$100 in coins!!!!!!

So as many of you are undoubtedly aware, for the past year or so (okay, okay, it’s been exactly 380 days according to my nerdy detailed spreadsheet), I have been trying to find $100 in coins. Well, actually it started out being just coins but I expanded it to just any found money.

I went into today at $97.76 and then the fam headed to the mall for Cow Appreciation Day. i.e. dress up like a cow and get free Chick-fil-A.

Family going to Chick-Fil-A

Immediately when we got there, we checked the racecar strollers. This has been a good source of coins – at the mall they have these racecar strollers that you can rent for $5. When you return them, you get 4 quarters back. But sometimes people don’t return them, or they don’t put them back in the dock right, or sometimes they try to return them but the bank of places to turn them in is full. So we tested the strollers near the food court and boom – one of them came right out – it hadn’t been returned correctly, so we were up to $98.76. Then it was off to Chick-Fil-A. We ordered 4 #1 meals and 3 #3s – all free!

The manager came out and wanted to take our picture with the cow. We were snapping pictures too – you can see more on FB.
Meeting the Chick-Fil-A cow

We found 2 dimes and a bunch of pennies at the mall that put us up over $99 and I started thinking about how if I had a good day tomorrow that I might hit $100. We were really trying to find a nickel for the 2nd straight day of coin cycle but couldn’t find one. Then, as we were leaving, we spotted a family with a racecar stroller that was heading towards the Miller Family play area (i.e. where Nordstrom is under construction). We had previously noted that the bank that is located by the exit there was full, so we thought that might bear watching. Instead, they turned to go out another exit and left the mall with their stroller. We “discreetly” followed them.

They got into their car and just left the stroller in the parking garage. After a bit of loitering as we waited for them to drive away, we pounced on the stroller and took it back into the mall. We headed down and returned it. Here’s me returning the stroller that put us up over $100.

Me returning the $100 stroller

And here’s the final 4 quarters that did it.
Scott with the final quarters

So now what? I’m not sure – I still plan on trying to find coins and other money but I’m not sure what to set as my next goal. Maybe I’ll try to hit $200 by the end of the year?

Box Tops deal update

Now, I know that you, my loyal readers, sometimes read a post such as this one where I mention a Meijer Box tops for Education deal and wonder to yourselves, “Now I wonder what ever happened to all those box tops coupons that Dan got?”

In fact, I can visualize you crying yourselves to sleep in pain from not knowing.

But fear not! I have been waiting to give you an update until my final box tops sold, which they just did yesterday. After a disastrous first auction, where 210 box tops only sold for $17.50, I had more success with buy it nows. The final box tops sold yesterday, and the 1260 box tops sold for a gross price of $166.44, an average of 13.21 cents per box top. After ebay and paypal fees, the net profit was $138.08, or 10.96 cents per box top.

In an odd twist of coincidence, the total cost of all the food was $87.08 (the coincidence that they were both some dollars and 8 cents).

So, the final report is 24 bisquik 40 oz, 20 brownie mixes, 44 chex mix, 38 frosting, 20 muffin mix, 4 boxes of potatoes, 13 helper, 1 honey nut cheerio snack mix and a net profit of $51.

Sleep well, faithful readers!!!!

Exploiting inefficiencies in the secondary BTFE market, part 2

So, back in November of last year, I wrote a post about buying up Box Tops for Education (BTFE) from eBay and then reselling them. Back then I bought a coupon for 1000 BTFE for $81 and was attempting to sell it for $119.99.

I tried 2 auctions back in November and did not sell it even after I dropped it to $114.99. I then decided to hold on to it for a few months until it is BTFE turning in time (the schools turn them in twice a year, Oct and Feb I believe). I listed it recently at $114.99 and it did not sell again so I relisted it at $109.99, and it finally sold.

So, subtracting $3.49 paypal fees, $1.40 ebay insertion fees (35 cents * 4 listings), $9.60 final value fee and $3.29 in postage (I’m sending it certified to make sure it gets there), I have a net profit of $11.22. Not bad, but much less than I was hoping for and arguably not really worth it. Of course you are talking to someone who looks under Coinstar machines for pennies….

I think 2 things contributed to the delays in getting somebody to buy these.

  1. It was a coupon, rather than actual clipped box tops. I think people are a bit more hesitant due to potential fraud. Especially because of
  2. The fact that it was for $100 rather than say $10 or $20. People a) don’t want to spend that much and b) are probably more worried about the 1 coupon being fraudulent. Higher risk than 1000 individually clipped box tops being fraudulent.

Still, $11 is $11. I will continue to keep you posted if I find any other deals.

Exploiting inefficiencies in the secondary BTFE market

Could there be a more boring post title?

But yet, read on, gentle reader, and I think that you will be intrigued by what I have to say. For awhile, I have been interested in some of the ineffeciences in the second-hand Box Tops for Education (BTFE) market.

