Sanity Savers II: Coupons and Specials
This "Sanity Savers" series is designed to explore the many ways that we frugalites avoid feeling deprived while we save up and pay down debt.
Coupons are an essential part of most frugalists' life. So we're always hunting for good deals. Most of us love The Entertainment Book for its BOGO deals. It can be a more affordable way to go out for a nice meal, see a movie, or go to a local attraction.
But if the book doesn't interest you, a lot of local businesses will distribute coupons on their own. We regularly get a booklet of coupons to neighborhood stores, including local restaurants. In addition, I have seen a few stores carrying coupons for Castles 'N Coasters, a local family fun center. In the winter, most zoos and other outdoor attractions will have coupons and special offers on their sites.
As most people have noticed, spas and salons are getting pretty desperate with specials. Some have better sales than others, but the businesses are trying to lure customers back in with various offers. So you can get a good deal on an indulgence like a facial, massage or simply a nice haircut or color.
You can get additional savings by going through cash-back sites like Ebates or Mr Rebates. Through these portals, you can buy gift certificates to places like Salon Wish or SpaLook. These companies' gift cards are good at tons of salons throughout the country. Meanwhile, the cash-back programs will give you 4-6 percent of your purchase price back.
Personally, I intend to "indulge" in these sorts of things only through the local beauty schools. There, I can still get my eyebrows and lip waxed for a total of $9. Even if I did get this done every 3-4 weeks (and I never do), that's a pretty acceptable expense.
The fact is that most beauty schools offer all sorts of ways to indulge on the cheap: manicures, pedicures, facials and scalp treatments. Where else can you get a facial for $13? It would be a great way to pamper yourself, or to get in some girl-bonding time.
Perhaps best of all, even beauty schools tend to have specials and coupons. The Gene Juarez Academy is Seattle has monthly specials and coupons that get emailed to those who opt-in. Other beauty schools offer coupons, discounts and even referral bonuses.
Many frugal folks, though, find true nirvana with thrift store sales. We're all pretty familiar (I hope) with the fact that Goodwill and Value Village/Saver's have relatively regular 50-percent-off-everything sales. But around the winter holidays, Value Village offers calendars with monthly coupons.
Those are the the main coupons and discounts I can think of. Which ones did I miss? What are your favorite indulgences with these? (One of my favorites, by the way, is the occasional use of Cold Stone coupons. Still pricey, but worth it a couple of times a year!)