Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Monday, August 1, 2011

Day 200 - Free Dumb

When our foreign exchange students were here and additionally when their parents came to visit us, we learned that due to the foreign currency exchange rate and the coupons, they view shopping in America as a real treat.  I guess coupons are an American thing as they were amazed at how we could shop and end up getting things for half off if we were keen shoppers.  Being an American we don't realize anything about the exchange rate until we travel.  Most Americans stay here and never leave the boundaries of their state let alone the boundaries of the country.

For our Senior Trip in High School we visited the Niagara Falls on the Canadian side.  We loaded on the bus and were told about the exchange rate.  For every dollar we had, we could get two Canadian dollars.  Doubling our money, we thought that was just great!  I remember being stopped at the entrance into Canada and men coming on the bus and looking all of us and our bags over.  It was scary, we were told to be quite and comply with their questions.  They stopped and asked one of us to open their backpacks, which the student complied and then he turned and told us to have fun at Niagara Falls.  Maybe this is another reason I love waterfalls, to see a monumental waterfall like this just makes you want to see more.  The power this particular waterfall had and generates is phenomenal. 

As I traveled that day, I heard different languages all around me.  It was probably my first experience where people like me who spoke English were in the minority. I became paranoid and thought that everyone was talking about me.  After I had studied five years of Spanish and was in a similar situation I realized as I translated what people were saying that everyone is just talking about every day stories just like people who speak English.  The right thing to do would be to study a foreign language so that you can pick up every day words to begin to understand.  If we don't understand, we begin to get paranoid and make up stories as to what people are saying.  This is a survival mechanism and is normal but can get out of hand if we don't monitor ourselves.

There are many ways to take advantage of this American tradition of coupons.  The key is to be vigilant about it.  We received an offer in the mail from Buick.  If we just test drove a car, they would send us a Visa $50 gift card.  Basically I looked at it as paying for a tank of gas.  We drove the car, got the codes, entered them online and got $50 FREE!  I also received an offer in the mail to get a free PASS card from American Express.  If I ordered the PASS card which is like a debit card for teenagers in college, and used it once, they would load and additional $25 on it.  I ordered it for my son but didn't give it to him.  I'm an experienced mother and know that is like giving him a free ticket to go anywhere.  Young Adults view it as free money and American Express knows that.  So I used it myself and then they gave me $25 more on the card for FREE.  I used this at the Masters in Augusta to buy some items that I then sold on Ebay and basically paid for our trip this way.  Then I canceled the PASS card, cut it up and I'm done with it.

The free offers tell use that we can cancel at any time.  When I send in the offer or sign up for the offer, I write down on the calendar what date I have to cancel by. This helps me monitor the time.  I also include the information of who to call or what to do on the calendar.  If I'm offered a free subscription, I cancel it as soon as I get the bill.  The billing department is different than the fulfillment office so they usually have a time lag and this way I don't have to remember to cancel it later.  There are many things that Americans can get for free that other commerce and economic systems don't offer.  We have the freedom to take advantage of these offers.  What the corporations bank on is that we are dumb enough not to cancel and they charge us anyway.  Be vigilant and take the offers.  You'd take a $50 bill from someone handing it to you wouldn't you?  It is the same thing.

A man in love is like a clipped coupon -- it's time to cash in.~Mae West

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