I've never considered myself a birthday person. I don't like being the center of attention and usually let the day pass without much fanfare.
But there are few things I love more than the thrill of free food.
To celebrate my birthday this past August, then, I set out to rack up as many freebies as possible. Especially tasty ones.
In order to maximize my success rate, I knew I had to plan ahead. Six weeks out from the big day, I surveyed which loyalty programs I was already subscribed to and signed up for a host of new ones. As my birthday drew nearer and rewards emails started to roll in, I began drawing up a plan for how many places I could visit.
Luckily, several places, including Jamba Juice and Sephora, offered deals that could be redeemed the same week or month as my birthday, so I was able to space everything out.
From my original list of 25 restaurants and retailers that reportedly offer birthday perks, seven didn't end up sending a birthday coupon and one I didn't have time to visit. But I packed 17 others into an eventful week, and I visited 10 establishments on my actual birthday alone.
As I went, I kept track of everything I got for free or at a discount, recording the New York City prices and values as accurately as possible, depending on how each place handled the transaction.
In total, I collected a whopping $111.18 worth of free stuff. Here's everything I got, from lowest to highest dollar value.