Most companies have some sort of reward or benefit program; signing up for these programs are some of the easiest things you can do to shop smart. Two of the rewards programs I frequently use are with Sephora and Ulta. For both stores, the rewards program is 100% free and is definitely worth it.
As a "Beauty Insider" for Sephora, you are able to redeem rewards for deluxe samples of popular products and are a shoe-in for a free birthday gift, which changes up every year. Sephora has really started to up their Deluxe freebie game - I was making a purchase earlier this month and I was able to snag myself the Fresh Rose Face Mask, Clarins SunScreen, and two samples of the Guerlain Maxi Lash Noir mascaras. In addition to my deluxe redemptions, I was finally able to get my hands on the Beauty Insider Birthday gift for 2015, which for me included 2 NARS mini lip pencils (Cruella & Rikugien) and mini eyeliner. Be sure to subscribe so you can get emails for alerts of featured deluxe items - yesterday morning there was a free deluxe sample of the Sunday Riley Luna Oil with purchase (I'm still extremely sad that they were out of stock by the time I got through).
On the flip side - I think Ulta is quickly making its way up as my favorite rewards system. Points earned here can be redeemed as cash credit. This means I save more on full-sized items, rather than using "hard-earned spent points" for sample products that may only last a few uses. The reason why I love Ulta is that you can get both drugstore and high-end products in one place, all contributing towards this money saving tactic. I can pick up my essentials all in one place and ultimately save money in doing so.
Case-in-Point: I was walking around a new Ulta that was built near the boy's house. I went and picked up some cotton pads and the Essie Apricot Oil. He looked at me with that "You don't need those..." face as I proceeded to the cash register. When I was asked if I wanted to redeem my points (I said yes), my total came out to a whopping $0.28. He was in shock to say the least. I think he's highly considering signing up for his own account there, although I'll be sure to push him to use mine.
Eight (8) of these items for $.28?! I'll take it.
What are some of your tips for shopping smart and saving money?