Category Archives: Menards

Semi-Monthly Update (April 4, 2017)

In this post: an awesome credit card offer expiring tomorrow, our travel news and monthly points and miles round-up, some extreme free-after rebate sales at Menards, and more!

Credit Card News

Tomorrow (April 5th) is the last day for the elevated sign-up bonus on the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card.  The standard bonus on the Amex SPG card is 25k points or even lower.  The current bonus offer is for 25k points after spending $3k in the first 3 months, and an adidtional 10k points after spending an additional $2k in the first 6 months, for 35k bonus points.  Starwood points are some of the most valuable hotel points around, even beating out Hyatt on most points valuation lists.  Including the points earned with the regular spending to meet the bonus, new card holders will end up with 40k points.  That’s enough for 4 nights at the Westin Punta Cana, where VT readers Derek and Danie recently stayed.

Beach view at the Westin Punta Cana - 10,000 SPG points per night

Beach view at the Westin Punta Cana – 10,000 SPG points per night

I applied for the card last night and was instantly approved!

Here’s the link to the Flyertalk wiki with links to the application page.  THIS OFFER IS ONLY GOOD THROUGH APRIL 5th.  

Travel News

It’s been a busy few days of travel planning here at ValueTactics headquarters.

Today I booked a downtown Minneapolis hotel for a wedding Nicoleen and I have on Saturday evening.  We’re staying at the new Hampton Inn, which is currently ranked #1 of 49 hotels in Minneapolis on  The cash value of the stay is $110.02 and it cost us 20,000 Hilton points.  Expect a hotel review sometime after our stay!

I’ve also recently spent several hours planning our fall trip to somewhere warm with the kids.  (If you are a personal acquaintance DO NOT mention this to our kids!)  I’ll reveal details at a later date but I’ll give you this much.  We are staying 5 nights using only the bonus points from one card: the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier.  We’ll even have some points left over.

Household Points and Miles Activity for March

Between Nicoleen and I, here are the earnings and redemptions we made in March:

  • earned 948 hotel points
  • earned 114,282 Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • earned 2,653 Citi Thank-You points
  • earned 114 “other” points
  • redeemed 114 “other” points for $1.14 cash back from Capital One

Menards Free Stuff Update

It’s been a while since we’ve done a Menards update.  I’m still successfully resisting most of my urges to fill our garage and house full of free stuffVT reader Alex, on the other hand, is really ramping up his program!

When Alex sent me this photo I knew something big was brewing...

When Alex sent me this photo I knew something big was brewing…

When I stopped at Menards on Sunday I found out it was day three of a truly crazy “Crazy Days” sale.  There were 15 different free-after-rebate products on sale for a total quantity of 68 items.  The total retail value was $305.56!

As I explain on the Menards Free Stuff tactical page, sale cycles often overlap on Sundays.  Last Sunday was one such day, as the “Crazy Days” ad was ending and the “Menards Day Sale” flyer was just starting.  The Menards Day Sale goes until this Sunday, April 9th.  Here are the free-after-rebate deals from that sale that are currently available:

New ValueTactics Blog Posts

Card Review: Chase Hyatt is my review of the card that has largely fueled our last two free vacations: Hawaii back in September, and Costa Rica in February.  Check out the details on this super valuable card!

Now you’re updated. Go employ some Value Tactics!

More Evidence of ValueTactics Fanaticism

A few months ago I posted this photo of a pile of credit card activation stickers I didn’t even realize I had collected:

Well, it happened again!

A few days ago I looked down at my desk and noticed I had a pretty decent sized pile of assorted value tactics related stuff going:

zealotry2Let’s analyze the contents a bit.

