Rebates can be a great way to save or even make money... if you keep track of them! :-)
Following are a few tricks I've used to track my rebates, both before and after I mail them.
1. Have a place for rebates in process.
I have a part of my desk drawer for rebates, close to stamps, envelopes, and return address labels.
2. Promptly store the required paperwork in an envelope.
Even if you can't do the legwork right away, you'll save time searching for missing receipts, forms, and UPCs if you put it away immediately. I put whatever is required for a certain rebate into one envelope, so that it's all there when I have the time to prep it for mailing.
3. Make time to do the paperwork.
There's no point in saving rebates unless you actually mail them--don't let them sit in the drawer while deadlines pass! Read the instructions carefully--rebate requirements vary. (Walgreens, for instance, doesn't want you to send UPCs with the EasySaver rebate form.) If your paperwork isn't done right, a company may reject your rebate.
4. Snap a picture.
This is for your own records as well as to have proof of your submission, should there be any problems. Enlarge the photo and make sure you're able to read the prices and rebate terms.
5. Name your picture.
After transferring my rebate photos to my computer, I rename them with the rebate name and date mailed and put them into my Rebates folder. For instance, the recent Rx Essentials rebate would be titled Rx Essentials 01122008. This way it's easy to quickly locate a rebate if I need to grab some information.
6. Mail your rebate before the deadline.
The sooner the better, as companies are likely to get an avalanche of requests right at the deadline. If you can beat the rush, you're likely to multiply your time savings with an early return on your rebate.
7. Keep an eye on the mail.
Most of the time rebate checks will show up without any issues. However, it doesn't always work that way. Watch for a post on what to do when your rebate doesn't show up as promised.