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Mail in rebates are probably one of my most favorite things about being frugal. If I'm going to buy something anyway, why not make some money from it.
Where to find them: a lot of the deal match-up sites list them on their site. But rebates can come just about anywhere a coupon can be found. They can be in Sunday inserts, found in product boxes, found as peelies or tearpads, mailed to you in a home-mailer, or they can just simply be found on the products website.
How to best use them: The best time to use a MIR is when you are buying something at the lowest it will go. However don't rule out using them when you already have to buy the product. On the other hand, you probably shouldn't buy something just because there is a rebate, the only exception to this rule is if you will make money on the deal (after including postage into the equation). You can then donate the item.
Receipts: You will more than likely have to surrender your receipt to the rebate, so you have a couple options. You can ring up your items separately or you can ask your cashier for a duplicate receipt (I know they can do this at Publix). At Publix, it will say "duplicate receipt" at the top. This may conflict with the advice in the next paragraph, so send in the original, however I have sent in the duplicate one several times to several different companies and never had a problem. So basically do so at your own risk, but send the original if at all possible.
Pay attention to the fine print: Read the entire rebate form. Some want UPC's, some want purchase prices circled, some want purchase date circled, some want the store name circled, some have minimum purchase requirements, so always read the whole form.
Make a copy: It is wise to make a copy of everything you send in for a rebate because sometimes things happen, and this is the only way to prove you did things right. I just scan them into my computer.
Keep Records: You should keep a list of MIR's you've submitted, complete with the date sent in. This way you know what you should be expecting, and which rebates to check up on. If you made a copy of the rebate form it may include a way to check the status of your rebate.
Follow Up: Follow up on your rebates. Check their status often so you can catch any problems early.
How long does it take to get the rebate? That depends entirely on the company. Many rebate forms give you an idea of what to expect.
What will you get? Rebates rewards are pretty varied. You may get a check, a generic gift card, a gift card to a specific store, or coupon book full of high value coupons.
What items have rebates? Just about everything! I've done rebates for cleaning supplies, cheese, diapers, personal care items, paint, and many other things. I've seen them for milk, medicine, movies, and everything else you can imagine.
My favorite website: My favorite website for rebate match-ups is Friend Family Savings. She does a weekly rebate round-up that matches current rebates with current sales to maximize your rebate efforts. She also has a master list of rebates (so does iheartpublix for that matter). For future reference, there is a link to her blog in my "favorite links" tab.
Why I LOVE it: Because I have since March (prior to March everything was in storage as we relocated and bought a house), received $115 in checks, a $10 Publix Gift Card, and one P&G high value coupon book. I'm awaiting on another $38.99 in rebates to come in the next few weeks. Most of these things were complete money makers or close to it, and were often items I was buying anyway (like diapers!). A few were just things I was buying anyway, like paint for our house, that there was a rebate for. I used my rebates to buy a black and white laser jet printer a couple of weeks ago, so that I can spend less money printing all those coupons I use.
Once you get good at saving with matching coupons to sales, I hope you will add some MIR's to the mix. Join me next week for even more frugal tips!