  • Menards rebate check (below the credit cards)
  • Menards rebate receipt, waiting to be sent in
  • Several recently cancelled credit cards
  • Several currently in-use credit cards not part of my regular wallet
  • Credit card activation stickers from various banks

Having all this stuff is probably bad enough, but when it’s allowed to pile up, unnoticed, for weeks because it’s so integrated into my normal every day routine…have I gone too far? 
You tell me…

$5,000 in Free Menards Merchandise

One of the funnest value tactics I have tried out and reported on is the Menards free stuff tactic.  It’s hard to describe the amount of free-after-rebate (FAR) merchandise Menards puts in their ads each week.  Instead of trying to describe it, I’ll present here a visual record of two year’s worth of FAR merchandise that I acquired during my Menards free stuff experiment.  The total retail value of this collection is $4,946.46, but my total investment to acquire is was about $8 in postage stamps!  As you’ll see, “fun” isn’t the only word you could use to describe what I did; maybe “extreme” or “blown out” could also work 🙂

Click here for a full description of the tactic.
Click here to see my final analysis of my two year experiment.

Photos start with the first haul I came home with on July 7th, 2013, and progress chronologically to the last one in my 2 year marathon on July 5th, 2015.  Enjoy!



(No image for these items)


🙂   🙂   🙂

Menards Free Stuff – The Verdict

Over the course of a 2-year experiment, I “bought” almost $5000 in free-after-rebate merchandise from Menards.  Two garage sales and a flea market later, it’s time to analyze the data: Does it really work?  Was it worth it?  How much did I make?  Read on to find my answers…

The Menards rebate system has been one of the major tactics I have posted about on this site.  As you can read on the About Me page, a few years ago I was unemployed and looking for creative ways to make money and/or get free stuff.  I stumbled upon the Menards mail-in rebate program that frequently features free-after-rebate (FAR) items in their weekly ads.
Through some testing I found that you can use the in-store rebate checks to buy more FAR items, effectively recycling the original money over and over.  When you want to end the chain reaction, just use the remainder of the rebate checks on purchases you would have made anyway, and voila!  You just got all that stuff for free.  A more detailed overview of the tactic can be found here.

Many times ad flyers overlap, making for pretty decent hauls.

Many times ad flyers overlap, making for pretty decent hauls.


As soon as I confirmed some basic plausibility (e.g the checks can be used on anything; even new FAR items) of the system I decided to run it like an experiment.  I love quantifying value (hence this website!) and I wanted to see how much one could actually make by getting this free stuff and hopefully selling it secondhand (or using it).  Here were my parameters:

  • Get only and all items where the rebate amount matches or exceeds the purchase amount.*
  • Get the max quantity of items eligible for the rebate offer.**
  • Sell items at 50-75% discounts from retail (to move product fast).

*There were some exceptions, as discussed here.
**In rare cases there were not enough items in stock.  Also in rare cases, there were FAR items with no limit.  In this case I would get as many as I presently had rebate checks to cover.

And some assumptions:

  • Stamps for sending in rebates, garage sale signage, and flea market fees are counted as expenses.
  • Travel costs to and from the store do not count as expenses as these cost were negligible in my situation.


Acquiring stuff
After 2 years (July 7th, 2013 – July 5th, 2015) the total retail value of the FAR items I purchased was $4946.46.  Without the few restrictions I put on my purchasing, this figure would have easily been over $5000.  This puts the total amount of stuff you could acquire for free at around $2500/year.

The furthest “in the hole” I was (i.e. the most spending done before getting some rebates back) was $1039.04.  However, I happened to start during a long rebate delay period, which seems to happen in the middle of every summer.  Once I got the ball rolling and got some rebates in the mail, it seemed like around $400 was all that was needed to perpetually re-use the rebates.  I have since used about $850 in rebates for non-experiment purchases at Menards, leaving only $185 to be paid back (by using rebates to make personal/family purchases I would have made anyway).

Selling stuff
In August of 2013 we had a garage sale.  I only had about $350 in product at the time, and selling it around 50-75% off retail price I made around $50.  We had a second garage sale a year later and I made closer to $155.  My big plan to liquidate a lot of inventory came in June 2015 when I got a booth at a flea market in my area.  A full report of that event can be found here.  At the flea market my Menards stuff netted $201.81.
When anyone in my house would take any product out of inventory for personal use, I would charge the family my sale price for the item  (No, I didn’t actually demand $1.50 cash from my wife when she took a spray bottle of carpet cleaner!  This was just done on my tracking spreadsheet.)

