I’m going to admit something. I’m not big on signing up for stuff, and it’s mainly because I hate giving too much information out to companies for fear that they’re either going to spam me with all sorts of stuff, get hacked or sell email addresses. This means I’m pretty choosy about everything I see and, for the most part, unless I think I’m going to legitimately get something out of it, like with travel rewards cards, I’m not going to bother with them.

food rewards card

Although this isn’t really a new concept, restaurant cards are seemingly starting to pop up all over the place. I’m someone who eats out a lot, no matter whether I’m home or on the road. I get a lot of offers for these types of cards, but I don’t sign up for a lot of them. Sometimes the deals are pretty good though, especially if you’re a consistent visitor. This begs the question as to whether restaurant cards are worth bothering to sign up for.

I like going to P.F. Chang’s a lot because they have this Mongolian beef dish that I just love. I mainly go for lunch because they give you the fried rice without having to pay more for it, unlike dinner where it’s considered a separate entree.

With their card, it’s 10 points per dollar, and you earn a free entree once you hit 2,000 points. That means for me, wince I mainly go for lunch, I’m earning around 13 points per visit, since they give you the points not counting tax. One night I took my wife and her friend out for dinner; that earned over 600 points towards my next meal.

Subway is another store that offers a pretty good deal. You earn points for whatever items you buy, and as you accumulate them you earn things like free chips, free drink, up to free sandwiches. You get a point for every dollar you spend, and since I’m there at least once a week with my mother (she craves these things) I usually end up spending $8 to $10 dollars with every visit. It takes 50 points to get a 6″ sub, 100 for a footlong; I can live with that.

The only thing is that with the Subway card you have to give them a lot more information than with the Chang’s card. At least they don’t ask for social security or a credit card, but they will ask for your date of birth and home address. Chang’s asks for the same things except address, but they’ll give you a free dessert on your birthday; that’s not depressing.

What this means overall is that if you’re working your way towards free meals or something else you like at a restaurant you visit often, it’s not costing you anything except a little bit of information. With Subway, you always have to swipe your card, whereas with Chang’s all you have to do is give them your phone number. This might be another consideration if you hate carrying around a lot of cards.

It’s something to seriously consider if you go somewhere often enough.

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A few months ago I talked about TSA PreCheck and the convenience of having it if you travel a lot, even if it’s not a money saving proposition. This time around we’re going to look at upgrading your flight arrangements to see if it’s worth doing so monetarily.

Martin J. Gallego. Siempre enredando via Compfight

First, let’s get the good stuff out of the way. In my mind there’s no doubt that if you can fly first class you should do it. It’s not much of a big deal if you’re flight only lasts an hour but if you’re flying two hours or more it’s definitely worth it physically.

I’m around 6′ tall, so it helps having a lot more legroom. I’m also not a small guy, so having more space around my body is also quite comforting. It never hurts getting a bit more attention from your relatively personal flight attendant, as well as the upgraded snacks, but it’s also nice knowing there’s an exclusive bathroom for your area also. 🙂

With that said, I’ll acknowledge that sometimes first class costs a bit more money than it’s worth. That is, unless you travel often and have a travel card. Many airlines offer first class upgrades for free once you reach a certain level, and a discount on the upgrade if you haven’t reached that level.

Sometimes first class isn’t available, either because it’s sold out or because your flight might not have first class seats on it. Unless you’re on a puddle jumper, most flights still have seats reserved that offer extended legroom. Usually they’re closer to the front of the airplane, which is perfect for someone like me because that’s usually where I want to be.

Here’s where the savings and extra convenience comes into play. First, if you’re upgrading your seats for more legroom, it depending on the airline it could go anywhere from $15 to $30. Not only do you get a more comfortable seat, but you usually get your first checked luggage bag for free and you’re allowed to get on the plane earlier than everyone else other than first class and member flyers. The second becomes a benefit because getting on early means you get to store your baggage above you before there are no slots left. Even with a more comfortable seat, there’s nothing better than knowing you’ve got all your stuff in the carrier above.

