Maybe There Are Free Lunches After All

Graduate students have to pay especially careful attention to their personal finances.  We’re on a relatively fixed and entirely low income.  Plus, we have to concentrate so much on our work that taking on side jobs is a major professional risk.  401(k)?  Roth IRA?  Not yet, buddy.

One strategy to survive and even to save in graduate school is to cut costs.  Another strategy is to find little freebies and money-maximizers.  I try to do both, but the second strategy is by far more fun.  Along these lines, I recently enjoyed this post over at I Will Teach You To Be Rich about how to use your credit cards’ free rewards.  Genius!

Dear readers, today I want to share with you one of my fave ways to get a “free lunch” — or really, in my case, a free dress or shoes.  It’s MyPoints.  MyPoints is a website that gives you a small number of points for reading daily e-mail advertisements and a larger number of points from making online purchases from their huge number of affiliated retailers after clicking through the link on their website.  Different retailers give different amounts of points per dollar for purchases; one reason MyPoints is so good for grad students is that BarnesandNoble.com offers an especially large number of points.  You can redeem your points for free gift vouchers.  That’s right, free.  I tend to get around $200 in free gift cards each year.  

My strategy when it comes to using MyPoints is to save up at least $150 worth of points, which I then spend to make a major new purchase — for free!  I get something that is a “practical splurge” (i.e. something that is practical but at a splurge price point) that makes me feel like I’m not actually a grad student for a fleeting moment.  My latest purchase was an awesome Soia and Kyo coat.  Since the e-mail advertisements might get annoying, I send them all to my junk mailbox and then go through them around once a week when I am in need of a procrastination device.

So, sign up for MyPoints and you, too, can get a free lunch!  If you would like to be referred by me (which I think would give you extra points), please just leave a comment.

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