Between both sales, the flea market, and the few self-purchases, my total revenue to date is $405.31.    I estimate I still have 70-75% of my total inventory from the 2 years, which would suggest I have the potential to make another $945-1215 in revenue.


My data lends itself to two main conclusions:

  1. The system works.  You can make money doing this.
  2. It’s probably not worth it.

The system works
You can make money doing this.  All of the details of the rebate system work out so that you can perpetually buy more and more free stuff with the store’s own rebate checks.  Since Menards has a lot of generally needed products, it’s not hard to “pay yourself back” when you’re ready to stop the rebate churning.  The rebate program is very forgiving about mail-by dates and the ad flyers are online, making it easy to find the deals.  If you have a Menards close to where you live or if you frequently drive past one, getting the merchandise and sending in rebate forms can be accomplished without much extra time or hassle.

Selling the items also works.  A lot of the products are cheap, expendable items that people generally use: paint brushes, cleaning supplies, gloves, hand tools, kitchen gadgets, etc.  Of course some items sell better than others but in general, the stuff goes.  I tried putting a few of the higher volume items on craigslist, but never got any bites.  Impulse buys at garage sales and flea markets seems to be the best bet to offload your free stuff.

It’s probably not worth it
I just explained how the system works and that you can make money.  So why do I say it’s probably not worth it?  The answer is simple: efficiency.  No one part of the process is overly onerous but looking at it as a whole, it is just too much work for the return.

But it’s close.  In fact, until I packed it all up and brought it to the flea market, it still felt like it was worth my while.  But once the volume of stuff became hard to physically manage, getting it moved and set up properly to sell became a big project.  If one half of the program -getting the stuff or selling the stuff- could be cut out of the equation I would probably say it was worth the effort.  But as it stands, for me it is not.

That’s not to say it isn’t worth it for everyone.  For someone who spends their summers hanging out at flea markets anyway, or someone who lives on a busy intersection, the selling part might be a lot less trouble than it was for me.  In this case the scales could be tipped enough that the value exceeds the costs.

Another idea would be to limit purchases to only very small items like drill bit sets, paint brushes, saw blades, etc. and to avoid the gallon jugs of cleaning supplies and mini blinds, for example.  Doing this would cut way down on the hassle of storing and transporting the stuff.  It would also reduce the total number of trips to the store.


I have forced myself to take a break from Menards free stuff.  It can be pretty addicting to walk out of a home improvement store every week or two with 5 full bags of free stuff.  I quit cold turkey and knowingly missed some good deals. I need to liquidate more inventory before I even think about getting more free stuff.  I might give craigslist a second try or put a few items on amazon.  If nothing else I will do another flea market early next summer.

When I am ready to start churning rebates at Menards again I will change my tactics.  I now know which items sell the best and which ones are a pain to store and transport.  I think a smaller, leaner rebate churning program at Menards could make almost as much profit as my experiment did, but with a fraction of the hassle.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to leave Menards Free Stuff as a featured value tactic on the site.  Maybe some reader will be in a better position to sell the product, and would therefore find the tactic valuable.  Maybe someone will find a different retailer or website where the same tactic could be applied.

Buying almost $5000 of merchandise for free was sure fun It’s time to ease up for now, but something tells me I haven’t sent in my last pile of rebate forms…

Flea Market Round Up


Earlier this summer, as I mentioned in the June 16 weekly update, I hauled my empire of acquired stuff to Swappers’ Meet flea market in Wright County, MN.  The goals were to reduce volume and make some profit.  I had some random items to sell, including the balls and pumps mentioned in a previous post, but the majority of my wares were the fruits of my Menards free stuff tactic.

Our display tables at the flea market. 90% of the items for sale were Menards free-after-rebate items.

