Thursday, January 13, 2011

Frugality Bit Me In The Butt

I have one of those debit cards that earns points with my everyday purchases, which can then be cashed in for an array of products available through an online catalog.  I started accumulating points a few years ago when I changed banks, but had never bothered to cash them in.  They just kept adding up, forgotten, until last week when it occurred to me to check the balance.

To my pleasant surprise I actually had enough to get a product or gift cards that would retail for around $100.00 in the "real" world. I decided to go ahead and pick something out, as there wasn't really anything in the catalog I wanted to "save up" for.  After awhile I settled on a small wet/dry hand vac by Hoover.  It had good reviews online and was cordless, which to me is kind of the point when looking at a hand vac.  I really wanted something just to pick up the kitty litter that gets tracked by the box, and the odd bit off fluff or crumbs that would drive me crazy in between regular vacuuming.  It retails for about $25.00.
I was just about to place my order when a thought occurred to me- I also had the option to cash in my points for gift cards to restaurants or stores, such as Target.  I wondered how the points-to-prize conversion would work out if I were to first purchase Target gift cards with my points, then turn around and buy the vac from them vs. getting the vac outright.  I did all the math, and it turned out my points were stretched further if I turned them into Target gift cards rather than getting the vac directly from the bank.  Sold.  I did the transaction, ordering 4- $25.00 Target gift cards, almost emptying out my points bank since there is nothing else in the catalog I want and I don't think I'll have any problem spending the rest at Target.

A week went by, and then finally the gift cards showed up in the mail this afternoon.  Score! Look how pretty they are:

I hopped right online to to place my order, but to my horror, it now says the item is out of stock!  There is no mention of whether or not they intend on getting more. Now I am thoroughly bummed, not to mention a little ticked.  If I had just ordered the vac outright from the bank I would have it in hand, sucking up kitty litter and dust bunnies right now.  Instead, I tried to be frugal and "stretch" my points, leaving me with  4 pieces of plastic that have the ability to buy me a vac, but there doesn't seem to be any others carried by Target that I want.  Sooo frustrating!  Here are what seem to be my options:

The Dirt Devil 15.6V Gator Series Hand Vac

This one has really good reviews on, but when checking they, um, suck. It also costs $41.99, a little more than I really want to spend on a hand vac, but am willing to since it's technically "free" money I'm spending.

The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Corded Hand Vac
This one has excellent reviews on both Target and Amazon, but the features have me a little wary.  It is corded, which is something I'm trying to get away from.  I really want this vac to be a really quick "grab and go" appliance, and a cord defeats that purpose.  It also was designed more for picking up pet hair off of couches and the like, not the reason I'd mainly be using it.  It has a shorter "snout", which makes it harder to get under furniture where fluff balls love to hide.  The replacement filters have to be purchased from Bissell directly, as they don't seem to be carried in stores. The price is good at $28.79, but still leaves me wanting the original Hoover vac I'd set out for.

Those are the leading contenders, but nothing is making me itch to make the purchase now.  I think I'm going to go to my local brick and mortar Target to see what the options are, but I know they don't carry the Hoover I want in-store.  I'm not really sure what I should do if I have no luck there, do I sit and wait hoping gets more in stock, or does Target operate more on the "once it's gone, it's gone" system?  If I choose to just move ahead and pick one of the other two, which one?  Am I giving this too much thought?  My head hurts.  Advice please!