Should Married Couples Use Coupons On A Date Night?

A few years back, my wife and I were in a small group through church.  This was an interesting experience.  Our church is very large.  In order to gain a more personal experience, they encourage small group participation.  We haven’t done small groups in a while, but it was fun to look back.  I remember one discussion that took place revolving around dating.  Particularly, the importance of married couples to continue to go on dates.  Of course, this led to some lively discussion about whether it’s OK to use coupons on a date night.

What Is A Date?

One of the things we found interesting is that the definition of ‘a date’ was a bit elusive.  Most people think of a date as part of courtship.  But, once you’re married, the courting period is, well, past.  So, is going out with your spouse considered an actual date?

I believe it is.  Why?  Because I personally think that married people should never stop courting each other!  If we stop trying to impress our spouses, we risk taking them for granted.  That never works out well.

So, in my mind, a date is a date is a date.  In other words, a date isn’t just for single people.  I’m perfectly happy saying that I’m going on a date with my wife.

Even when we got to this point, we discussed what we each defined as a ‘date night’ and that varied across the board.  Most said that it involved ‘going out’.  Still, one of the men said that he’d even define a date night as spending dedicated time with his wife, even if it was at home.  Always new perspectives!

Can Married Couples Use A Coupon On A Date?

Centered around the ‘going out’ aspect came an interesting side conversation.  This centered around and that was whether it can be considered a ‘date night’ if a coupon is used.  Normally, dinner would be the standard usage, but I suppose it could apply to other things as well, like going to a place or signing up for an experience like rock climbing.

This brought about some lively discussion. There became two schools of thought here:

  1. Going on a date and using a coupon
  2. Using a coupon and calling that a date

I had never really thought about it, but I guess that there can be a fine line.

Our Experience

Personally, my wife and I use coupons where ever we can, even if we consider it a ‘date night’.  Neither of us have a problem with that.  And, while everybody agreed that using coupons is good and saving money is even better, I think that it was brought up just to make sure that the thought behind going out and using a coupon was “We’re going out because we have a coupon.”

If that was the case, I can see where some of the ‘romance’ of ‘date night’ might be rubbed away.

We enjoy going out, but we enjoy stretching our dollar.  While we don’t go exclusively to places that have coupons, it’s great if we do.  See, there are places we want to go that don’t take coupons.  Why shut ourselves out from those places?  We do find that we’ll typically make sure the next date involves a coupon.

coupons on a date night
Should you use coupons on a date night?

It’s all about balance.

I thought that this was an interesting discussion, because it highlights just how different married life can be from dating life.  In dating life, the general perception seems to be that there should be no way that a coupon is used on an early date for fear of coming across as cheap.  I can attest to that, back in my single days, I never would have dared pull out a coupon on a first date (unless of course I didn’t like the girl *laugh*).

Does going out on a ‘date night’ have the same magic if a coupon is used, or does the coupon take some of the sparkle away?

What do you think?

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Speak Up To Get What You Want

Do you ever notice that some people seem to have no trouble getting what they want?  What is it about them?  Maybe they’re more confident.  Or smarter.  Or lucky.  Who knows?  While some of those things may be true, it might be simpler than that.  It could be that they spoke up.  Could it be that simple?  Would it work to speak up to get what you want?  It definitely can make a difference.

The Job I Didn’t Get

I got this lesson pretty early in my career.  In my first job out of college, I was on a technical help desk.  There were quite a few younger people.  It was a great place to get your foot in the door.

I did well.  Very well.  Not to toot my own horn, but I quickly became one of the model help desk agents. Other people sought me out for questions.  They’d ask technical questions or how to deal with customers.  It was a great feeling, especially for my first real job.

A few months in, an announcement came out that one of my colleagues had been made a team lead.  He was also in the group of people that were doing really well.  He definitely deserved it.  Still, I was a bit bummed.  After all, how did he get this advancement?

Well, it turns out, he spoke up!

After a few days of being a bit down, I went to the group manager.  I explained that while I was happy for my colleague, I was disappointed that I hadn’t been considered.

The manager looked at me and said that he didn’t know I was interested, because I’d never told him as much.

Right then and there, I told him that I was interested.  And you know what?  When the next team lead opportunity came up, guess who was given the opportunity?

That’s right, yours truly.

I learned the lesson that you have to ask for what you want.  You can’t just take for granted that someone knows what you want.

How else can this apply?  Let’s look at a few recent examples.

Missing Coupons

We do a lot of our grocery shopping at Meijer.  They have a rewards program where you clip coupons electronically,

image from Morguefile courtesy of WalterWhite

and then redeem them by entering your phone number at the register.  Every so often they give you personalized coupons, based on your shopping history.  These ‘just for you’ coupons are usually pretty good, since they’re based on items you frequently buy.

My wife got an e-mail with a few coupons, some of which of course were great for us.  But, when she logged in to her account, they weren’t there.  We waited a couple of days, but they never arrived.

Now, in cases like this, you can often forget about them, or just let it go.  That’s the easy thing to do.  But I wasn’t going to do that.  Nope, I decided to speak up.

I sent them an e-mail and explained the situation.  They wrote back and said that they were aware of a glitch in their most recent batch of e-mails, and said that in order to make it up, they’d added a flat $8 coupon to come off our next shopping trip.

This was awesome.  Looking at the coupons we got, we probably wouldn’t have used enough to get $8 in savings.  Plus, we can now save the money without having to buy the associated item.  We have more freedom and more money.  And, the only ones that got anything are the ones that decided to speak up.

