I don’t check our mail. Jon checks the mail and hands me anything he thinks I might find interesting.
He has a generous view of what I might find interesting.
The other day he made a point to hand me what I thought was a piece of junk mail.
It was a certificate for $5 at Kohl’s. Not $5 if you spend $50, but just a flat $5 certificate.
“Free money!” he grinned.
I’m not so sure. If that coupon never gets used, am I really letting free money slip away?
Need It, Want It, Utterly Superfluous
At first, I thought about all of the things I might do with that $5 at Kohl’s. Most of them revolved around clothes (Although Kohl’s does sell other things, we mostly buy clothes.)
Then I remembered the state of the Jividen wardrobe: I don’t need any clothes. Jon doesn’t need clothes. Until she hits a major growth spurt, Little Bit doesn’t need clothes either.
We all currently have more clothes than we can fit comfortably in our closets and drawers, even if we’re just talking about clothes that currently fit. The last thing we need is additional clothes that we have to find storage space to fit into.
The same can easily be said for toys, linens and kitchenware. We’re well-stocked in all of the above.
I also thought about upcoming reasons I’d need to buy something for someone else.
Yes, Father’s Day is coming up, and if I was going to go with my original plan of getting Jon a thermal carafe coffee maker, I might have checked Kohl’s. Jon’s changed his mind, though. He doesn’t want to get a new coffee maker as long as our existing works just fine. Which it does.
Nor does Jon want a FitBit, or anything else I can figure out, despite my doing my best combination of snooping, speculating, and asking “What do you want for Father’s Day?”
I’ve been threatening to get him a new flapper valve kit to fix our finicky-flushing bathroom toilet, but somehow I can’t see making “Hey, fix the flusher!” a Father’s Day message to make him feel loved and appreciated.
At this point, Jon’s Father’s Day treat is probably going to be a trip to a family-friendly movie.
My own dad will probably get a bottle of an appropriate libation, and Jon will buy my father-in-law something manly from a hardware (or possibly liquor) store.
Little Bit’s 6th birthday falls on Father’s Day this year, so she needs a present too. We’ve already decided that her birthday present will be a backyard swimming pool that’s a little bigger than our usual 12 inch wading pool.
That’s not something I’m likely to find at Kohl’s. KMart, maybe, but not Kohl’s.
I have 2 other family birthdays in the next month and a half to celebrate, and Kohl’s doesn’t really scream “SHOP HERE!” for either one.
I guess I could also start picking up Christmas presents, but I have this fear that I won’t remember or be able to find any purchase I make now. Plus, there’s the problem of keeping something hidden for 6 months, So, nah, I’ll just wait until November to worry about holiday shopping.
I’ll keep the coupon. It’s doesn’t expire until July, and it’s possible that in the next 3 weeks we might need to buy. So for now, I’m letting free money slip away because it’s really not free.
Wiggling Out of the Coupon Trap
I’ve never found much luck with using brand coupons. While I find the idea that people can spend $20 for $100 worth of groceries fascinating, it’s not a big part of my grocery-savings strategy. We shop sales, buy generics, and use a few places like Aldi and Trader Joe’s that tend to have quality foods for discount prices. I use Ibotta, but the rebates I use tend to be the ones that aren’t brand specific: a quarter back on milk or eggs or bananas.
I do love a generic store coupon. One of my favorite things about World Market is that I get these terrific coupons that I can spend on almost anything in the store but booze. I just got one this weekend for $10. I’m pretty sure by its August expiration date, we’ll need some more coffee and that $10 covers a 24 ounce bag.
So I’m not averse to using coupons, I just want to use them on things I’d buy anyway. That’s why not using the $10 off at World Market would be letting free money slip away, but using the $5 at Kohl’s isn’t. If I didn’t have that coupon, I wouldn’t even think about going to Kohl’s right now.
Which is not to say I don’t like Kohl’s. I do. A ton of my clothes were bought there, and It’s my favorite place to pick up cute coordinates for Little Bit. We went there a few weeks ago and picked up everything we thought she still needed for the warmer weather.
That’s one of the reasons I can say with great confidence there is nothing we need from Kohl’s, and certainly no good reason to go there before July 7 other than to spend the coupon.
Retailers know this, and send us these coupons.. They wanted to tempt customers into going to their store, knowing that if we come we will almost certainly buy more stuff. That’s stuff they won’t have to discount later.That’s money in the cash register, and sales in the books.
$5 on almost anything in the store seems like a good deal, particularly when I don’t have to spend $50 or $100 to use it. It almost worked. Ultimately, maybe it will. Maybe I’ll decide there is something I need after all, and I’ll end up going to Kohl’s instead of Target or to get it.
It’s not a great coupon, though. It’s $5, and I’d almost certainly be looking at a minimum price oft $20 on the things I’m likely to buy.
When I look at the coupon as 25% off instead of free money, it’s not nearly as attractive. All of a sudden, it’s much easier to wait until a need or better coupon comes along.
Smart Money Over Free Money
I know my spending triggers. Boredom is one, novelty is another. Who doesn’t love trying something new? Taking advantage of a good bargain is definitely on the list.
I won’t say letting free money slip away instead of heading to the store to find what I can find isn’t a struggle. It is. That $5 coupon is heating up in my pocket, but fortunately I’m wise enough to know not to let it burn a hole in my budget.
Free money? Nope, the more I think about it, the less it sounds like a bargain. I’ll take smart money over free money every time.
Am I letting free money slip away if I don’t use a good coupon, or am I just being a smart consumer not to buy things I don’t need?