For those of you without school-aged children, BTFE are found on various food products (typically your General Mills / Betty Crocker products but some others). You clip them out and send them in to your kids’ (or any participating) school and then the school turns them in for 10 cents a box top. So far, so good.

Here’s where it gets interesting. If you do a search on ebay for BTFE, you will see that many times they sell for more than 10 cents a box top. In some cases, MUCH more than 10 cents – I’ve seen them go for over 20 cents per box top.

Why do people pay that much? Here’s the only thing I can think of: many times schools will have a pizza party for the class that brings in the msot box tops. So Mommy and Daddy don’t want to take the time to actually clip these, and little Janie or Junior simply MUST have their class party. So they buy them off eBay and send them in.

Recently my co-worker Kerry (again, not to be confused with my sister Kerry) and I noticed that there seemed to be a spike in the raw cost per BTFE on eBay. And we found that twice a year (I believe on 10/31 and 3/30), the schools have to send in their box tops to the Box Tops folks. So many times, schools will send out reminders to parents to send them in. Which in turn reminds them to check eBay and buy them.

A few times, my local Meijer has run promotions where if you buy a certain number of products, you get certificates for 100 or 120 box tops. You can read some of my reports here or here. On the last one, we decided we would hold off on selling our box tops on eBay until October, when we thought the prices would be at their peak. Our coupons for 120 box tops each ($12 face value) sold for about $17 each, though counting Paypal and eBay fees, it wasn’t as great of a deal. But still not bad given for the most part, we paid about $6 for the certificates (not to mention all the food that we picked up alongside)

But even though the October date just passed, I am still seeing pretty good rates for box tops. I have set up an RSS feed that I subscribe to with my handy Google Reader. It searches for only BTFE that are Buy it Nows. So I periodically look for good deals. A few weeks ago, I bought 75 BTFE for $5 shipped (6.67 cents per box top).

Then today I was alerted to a certificate for 1000 box tops selling for $89.99. eBay has sent me a 10% off coupon, so I decided to take the plunge. So it cost me $80.99. I think that I can turn around and sell it Buy it Now for $119.99, which, after fees (handy eBay fee calculator), will net a handy profit of $27.46

I’ll keep you posted!

I love when grocery stores pay me!

So there was a deal at Kroger this past week or so (actually I think it has been going on for the past 4 weeks but I just found out about it – it ends today). Buy 6 Powerade Zero 32oz and get a coupon for $4 off your next order.

Since the Powerades are only 79 cents, 6 of them is like $5.15 after tax, so with the $4 coupon, it’s like 19 cents a Powerade. But of course, I got myself some .50/1 coupons, which double (up to the 79 cents) and make them free – so you make $4 for each set of 6.

I did that a few times today, and each time I had to play like 20 cents for the 6 of them (tax) and then got $4 back. But the last time, I forgot to put in my Kroger Plus card till the guy had already started ringing up the transaction. Since they’re $1.19 without the card, they all were ringing up at that, and then when he scanned the coupons, they doubled the whole amount (up to $1), since the computer thought they were $1.19. And then at the end all the 40 cents off lines came (reducing it to the card price of 79 cents), leaving me with a total of -$1.15.

So he was a little freaked out by that, but asked the manager and the manager was like “We owe him $1.15″, so they had to get a guy with a key and they opened up the drawer and handed me $1.15!! Hee hee. Makes up for the 64 cents in tax I had to pay the first 3 times.

And plus, I found a dime under the Coinstar machine on the way out, upping my total to 63 cents today (after $1.78 yesterday). I don’t have my spreadsheet in front of me, but I’m up over 9 bucks found so far!

Shot down by Lowe’s

So as I thought I had previously mentioned but could not find, Lowe’s has been running 2 concurrent promotions. In each one, for every $1000 you spend, you would get a $100 Lowe’s Gift Card. One was called Lowe’s Kitchen and Bath (run here in Cincinnati) and the other was Lowe’s Spring Event (run mostly in places like VA, NC, TN, etc).

With all the work we’ve been doing at the new house I’ve been attempting to double dip and use both of these promotions. I entered my receipts in at both websites but it quickly became apparent that they were actually smart enough to check and disallow that. The Kitchen and Bath one was a few weeks ahead of the other one so I focused there. I got up to $7000 in purchases which meant $700 in GCs, but all my receipts on the Spring Event promo were still showing up as “Pending”. I called a few times but was not able to get anywhere.

I didn’t want to fight too hard until my $700 in GCs arrived in the mail, in case I might somehow lose those. They arrived last week so I gave it one last try. I spoke to someone and she had me fax in my receipts. Just got the call though that they see that they’ve already been entered in to the Kitchen and Bath promo and are therefore no good.

Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. I guess I’ll have to settle for 30% off (20% coupon plus $100 for every $1000) instead of 40%!