- I typically end up spending more than I'm saving. Yes, I get some good deals, but me receiving a coupon means me buying something I most likely wouldn't have bought without said coupon. Example: Trisha gets coupon for $10 off a purchase at a Nike outlet. Does Trisha need new sneakers? (No) Does Trisha even like Nike products? (Not particularly) Will Trisha still go to the store and buy an $80 pair of sneakers for $70 just to use the coupon? (Of course)
CVS is another good example. You know how you get those coupons at the bottom of your receipt for say, $2 off a pack of brand XYZ sleep-aids or buy-one-bottle-of-wrinkle-remedy-get-one-free? You can bet I buy every single one of those items, most of which end up in a random drawer at home... because really, how much of that junk do you need? Yet I can't resist the incentive of savings! But, you never know, maybe someday I'll decide to go back to taking Flintstone vitamins or a young cousin will stay over and it will be my chance to teach them about healthy habits... and I saved money, so the purchase can be justified, right? Of course, I get these coupons every time I visit CVS so each visit ultimately leads to just another one. Vicious cycle of unnecessary spending.
- Going hand in hand with issue number 1 is that you usually have to spend X dollars to use the coupon or rack up say, 10 purchases at a store to get $20 off your next one. Both cases lead me to spend more than I have to. Instead of buying just one item I may actually want or need, I have to buy four to get the discount. Great example here is this deli I've been frequenting in between work and rehearsals during the week to kill time (and have some dinner). Now, I work in one of the richest, most expensive counties in the country. Things here are far from inexpensive. A regular old sandwich at this little mom and pop deli could easily cost me more than $10. After every purchase they give you a green slip of paper with their logo on it. Turn in 15 of these and get a free sandwich. I've gone there every day, determined to earn 15 of these said coupons just to be sure that I get a free sandwich for my loyalty. It's to the point where I'm sick of sandwiches. To be honest, I'm looking forward to the day that I finally get my free slices of bread and meat just so that I don't have to go there anymore. That's right, I said "have to", because going there is basically a necessity until I earn my well deserved free meal. At the end of the day I'll end up having spent at least $150 on 10 sandwiches just to get one for free that probably would have cost $2 to make on my own. But I need that free sandwich.
- While coupons typically offer a good deal for whatever the particular store is, quite often similar products are available full price at other stores for cheaper than the coupon's discount offers me. Make sense? Best example I can give here is Borders. At least twice a week I get emails with coupons for 33% off any one item, or 20% off all paperbacks. Amazon.com's average savings (sans coupon) is something like 45% from the listed price. Almost all of the time it's cheaper to order books regular price from Amazon than to buy them at Borders, using the best coupons Borders offers. If it's not cheaper at Amazon then it's at least the same cost. I don't think I've ever once gotten a better price at Borders than at Amazon. Yet I get those bi-weekly Borders deals and HAVE to use them. It must be psychological with the savings. Well nice marketing campaign on their end, because I can't even tell you how many books I've bought at Borders in the past month alone. It seems every weekend I'm going there because I have another coupon it will kill me not to use.
Another word about that psychological savings thing... it really is a smart way for businesses to get customers in their store. Their regular price items could be as high as they want but so long as there's a discount offered, people will buy what they're selling. There's an Indian restaurant I go to whose prices are quite higher than average for the area. However, when they bring you the check the waiter always says "I gave you an extra 10% discount". Every time, without fail. So really, their ultimate costs are probably on par with other Indian restaurants in the area, or possibly still more expensive. But this "automatic 10% discount" makes me feel special and keeps me coming back. It's an obvious trick, but a smart one that I completely fall for. Honestly, I'm encouraged to return just to reward them for their clever business scheme.
- Final issue with these coupons is that it's usually the same stores I receive coupons to over and over and as a result, I end up shopping there on a fairly continuous basis. I already mentioned Borders, a.k.a the reason why I need to purchase a new bookshelf due to my overload of books that keep coming in weekly. I must say they are the primary culprit. However, Express gives them a run for their money. (Pardon the trite expression). Now I love Express, but to me it's a "treat store". Its prices are higher than I can realistically afford if I'm shopping there to fill my wardrobe because I'm basically poor. I'm really a $30 or under for pants and $20 or under for tops type of shopper and Express' average ticket price is closer to $80. Needless to say, I only shop there when I'm depressed and looking to splurge (retail therapy) or if I can get a really good deal with a combination of sale prices and coupons. They like to send me $30 off $75 or $50 off $150 type of coupons. They like to send them to me a lot more often than I prefer to receive them. Because once it's received, within a day or two it is spent. I don't often buy new clothes for myself so this type of deal is okay with me, except when it happens more than once a month... and it's still difficult for me, who is usually a discount/bargain clothes shopper, to walk out of the store having spent $100 on only three items, despite the $50 off I received. Just last weekend I went to the store to make some big purchases using one of their coupons and what happened? Two days later I got an email for $30 off $75. Even though I just went to the store and spent over $100, I promptly went online and ordered some of the other things I had wanted, but didn't buy. If they sent me a coupon daily you could bet I'd probably own the store's entire collection within a relatively short time frame.
- Okay, I lied about that being the final issue. While typing issue #4 I thought up issue #5. Usually the coupons you receive regularly are all for expensive stores. This is really kind of a combo of issues #3 and #4, but let's ignore that fact. I've mentioned Borders, I've mentioned Express, both of which have somewhat higher than standard ticket prices... depending on your definition of standard. For someone like me (read, very little to no discretionary income), standard = discount-ish places a la Walmart or Forever 21. Sephora is another place that sends me coupon codes on a regular basis. Do I really need another $30 eyeshadow? The overflowing makeup bins at my house will tell you no. But I'll buy it if Sephora's offering a bonus-size free item with any $50 purchase. (Then of course after the $30 eyeshadow I have to spend another $20 to reach $50 and in reality, an additional $25 on top of that in order to get free shipping because I refuse to pay shipping for anything).
Do I need new fabrics? Not at all. Will I find a use for them
if I buy them? Probably not. Will I buy some anyway?
Most likely. Who can resist those colorful swatches!?!
(Or that lovely 10% off sign?)