Out Here: My minimalism and discount cards

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 3:55 p.m. CDT

In the past year or 2, I have come to realize who I am – a minimalist.

I don't want to keep stuff I don't need. You won't see my garage full of junk; it's used for what it's intended – cars.

I trace my minimalist origins to my grandmother, who came of age during the Great Depression, the generation that hid money underneath their mattresses. She saved just about everything. After she died in 1990, I counted 100 combs and 35 purses in her possession. (Maybe those numbers have grown in my mind over the years, but you get the point.)

After clearing her house, I vowed never to become a pack rat.

I extend my minimalist philosophy to my wallet. I long for it to be filled to the maximum with money, but it isn't. What I don't want is a lot of needless cards in it.

But stores aren't making that easy. It seems like every place offers you some sort of card that entitles you to discounts. These supposedly exclusive deals seem much less so when a cashier offers a cardless customer the use of a card on hand to get the discounts.

Many stores also promote their credit cards. Why do I want another one? To bring on more debt?

These credit cards can be hard to resist, and I've fallen for them. Often, you get a certain amount off your purchase price if you sign up for a card.

Don't you remember the days when you could walk into a store and enjoy the discounts, without a card? Actually, those days are still here. America's largest retailer, Walmart, has yet to get a special card. Maybe that will persuade others to do away with theirs.

One thing these cards probably do is track your purchases, helping stores better market their products.

What it does for customers is load up their wallets. In recent months, I have relented to pitches for discount cards at Kroger and Walgreens.

I justify my weakness by arguing that such cards are actually in accord with my minimalism. After all, the deals I get minimize the impact on my pocketbook.

David Giuliani is a news editor for Sauk Valley Media. You can reach him at dgiuliani@saukvalley.com or 800-798-4085, ext. 525. Follow him on Twitter: @DGiuliani_SVM.

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