How Far Can You Stretch Your Dollar?

Stretching Your Dollar
 

Money, money, money. I feel that I can talk about money with anyone, in any place and at any time. Some people may think that I always have money on my mind and don’t have much to talk about, other than money. Lucky for me, I don’t talk to those people much. I have found a great place, my blog, that I can use as a platform for me to talk about money openly, share my ideas and thoughts honestly and freely with people who are passionate about building wealth – one dollar at a time. I have shared my ideas and thoughts on how to save money, borrow money, build access to emergency money, get free money, grow my money, keep more of my money and manage my money. Wait, that’s not all, I still have one more: how to stretch my money. That’s right, in this post, I’ll show you how far I can stretch my dollar. Well, $25 to be exact.

 
New Year Resolution

My New Year’s Resolution

Right after the Christmas and New Year holidays, I felt that I may have over indulged a little bit. I might have consumed an extra slice of cheesecake here, an extra bottle of beer there and too many kinds of seafood everywhere. Of course, once the calendar turns over to a new year, I made a New Year’s resolution to lose a couple of pounds and to eat healthier like most people. To some people, losing weight means starving yourself, while others think that you have to buy all these organically grown vegetables, antibiotic and hormone free meat and on and on. What I think is healthy for your body, should also be healthy for your wallet too. So don’t go overboard.

 
Vendor Hot Dogs

Stretching My Money At A Young Age

So how did I get the idea of stretching my money? It started when I was pretty young as I grew up in a family with very little extra money to spend. I rarely got an allowance. In fact, I don’t even know what an allowance is until one of my grade school classmates told me that he got $20 a week from his parents. So when I do get an allowance, I’d find ways to buy as much of the stuff that I wanted as possible. This continued throughout high school. I remembered that I had three close friends in high school that I used to hang out with almost every day after school. We’d drop by a street vendor close to our school, spend a dollar on a jumbo hotdog and we can add all the gazillion condiments on top of our hot dogs until we can’t stuff it anymore (I don’t think any hotdog vendor had ever made any money off me). Afterward, we’d drop by a local arcade and spend a quarter on a six-player “X-Men” arcade game. That quarter provided us, on average, an hour of non-stop action and fun. So with $1.25, I kept myself well fed and entertained for a whole hour.

 
Steak And Cheese Sub

There Is Free Lunch In This World

Now fast forward about 20 years (okay, a couple years more than 20), you get a grown up that’s very conscious of all the financial decisions that he makes on a daily basis. So when he’s looking for a way to keep his body (and wallet) healthy and he happens to walk by a Subway Sandwich in the food court near his office with a sign that says free six inch sub, a bell rang in my head – free lunch. If you have been reading my blog, you’ll know that I do believe in free lunches and you just have to find the restaurant that offers it. In this case, Subway Sandwich offers me a free lunch in the form of any six-inch sub on their menu if I buy a $25 gift card. So I used my Tangerine Mastercard to buy the Subway gift card because I get a 2% cash back for my restaurant purchases and picked my favourite six-inch sub, the Steak and Cheese for a free meal. Right off the bat, I saved a total of $7.66 – $0.50 from the cash back and $7.11 from the free six-inch sub.

 
Free Cookie

More Free Food

When I first bought the gift card, I just wanted to get a quick free lunch and I was thinking of giving the gift card away to my nephew, but I changed my mind as I was looking at the receipt. I noticed that I could get even more free food if I visit their customer feedback website TellSubway.com. I mean the website had been there for a long time and the offer of free food had always been there too, but I wasn’t interested in the past. Somehow, this time, it might have been the free six-inch sub that stirred my interest. So I visited their website, provided my email, fill in the information about the store and service that I just visited and answered about 8 questions. It took about 3 minutes, I got a code, wrote it on the back of my receipt and got a free cookie. For this free cookie, I had to go back to the same store within a month of my purchase, give my receipt to the cashier and I got a free Macadamia cookie.

 
Oven Roasted Chicken Sub

The Daily Discount

At the time of this post, Subway Sandwich was having their $7 sub of the day promotion where you can get a different foot long sub for just $7 each every day of the week (for my American readers, your sub of the day is only $6. How I always envy you guys for paying a cheaper price for the same stuff). They have this promotion quite often throughout the year. I first noticed when they started this promotion quite a few years back when the sub of the day was just $5. Then a few years passed, I guess it was inflation, their sub of the day increased to $6 for the selected foot long sub. Now, it stands at $7, though you can still buy a couple of foot long subs anytime for less than $7. You can get one of my favourite subs, the Meatball Marinara foot long for $6.79 plus taxes. You must be thinking that I probably worked at a Subway Sandwich before or I am being paid for reviewing their restaurant. Nope. I was not paid nor was I affiliated with Subway Sandwich when I wrote this post – not yet. I just enjoy their food. To demonstrate how much I enjoyed customizing my own sub, I have my own topping list and I do not deviate from this recipe when I visit. I start with the whole wheat bread, then adding lettuce, tomatoes, extra, and I do mean extra cucumber, black olives, pickles, hot peppers, Chipotle and honey mustard sauce to finish. A while ago they added avocado to the topping list and I’d love to add that to my recipe, but I’ll have to pay an extra $1.50 for a foot long, so I’ll pass on this – with a frown from my healthy mind, but a smile from my healthy wallet.

