Ask a frugality expert any question you want!

I get SO MANY amazing questions from you amazing readers. I do my best to answer them one by one, but it's just not physically possible any more. I thought it was time to start answering them publicly again, to help as many people as possible! I am now introducing…


Got a question? Drop it HERE and I'll get to it as soon as I can. And yes, the questions can be about anything. Today's question is a great one about whether there is anything you can do when you accidentally let rebates, incentives, vouchers, or cash-back perks expire. Here's the question:

Q&A“I have a question that I wish was hypothetical and would love to know how you would handle my…I mean “the” situation, if you have a minute.
I applied for a rebate when purchasing contact lenses and it came in the firm of a prepaid Visa debut card. I tried using it once and it didn't work and I got so embarrassed I put off using it. Mustered all the courage I had today to use it again and see that it was only good through the end of March. GRR. I called to see if there was anything to be done and was told the $25 (I know – gasp!) was gone. I'm so frustrated with myself and while I know you are too smart to let that happen to you, please pretend you are in my shoes and offer some of your sage advice – please!” – Michelle H, via Facebook

Q&AHaha oh boy does that have JORDAN written all over it! Yes of course I've let tons of stuff expire…and yes, it irks me every time. Here's how I've been able to cut down drastically on letting valuable things expire:

  • Put expiration dates on a calendar. We use Google Calendar because it's free and synchs easily with our phones. You can even make as many calendars as you need. They are all separate calendars, but can all show up as one big calendar. They each get their own color, so if I schedule something for the family (like soccer practice or a doctor's appointment) it will show up in pink. If it's for blog stuff, it shows up in purple, etc. Had I not put our flight credit expiration dates on the calendar (and if we hadn't taken the time to look ahead a few months) we would've lost $200 in flights (as explained in my “How to cruise with kids” series. I used to let daily deal vouchers, rebates, and even coupons expire all the time before doing this! So that's one thing that works for me.
  • ASK, ask ask ask ask. I'm proud of you for calling to see if there was anything you could do, that's awesome! My theory? It never hurts to ask, because the worst they can say is no (and really, it doesn't sting that badly).
  • Keep everything together. As shown HERE, I try to keep all my gift cards, vouchers, and coupons in one place in my purse, and keep them on me at all times. I even use a paper punch and key ring to separate them for easy grabbing. When we're out and about I'll always check the pouch first, which keeps coupons and gift cards at the front of my mind!
  • Keep a coupon binder in your car. I still keep a coupon binder in my car of large mailers and coupons I get in the mail that I don't want to keep in my purse. I sort them by expiration date which helps a lot.
  • Read the fine-print. Just FYI, the reason the card probably didn't work is because you might have tried to run the card for more than the value of the card. Those cards are finicky so it has to be for the exact amount or less, or it will decline.

Hope that helps, thanks for the awesome question Michelle!

Do YOU have a question for me? Drop it HERE and I'll get to it as soon as I can!

Have a great week!