Now that Halloween is over, you probably have a huge stash of leftover candy
sitting around the house waiting to make its way onto your hips or thighs forever. Trick or treating has its drawbacks and comes in the form of cavities, weight gain and never ending sugar highs. One orthodontist in the Key Biscayne area of Florida has come up with a genius idea of buying back Halloween candy
loot to the tune of $1 per pound, up to five pounds. The candy is then shipped to our troops overseas. Win/win situation for all involved!
Reading this article made me think about how our society is more apt to do things when cash is involved.
Take the Cash For Clunkers
program for instance. Started on July 1, 2009 by the government to promote the purchase of new and fuel efficient cars while trading in old non-fuel efficient ones, the program ended on August 24, 2009, well before the November 1 end date, after exhausting the $3 billion plan. The customers were awarded credits in the amount of $3,500 or $4,500 based on fuel economy difference between the new and old cars. 690,114 deal transactions were reported as a result of this successful program.
Think about it. If this program never went into effect, how many old, smoggy clunkers would still be sitting out there on people's driveways?
Credit cards are another way to earn cash incentives. Many cards offer cash back when you use them to make purchases. Chase Freedom MasterCard
offers $100 cash back after $799 in purchases plus 1% to 5% cash back on other purchases. Citi and American Express
are two other popular cards that offer up to 5% cash back. Credit companies are smart. They know if they entice you with "cash back," you will be more likely to rack up your bill--helping them make money off interest rates. Just make sure you don't spend more than you can pay back. 5% cash back is not worth the 15% to 20% interest rates.
A cash back program that actually comes with no strings attached is Bank of America's Add It Up
. Available to existing online banking customers, you can earn up to 20% on purchases made when you shop through to your favorite retailers. For example, if you spend $100 at Gap
and the cash back is 4%, you get $4 deposited into your bank account within one month. It's like getting paid to shop and you don't have to do anything extra to earn it! Discover card
has a similar incentive program via their ShopDiscover
partnerships. Like the BoA program, card holders can earn 5-20% cash back for shopping at popular retailers such as Sears
and Home Depot
via the ShopDiscover portal.
Not a Bank of America
or Discover card customer? Ebates
offers the same deal. Shop thousands of retailers online and get a percentage deposited into your Paypal
account or have a check mailed to you. They even offer coupon codes so you can save money while making your purchase. IBM instituted a program
where they paid out a $150 rebate to employees if they improved their family's eating and exercise habits. The program benefited the company as well--according to IBM spokesperson Laurie Friedman: "Healthier employees have fewer absences and are more productive. Not to mention the cost benefits -- healthy employees see less out-of-pocket health care expense
Cash incentives are even being offered to parents for ensuring their kids attend classes. At Jefferson Elementary School in St. Louis
, parents get $300 per child if the student finishes the semester with near perfect attendance and no suspensions. Parents must also attend three PTO meetings. Of course there is a debate about this program, but I'm all for it if this means that parents are more involved in their kids' lives.
Even hackers can cash in in these days as Google is offering payment
of up to $3,113.70 for those who help to expose bugs or flaws in their web applications like Google, YouTube, Blogger and Orkut.
What are some cash incentive programs that interest you and why?