 
The Subway Club Sub

A Footlong Or Two Six Inches?

When I was in my teen and early 20s, I was able to wolf down my favourite finger licking good, foot long Steak and Cheese sub in a single sitting and still have more room left over for cookies and chips. However, I am not in my 20s anymore, my metabolism had slowed down and I needed to portion control my meals because it’s the healthy thing to do if I wanted to keep my new year’s resolution of losing a couple of pounds. I was still buying the foot long, though. With all the toppings that I loaded up, I was able to split the foot long sub into two six inch subs. I’d have half of it for breakfast and the other for lunch on the same day. Some people may think that’s too much sub for a day, but I don’t have any issue with having subs for two meals in a row.

 
Sweet Onion Teriyaki Sub

The Sub Of The Day

The next time that I visited Subway Sandwich was on a Monday because I want to have the Oven Roasted Chicken sub. It’s one of the premium subs of the day on the menu with low calories, perfectly healthy for my health conscious mind and wallet. That sub costed me $7.91 (=$7 + 13% tax). I gave my previous purchase receipt with the code to the cashier to get a free cookie and ask for the receipt when I paid for my next purchase. My second purchase with the gift card was on Sunday of the following week, which I also got another sub of the day, the Subway Club sub for another $7.91. My third purchase with the gift card was for the Wednesday sub of the day, the Sweet Onion Teriyaki Chicken sub for another $7.91. With $1.27 left and the $0.50 that I saved in cash back, I bought the Apple slices for $1.58 (= $1.50 + 13% tax). Once again I give the receipt with the code to get a free cookie and kept my purchase receipt.

 
My Meal Savings

The Savings

For less than $25 dollars in total, I was able to have seven delicious meals and six desserts. By buying my three foot long subs of the day and keeping my receipts, I saved a total of 76.9% (or $19.07) on my purchases comparing to buying the three subs foot long subs at full price. Comparing to purchasing the same subs in the form of individual six-inch purchases, I saved 121.8% (or $30.22).

My Two Cents

Stretching your money doesn’t mean that you have to buy inferior items or substituting for less expensive alternatives. You can often purchase the same items at a lowered cost by knowing when and how to purchase your items. In another word, try to purchase your items when they are on sale or get more for the same amount of money that you spend. In my case, I am perfectly happy to spend a couple of minutes to fill out a survey to get free food and buying my favourite subs on a particular day to save money. Bon appetit.

 

Leo T. Ly, Canadian Personal Finance Blogger/Enthusiast and a Realtor Living in the Markam, Ontario, CanadaAbout Leo
I am a Canadian personal finance blogger/enthusiast and a Realtor living in Markham, Ontario, Canada. I built a net worth of a million dollars over a ten year period. I did it by being a disciplined saver, taking advantage of income tax rules and borrowing money to invest rather than for consumption. I am often excited to take advantage of free money from employers and governments in addition to building more passive income sources. After accumulating my first million dollars, I am now embarking on a second journey towards achieving financial independence. On this journey, I will strive to increase my net worth to two million dollars and retire by the age of 48 - Freedom 48. Come along and follow my journey on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.



There are 56 opinions expressed on this post.

  1. Dam man your making me want my sub. Parmesan oregano bread and Italian bmt, toasted to give that meat a nice sweat. Hahaha. You need a Adam Sandler pic from happy Gilmour when he was subways guy. It always amazes me how far you can make money go if you seriously watch it. If not it’s gone in a instant. I try to.always fill out the receipt stuff when I buy stuff. So far no luck but if I get a call from walmart 1000 gift card would be great.
    Passivecanadianincome recently posted… Why Everyone Should Have a WebsiteMy Profile

    1. @PassiveCanadianIncome, thanks for the reminder of the Happy Gilmour movie. I really enjoyed that movie too. I may want to switch out Adam Sandler’s picture and put my own picture with that Steak and Cheese foot long. I may not get free subway for life, but maybe free Subway for a year?

      With all seriousness aside, I did message Subway Canada about this post and I am crossing my fingers. Let’s see what happens.

  2. I do enjoy a good money saving article, it is not my area of expertise i am afraid – I am useless and need all the tips I can get!

    1. @LPIO, no one is good at everything. Now that you know your weakness is in personal finance, you can always drop by my blog or other blogger’s that commented on my blog. There are quite a few of them so I am pretty sure you can find one that resonate with you.

    1. @Erik, I did have a bit of fun trying out this experiment and saved quite a few dollars, and I also lost a few pounds. In fact, I bought two gift cards and it lasted me a couple of weeks.

    1. @Ewa, I do enjoy sharing my money saving tips. When I write about these topics it forces me to actually to test my ideas. So in a way, buy sharing my tips I am also benefiting too.

    1. @MSM, I am always a sucker for the Subway gift card. Every time they have that promotion, I would buy at least one $25 gift card and select the most expensive sub on their menu for free.

