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Coupons, digital deals and promo codes can save you money, but only if you stick to a budget

QuikTrip Coupon Card
A free slice of pizza and a free QT Big Q drink

Editor's Note:  Originally posted on October 8, I've since enjoyed $53.80 worth of QT Kitchens food & beverage, with a lot remaining on that coupon card.  That coupon card cost me $20.  That's a win-win, a win for a high school fund raiser and a win for my wallet.

By Mike Thayer

I've never really been much of a coupon user.  Sure, there are those once-in-awhile times when I see an advertisement for a great deal and I'll take advantage of it.  Usually though, if I do clip a coupon from a mailer or see a digital deal online, I either forget to take the coupon with me to the store or fail to break out the phone at the register.  I also tend to let coupons/deals/promos expire before I remember to use them.  In fact, I may be kind of anti-coupon.  Ex-wife #2 was a big time 'couponer' when we first got married.  While I appreciated the savings, she would make me drive her around to three different grocery stores taking advantage of the various store deals.  That drove me crazy!  Pun intended. "Why can't we just get all our groceries in one store?" I would ask.  The ex didn't have a driver's license at the time and with our work schedules grocery shopping had to take place on Sunday's, which interfered with football...  Perhaps that's the root cause for my anti-coupon stance.

A danger in using coupons and taking advantage of digital deals/promo codes is justifying the purchase of additional items because you just 'saved.'  Hello ex-wife #2.  Another downside is you buy something you really don't need at the time or wouldn't ordinarily purchase but you bought whatever anyway because it was 'such a great deal.'  Hello ex-wife #2 and a couple of ex-girlfriends.  There's a legitimate thrill in saving, but the problem is, you may spend money on something you didn't budget for.  Buying a countertop deep fryer because you've always wanted one and it was on sale doesn't 'save' you any money if you had to short yourself on the grocery budget to purchase it.  Never mind you won't use the fryer nearly as much as you thought you would, it's a pain in the ass to clean and the whole house smells like fried food for a couple days after use. 

But coupons, digital deals and promo codes do have their place, as long as it's something you've already budgeted for.   I'm learning to get over my 'coupon bias.'

Here's an example, I recently purchased a QuikTrip coupon from a friend of mine - shout out to Ashley C!  Her daughter's school was doing a fundraiser for band and with these QT cards at just $20, how could I refuse?  I helped fund the school band and I get WAY more than $20 worth of food at QT, which is a pretty routine stop for me.  I do like a Big Q drink of Mountain Dew!

This comes out of my monthly restaurant budget.  So today for lunch, I had a free slice of pizza, regular price $3.49 (4 more of those freebies left on my card), a free Big Q drink, regular price $1.09 (four more of those freebies on my card) and I bought a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos for $2 and some change to go with.  I pretty much can't prepare a meal for myself that cheap unless I'm in the mood for Ramen or a bologna sandwich.  I'll take the pizza please.  So with a hypothetical figure of $200 to eat out with for the month of October, I now have $197 and some change remaining.    Now if I didn't eat out so much and have a restaurant budget, then this coupon card wouldn't make sense.  That would be like going out for dinner at a nice seafood restaurant just because you saw and clipped out a "free appetizer with the purchase of a 'select' entree'" coupon.  Translation:  Buy one of our higher dollar meals and we'll comp you the appetizer.  If you don't normally eat out at tablecloth seafood restaurants and budget for it, you're not saving any money.  If you don't normally eat appetizers when you eat out and you typically go for the lower cost items on the menu, you're not saving any money.

Saving money is a very good thing and you can do it with coupons etc., but that only works if it fits within your budget and routine.  Stick to your budget, stick to the shopping list!

Oh, and the pizza was pretty tasty!

Related: QuikTrip Bargain!

Related: Associate Appreciation Day October 9 at Dollar Tree and Family Dollar

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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