample... you get the gist.

The main rule with sending in rebates; always, always, always read the fine print! (Even if you may need a magnifying glass to do so). This is the big place where they try to get you, it may be something as simple as "must send original receipt, copies not accepted" to "full UPC code panel must be included", or even "illegible submissions will not be accepted". I'm convinced that rebate companies have people working for them who are solely employed just to make sure that every single tiny little rule is followed, or they deny your submission.

So, to summarize:

  1. If you decided to buy something mainly because of an advertised rebate, make sure you get the money you're expecting back or you just defeated the whole purpose.
  2. Read the fine print, it's there to trick you.
  3. Don't wait. Fill out the paperwork and send it in right away so it doesn't get lost in your files or the deadline passes.
  4. Make photocopies of everything for your files.

Rebates can be great, but only if you make the system work in your favor!