However, if you have learned how to be wise with your money and you are able to pay off your credit cards completely each month (as in, not the minimum balance, but the *full* balance due), then keep reading.
For many years we have done most of our clothes shopping at L.L.Bean. When we were constantly traveling around the world and living in places where life (not to mention the method of doing laundry) was hard on clothes, we had to restock the (L.L.Bean) suitcases with certain items each time we came home. We spent most of our time in tropical (read insanely hot) environments, so we were looking for light-weight clothes that would hold up to hard work and washing conditions, would be culturally acceptable, and would last for one or more trips. L.L.Bean came through for us every time.
LEFT: Washing clothes in our tub by foot power in Mozambique ; RIGHT: Drying clothes in Indonesia
After we came home last year (on a more permanent basis), I got an L.L.Bean catalogue in the mail and read about what perks you got when you applied for an L.L.Bean Visa card. Besides earning L.L.Bean reward coupons (when you get up to $10, they send you a gift card), they also offered free shipping, free monogramming, and best of all, free return shipping. I could now shop at L.L.Bean like it was a local store, order clothes, try on clothes, decide clothes didn't fit, and return clothes for FREE. I applied for the Visa card and was accepted immediately. When I look back now and think about how much money I threw away on shipping, it kills me.
We use the card to fill our car with gas, to buy groceries (the cash envelope idea has never worked for me), and to pay certain bills. For buying normal stuff, I earn L.L.Bean reward coupons. This past Christmas, I ordered some items for my mom (meaning, I ordered it so she could get free shipping and then she paid me back), and I ended up getting three $10 gift cards because of a promotion they were running. Peter did a bunch of my Christmas shopping for FREE by using those gift cards plus the reward certificates we had collected through the year.
I still had one of the $10 gift cards that was going to expire on February 10th, plus I had just earned another $10 reward certificate, which gave me $20, plus free shipping to do a little shopping for Peter. In the end, I got him a pair of jeans (which were badly needed) this week.
Photo from the L.L.Bean websiteHere's the breakdown of the cost:
Jeans: $29.95 (not too bad to begin with for L.L.Bean quality)
+ Shipping ($6.95)
Original Total: $36.90
- Shipping (-$6.95)
- Reward (-$10.00)
- Gift Card (-$10.00)
OOP Total: $9.95
On top of that, I shopped through Ebates, so I'll earn 2% cash back from my order, and I paid the $9.95 with my L.L.Bean Visa, so I'll earn points back on that purchase. :-) The main point is that if you can be responsible, then you can really come out ahead when you use things like the L.L.Bean Visa or the rebates or even just shopping through something like Ebates (which, incidentally, if you click on the Ebates link, we'll both earn a $5 sign-up fee when you make your first purchase - pretty cool, huh?).
Be sure to check out Jessica's post today over at Life as Mom for more money saving ideas (great idea with the mini-van, although we're the last people to need a minivan!). Happy Friday! Have a great week-end!