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Ask Dave

Are Coupons a Waste Of Time?

Tammy asks if coupons are a waste of time or a ploy to get you to buy. Dave agrees that they are a ploy to get you to buy but thinks they can save you money.

QUESTION: Tammy on Facebook asks if coupons are a waste of time or a ploy to get you to buy. Dave agrees that they are a ploy to get you to buy but thinks they can save you money.

ANSWER: They are a ploy to get you to buy, without a doubt. That’s obvious. That’s what a coupon is. It’s to get you to try something—to sample something—that you might not have bought otherwise. Hopefully, then, you’ll just go, “Oh, that was yummy! I want another one.” Sampling is an age-old marketing practice. It still works. It’s why the success of Groupon is there. Make a deal to somebody to get them to try the water. Come on in, and it’s great. Come on in. The water’s awesome. No one’s out here freezing to death. Whatever.

It is a ploy to get you to buy, but it’s not necessarily bad and it’s not necessarily good. It depends on how you use it. We recommend a company called eMeals, which will work with you and help you put together a series of recipes and then show you the sales and sales circulars that are going in your area to help you fulfill that recipe. You could go over to this grocery store or that grocery store and get a good deal on this or that item to be able to fill that. Check those guys out—

You’re going to spend some time on it to do it well. The online coupons are a whole lot easier to search, a whole lot easier to keep up with, keep track of, than clipping them out and keeping them in a little file thing like people used to do. There are still some people who do that.

The big danger is two things. You don’t want to buy more stuff than you need, so you don’t go to Costco or Sam’s and buy nine gallons of mustard. You don’t buy more stuff than you need, and you don’t buy things you don’t need. Just because it’s cheap—if you’re not going to use it or don’t want it or don’t like it—doesn’t mean it’s a deal. You just don’t overbuy, and don’t buy stupid stuff with coupons. What happens, though, is sometimes it’s as though people get a coupon addiction, and they get so sucked in to the adrenaline rush of the deal that they forget all about the practical fact that no one really wants that kind of jelly or whatever. They get weird stuff, and nobody’s going to eat that crap.

Be practical with the application of your coupon use. Don’t buy too much, and don’t buy things that are so weird you’re not going to consume them because then that’s not a bargain, of course. Those are obvious things, but I’m not anti-coupon, and I don’t think couponing will change your life. All you’ve got to do is just be completely over the top and out there in Crazyland about something, and somebody will do a TV show about you now. The weirder you are, the more likely you are to be on a reality show, which means it has nothing to do with reality. Normal people aren’t on there. They’re just all about whack jobs. It’s very weird individuals who are doing those things.

I don’t believe in extreme couponing. I think it’s a great reality show. That’s all it is. You’re not going to live that way every day. I’m not going to ask you to live that way every day.