That Time I Asked For A Raise

A few years ago, I’d had enough.  Our company made it through the recession without a lot of layoffs, but the tradeoff is that we went for quite a stretch without getting a raise.  I accepted this for awhile, but after a certain point, enough was enough.

I waited until I was in the middle of a key project, and then asked for a raise.  Without hesitation, they granted me the raise and gave me what I asked for.   Now, I know that a few others spoke up and also got a raise, but those who didn’t never got one.  At least not until the next wave of raises came out, but I got that too.

All because I wasn’t afraid to speak up.

Be Careful

You have to know when to draw the line.  You don’t want to speak up when the occasion isn’t appropriate.  For example, I knew that I could speak up about wanting the job because I was a solid performer.  I knew I could ask for the raise because I had gotten good reviews.  I also knew that the company was doing better and could afford the raise.  Faced with a situation when a job wasn’t going well, it’s best to stay quiet.

You have to take such things into consideration, or you’ll end up not getting what you want.  Plus, you could get the reputation of being outspoken, which might not be a good thing.  Still, if you learn to read the signs and the timing is right, speak up.  You’d be surprised at how often you’ll get what you want.

Readers, when have you spoken up and had something go your way?  Have you ever misread such a situation?

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Terrible Costco Coupons Equals No Costco Trips This Month

December, it seems, is the holy grail of food months. Buying food, groceries, etc.  What better month to count on than December, right? So, if that’s the case, it’s really amazing that Costco is trying to shoot themselves in the foot with a terrible coupon insert.  The Costco Coupons book that we eagerly look forward to was a total dud..

As a result, we haven’t gone to Costco. Those two things go hand in hand, as it turns out.

Our Costco Coupons Habits

We have been Costco members since before we got married.  That means it’s been over ten years now.  Wow, does time ever fly!

During that time, Costco has always sent out a monthly coupon book.  For three weeks out of every month, members can enjoy savings on a handful of items. It’s always been a good mix of general merchandise, electronics, and food.  Until this month.  This month, Costco pretty much eliminated the food category.

We have about 12-15 regular items that we’ll buy with the coupons when they go on sale.  Actually, it’s probably a few more than that, because there are usually some that only go on sale around the holidays.  We look forward to those.

Except none of them were in the book this year.  Not a single one!

In fact they only had three food coupons in total.

Comparison Shopping

We are lucky to be in an area where we have both Costco and Sam’s Club in pretty equal fashion.  Where there’s one, mb-money201308chances are there’s the other within a mile.

We’ve always been loyal to Costco, but we heard a while back that Sam’s Club started offering coupons to members.  This piqued our interest.  We also saw that Sam’s had some pretty good sign up deals from time to time.  There were deals where you could buy a discounted membership (for the first year), plus receive additional free items and coupons.

These deals seem to happen a few times a year, and it honestly might be time to consider if Costco does not return to offering desirable coupons on everyday items.

Is Costco Going Too High End?

One of the things that I’ve noticed, and this latest coupon fiasco seems to affirm, is that they’re going after higher end consumers.  I’ve had my suspicions even on the food side, as they’ve gone increasingly to higher priced organic options.   I’m not sure that they think they make enough money from people who go in and buy coffee, spaghetti sauce, and the like.

Their latest coupon book, which eschews all of those things, instead has TVs, computers, and other gadgets.  It’s all high priced.  Maybe they’re only interested in selling those items.

If so, fine, but we’ll be out.  It’s not that we’re claiming poverty.  It’s that we buy everyday items because of the value and the occasional big ticket items.  It seems like they want their shoppers to do the reverse.

Winter Will Tell The Tale

We have the Costco Visa card and we have a good chunk of rewards money lined up.  The way that their rewards works is that you get a payout once per year, and it happens to be in February.  If you cancel your membership (along which cancels your card) anytime in between, you forfeit your earnings.

That’s not going to happen.

However, if we get our payout in February, and things have not improved on the coupon side of things, that might be time to make a clean break.

As it so happens, Sam’s Club also has a rewards credit card that offers similar category discounts.  Line that up with a cheaper membership and better coupons, and it might not be long before we’re noting ourselves as former Costco members.

I hope that doesn’t happen, but the clock is ticking.

Readers, what do you think of Costco?  Have you noticed a gradual shift away from lower priced items in their targeted strategy?  How does that fit in with you?  Any Sam’s Club members out there that can give some insight on how things are on the other side of the fence?  Please let me know in the comments below.

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Save More Shopping Online With Groupon Coupons

I’ve been a big fan of Groupon for a number of years.  We have saved on a lot of different items, meals, and events over the years.  Now, Groupon is offering a whole new way of saving money, with Groupon Coupons.

Unlike the traditional method of using Groupon, you don’t have to purchase anything.  That’s right, it’s completely free.  What Groupon Copuons offers you is a database of over 55,000 coupons across 8,000 online stores.  You can search for what you’re looking for, whether it be for a particular store or by a particular item that you’re looking for, and you’ll be presented with matches along with the options to save money with the online stores.
You may be thinking that there are already services out there like this, but I assure you, Groupon has used their strong name and reputation to assemble a very strong database of participating merchants across a wide variety of retail categories.  You’ll find popular stores like Home Depot and Walgreens, just as an example.  These are two stores that I visit frequently, and now I have the option to shop from my home and save money along the way.  It doesn’t get much better than that!
Stores are going to love this because they get to partner with one of the strongest names in the world that relates to saving money, and people will love this because it will allow them new ways to shop at their favorite stores or give them exposure to all kinds of new stores, all while saving money!
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