When it Pays to Shop


Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over and the packages have been appearing on our doorstep daily this week. I don’t shop a lot but some deals are just too good to pass up this time of the year. I’d never drive out to a store to fight over some trendy consumer product but I’m all about doing a bit of shopping from home.

It’s funny though because the stuff I’ve ordered will seem boring to most people. No flat screen TVs, no $700 iPhones or newest PlayStation’s… Here is a sample of what was dropped off on our porch: 42 lbs of litter for $10, 5 qts of Mobil1 oil for $20, Levi’s jeans for $18, Old Navy dress pants for $14 and polos for $6, optical mouse for free after rebate, deodorant and shampoo, new struts and shocks for our hooptie Mercedes-Benz after a rare 5% wholesale discount… The list goes on but you get the idea. The motto is – buy only what you’d buy anyway, at substantial discount, while drinking a cup of coffee in the comfort of our kitchen.

Lets not forget the cash back I’ll be getting from Ebates (sign up here and get $10) on top of my credit card’s rewards.

Out of all the stuff I bought I’m most excited about a set of tires for my MINI Cooper. The old tires are so bold that they won’t pass inspection, thankfully not due for another 3 months. I knew that Discount Tire Direct will kick off a Black Friday sale so I’ve been patiently waiting to see if I can save some money.

I got on a computer first thing Friday morning to see if a set of Yokohama Avid Ascend 175/65R15 tires I wanted was available. They had positive reviews and an 80,000 mile warranty to boot. Discount Tire Direct had them advertised at $268 for a set of 4 with free shipping and no tax. That in itself is a pretty good deal.

But of course that’s not good enough for a Black Friday. Discount Tire Direct sweetened the deal with a $100 rebate bringing down the set price to $168.

Why stop there? They also offered another $60 off for paying with a Discount Tire Direct credit card. Since I happen to have one from a prior deal on tires bought for the Benz I gladly put the Yokohamas on the card.

A set of new tires from a good brand with an 80,000 mile tread warranty delivered to the door in 2 business days for $108… Are you kidding me?!

Some might complain about having to jump through rebate hoops… Yes, it can be a pain with other companies but Discount Tire Direct makes it easy. After the order is placed they send you an invoice. You copy the invoice number, go to their rebate website, fill out a short form and click the Submit button. The whole process takes less than a minute and you don’t need to snail mail them any documentation. In this case I will be receiving two prepaid VISA cards – one for $100 and another for $60. Since I use credit cards for 99% of my purchases anyway, these are as good as cash.

I know this might sound like an infomercial, but let me assure you that Discount Tire Direct is not paying me a cent. This is what happens when you treat your customers right – you get a customer for life and they become your best advertisement. This is a third set of tires I bought from them and I’ll keep coming back as long as I need tires and they keep running these specials.

Another reason I’m excited about what’s generally considered a necessary evil type of a purchase is confirmation. Back in 2012 I decided to sell my BMW 330i and, as some might consider, “downgrade” to a MINI Cooper. The BMW 330i had a rare performance package and was a blast to drive. But just like any other performance car it lacked in one area – utility.

Unleashing the car’s performance on a street would provide a few fleeting moments of exhilaration followed by a bunch of traffic tickets. The 330 was decent on gas but still pretty thirsty in comparison. Maintenance costs were significantly higher even with DIY. Bring your high limit credit card if it needs a trip to a dealer.     

But back to the tires. In the name of performance the BMW had a set of staggered tires which means the fronts (225/40-18’s) are different in size from the rears (255/35-18’s). If that’s starting to sound expensive, well – it is.

The one time I had to replace tires on that BMW it cost a cool $1,000 plus labor. A set of staggered 18” wheels looks way better than the puny 15”s I’ve got on the MINI… But for me paying one hundred-dollar bill and some change sure beats parting with ten of them.

Not only that but a BMW with a performance package will wear out those pricey shoes in half the time compared to a MINI Cooper. So really, we are talking about a 20x premium on tires – $100 vs. $2000. And that’s for an older BMW with regular tires. If you want a newer model then get ready for $1,200+ sets of run flat tires every 40,000 miles.

Come to think of it, this is the first time where the labor to install tires and do an alignment will exceed the cost of the tires themselves. Unfortunately I haven’t found a way to slash those costs in a meaningful way. All places I called charge around $200 for the two services. I guess I could look into a tire changer, but that just seems like an overkill for something that I’d do only once in a while. Plus I’d still need to figure out how to do an alignment – this tool doesn’t look very DIY friendly. Auto shops invest in expensive alignment racks and then charge $100 a pop to get the wheels straight. 

I hope you were able to score some good deals – on the stuff you were going to buy anyway that is. If your tires are bold you should definitely bookmark Discount Tire Direct and see if you can get a deal next time they offer a promotion. The big ones seem to happen on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, 4th of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day and President’s Day. With a bit of planning you too should be able to get your next set of tires for $100… Unless you are driving a fancy car – in which case, may I recommend this?  

I bet a set of tires you’ll have no regrets 🙂