I Pay for Things You Get for Free
Can this be a post from the same Paul Michael who insists you should never pay full retail price for anything? The same blogger who preaches about finding deals, hunting for bargains, and taking the time to compare prices when you shop?
Well, yes it is. And my latest tip for saving money is to spend some of it on something that you usually find for free! (See also: 10 Ways to Save Time by Spending Time)
My Next Big Money-Saving Tip — Paying For Coupons
We all get coupons in the mail, our email, in our newspapers, and online. There are sites devoted to coupon codes, like Retail Me Not and Mommy Saves Big. I use them all the time. But they don’t always have what I’m looking for.
Case in point — recently I was shopping for a new monitor for my wife’s computer. I found a great deal at Office Max, but I wasn’t happy. There was a “promo code” box in the checkout area, and that’s like a red rag to a bull. I have to put a code in there, because if it exists, it means codes exist that can save me money.
After searching for about 20 minutes online, I found nothing. The coupons I had were either old, already used, or incompatible with the item I bought. But I know some big money-saving coupons are out there. In fact, I cursed my name because only a few weeks ago I had thrown away an Office Max coupon for $30 off $150. And then it hit me…
eBay Had The Coupon I Needed
I went to eBay and typed in "Office Max 30 off 150." Boom, there it was. A coupon that was unused, not expired, for $30 off a $150 purchase. And as I read the details, it was revealed that the coupon code would be sent to me within a few hours. Score!
The price was $5.99 Buy It Now. There were a few other auctions starting at 99 cents, but I was in no mood to hang around for days. And I was still $24 up on the deal, if it worked of course.
I paid the fee and within a few minutes my legitimate code was sent to my email. I typed it into the code box and $30 was instantly taken off my final price. Spend $6, get $30 in savings…that’s a better deal than most Groupons.
So Why Pay When You Can Just Clip Your Own Coupons?
Well, there are several reasons for this. Of course, you should always clip coupons when you see them, but here’s why paying for coupons actually makes a lot of sense.
Most of us can’t see into the future, we can only anticipate. And if we clip every single coupon we think we might need someday, we’ll turn into those extreme couponers that have basements filled with stacks of newspaper ads and circulars. For instance, I had no idea that Office Max would have had the monitor I wanted at the best price; I usually shop at Newegg, Amazon, or another online store. I didn’t have an Office Max coupon handy, but by buying one from eBay I instantly got a code that saved me $24 after my $6 outlay.
Different parts of the country get different coupons, and those coupons vary by amount and expiration date. You may be in an area that gets a $5 coupon code, another may get $10. Your offers may run out sooner than in other areas. But with eBay, the whole nation is opened up to coupon hounds. Just find the one you need, and within minutes (or days, if it’s a physical coupon) you get something you can use. Please note, though, some coupons are restricted to certain areas, so make sure you check that before buying.
There’s nothing quite like instant gratification. You get the exact coupon you want, when you need it, and you instantly pay less for the product you're buying.
However you get them, you’re saving money! Think of it this way — if you have a coupon on you, great, use it! But if you don’t, you have a few options. You may have to wait until you get home to dig out the coupon you’re looking for, and by then the deal may have passed you by. But if you pay $5 for a coupon that saves you $20, you’ve still saved $15. And that other coupon you have tucked away at home is still good.
Editor's Note: The comments of this writer are not meant to be considered legal advice.