(This is a data recovered post, originally published on June 10th, 2015.)
As some of you may know, I am in the midst of a value tactics experiment. For almost two years now I have been buying free-after-rebate (FAR) items from Menards on a semi-weekly basis. (Details of the system can be found on my Menards Free Stuff tactical page.) I don’t just buy some of the items; I buy all the items. And not just one or two of each; I max out the quantity limit for a given rebate offer. But… and here’s what this post is about… that’s not entirely true. Allow me to explain:
There are several reasons why my experimental data is slightly tainted. I haven’t always bought absolutely all of the current rebate items. There are a few scenarios where my purchases were either limited or self-limited:
- I got there too late and the items were sold out.
- There was a ‘no quantity limit’ rebate offer and I either didn’t have enough rebate checks to cover say, 450 three-piece caulking tool sets, or I simply didn’t want to store 150 of xyz item.
- There are a few items which routinely appear on a free-after-rebate sale that I simply don’t buy anymore, per my personal policy.
My personal policy regarding the items from reason #3 came about for practical reasons. Sometimes 10-foot sections of vinyl rain gutters are offered FAR. Storing a 10 foot long stack of items that I would probably sell for $1 each is simply not worth the hassle for me. Another example are the 1-gallon jugs of driveway degreaser, deck wash, and non-tintable latex paint which seem to go up on a FAR offer several times a year.
At my first two garage sales where I had Menards stuff these were not good sellers. Besides, they are so frequently on sale that if I ever sold out of them I could quickly replenish my stock. It’s another case where the work of lugging around large, heavy items is not worth what I could sell them for. So as a personal policy I decided to stop buying all one-gallon FAR items about 9 months ago.
Sure, it would be nice to have a 100% accurate picture of how much free stuff one could possibly acquire from Menards over a certain period of time. But what good is data that represents an unrealistic situation? I’m taking this project to an extreme that has probably never been matched, and I still haven’t completely maxed out the opportunity.
My advice is to use my results as a general guideline to see whether or not this type of tactic is worth it for you. If you decide to try something like this and make some extra money, conserve some of your garage space and your wife’s good graces, and don’t overdo it … too much 🙂