How to Spend Your REI Dividend Like a Pro

Up until last week Kyle and I had been obsessively checking our REI dividends.  I know they say they don’t put them out until the middle of March, but my godparents had already gotten theirs, so we were feeling like any day now… Then as I was scrolling through Facebook one morning I saw that someone had mentioned they were up in one of the outdoor groups I am a part of.  I quickly opened a new tab.

Kyle and I had big plans for our dividend this year, and we had high hopes that our dividend would be big.  We both have REI credit cards, which we use for everything, and we spent a good amount of money at REI last year getting ready for our mountaineering course.  So when I finally got signed in to my account sure enough, they were up, and it was better than I had expected, together we had a total of eight hundred dollars to spend!  I did a little dance and texted Kyle a couple messages that looked like this: l;ska;asidf;oisafl!@($#(*$#KCND@)(U@D!!!!!!!

We decided to go to REI that Saturday, despite the garage sale that was taking place.  It would be in the garage though, so we were hoping the store would be pretty much deserted.  What a brilliant company, they roll out the dividends and then that weekend they roll out all the used stuff they need to get rid of.  We showed up to a line, wrapped all the way around a city block, and squeezed through to enter the store proper.  Sure enough, the store was rather empty for a Saturday.  We futzed around looking at sun glasses and grabbing some aquamira before heading to the freeze dried food section.

This was our big plan.  Spend the bulk of our dividend on freeze dried food and the remainder on different snacks.  One of the things people warn you about when you are doing all mail drops is that you will get bored by the lack of diversity in your food.  Kyle and I are taking that very seriously.  At this point we hardly have two bars that are the same.  Many people will buy freeze dried meals but they will buy them in bulk, so they only get four different flavors.  On the AT we had a box of Mountain House meals that Kyle’s brother got us for Christmas that we divvied up amongst our five mail drops.  Because the boxes were so sporadic we didn’t get tired of the flavors we had, but I can see hating Mountain Houses if you had them every week and they were always the same flavor.  Our plan is to have two of them in each mail drop, which equals one nights dinner (we each eat our own packet when we are on trail).  That way we are only eating them once a week.  At REI we both picked out twenty five meals, most of them different flavors, so that there would be very little repetition.

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This is A LOT of food.  

After choosing our meals we went over to the snack section and loaded up on different bars, powders, goos, popcorn, olives, anything that looked interesting.  And then it was time to check out.  At this point we each had a giant REI shopping bag filled up with food.  We lugged them through the check out line and stood waiting to be called up to a cashier, already feeling sorry for whoever was going to check us out.  We kept our fingers crossed it wasn’t the old guy at the second register.  We were pleased when a young girl motioned to us.  Of course, we should have known, never judge a book by its cover.

Have you seen “Love Actually”?  There is the part where the older guy who is having an affair is buying a necklace for his mistress while his wife is in another part of the store, and the clerk is taking foooooooooreeeeeeeeveeeeeeeer to box it up.  That is kind of what this felt like, minus the mistress and the wife and the affair.  This chick moved so slowly, I think I could have gotten back there and done it faster than her.  She also didn’t know what the PCT was and had never really been backpacking.  She did tell us all of her camping stories, complete with hand gestures, which meant that she wasn’t bagging and talking at the same time.  It took, I kid you not, 45 minutes for her to scan all of our items.  Half way through the computer decided it had had enough and actually made us pay for the first half before it would continue letting her scan more items.  She also admitted somewhere in those 45 minutes that she had been fired from another cashier job because she did a bad job of keeping her receipts straight.  Finally we gave her our member numbers and she ran our dividends and we got the hell out of there.

When all was said and done we ended up with twenty five dinners a piece, countless snacks, six bottles of aquamira, and a pair of gloves for Kyle and we still had dividend left over.  It helped that once you bought more than eight freeze dried meals they were all 10% off.  We bought way more than eight freeze dried meals.  Once we were home Kyle fulfilled a life long dream.  He laid on the bed and I poured four shopping bags worth of freeze dried meals on top of him.  Rich people want to experience what it is like to swim in money.  Serious backpackers, we just want to know the feeling of eight hundred dollars worth of yummy yummy food on our skin.

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Swimming in freeze dried meals. 

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As Edward Abbey said, "An indoor life is the next best thing to a premature burial."

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