Honey Nut Cheerios and A Star Wars Story

Honey Nut Cheerios and A Star Wars Story

David Phillips is a legendary figure when it comes to spotting opportunities and maximizing value from food promotions for airline miles. In 1999, this civil engineer discovered a ConAgra promotion offering 1,000 airline miles for 10 UPC codes or 100 miles for a single UPC.

Through meticulous research, he identified Healthy Choice pudding cups, each with its own UPC, priced at just $0.25. Visiting 10 outlet stores and ostensibly “stocking up for Y2K,” he purchased 12,150 individual servings for $3,140.

Realizing he needed help with the logistics, he partnered with the Salvation Army, who helped remove the UPC codes in exchange for the pudding donation.

In the end, Phillips accumulated 1,215,000 airline miles, achieving American Airlines lifetime Gold status and topping off accounts with other airlines. He also received an $815 tax deduction for his charitable contribution. Genius!

Personal Victory

Last week, I found Honey Nut Cheerios on sale for $1.57 per box. Coupled with a coupon offering $2 off for every three boxes, I managed to bring the cost down to $0.90 per 12.9-ounce box.

But the deal got even sweeter: the Cheerios had a promotion offering an $8 Fandango movie voucher for every three codes, with a limit of five awards. I ended up purchasing 18 boxes.

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The redemption process was smooth, although limited to three awards per day—likely a precaution inspired by savvy individuals like Phillips.

The Return

On Saturday, my two daughters and I went to see “Solo: A Star Wars Story” at the theater. Thanks to the Fandango vouchers, our tickets were just $2 each, although there was a convenience fee.

We had a fantastic time, and we now have enough Honey Nut Cheerios to last for months. Inspired by this, I plan to identify more opportunities for charitable donations.


This account serves as a reminder to my two wonderful daughters about their father’s frugality—something they might appreciate (or complain about) as they grow older. It also demonstrates the value of spotting opportunities to save money and maximize every dollar.

In this case, I saved at least $29 on products we would have purchased anyway. This money can be redirected towards achieving financial security, whether through investments or paying off debt.

While my savings might not compare to Phillips’ 1.2 million airline miles, the principle of steady, incremental progress remains powerful. I wish everyone success in their journey towards financial security, freedom, and adventure.