Our display tables at the flea market. 90% of the items for sale were Menards free-after-rebate items.

Over the previous two years I had bought about $5000 worth of free-after-rebate items from Menards.  Of course the “street value” is quite a bit lower.  I priced most of the items at 20-50% of retail value.  My philosophy on second-hand pricing is to try to find the sweet spot where it’s high enough to make it worth my while, but where it’s low enough where price is basically eliminated as a factor in a buyer’s thought process.  To give you an idea on how much stuff I had up for sale, my dad’s Chevy Tahoe, a 4X8′ trailer, and the bed of my friend’s truck were all packed full.


Swappers’ Meet is one of the biggest flea markets within easy driving distance and is open Saturdays during the summer.  I had only been to a few flea markets before this, so I did a lot of research online to make sure I didn’t break any rules, got their on time, got a good spot, etc.  We got there at sundown on Friday (July 14) and found what seemed to be a good spot right across from one of the permanent food buildings.  Apparently the regulars can get fussy if newbies like us “steal their spot,” but we never encountered anyone hostile.

We set up two 12×12′ canopies and half a dozen tables and started unboxing our items.  Since a lot of my stuff was new, in box, and from a retail store, having a pegboard to hang the packages on was a great way to display several items in a small amount of floor space.  Lesson learned: next time have more pegboards.
We continued to set up for half the night, and tried to get 2-3 hours of fitful sleep in the back of our respective vehicles.  As soon as the sky began to lighten, cars started rolling in and early shoppers started perusing our mostly-set-up spread.  As the morning wore on, it got busier and busier.  We didn’t inflate one of the giant soccer balls until a little before noon.  Having something so huge and unusual out there really helped draw people in.  There were customers who probably wouldn’t have even stopped by if they hadn’t noticed the soccer ball. We also didn’t sell a single ball or pump until we had the display one inflated and up front.  Lesson learned: put unusual or interesting items up front to draw people in.


It seemed like a busy day to me but according to some others we talked to it was a relatively slow Saturday.  Things really started winding down around 2:00 pm and most vendors were packed up and gone by 4:00.  We did $295.70 in total revenue, with the following breakdown:

  • 205.75 in Menards stuff
  • 74.50 in balls and pumps
  • 12.25 in my personal wares (non-Menards)
  • 3.20 in toys (my kids had sent some along)

The entrance fee was $15, which we split proportionately among all of the above-listed categories.  Because our revenue was almost $300, I consider the fee almost negligible.

As far as what sold well: some of my predictions were correct and some were wrong.  I rightly guessed that the kitchen supplies and plastic tumblers would sell well.  I thought more of the hand tools and LED lights would sell.  The paint brushes were popular as expected, but I sold almost no 3″ brushes and almost sold out of the 2″ angle brushes (opposite of how I had stocked up).  I was pleasantly surprised that I sold a few gallon jugs of deck wash, but I sold none of the driveway degreaser jugs.  Of course all of the American flags sold 🙂

All said I offloaded 6 boxes of stuff.  Not a huge volume reduction but a welcome one.  I consider the flea market a moderate success.  If there was no setup or tear-down involved, and I could simply drive out there every Saturday and start selling, it would definitely be a worthwhile method to get the Menards stuff sold.  As it stands though, with the effort of moving/unpacking/packing up all the merchandise, it’s probably not a very efficient use of time.  More analysis on this will be forthcoming when I write my Menards experiment analysis.

Weekly Update (August 29, 2015) Plus Baby!

Ok, so once again a weekly update covers more than the last week.  But this time I had a good excuse for being late.  On Tuesday night Nicoleen gave birth to our 5th child, Leonie, a happy baby girl!  Good news for the family, but ouch! the gas savings really suffered this week as we didn’t have time to use our $25 Tuesday coupon while getting gas on the way to the hospital.  Oh well, you win some; you lose some.  And this time we won big with a good delivery, healthy mom, and cute baby girl!

