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Friday, October 16, 2015

What do you think about surveys to earn cents off on gasoline purchases?

Do you do the online surveys, found at the bottom of some store receipts? Some of these surveys have the perk of entering you in a drawing for gift cards to the stores for the surveys. I occasionally fill those out.

But there's one type of survey that I make sure I always fill out. The store survey that gives me reward points to redeem for cents off of gasoline purchases.

Our local Fred Meyer chain offers 50 points for each survey completed. 100 points gives 10 cents off per gallon. In essence, that 50 points is equal to 5 cents off per gallon, which for my car yields about a 75 cents savings with each monthly fill-up.

The limitation to these surveys is that you can only fill out one survey per 7 calendar days, and you must complete the survey within 7 days (no saving up surveys to use later).

To maximize my gas savings, I wait to fill-up the car until I am down to my last gallon. And then I fill it completely. For my vehicle use, this will get me through the month, most months. Occasionally, I'm needing to use the car more often (as when I have to pick up my daughter regularly from rehearsals, in the city), or travel farther (as when we drive a distance to see family). In those months, I fill completely with the discount, then late in the month, I add just barely what I need to get into the next month. (We're no longer allowed to fill gas cans with extra gas with our discount.)

This savings is so great, and the work involved in filling out the survey is so minimal, that I add "survey completion" to my weekly to-do list. On average, I receive 150 points for surveys per month, which translates to a 15 cent per gallon savings, on top of the savings from rewards points from the original grocery purchase. Before I added "survey completion" to my weekly to-do list, I found I was forgetting, or not doing the survey in the right time frame, therefore missing out on these potential gasoline savings.

When I am done filling out the survey, I mark on my receipt when I completed the survey, so I will know when I am eligible to fill out another one.

And I track my points, by looking at the bottom of my receipts with each shopping. Some months, I can time my survey completion for better benefit. If I am near the end of the month, and that 50 points for the survey won't put me over another threshold for rewards, then I "save" that survey until the first of the next month, when I can actually use the survey points.

It's mid-month, and I currently have enough rewards points for next month's gas to save 20 cents per gallon. So I know that I will save at least $3 on my gasoline purchase next month.

As for time involved in filling out the survey, I spend about 5 minutes per survey, and I earn rewards points equal to 5 cents/gallon, or 75 cents per fill-up. I can spare 5 minutes of my day for that. When I wonder if it's worth the time to do these surveys, I ask myself, "how many 5-minute increments do I waste on mindless online activities?"

And because I just like to do the math -- on average I earn 150 points through this grocery store survey per month, which is 15 cents/gallon savings. I add about 15 gallons of gasoline per month, using the rewards points, multiplied by 12 months of the year. Using the survey bonus rewards, alone, I save about $27 per year. That's a quick-service lunch out for the family, or a movie night, with popcorn, for two, or, 27 items of clothing from St Vincent de Paul's 99cent Sundays, or about 3/4 of a tank of gas for my car (with our current low-ish gas prices).  :-)


Anonymous said...

Wow! I have never heard of that nor seen that kind of thing before. Must be they don't do these things in West Michigan.


Anonymous said...

Hi Lili,
We have Kroger and I do the the same surveys. I, too found that I needed to keep track of the time frames involved to get the most out of this perk.
Thanks for doing the math; I would never have thought about doing that : )
Jo Ann

Lili said...

Hi Alice,
Well, maybe some day/year these will become a common item in your area, too!

Lili said...

Hi Jo Ann,
Kroger and Fred Meyer are part of the same company, so that makes sense.

I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who need to keep better track of the time frames for these surveys! I was beginning to feel really old, forgetting so many little details!

Anonymous said...

I have seen those surveys at the bottom of my Fred Meyer receipts and thought "I should do that". The receipt then gets set aside and the survey doesn't happen. Your doing the math of the total savings per year is a good reminder that I need to do those! Thanks, Lili!

Anonymous said...

