Friday, January 21, 2011

Reaping the Rewards Cards

Today is errand day for me. Thanks to a wonderful respite provider, I am on my own, experiencing the thrill that only parents of young children and people who live with elderly dependents full-time can truly appreciate.... the incredibly liberating feeling of meandering through the produce section of the grocery store ALONE. I've been looking forward to this day all week, and in the spirit of effective time management, I have a list:

Bank (get papers for rolling coins – in case Opa still needs a time consuming meaningful activity after we have finished testing all the pens)

Grocery store (walk slowly up and down each isle, look at all the exotic things in the international food sections...Ahh....silently celebrate the lack of cart slamming into the back of my legs)

Post Office (return dress that looked much better on the model in the catalog)

Library (return and borrow)

Hardware store (get dog food)

Nancy's Alterations (pants that I got for seven dollars at my favorite consignment store need hemming that will look much better if Nancy does it than if I try to do it myself)

Pharmacy (Pharmacist will remark with amazement that it is unheard of for a 96 year old to take only one medication)

Office supply store (get ink cartridges for fountain pen, and more batteries for Opa's pencil sharpener)

And if there is still time....

Internet cafe (drink tea while working on this week's edition of the Downsize challenge)

Local Independent Bookstore (browse)

With the exception of my trip to Nancy's, (where I won't have to pay until tomorrow), I anticipate a lot of action today for the plastic cards in my wallet. Not just the ones that are used for actual transactions of funds, but the others that promise rewards, savings, points, free cups of coffee, and other mysterious benefits of membership.

If we were all trapped together waiting for a delayed plane , just think of the endless card games that could be played with the array of colors and suits in our wallets. In my hand right now, I've already got Gin Rummy! (Four public library cards from towns I have lived in during the past 5 years, and three consecutive insurance identification cards for previously owned cars.)

Platinum and Gold credit cards could serve as our royalty, unless of course, they've been maxed out, or are expired.

We'd have to establish rules and agree on face values in order to play games like 'war' with Borders, Barnes&Noble, and Booksamillion. Do you think a Starbucks coffee card should have more face value than a Dunkin' Donuts card, or would it all depend on how much is left on the balance?

For the kids in the room, “Oh look! A match! The Shaw's Rewards Card is the exact same bright orange color as the Home Team Savings card from Aubuchon Hardware.” (A frequent mistake I make when getting the dog food.)

How about a memory game with our dental appointment reminder cards: “In what year did you get your teeth cleaned on July 6th?” (Oh, sorry, the front desk person didn't write the year on the card, it could be this coming summer, but you'd better call to check before you go...)

And for those of us who have exhausted the benefits of COBRA, this modification of a childhood classic:

“Have you got a health insurance card with a deductible under ten thousand dollars?”

“Go Fish!”

Downsize challenge: Reaping the Rewards

This week's downsize micro-challenge should only take you a few minutes. Sit down with your wallet, dump out the contents, and decide what should and shouldn't be in there. You're sure to have enough legitimate stuff to carry without keeping things that are expired, useless, or more securely stored someplace else. And if you are carrying cards for someone else too, (AARP supplemental insurance, and three different Florida ATM cards that belong to your grandfather, for example) Consider keeping these separate from your own stuff, to at least make for more focused scrounging around the wallet when you need to find them quickly.

And once you know what is in there, it would be a really good idea to make a list to keep at home, at least of the credit cards and bank cards that you carry, so that if you mindlessly leave your wallet in a coffee shop by accident, or you happen to be in Madrid and get mugged, you'll know what you are missing and you'll be in a better position to take action.

Though I am only a skein or two away from 5 dollars off my next purchase, the punch card for the Yarn Shop in Vermont can probably get recycled now, since it's a four hour drive from my current home, and I've completely given up knitting. Store discount cards for places I don't frequent will go in the shredder this afternoon. I notice that the signature on my original social security card dates back to fourth grade, when I was first learning cursive writing. My signature was so much more legible then. I really shouldn't be carrying that around in my wallet at all. It should be in a fireproof safe someplace.

I'll take care of that when I get home from the bookstore. I appreciate that they keep their membership cards in an old fashioned recipe box on the counter. I don't have to carry it with me at all to reap the benefits, whatever they are...


  1. Instead of listing those wallet cards, copy them front and back, make 2 copies, and leave one with a friend whom you can call when your wallet is stolen in, say, Paris. date the sheet, and update it each January.

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  2. Or transfer them to an app like Cardstar on your phone.

    some fountain pens can use a 'cartridge converter'. This means you can stop using ink cartridges and use the converter and an ink bottle.

  4. Thanks for reminding me about the cartridge converter. My Waterman came with one, but I never got in the habit of using it. Sure enough, it's still in my desk drawer, and I've got a bottle of ink, (more than one, as is the case with most things here) so am good to go.

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