I like to give practical gifts, and if they are free that’s even better! This is an outline of how I plan to “buy” $44.91 worth of items at Ace Hardware and get them for FREE after using coupons and rebates. Even if you do not have an Ace Hardware in your area, this is a great example of how to put together your own FREE shopping trip. It takes planning and combining sales with coupons and rebates.

Thanks to Hooray for Free-bates! I learned that Ace Hardware has a generous and easy online rebate system called Ace Rewards – here’s an intro to it. I’m planning on taking advantage of Ace Hardware’s Memorial Day Weekend sale to buy a Father’s Day gift with a car care theme, plus we’ll be prepared for an invasion of ants and I’ll get some candles. I’ll spend $29.91 plus sales tax out-of-pocket and get $30.93 back in rebates – so my shopping trip will really be a FREE one after I receive my rebates giving me $1.02 overage (well, I still have to pay sales tax).

Here is my shopping list for when I go to Ace Hardware on Friday morning:
No Touch Tire Cleaner & Protector 21 oz. foam spray

$2.99, FREE after $2.99 rebate (limit 1)
Blue Coral High Foam Car Wash Concentrate 60 oz.
$2.49, FREE after $2.49 rebate (limit 1)
$3.49, FREE after $3.49 rebate (limit 1)
$2.99, FREE after $2.99 rebate (limit 2)
$4.99, FREE after $4.99 rebate (limit 2)
TOTAL of “FREE after rebate” items = $24.93
But wait! I have a coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase that was in the Entertainment Book. What else can I buy to get my total above $25 so I can use the coupon? Can I take advantage of any of the May rebates?
Update – The Glade candles are a no-deal because Ace Hardware does not accept manufacturer’s coupons.
$9.99 minus $5 printable coupon minus $3 rebate (limit 1)
(press the back button to print this coupon twice)
$9.99 minus $5 printable coupon minus $3 rebate (limit 1)

As an alternative to buying the Glade Candles, you could also buy a $1.99 bucket to use to put your car washing items in and that would get you over the $25 purchase requirement if you want to use the $5 coupon from the Entertainment Book.
Here’s the summary of this purchase :
Total Cost of Items = $44.91 (if no coupons or rebates were used)
Out-of-Pocket Cost After Coupons ($15 in coupons) = $29.91 + sales tax
Amount Paid After Rebates Received ($30.93 in rebates) = ($1.02) overage + sales tax
So, if they have all the items in-stock, and they accept all of my coupons, and I get all of my rebate money – this will be a free shopping trip! Whenever you take advantage of a rebate offer and you use some coupons for it, it is always a possibility that the coupons will be deducted from your rebate. I don’t know if Ace Hardware will deduct my coupons from my rebate total because I have never done a rebate there and used coupons at the same time. Based on my previous rebating experience, my best guess is that they will not deduct the coupons from my rebate total. But, I’ve got to do it to find out and I’ll be reporting back to you to tell you what I learned. Even if they deduct my coupons, this will still be a great deal for me.
If you want to take advantage of this deal at Ace Hardware, I recommend going on Friday when they will be most likely to have these items in-stock. My Ace Hardware store manager said he is well prepared for this sale, but I don’t know how hot of a sale this will be (maybe I just made it a little hotter by posting this). I’ll update this post Friday morning after I make my purchase!