This is a guest post from Daniel Packer of Sweating The Big Stuff. Daniel writes about negotiating, budgeting, and saving and always loves finding a great deal. To read more, subscribe to his feed or follow him on Twitter.
Two weeks ago, my roommate alerted me to a great deal at our local supermarket. Triscuits were just $1.50 with a purchase of at least 5 boxes. In our apartment, for some reason, we still eat like college kids. Pasta, bagels, and potatoes are our main sources of protein. So when Triscuits go on sale, it’s like an early birthday present (or Christmas morning).
We headed over to the supermarket, ready to stock up on our favorite snack, and were stunned by what we saw. All the Triscuits were gone. There were a few boxes of some flavors we weren’t interested in, so we were extremely disappointed. Although I had never used it, I knew about rain checks, so I went to the counter to ask if we could get one. The guy said he’d check to see if there were any in the back, and five minutes later, he came back letting us know that they were all out and that’d he’d issue us a rain check.
Here’s how rain checks work: If a store is out-of-stock of a product, the rain check serves as a commitment to provide the item at the advertised price when it comes back in stock. So as long as we went during the advertised period and requested a slip saying that we were eligible to buy Triscuits at that price, we would be allowed to come back up to 90 days later and get Triscuits for the sale price of $1.50 a box.
I was pretty excited. We went from having our dreams burst to getting a magical piece of paper that allowed us to come back and get a 40% discount when the store was selling them for the normal price of $2.50 a box.
The next week, we came back to the supermarket, excited to get our Triscuits at a deeply discounted price. We took our cart, headed over to aisle three, and to our surprise, there was a new deal on Triscuits. $1 each when you buy 5. Our hearts jumped. We had hit the jackpot. Of all the great deals we had seen, this surpassed them all by a wide margin. There were tears running down my roommate’s cheek. He realized that we had reached the pinnacle of frugality, and it would all be downhill from there.
We loaded our cart with every box of Fire Roasted Tomato and Olive Oil Triscuits, along with a range of other flavors. We must have looked ridiculous with 25 boxes of Triscuits in our cart, but we didn’t care. We went home, had our draft where we rotated choosing boxes for our personal collections, and let everyone we knew how special of a day it was.
The lesson here is that rain checks can be extremely useful and you don’t have to be the first person in the store when the weekly circular comes out. Don’t despair if a store is out of your favorite product. At the very least, you can get a rain check and come back later with no consequences. And who knows, you too may reach the pinnacle of frugality.