    1. @David, one of the reasons that I like to eat at Subway is the toppings they have. I can choose whatever toppings I want, how much I want and I can load up on the healthy vegetables like cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes – without having to pay extra.

  3. This is a really fun article. I can relate because I’m a student with a 9 month old son that I’m raising alone (with a help of my parents, ofcourse) thank you for sharing this with us!

    1. @Mhow, during my days as a student, I had even more creative ways to save money. It’s definitely fun when you are able to add any toppings and the sub won’t taste bad. Just take it easy on the onions. 🙂

  4. I wished I ate as much Subs as you do but I don’t and I do want to eat a more varied range of food over the week. I don’t eat much, so it is OK on my budget.

    1. @Emily, the gift card doesn’t expire and the promotion usually lasts for a least a month or so. I usually try to have it once or twice a week. It can become boring if you have it everyday. I wouldn’t recommend it, even if you are on a budget.

    1. @Sarah-Louise, being a personal finance enthusiast, I always have two things on my mind. The first is to be able to buy more stuff for less money. The second is to earn more money by doing less work. These two strategies worked like a charm.

    1. @Rose, when you have items that you feel that it’s worth investing a bit of extra money to get a better quality item, I am all for it. Sometimes, in order to save money, you may have to spend a bit more money. It’s great that this article got you thinking about your expenses.

    1. @Jia Shin, it good to wonder from time to time if your approach is the most efficient or effective ways of doing things. For me, when I read other blogger’s blogs and I discover better ways of doing things or saving money, I often adapt my strategy to use the better one. This way, I will always improve my strategies.

  5. This was a very interesting read. I don’t ever think about buying a sandwich this way, meaning, I don’t think about how much I can save by buying a certain sandwich a certain day. Or the fact that I can save money by buying a footlong instead of a 6 inch. I bet there are other things in my life I can apply this too as well.

    1. @krysten, what you are seeing is a frugal mindset. I learned at an early age that it’s hard to making money. If I can just tweak my habit or preference slightly and be able to save money, I am more than willing to try it. You should try it too and see how much money you’ll save. You’ll be surprise by the amount of money you’ll save.

  6. Whenever we go out for a meal, we always share it. We found that most places give more than a regular portion size and we both can get full from sharing. Plus save a lot of money in the long run.

  7. I do keep the look out for deals on certain days but I chose to ignore the survey on the receipts. Now that I think of it, why did I? Maybe I would prefer answering the survey on the spot as answering it online requires me to write down the code and return to the shop in a time frame, that deters me.

  8. Great article as always Leo. It’s good to know how you can save- even if its as little as we can go. Certainly could relate to this as it is very similar to what I went through when I was younger as well.

  9. lol, this made me want to walk to subway right about now! This has been interesting, the other day I walked to Woolworths, and they were having a sale, and the clothing was so so so discounted! imagine my joy, of buying something for 8 times less what it could have been! so thanks for sharing this, because taht is what I am going to start doing! Stretching my dollar! love it!

  10. I am terrible! I never do the surveys on the bottom of my receipt to get discounts or free stuff. Not that I don’t want to save money I honestly just forget.

  11. That was a smart move to be honest. It’s good to know how much you can get for $25! I’m sure this will be useful for people who are trying to save on their lunches while at work.

  12. I can’t talk about money like this, I don’t have the same comfort level to talk about money with strangers, I am glad you do because you have a talent for it. I probably talk about travel like this though. I know money is important and that you should spend it wisely, but to me money is just something you need to buy the important things in life like food, shelter, clothing and travel. lol. But I am probably lucky because we are also mostly debt free, so its not an issue we have to discuss past our monthly talk about budget, investments and savings.
    stacey recently posted… Home Decorating Tips for the Military SpouseMy Profile

    1. @Stacey, bloggers have a very passionate view on the subject/niche that they write about. It’s mostly putting what’s in their thoughts into their posts. I’ve also read your blog and are very intrigue about military life as I don’t know much about it. With all being said, finance is definitely a huge part of our lives and affects our quality of life. So it’s best that we learn as much about finance as we can. This way we can build a sound and secure financial future for ourselves.

  13. Interesting! This is actually happen to me as well in malaysia when I visited Starbucks Coffee, I did the 5mins survey and get a free drink. Cheers!~~

    1. @SiennyLovesDrawing, I have been reading quite a few of the foodie bloggers’ posts and they have been teasing me forever with their awesome food/restaurant reviews. It’s my turn to tease them :).

  14. I think cashback and sign up bonuses are the best and easiest way to stretch your money. I’m not familiar with what types of cards are offered in BC nowadays, but in US credit cards that offer 3% back are common. Also COUPONS 🙂 I buy Groupons a lot to get the most food out of my money.

    1. @Song, sometimes I feel a bit jealous of our neighbor to the south as they often have better stuff than us. Their gas is cheaper per liter, clothes are cheaper at the outlet malls, they pay less sales taxes. Now, they even get more cashback than us Canadian on credit cards. I am so tempted to move south of the border. Did I mention that their money is worth more and ours too?

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