I have been doing these Kroger surveys almost weekly for over a year now. Every time I complete a survey, I'm supposedly also entered to win $1,000 Kroger gift card. I've never won! Oh well, the 50 fuel points for completing the survey is an awesome deal.

I always shop at Kroger on Wednesdays...the first day of the new weekly sale. I always note the receipt to do the survey on the following Monday. I used to do the survey on Wednesday after I shopped, but survey day slowly moved to Monday. I might have forgot to do a survey on the appropriate day, and I remember waiting until a new month a couple of times for the reasons you mentioned.

At our Kroger, we also get 50 fuel points for each prescription filled. My husband has a maintenance medication that I fill there each month. Our insurance company pushes their mail order program, but in our case it doesn't offer any benefit to use the mail order. The medication is a generic that costs $4, which is less than our insurance co-pay. We use our FSA card to pay for the prescription, and we get 50 fuel points.

Sometimes in the summer, our Kroger offers double and triple fuel points for groceries purchased on Saturday and Sunday. I've never taken advantage of this because my Kroger is 35 miles from my house, but 5 miles from my office. I always get groceries on my lunch hour. I save myself the gas money of making an extra trip on the weekend, and on the weekends I'm free from grocery shopping. We have a full size fridge in the kitchen at work and there is always room for my perishable purchases.

Our Kroger has a large selection of gift cards. At times they offer double or triple fuel points on gift card purchases. This is really nice if I need to buy a gift card for someone. I buy restaurant gift cards as birthday/holiday gifts for my parents frequently. They seem to enjoy this since they don't really need things, but enjoy going out to eat. So getting the extra fuel points with gift card purchases is like a bonus. I even know people who will buy Kohl's gift cards at Kroger if they are planning to buy clothing and know how much they are going to spend. Then they get the fuel points at Kroger, and use the gift cards to buy the clothing they were planning to purchase. I haven't thought far enough in advance to try that one yet, but good idea!


Lili said...

Hi Mary,
For me, calculating what I could save is what motivates me to actually do the surveys. So, I'm glad that helps you, too!

I know that if I just do 2 of these Fred Meyer surveys per month, I will save 10 cents per gallon of gas, plus whatever I save using the rewards from purchases.

Lili said...

HI Angie,
I do the same thing with gift cards, to earn bonus rewards points. When we went to Disneyland a few years back, I bought a bunch of Disney gift cards from Fred Meyer, earning bonus rewards towards gasoline, plus Visa card rewards points for the purchase. Then used those Disney gift cards to buy our park tickets. And if I think we're going to go out to a restaurant to eat (like for a birthday), I stop by the store to pick up a gift card to whatever restaurant. I do shop Kohl's enough to make use of a Kohl's gift card, so I'll add that to my list. Thanks for mentioning that!

It sounds like you have a good system for doing those surveys! Great job!

Anonymous said...

I have never seen gas reward type surveys before. Kmart participates in a fuel reward program (must buy $50 merchandise to get 30 cents off per gallon), but unless the savings per gallon was at least 60 cents (required two $50 purchases per monthly cycle), filling up at Costco was cheaper.

I love to do the math of saving money vs time too. The whole deal about being frugal is it is NOT a one off event (saving only 75 cents per fill up so why bother), but should be seen as a daily repeating ritual that adds up to significant annual savings. And this gas savings is only one activity taking 3 of the 8,760 hours per year. And as you mentioned how often we waste a quick 5 minute here and there anyway. Also, being frugal, we are using a strong currency relative to our deflated economy (thrift stores) so every dollar is worth more to us than the non frugal person. Since a dollar to us type folks buys more value anyway, we're talking much more than $27 to a spendthrift.

As you can see...I love to discuss frugality.


Anonymous said...

I, like you, enjoy comparing what my savings are equivalent to, as in what else that $27 can buy...the special lunch out, the clothing, more gas. That is a great motivator!

