I’m not spending money, I am saving 15%

One of the benefits of being a Microsoft employee is something we call the Prime Program or Prime Discount. As an employee, you get a card that looks like a credit card. It identifies you as an employee to all retailers that offer discounts to us. I’m typically pretty bad at knowing when I can use the card. I usually forget to ask or get embarrassed that the person will think I am a big cheapie. There are enough retailers that offer discounts that it’s hard to remember who they are (they are listed on an internal website). You have to ask for the discount, they don’t just offer it; or so I thought until today. I also thought I didn’t have too bad of a shopping problem. Hmph.

I was at Bellevue Square at lunchtime today. Shoes were calling me. Did you ever see that Sex and the City commercial where Carrie looks in the shoe store window and says “hello, lover”? Well it sounded like that only the voice was deeper. It’s a pretty mutual relationship. So it would be rude for me to just ignore the call.

I went into ShoeFly and selected my 2 pair (because one pair is just a pair, but two pair are a party). When I went to pay, the salesperson looked up my name in their computer and I watched over her shoulder as she pulled it up (I hate it when people do this to me but this was a show store, not someone’s personal office). Next to my name was a note (I kid you not): “Buys a lot. Microsoft employee”. Holy crap. I’d say about one tenth of my shoes have come from here (granted, my favorite Italian sandals are from here and they were a splurge), but evidently, one-tenth of my shoe collection is “a lot”. Whoah, hello, self; we may have a problem here. And just as I was about to start thinking about possibly starting to contemplate reconsidering my shopping habits, the salesperson looked at me and asked “Do you have your Prime Card?”. I sure did and I saved 15%. I;’ve decided to compartmentalize any concern over my shopping habits. I’ve decided to revisit that issue when I accidentally buy something ugly and expensive that can’t be returned.

My friend Ann is good at knowing when we can use the Prime Card when we go to lunch. I only remember this because when we go to Coho cafe for lunch, it’s buy-one, get-one-free; Ann remembers. I would have totally paid full-price had I gone there with anyone other than Ann. I want to get better at remembering when I can use my discount. I recently realized that I paid full-price for my new washer and dryer when I totally could have gotten a discount (doh!). So, I am going to start documenting the money I save when I use the Prime Card. That way, someday when they go to bury me with my shoes and handbags, they can start to understand what went wrong. I’ll never be the cat lady, I’ll be the shoe lady. And I saved 15%. I’m totally cool with that.

Money spent: $193.46 (don’t judge)

Money saved with Prime Card: $31.35

Comments (18)

  1. Andy says:

    I got my brand new washer and dryer for free 🙂 It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

    193.46 for two pairs of shoes? Sound pretty cheap to me. My White’s boots that I wear when I am in the woods run me between 300 and 400 a pair and I can wear out a pair in a year. I can go through Danner’s in six months or less. So 193 for two pairs of footwear sounds like pretty screaming good deal to me.

  2. As an intern at MS this past summer, I ate steak with my roommate at least twice a week at Coho…. best deal ever!

  3. deb says:

    Shoes like that and you didn’t post a picture?

    all the best!


  4. Keith J. Farmer says:

    It also works in real estate and auto purchases, too… The prime card’s site is full of little goodies like this.

  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    Andy – I am sure there’s a story about the washer/dryer. Please tell me they didn’t fall off the back of a truck. As for the shoes, I bet yours are for huntin’ or fishin’ or something like that, right? I would expect a functional show to cost more. Mine are just for being pretty 🙂

    Brandon- yeah, I felt a little guilty when the check came to $12 for brunch. I just make sure to tip on the whole amount (thought the service was awful this last time; usually it’s quite good).

    Keith- real estate? How so? Now I am dying to know!

    I just had the people from Closet Factory come out and do an estimate on my home office and they give 10% off with the Prime Card. Not sure if I am goung to select them yet, but 10% off is something.

  6. bush says:

    Now I know why the national savings rate is negative

  7. HeatherLeigh says:

    Deb – maybe I will. They are pretty cute

    bush – I am just flattered that Reggie Bush reads my blog. Didn’t know you cared about finance (and I save plenty, by the way), but go Saints!

