Monday, March 07, 2011

Coupon etiquette

Here on the blog, I speak a great deal about using coupons.  The primary benefit of course is to save money.  The secondary benefit, more pyschological, is to impress yourself or your friends/family with your buying prowess.  However, just when is it a good time, and not, to use coupons?  We'll discuss here.

First, the right times:

1.If you are by yourself.  No one is ever going to call you out for being too frugal if you are solely using coupons when you are alone.  I am foreshadowing a "do not" here.

2.If you are with someone who you know really well: friend, significant other, or family member.

3.When you can purchase something that you normally would not because of its lack of affordability otherwise.

Second, the wrong times:

1.First dates, or early into a relationship.  While you might save some bucks, focusing too much on bargains might make you appear cheap.  And, let's face it, no one wants to think that their significant other might choose not to spoil you for the sake of saving money.  It can also lead into other manic decision making.

2.In professional settings.  Unless you know your fellow diners really well, caution on using coupons in group settings.  If you are splitting the check, an inadvertent miscalculation of a check might spoil a good working relationship.

3.If it overly complicates a group dinner.  Groupons, Living Social, and Buy With Me-type sites are awesome.  You get a huge discount and you might be eating out a restaurant that is otherwise too expensive.  However splitting a check with friends involving these coupons, especially after a few cocktails, might complicate the math, thereby causing confusion and hurt feelings if one feels "stiffed."

4.Buying something that would cost more anyway than your budget.  Coupons are great marketing tools, but they just might make you overspend.  Having a coupon might make you think you are saving money, but if its spending more out of your budget, than you are wasting money.

There are probably many more examples, and I'd love to hear them from you.  Bottom line: use coupons wisely.