Icing on the Birthday Cake: Free stuff just because you're a year older

Last modified: Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My birthday was last week, and the greetings started arriving well in advance. The first to wish me Many Happy Returns was F.L. Roberts, the local gas station and convenience store chain, which offered me a free no-strings-attached car wash to celebrate. Soon I heard from World Market (a $10 coupon, with no minimum purchase required) and Banana Republic (a $15 gift coupon). And those were just the start. I got a free birthday pastry at Panera, a 20 percent discount at Different Drummer's Kitchen in Northampton, $5 off at DSW, and about a dozen other birthday presents from my circle of emailers. The offers arrive because way back when I'd signed up to get emails from these businesses, and part of the drill is offering up your date of birth. Given that it's public record, I don't mind. Since I consider going through a car wash highly entertaining - and since my car needed a good cleaning - I've already taken advantage of F.L. Roberts' birthday gift. I've used my $10 from World Market, too, combining it with a 25 percent Friends and Family discount to get an especially good deal on a mirror I'd been eyeing for a while.All these retailers send out other offers during the year, but the birthday ones are the best, since you often don't have to make a minimum purchase to take advantage of them. Banana Republic, for instance, has plenty of socks for under $15. And who doesn't need new socks? There are lots of other birthday gifts out there for the taking, including some that don't arrive via email. Many chain restaurants, for instance, offer a free dessert if you dine on your birthday. You can find what's in store for you on your big day at a couple of websites, www.heyitsfree.net and www.freebie-depot.com. I used to like www.birthdayfreebies, too, but its home page has been overtaken by banner ads, and finding the actually freebies isn't easy.


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