  8. wine-oh says:

    I was going to ask you if you used the card for your closets. It does make you want to splurge a bit and see what other deals you can find. I sometimes buy stuff online and then at checkout do a google search for coupons I can use. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesnt. My company has an online shopping site similar to the prime card. When the deals work its great.

  9. HeatherLeigh says:

    trust me, any of these people are a splurge. I’m still in the decision make process. I hate that it’s so drawn out because I want it now. But I am going to check out some stand-alone furniture as well. I’m still a little shocked at the many thousands of dollars it costs to get some pretty simple built-ins. <sigh>

  10. tod hilton says:

    Everyone needs to splurge every once in a while…good for you!  $100 for a pair of shoes is more than I would probably pay, but then again I paid around $80 to pre-order Halo 3, have it shipped same day and am taking a vacation day when it releases…all of which you’re probably sitting back and shaking your head at.  It’s all in your perspective.  [shrug]  Oh, and I’m sure you look mighty fine in your new ‘purdy’ shoes too.  🙂

  11. wine-oh says:

    Yea you are right, its not cheap.

    The other way to look at it is that its value added money to your house if you do built ins. It will increase the value of your house, versus using stand alone furniture.

    I was able to achieve far more optimized space by having my closets and home office professionally done. When I go to sell my place its money I’ll get back and then some.

  12. HeatherLeigh says:

    Yeah, that wasn’t really a splurge, tod. I do that all the time. But I don’t have any kids ro spend money on so I feel like it’s OK. 🙂 I don’t get the video game thing, but that’s OK since I don’t have to have one in my house 🙂 I think everyone should buy one though….an XBox I mean, and lots of games. As a sharegfholder, I would like you all to buy several.

    wine-oh, one of the selling points from these companies is that they will move them to your next house. So I could actually take them with me. I imagine that someone else buying a 3 bedroom house might want to use one or 2 of the rooms for kids. So I think I would probably take the built in unless someone asked for them as part of the negotations.

    I will admit that I have been looking online for attractive home office funriture and it pretty much does not exist.

  13. wine-oh says:

    Interesting about them moving it for you to a new space. Great selling point. Mine’s pretty much drilled to the wall. Let alone the fact that its made for that space.

    I’ve been having a hard time finding a dining room table similar  to your hunt for office furniture. Its impossible. I finally found a table I love and its on backorder for 2 months. Go figure.

  14. HeatherLeigh says:

    they will atually undrill it and move it to your new place. They will also add additional modules as needed….for a price, of course.

    Dining room tables are tough too. I have a tiny space for a table attached to my kitchen and have struggles for years over what kind of table I should have. I kept thinking that someday I’d see one that looked just right but that never happened.

  15. wine-oh says:

    Thats very interesting and a neat take on building repeat customers and loyalty.

    I found great dining room chairs at Restoration Hardware. I even went in person after seeing them online to test the comfortability level. Bad news is RH’s custmer service is lacking and only 3 of the 4 made the truck. No telling when the 4th one will arrive.

  16. Bad_Brad says:

    There is an alias "prmcard" at Microsoft where we discuss Prime Card discounts.  There’s a more active alias "hotdeals" that discusses all sorts of deals that MS employees get, some of which are Prime Card deals and show up on the web site and some of which are not.  There is also a Local Live (gotta mention a Microsoft product) map collection that someone put together that has pushpins for Prime Card restaurants at:


    It’s a pretty good piece of work.

    My family and I only eat at Prime Card restaurants any more.  Coho is a good one, there’s also Desert Fire, Firecreek Grill (that’s the restaurant at the Willows golf course), and Quizno’s all close by.  I always ask at any restaurant or retailer I am at if they take the Prime Card.  Worst they can say is no, and I have been pleasantly surprised several times.

    Biggest individual savings I’ve had so far from the Prime Card was when we bought a queen size memory foam mattress set last year (fully adjustable with a remote so you can sit up and watch TV or read comfortably).  We saved over $400 on that one purchase alone.

  17. HeatherLeigh says:

    Wow, that’s a lot of money in savings! I had no idea about those aliases. I am so signing up at least to the Prime Card one! Thanks for the tip!