Lili said...

you bring up a good point. Sometimes, I don't even use my fuel rewards, if my savings per gallon doesn't beat AM/PM's gas price, or Safeway's price. I don't have a Costco membership, but their price is only about 2 to 3 cents cheaper than any other gas station in town. I use Gas Buddy to see where the least expensive gas is the day I plan on filling up.

I often feel that being frugal is like "bonus pay" for us. Things like eating out, buying convenience foods and buying brand new clothing are factored in to cost-of-living estimates for calculating salaries.

I remember news stories a while back, about how families "have to" buy packaged cereal for breakfast, because no one has the time to make anything other than cereal, in the morning. Oh really?! Well, if my husband's boss wants to pay him more, because, well, families need XXX $$ per month, just to survive, we'll take that extra amount, and really stretch it!

Lili said...

Me, too, Mary!

It's a fun mental game for me. Thinking that way is what helped propel my husband and I to continue working hard to save for a down payment on our house, big enough to cut the mortgage we'd need in half. I remember talking about all of the extravagant ways we could, in theory, spend what we had in savings -- luxury cruises, spoiling our child absolutely rotten, super-duper shopping sprees, not cooking several days per week, and eating out instead. It helped motivate us to keep on with our saving.

Too often, we think, "oh that's not much of a savings, so it's not worth our time and effort". But all of those savings really do add up to something significant.

TG said...

When I save on my gas points (slightly different program where I am) or my store points. I physically remove the money from my wallet and put iof into an envelope.

It is linked to my credit card which I pay off each month. I can put large items like car insurance on it and receive store points. Last year I saved $2000.00 + this way.

Lili said...

Oh, good job, Teresa!! $2000 + is a huge amount of savings!!!

I think seeing the money, as when you put the savings into an envelope, is a great motivator to saving even more.

In the comments, from Wednesday's post this week, "The fall garden and an autumnal salad", YHF and I were discussing the various ways we've made our savings more "concrete". I mentioned that for a while, every time I saved money around the house I put the amount I saved into a jar. It wasn't long before I ran out of coins, and was writing IOUs to myself. Then a few years later, I began a saving money journal. Every day, I would write down my top 5 frugal actions and how much I saved. At the end of each week, I'd total my savings. It was impressive enough to keep me going. And now, today, my blog is a sort of savings journal, that I use to propel me into further savings. (YHF, if you're reading this, here's another friend who makes their savings very "concrete".)

I don't get store points on my credit card for things like car insurance, but I do get rewards points on Visa, and I put many bill payments on Visa, just to reap the rewards. But, as you've probably found, it's not always advantageous to pay a bill with a credit card. Our state's property taxes can be put on Visa, but there's a transaction fee that outweighs any reward. A couple of the utilities are the same way. But I'm able to put car and homeowner's insurance on Visa.

And when we redid our kitchen, I put as much of the redo as possible on the credit card, to earn rewards points. When I went to pay for our cabinetry and countertops at Home Depot, I didn't have a high enough credit limit. So, I used my Visa to buy Home Depot gift cards, in high dollar amounts, once per week, then would make phone payments for the Visa, several times in a month. By the time I was ready to buy the cabinets, I had enough Home Depot gift cards to pay for it all. And I earned about a couple hundred dollars in Visa rewards, from the purchase of appliances, cabinets and countertops.

Anonymous said...

LOL..."stretching it " is what we do as frugalists. Also I've been seeing frugality and weaning ourselves from our economic system as insurance against hard times. I don't think of it as I win they lose, but as win win. So it may not create as many manufacturing or service jobs but there will be other jobs created that address a less consumer oriented wants and needs. If anything, people would have the luxury and freedom of more time. So I don't feel bad being thrifty and going against the grain of our wasteful other half lol


Lili said...

You're right. I don't think our economy is going to fall to pieces if some of us buy clothing at thrift stores, or grow our own vegetables/fruit/keep chickens, or if some of us use discount and rewards programs to cover vacation expenses.

