I have been following the advice of Dr. Thrift for several years and am proud to announce that following his advice has allowed me to get to the point today where I can say I am debt free. I have learned to be thrifty and was thrilled when he asked me to write a tip for saving money for his blog. I hope to get the opportunity to write more in the future about what I have learned from him. Brent

I love eating at Moe’s Southwest Grill. If you are unfamiliar with this restaurant, they serve custom burritos, taco salads, and other Mexican fare. The basic concept is similar to Subway® where you specify which toppings you would like for them to use to construct your meal. While the food is excellent, saving money when eating there makes it even better. The particular Moe’s that I frequent has a survey on the back of the receipt that, when completed online, provides a $2 discount the next time you visit that location. While this may not seem like a large discount, you can compound your savings by combining it with one of several additional savings techniques.

Each Monday, all locations have a promotion called Moe Mondays where all burritos are $5. If you add your $2 off discount, you now have lunch for $3 every Monday. In addition to these savings, Moe’s also participates in a program set up by Plum rewards which allows you to enter your cell phone number into a tablet or smartphone that is typically mounted right near the register. Every 8 visits you log, you get a free entree (even their most expensive entrees). So let’s add up the savings over a month (assuming you ate there twice a week):

$4 off each Monday ($2 for your coupon, $2 automatic discount for Moe Mondays)

$7 minimum free entree every month

$2 off any other day you visit

                   $4 x 4 = $16

                   $2 x 4 = $  8

    1 free entree  = $  7

    Total Savings = $31

                               X  12

Annual Savings = $372

 Based on this, we can see that combining a small coupon with other techniques can lead to big savings! Moe’s Southwest Grill is not the only place that offers such programs. Shane’s Rib Shack and Panda Express both use similar survey savings strategies.

So what are the drawbacks? First, it does take time to complete these surveys to get the discount; about 30 seconds on average. Second, you have to actually complete the survey before you get in line. There have been times when I forgot to complete the survey and lost out on my discount because I forgot. Finally, you have to hold on to the receipt. This is your ticket to get the discount. If you don’t have it, you won’t get the discount.

The survey strategy seems to be an increasing trend in fast food and casual dining restaurants. Additionally, there are a number of retail stores that offer discounts, coupons, and entries into drawings for prizes. For example, Home Depot offers entry into a regular $5,000 drawing for completing their survey. While this strategy may require a little more time and organization, the result can be saving money on a regular basis or even possibly winning a substantial amount of money in a sweepstakes. Make sure to hold on to those receipts and take advantage of the savings that companies are willing to give you.

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