If your airline seats are near the lower cost then you’ll end up saving money for the convenience you get. Even if it’s a little bit more, the overall convenience can be worth it.

First class upgrades also vacillate a bit. In my experience they run from $25 to $75 (I’m only talking domestic travel). Many airlines will give you two checked bags for free, and at $25 a pop you’ll either save a little bit of money or pay a little more for the ultimate upgraded experience. Not only do you get on the plane first but first class has its own baggage area, and it’s much bigger than the areas further back in the plane.

As with most things there are some caveats you might have to deal with. If you booked your flight through a service like Orbitz or Expedia the airlines might not share potential upgrades with you if you didn’t pay for them up front because sometimes you don’t get to select your seats when you book them that way. If you have a membership card you can usually go back in on the airline’s site later on and change your seats, but it’s not a guarantee.

I won’t say I was a hero in my wife’s eyes when I upgraded her to first class to fly from Syracuse to Las Vegas and back in first class, which cost $49 each way, but she was happier than I could have dreamed for being comfortable for those 8-hour flights each way. 😉

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About 3 years ago I wrote a post here recommending that people shop around locally for pharmaceutical deals and talked about some of my experiences. Based on a recent news story about the rising costs of insulin and all the complaints people are making it seemed like it was a good time to bring this up again.

2014/365/307 Eight Bottles
Creative Commons License Alan Levine via Compfight

In the story, it talk about how over the course of just 4 or 5 years the cost of insulin has gone over $400 to $500 a month from around $100 to $200. Yet, when I wrote my initial post in 2013, my insulin at Walmart has remained at the same price, that being $24.88 per vial, still less than $50 a month.

This tells me that my original point about shopping around for medications hasn’t taken hold. It’s probably because many people are relying on insurance to help them bring down the costs of their medications instead of looking for out of pocket deals, which often brings lower rates. For instance, when I first went to Walmart with a prescription my out-of-pocket cost would have been $75 a month for pen needles, which wasn’t bad for those things, as they cost a lot, but it was still higher than going to vials and learning how to inject via syringes instead.

A couple other things have changed since I wrote that initial post. The first is that the cholesterol medication I was on at that time (which I wasn’t taking) that I was getting for free suddenly wasn’t free anymore and had jumped to $40 a month. After having another conversation with my physician (and another physician and a pharmacist lol) because I didn’t have high cholesterol and didn’t want to take the medication, I got them to switch to a different prescription at a lower dose that now costs me $10 for a 90-day refill at a different store.

Also, as I’ve been on Metformin for diabetes for closer to 7 years now and the price changed where I was previously getting it, I called around and found that a store I usually go to, which had other pharmaceuticals at a higher price and forced me to get them elsewhere, offered this particular item for $10 for a 90-day supply; yeah! 🙂

Here’s the deal. Almost every community has multiple pharmacies that you can call and ask the price of specific prescriptions. There are also multiple grocery store chains that have their own pharmacy, and some of them produce their own products like Walmart does. All you have to do is pick up the phone and make the call, and you could possibly save a lot of money on prescriptions.

One last thing is that you can go online and find many deals for items related to your disease. Whereas I’d never buy pharmaceuticals via eBay (I don’t even know if they sell them), I do buy my diabetic test strips through there. You can usually get a great deal on an item that’s close to expiring, and you can get even greater deals on expired strips. That’s okay because, it turns out, most testing strips are good even after a year or two past expiration date. For my money, I’ve purchased strips within 6 months of their expiration date and gotten a lot (100 or more) for as low as $10, and found that they’re still accurate (based on the tests my endocrinologist does).

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about diabetic stuff because that’s what I have experience with. You can still call around for prices on whatever it is you’re taking, whether or not you have insurance, to see who’s offering you the best deal. I recommend that you do; you could save a lot of money!

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