Anonymous said...

Wow $2000 is an impressive amount from credit card purchases. I don't think I hit that amount if it were not for work related purchases. I do charge our car insurance (against thenot homeowner or umbrella which can only be paid by check), our water and phone bills. I sign up for promotions that boost the category cash back to 5 percent. I don't mind using a different credit card for every store if I have to. Pretty nuts to keep track and bill pay each account, but I like the rewards enough so I've been doing that for as long as I can remember...since the internet age.

Yes...always nice to find another spirited saver who tracks their savings in writing lol. As the say ...birds of a feather....often in our spendthrift society being an extreme saver is not easy and we need all the motivation and support from other like minded folks. Really find your blog so helpful providing the right support I need.


Anonymous said...

Sorry for the typos...typing one finger on Kindle fire lol


Lili said...

I think one of the benefits for me keeping a blog about frugal living is it keeps me surrounded with like-minded souls. You're so right about our culture, in the general spend-thriftiness. Without support, it's easy to question some of our own choices. A lot of my posts, and the comments and discussion that follow, are really about normalizing frugal behavior.

EcoCatLady said...

Gosh... we have Kroger too and to be honest, I've never looked at my receipts that closely. I think there's some sort of gas reward thing, but since I usually only go through 2-3 tanks per year, it has never filtered to the top of my priority list. Perhaps I should look more closely from now on!

Lili said...

Ha ha! Different lifestyles -- I go through just over a full tank every month! Of course I'm doing the driving for most of a family, going down to Seattle a few times per month for my daughters, evening classes for myself, etc.

Since you only add gas to your car a few times per year, you could also just plan to do the receipt surveys a month in advance for each gas fill-up.

momsav said...

One of our stores has a rewards system, but you need to spend 75$ in one go to get it; But, here's the rub, we don't have a gas station to accept it! The nearest town that does is two hours away! Sheesh! Not to mention, i rarely spend 75$ in one trip.
One a side note; i used your recipe for the crisp this evening. Wonderful!

Lili said...

Hi momsav,
Oh, rats! I would be hard-pressed to spend $75 in one shopping trip, too. I have a hard time at Thanksgiving, trying to find $35 worth of items so I can get the "deal" on the turkey.

I'm glad you liked the crisp recipe!!

Theresa said...

No such thing in Canada. The surveys on receipts are always for a chance to win money which I am convinced no one ever really wins. I would do one to save on gas if such surveys existed though. Thankfully gas has been quite cheap for a while now.

Live and Learn said...

We don't have a gas rewards program like that, but it might make filling out those receipt surveys worth it. When I have gone online to fill out a satisfaction survey, there have always been too many questions that would open myself up to lots of emails and marketing, I'm not interested in. And the "prize" is either something I can live without or don't have a big chance of winning in a drawing. So, I usually don't mess with surveys. However, I'm going to start paying attention to the fine print again to see if there's anything out there that might be good for me.

Lili said...

Hi Theresa,
I also think I haven't a chance to win those sweepstakes surveys. I only occasionally do those, if I have something I want to say to that particular company.

Lili said...

Hi live and learn,
for a while, one of our grocery stores had a survey to fill out online, in exchange for a code to use on next shopping trip for a free item (it was a loaf of French bread). I did those surveys every single time.

Anonymous said...

I have never seen surveys for gas points in our area. We do get gas points for dollars spent at the Giant chain & it is 1 point for every dollar spent & for every 100 points you get 10 cents off each gallon. They also have certain items each week that you can get bonus points for buying & earn extra that way. The points that you earn one month expire at the end of the next month. I, like you try & fill up when my or hubby's car is near empty.

Lili said...

Hi Rhonda,
That's how the points work, with expiration at our store, too. They expire at the end of the following month. I do wish the points would roll over from month to month. But of course that would cut into the store's profits!
It sounds like you're doing the best possible to earn and use your store's gas rewards. Good job!!

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