Baby Leonie, born August 25th, weighing in at 6 lb. 14 oz., and with a length of 20.5"

Baby Leonie, born August 25th, weighing in at 6 lb. 14 oz., and with a length of 20.5″

As it stands, I saved $9.55 in gas in the past week and a half.  On Sunday I overcame a huge test of my will power.  I was able to resist buying any free Menards stuff even though there was a major haul opportunity.  Three separate flyers listed free-after-rebate items at Menards, 2 of which are still active as of this writing:
There are also several new ads starting tomorrow with free-after-rebate (FAR) items including: hats & t-shirts, cleaning supplies, coffee scoops, picture hanging kits, stick lighters, and American flagsThis late summer rally has disproved my hypothesis that FAR items are slowing down in Menards’ marketing strategy.  Of course you can always stay on top of current Menards ad flyers at their website.

It’s the spreadsheet-updating part of the month for me, and here’s our points and miles report:

  • Redeemed 5,000 Wells Fargo Rewards for $50 cash
  • earned 680 airline miles
  • earned 3,040 hotel points
  • earned 1,953 Chase Ultimate Rewards

New Posts this Week
First Class to Europe – Anniversary Trip 2015
is the outline and table of contents of our summer trip reports from our anniversary trip.  Check back to this post for links to the trip reports for various parts of the vacation as I post them.
American Airlines Flagship Lounge – Chicago (ORD) is a review of the first lounge we visited on our first class itinerary to Europe.  It was an awesome lounge, as I think you’ll see in this post!
American Airlines First Class ORD – JFK is the review of the first class flight we took as part of our grueling (but free!) itinerary.

Credit Card News
We’re in sort of a stagnation period as far as cards go. It’s been a challenge deciding which card to use for what. I will almost certainly cancel my Wells Fargo Propel in October and I currently have 1300 or so Wells Fargo Reward points accumulated. The lowest redemption level for cash is $25 for 2500 points. So, do I put $600 in gas (2x points on gas station purchases = 1200 pts) on that card just for a $25 redemption? It doesn’t seem like a good deal, and it isn’t, but I also really hate having effectively unusable points balances just hanging there. The other option is to redeem points for mp3s at about 150 pts per download.

I got a targeted offer yesterday for the 50,000 mile Chase Southwest personal card, which I will likely not apply for at this time.

Nicoleen got a great offer in the mail a few days ago for her Barclay Aviator card which earns American Airlines miles. If she spends at least $500 in each month of September, October, and November, she’ll get an additional 15,000 bonus miles! That’s a deal we’ll definitely make sure we take advantage of.

Travel News
I have nothing on the books, and that’s very sad. I have a free weekend night certificate good at 99% of all Hilton properties in the world that expires December 20th. I was going to go with a friend for a sweet 36 hour mini-vacation to Chicago to stay at the $400+/night Waldorf Astoria but we’re still working out the details. If that doesn’t happen I’ll probably be taking a segment of my family to the Embassy Suites in St. Paul for a random weekend night. It’s not the Waldorf, but at least I’d be able to drink away my sorrow at not getting a more valuable certificate redemption at the Embassy Suites’ complimentary cocktail hour.

Now you’re updated. Go employ some Value Tactics!

Latest Load of Free Menards Stuff

(This is a data recovered post, originally published on June 14th, 2015.)

Here is the last load of Menards stuff I picked up before the big flea market.  Unfortunately I forgot to bring this box of stuff with.  The flea market, Swappers’ Meet, was yesterday, and it was fairly successful.  I’ll give a full report, including stats, in an upcoming post.


What you’re looking at:

  • 4x rain poncho
  • 4x oven drip sheet
  • 10x 20-pack touchscreen electronics wipes
  • 6x long stick lighter
  • 2x 100-piece picture hanging kit
  • 1x 26-in-1 screwdriver

The total retail value of this free haul is $94.63.

Limiting Myself on Free Menards Stuff

(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:

  1. I got there too late and the items were sold out.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 🙂