Being patriotic is exhausting so I took an extra day to recover from the holiday weekend.  Please enjoy this post from Leana Storts from

Some of you might be familiar with Amex Small Business Saturday promotion.  You know, the one where you get 10 dollars back on each 10 dollar purchase per card at participating  places. It happens only once a year and naturally, as a money saving enthusiast,  I like to take advantage of it. However, let me tell you a story about how the pursuit of free stuff can sometimes backfire big-time. This is my experience from last November……

When Rewards Go Wrong

Since our town had a few businesses participating in a Small Business Saturday promotion, my plan was to get some free lunch courtesy of American Express. It didn’t work out. That day, my husband and I were going to Tampa for a one night getaway.

Originally, we planned to have dinner at Carrabba’s in Tampa, our favorite chain restaurant. But Amex promotion was only running that day, and I just couldn’t let it go to waste. My husband loves sushi, so I found a place in Tampa that participated in the promotion.

Between our two Amex cards, we would get 20 bucks in Japanese food. The only problem was, when we got there, the restaurant was closed. And there was a weird, scary looking guy hanging out by the entrance.

So we said sayonara (goodbye in Japanese) and got the heck out there. While driving around, I saw a restaurant called “Jerk Hut” serving, you guessed it, Jamaican cuisine. I immediately remembered it being on the list of participating businesses on the Amex website. I like jerk chicken, but my husband is not a fan.  He said he would still go with me and just order some American food there.  Unfortunately, there was nothing American about any of the food offered in that place.

So instead of having a nice romantic dinner at Carrabba’s, here we were, sitting in a dingy looking hole-in-a-wall, with me eating freshly microwaved jerk chicken all by myself. Oh, and I only utilized one of my cards, giving me 10 dollars  in credit. My husband just sat there and waited for me to finish because nothing there looked appealing to him.

Too Little, Too Late

To be fair, they had a beer special, costing only 1 dollar, which was the only bright spot of the evening!  After my dinner, we looked up movie theaters and found a drive-in type that was not far away. I have never been to one of those so we decided to try it out.

The movie was “Hunger games” and a lot of it took place at night, making it very hard to see on the outside screen. And it all went downhill from there. My husband got pizza from the concession stand because, obviously, he was still hungry.  I didn’t see it on the seat and accidentally sat in it.

After the movie, I looked up Crowne Plaza on GPS. It immediately popped up. I normally check the address to make sure it’s the right one, but there is only one Crowne Plaza in Tampa, so what could go wrong? Plus, I was exhausted from this whole fiasco.

Apparently, plenty could go wrong, and it did. The GPS  took us to a Sheraton that was located in the opposite direction from Crowne Plaza. By now, it was 10:30 PM and we were both tired. It just wasn’t a good day, though I have to say, my husband was very patient and kind through it all.

When Frugality Goes Too Far

Did you notice how it all started with me wanting to save 20 bucks? Now, obviously, that’s a good chunk of change for a middle class family. It is for us. But I didn’t really want to go to the sushi place, it wasn’t on the way to our hotel, and we don’t get to go out that often.

The whole thing reminded me of how sometimes we  devote way too much effort to every single promotion. It sounds good in theory, of course, until you have to drive 30 minutes out of your way to save 5 bucks. Just like I should have cut my losses when the sushi place wasn’t open, maybe it would be best to just let it go when the pursuit of savings gets too complicated. If it ends up cutting into your family time, you may end up feeling like a jerk.

My thoughts: This post made me laugh because I have done something similar soooooooo many times.  It’s so true that the savings is not always worth it.  I still feel bad for some of the awkward moments Greg has had to endure in situations like these!

How about you?  Have you ever lost a perfectly good evening because you were chasing some kind of discount?