As much as I enjoy saving money, I don't particularly care for or use coupons that often. I've found, for the most part, coupons don't apply for the food items I buy -- namely fresh veggies and some bulk goods -- and the store brands are generally just as good and are cheaper without the coupon. Every now and then, I make an attempt to coupon, like I did this morning. I took a pair of scissors to the weekly P&G saver and cut out about 30 coupons. I know I'm probably not going to buy any of the items for the coupons I cut, but it makes me feel like I'm making an effort. Especially since we now have a goal of saving at least 50 cents a week or $2/month to cover the cost of the Sunday Sweat Sock City Chronicle.
I have, however, started using Groupon on occasion. So far I've bought three of the Groupons, all to restaurants. The restaurants are all ones we like or want to try and most of them were purchased for 50% off, i.e. spend $20 to get $40. What we found however is that we overspent in order to collect the full value of the Groupon. So a dinner at a posh Mexican restaurant would have cost us about $35 before the Groupon (excluding my margarita), but because we had to spend $40 in order to get the $20 off, we got dessert (which we split). I should note in this particular instance the Groupon did not include alcohol.
Another Groupon we used, we went $10 over the value -- $10 for a $20 Groupon. Again, it was another deal where we were $5 short and we ended up ordering some sodas and an appetizer to make up the difference. Overspent and overate. We're concerned we might have the same issue with another Groupon we bought, another $10 for $20 deal; this is for a restaurant where typically we spend about $13 for our meal -- a noodle bowl, a sandwich, egg rolls, and two drinks (yes, it's super cheap). So now we'll have to find another $7 to claim the full value of the Groupon.
The best way, I think, to look at a Groupon is that it's a discount of a certain amount before the final bill. We haven't managed to get to the 50% savings advertised, but we would have saved if we didn't have to over order. As a result, we're being very stingy with our Groupon purchases. There are some that look like great deals, such as $50 to get $150 off a new mattress at Matress Firm, but they also lock you into that store and that purchase. It might be better off just waiting for the sale to come around.
I should also note some people are GREAT at couponing; I'm in owe of their skill. I think it makes a lot of sense IF you're going to buy those particular products anyway. In our case, it hasn't really paid off at all simply because we don't buy very many processed foods outside of whole wheat pasta and the occasional rice or couscous mix. We primarily buy store brands and buy the veggies and fruits that are on sale during the week. We also stock up when there's a big sale. When Dannon yogurt was $10 for 10 -- the usual price being anywhere from $2.06 to $2.75 -- we stocked up. We have A LOT of yogurt containers to recycle!
I'm going to keep attempting to try the couponing thing, give it a fair shake. So far though, our 50 cent/week subscription to the newspaper hasn't paid for itself at all as advertised. As each week ticks by, we have to save 50 cents more to recoup the "investment." On the upside, I like to read it, so maybe it's worth that much for the enjoyment.