If you’re a small practice owner, you know how important it is to keep your eye on the bottom line. Being frugal and watching your spending on even small purchases can make a big difference, not just to the overall success of your practice, but also to your state of mind. When you feel confident that you’re getting the best deals, it’s much easier to focus on helping your clients live happier, more fulfilling lives.
However, finding the best deals can consume a lot of time, time that you probably don’t have when you’re juggling clients, family, health, and everything else. Digging up the best deal or coupon every time you plan to make a purchase can turn into a big hassle and end up adding to your stress.
A few years ago, I would go through a long, painstaking process to find the best deals – scouring websites and digging up coupons. I lost valuable time searching out the perfect deal, and honestly, I often wondered if it was worth the effort.
Rakuten changed everything.
Have you heard of it? It’s pronounced RACK-uh-ten, and used to be E-bates, which was bought by Rakuten five years ago. The website still functions like E-bates, however, offering coupons and cash back deals applicable to a wide variety of stores.
This is what’s so great about Rakuten. They put all the deals in one place and apply them to your purchases automatically when you shop using your Rakuten membership. Every three months, they cut you a check with your savings. If you do all of your shopping using Rakuten, that can be a substantial check.
Thousands of stores to choose from
When you shop with Rakuten, you get to choose from hundreds of stores. These are big name stores, too, like Amazon, Apple, Macy’s, Target, and just about any other major retailer you can think of. The cash back amount can vary from 1 percent to 10 percent, or even more. Florists.com, for example, offers 18 percent cash back. Rakuten also lets you know if there are coupons for each store. The coupon is automatically applied if you make a qualified purchase.
The trick is to always go to Rakuten.com first, or you can add a button to your browser (more on that below), and then use the Rakuten link to the retailer’s website to make your purchase. As a signed in Rakuten member, your cash back amount will automatically be added to your account and paid to you either through PayPal or by “big fat check,” as they call it.
Let me tell you, the savings add up quickly.
A hypothetical Rakuten shopping trip
Here’s how a shopping trip with Rakuten might look. Let’s say you spend about $200 a month on office supplies at Office Depot. You’re also about to move to a new location and have budgeted $300 for office decor, and you need to purchase a new microphone for your podcast.
Once you sign in to Rakuten, go to the All Stores tab or simply search for Office Depot. Once you click on the Shop Now button next to the store name, you will see a redirecting page informing you that a Rakuten Shopping Trip has been opened for Office Depot and you’re on your way to receiving 2.5 percent cash back. Then you’re redirected to the Office Depot website where you can shop as you usually would. For $200 in purchases, you’ll earn $5 cash back.
Now let’s look at office decor. Pier1, World Market, and Plow & Heart all offer four percent cash back. Among the three of them you spend $250, resulting in $10 in your Rakuten account.
When it comes to purchasing a microphone, you aren’t sure what store to go to, so instead, you search for “microphone” and look in the products section. Because this search brings up 74,817 listings, you narrow your search to “podcasting microphone,” and that brings up a more manageable 693 products. You then shorten the list even more by setting a price range and eventually settle on a microphone from Overstock.com that comes with a $5 cash back. You click on the Shop Now button, are redirected to Overstock.com, purchase the mic, and automatically $5 is put into your Rakuten account.
Every time you’re redirected to a retailer’s website, you’re given this reassuring reminder: Nothing more for you to do. It’s that simple!
With one shopping trip alone you made $20 effortlessly. If you repeat this process each month in a similar fashion, your cash back check at the end of three months could be as much as $60 or more.
Please note that these deals change often, and the ones mentioned in this post might have already changed by the time you start shopping. If the deal you’re hoping to get isn’t there, check back often. The store could always run it again.
Stores for the small practitioner
To give you an idea of whether or not Rakuten could benefit you, I put together a list of some of the stores that might be helpful to small practitioners.
FedEx Office for printing needs – 5 percent cash back
AVG AntiVirus (internet security) – 20 percent cash back
DYMO for printers and labelers – 6.25 percent cash back
Office Depot/Office Max – 2.5 percent cash back
Holiday Inn Express – 4 percent cash back
Hotels.com – up to 8 percent cash back
Ebates Hotels – 5 percent cash back
Apple – 2 percent cash back on refurbished items, AppleCare, and accessories
Microsoft Store – up to 4 percent cash back
Verizon – up to $75 cash back
Amazon Devices – 4 percent cash back
Office and home decor
Pier1 – 4 percent cash back
World Market – 4 percent cash back
Plow & Hearth – 4 percent cash back
Overstock – 3.5 percent cash back
Food and entertainment
Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf – 5 percent cash back
Flowers by Florists.com – 18 percent cash back
Omaha Steaks – 3.5 percent cash back
Use the browser app to making shopping even easier
When you add the Rakuten Cash Back Button to your browser, your Rakuten account is automatically used to apply cash back deals and coupons when you shop online at participating retailer websites. If a deal isn’t available, the button will also do a quick search and let you know if you can get a better deal or cash back someplace else.
Rakuten works for in-store purchases too
You can also make in-store purchases by adding a card to your Rakuten account, finding a deal you like on the list of in-store cash back offers, and linking that deal to the card. Then you just shop in the store as you normally would do, making sure to use the card you have linked to your account. After you make the purchase, the store contacts Rakuten to ensure you get your cash back.
Possibly the easiest decision you’ll make all year
To me, Rakuten fell into the category of business decisions with no downside. It’s easy to use, saves you time, and results in an extra check every few months.
If you want to try out Rakuten and see how it works, I encourage you to sign up through my Rakuten affiliate link.
You’ll get an extra $10 after you go shopping, and I’ll get a commission that will help support the Selling the Couch blog and podcast.
I hope you enjoy this new shopping strategy and find some good use for those extra checks. I know I have.