Due to my recent move from the the SF Bay Area's South Bay to Peninsula, my new mailbox has been flooded with clippable coupons! All the local businesses from grocery stores, hardware stores, and fast food restaurants have sent me coupons. My initial perspective was these coupons are a win/win! They give me the opportunity to find my local businesses as well as save some money. But what I've found is that may not always be the clear cut case. I have to spend my coupons carefully. For us, we used most of our coupons on a Sunday of shopping.
Bed Bath and Beyond
Bed Bath and Beyond (often abbreviated BBB) is most famous for always sending out 20% off coupons for one item. But when I first moved in, they sent me a 20% off coupon for my ENTIRE purchase. Granted there were a lot of items we've been waiting to buy, the simple fact that we may never again experience the 20% off entire purchase coupon again encouraged us to buy items we did not originally intend to buy. We ended up leaving with curtains, kitchen accessories, bathroom accessories, and a welcome doormat. The 20% meant we could purchase without an upper limit on cost. That can be dangerous! Needless to say, we have a few items we are ready to return.
Our next stop was Orchard Supply. This was a $10 off $50 coupon. If you manage to spend exactly $50, then you save 20%, which is the same as BBB. But in practice, spending exactly $50 is nearly impossible, so the coupon is in reality going to be less than 20%. Luckily, we needed a few garden tools like clippers to trim an overgrown bush. It wasn't enough, so we ended up spending lots of time browsing to find items to meet the $50. We ended purchasing some repeat items we found for better prices.
Our final stop was $25 off $250. This is a mere 10% if exactly $250 is spent. But, we had already about $150 for kitchen cabinet hardware. This is where the coupon was more trouble than good. We spent another hour or so wandering the aisles finding enough to meet the $250. There were other items we would eventually want to buy like outdoor plants, just not at this current moment.
All in all, we did save a lot of money. But we had to spend a lot of money to save money. Overall, the key is to only buy what you came to buy. If you spend time browsing around, it might be better to cut the loses. In our case, since we had just moved in, we discovered we needed tools to improve our home and yard. Bed Bath and Beyond had the best coupon just because it was a 20% off without a limit, however we got a good deal at Orchard as well.