How to Build a $222,111 Retirement Fund for Free

Last week, I went to Giant Eagle every single morning and am starting to think they might ban me from the store. The crazy part is that I only bought one thing each morning and it wasn’t any grocery item.

I bought gift cards every single day last week. Several thousand dollars worth of gift cards. Why you might wonder?

Well, to save money.

Right now, I’m renovating a rental property and ended up purchasing several Home Depot gift cards throughout the week. These gift cards were then used to by flooring and paint for the property. I’m also planning ahead for a Disney vacation and purchased several Disney gift cards, which we’ll use during our future vacation. My last large purchase was for a Apple Store gift card. We wanted to get a new laptop for my daughter’s birthday and instead of paying directly for the computer, we purchased gift cards at Giant Eagle instead. We used these gift cards at Apple to buy the computer.

All of these gift card purchases provided $549 in future Get Go gasoline savings. When you purchase gift cards at Giant Eagle, you earn fuel savings ranging from 10 to 20 cents off per gallon. Our combined gift card purchases earned $18.30 off per gallon. Assuming we use 30 gallons of gas with each fuel perk fill up, we’ll save around $549.¬† (This is determined as $18.30 * 30 gallons of gasoline)

The crazy part is that we didn’t spend one extra dollar to earn this $549 in gasoline savings. I didn’t purchase the flooring or paint for the rental property simply to save money on gasoline. The flooring and paint were needed and I was going to have to purchase them regardless of the fuel perk savings. I simply engineered the purchase to provide future savings on gasoline. The same goes for the Apple and Disney gift cards. We were going to spend this money this year and we simply purchased the gift cards in advance to maximize the future gasoline savings.

Saving $549 out of thin air is pretty cool.

However, I was wondering what would happen if when we use our future fuel perks at the gas pump we decided to write  a check for what we saved and invested the savings into a low cost small cap index fund. How much would this $549 of free money turn into over time? The Vanguard Small Cap Index fund has averaged 10.8% since inception. Here is what this $549 would turn into if invested into this index fund and forgotten about:

In 10 years, you would have $1,608 before taxes and inflation.
In 20 years, you would have $4,714.68 before taxes and inflation.
In 30 years, you would have $13,816.31 before taxes and inflation.

Isn’t it crazy?

In essence, we have the ability to create $13,816 in 30 years for free.

You’re not spending one penny extra to earn the fuel perks. You’re simply buying the gift cards and using the gift cards to purchase what you want. Then you’re taking the savings for this and investing it for years allowing it to compound.

What would happen if you followed this strategy with most of your purchases each and every year? Could you create a large retirement fund for free?


Reviewing our last Giant Eagle receipt, I noticed we have saved $847.12 in gasoline over the last 12 months. If we continued this little plan each year, we would have an extra $222,111.94 in 30 years.

This shows how $847 invested annually at 10.8% compounds over 30 years.

This $222,111.94 is free money. It doesn’t cost you $1.00 out of pocket because you’re simply engineering this savings from items you would already buy. You simply purchase the gift cards and then use the gift cards to make your purchases.

Most people don’t “see” this. They think saving 10 cents a gallon isn’t worth the hassle.

This is a BIG mistake because they’re not thinking about the compounding of the savings over time.

NOTE: You can maximize this process by engineering your Giant Eagle gift card purchases when they offer bonus fuel perks. As I type this, Giant Eagle is offering an additional 10 cent bonus per gallon on Home Depot gift cards. If you wait to buy your gift cards during these bonus offers, you’ll double the amount you save. The challenge is you typically have to purchase these gift cards in advance.

If you hire others to do work for you at your properties, consider buying paying them with a check for their labor and Home Depot gift cards for the materials. This way, you’ll still earn the fuel perks on all of the material purchases for your properties.

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