Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Do All Bargains Save Money?

I like bargains. I’ve been a coupon clipper for years, use loyalty cards loyally, buy the Entertainment Book for my area annually, and more.

Lately, though, I feel inundated with offers of bargains. I get emails constantly from Groupon and and some upstarts that are just getting into the business of savings. Plus, one of our sons informed me about which has a daily list of bargains available, a compilation of information from a lot of other bargain sites for everything from electronics to events to food.

Over the past month or so my husband and I have taken advantage of at least three of these bargains to go to dinner at nice places. Did we save money? Yes, on the meals. Plus, we’ve had good company--friends at one meal near the ocean, and our son at another closer by.

But on the other hand, if we didn’t have these “bargains” available, we probably would have stayed home. Even with the bargains, we wound up paying more than the upfront costs--the amounts to pay in advance to take advantage of the savings. Plus, we nearly ran out of time to use them.

Even today, I saw an enticing ad for a bargain on supposedly the best burger in town. To find out about it, I had to provide my email address. Then, when I checked it out, the day’s deal wasn’t for a burger but for some kind of photography lessons. I felt as if I’d been had!

How about you--do you look for bargains? Where? Do you like the ones you find?


Julie said...

See, that's the problem with bargains. If you already need something, and have decided to buy it, and then you find it on sale, that's a bargain. If you go to the store/restaurant/website and find something you don't actually need or weren't planning to buy, and you get it because the price is so good, that's temptation, and you gave in. I get a bunch of email ads from places I've shopped, and I just delete them without even looking. Especially the jewelry ones. But boy, am I tempted.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Excellent point, Julie--and I like your attitude! The coupons and all that I save are for things I know I'd buy anyway. But the tempting stuff on line usually incorporates things I wouldn't usually get. It's good for sampling new restaurants, maybe--if that's what one's in the mood to do.

Monica Ferris said...

I go through periods when I look hard for grocery coupons, but have learned to focus on that only when a holiday calling for a big meal is coming up (Easter, Thanksgiving), because I spend more money when I have coupons than when I don't. I agree with Julie, if something I was gong to buy anyway is on sale, that's a bargain. Otherwise, it isn't.

Julie said...

And then there are the places which are like crack for some of us. In particular I refer to the aforementioned jewelry ads, and the Coach outlet store. I should have to wear blinders and earplugs when I drive by there! Otoh, Linda, you might discovere a new fave restaurant. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

Linda O. Johnston said...

I'm fairly good about using grocery coupons only for stuff I need at the time, Monica. I save them all the time but mostly toss them.

I have to admit, Julie, that I'll probably go back to one of the local restaurants I met via a Groupon--but maybe only at Happy Hour next time. And another one is a family favorite we get to rarely, so I can't complain too much about that either. Otherwise, I might not have gone there for another year!

Betty Hechtman said...

The best bargain is to buy what you really want, instead of getting something on sale you don't really like.

Anonymous said...

My big hobby that saves me money (and in theory could earn me money if I lose my current job) is home improvement projects. It might be more than a hobby, but I’m redoing my bathroom myself right now and I’m saving thousands of dollars because I’m not having to hire contractors. I’m learning valuable skills that if I were to lose my nice cushy office job, I could go out and get a job with a contractor.