a friendly reminder
fake christmas tree?
pick a lane!
fido could teach us
flying over speed humps?
if it involves men...
it's gotta be big
past this gridlock
my scientist
chick flick
the tie is dead
throwing a wrench


Don't let coupons make you cheap
Sacramento Business Journal
May 3 , 2002

It's probably imprinted in our genetic code that getting a good deal on something makes us feel special about ourselves. All you have to do is listen to people try to top each other about the deals they get.

"Got it for a song," is the typical braggart's offhand way of saying, "Ain't I great?" I'm still waiting for someone to make the ultimate claim of deal-making savvy: "Hell, that's nothing. They paid me to take it off their hands!"

Some people are so addicted to getting a deal on everything that they use discount coupons for everything they buy.

Now don't get me wrong, discount coupons play a valuable role in the world. For folks on a tight budget trying to keep their families fed and the rent paid, they're a real godsend, a legitimate form of survival.

But the perfectly well-paid coupon-heads who have to have a deal on everything are out of hand. They'll brag all day about how they got a deal on this, paid half for that, and never have to pay for any boat ride they want to go on.

They shouldn't shoot off their mouths about coupon deals they get. Because they're not savvy dealmakers. They're not anywhere near such a thing. They're just cheap. Cheap, cheap, cheap. They leave lousy tips, if they leave anything at all, and wouldn't be caught dead reaching across the table to pick up a check. They clip coupons out of the newspaper, buy discount coupon books, and make trades with their fellow cheapskates if they have duplicate coupons. And they're far from poor.

If they see something they want to buy, but it's not on sale, they won't buy it. Even though they can well afford to pay full price and would really enjoy that restaurant. No discount means no deal and they can't stand that. To them, paying the regular price is overpaying. They think only suckers pay regular prices.

And they don't think they're cheap. Far from it. They see themselves as thrifty. Economical. Savvy. Deal-makers. And they're proud of it.

"Yeah, we flew there on our frequent-flier miles for nothing. All the way to Mexico for nothing! Then when we got there we had a coupon book that gave us free boat rides, car rentals, drinks, dinners. And I really sharpened my haggling skills with the vendors. I bought two fully sequined sombreros and a bootlegged Kinkade landscape all for 20 bucks! I talked the guy down from a hundred!

"I actually felt bad because he had five of his kids at his booth with him, and they looked hungry. Then I went to buy a diamond necklace for my wife, but the jeweler wouldn't haggle. Wouldn't even take my 20 percent-off coupon I got from my travel agent. I walked out. No way am I paying rip-off prices."

So what's the big deal about paying full price for something once in a while? If a person wants to buy something for the enjoyment it offers, and can afford the regular price, why shouldn't he or she just pay it? Live it up. Go crazy. Splurge, baby.

Because coupon-heads can't understand that there is a payoff in making a well-thought-out purchase, even if it is full price. It's a matter of getting what you want and enjoying it. You're not necessarily a sucker if you pay full freight as long as you really value and enjoy what you get out of necessarily a sucker if you pay full freight as long as you really value and enjoy what you get out of it. If you savor every drop out of an ice-cold seven-buck beer at the ballgame, sure you got hosed on the price. So what? Enjoying the beer makes it worth every cent. But if the price keeps you from enjoying it, you paid too much. Even if you used a discount coupon.

I'm a reformed coupon user from a few years ago.

One time my wife and I went to a local Indian restaurant. It had been converted from a drivethrough dry-cleaning store. We were the only ones in the place on a Saturday night. The food was plentiful, delicious and cheap. But I was even cheaper when I shamelessly presented my half-off coupon to the owner. When the poor guy rang up the check and subtracted the discount, the bill came to something like six-fifty. Because I was so cheap, this nice family restaurant wasn't going to make a dime that night, by the looks of things.

Afterward, thinking about all the empty chairs in the place, I felt like I'd just set the world standard in how to be brazenly cheap. I sure didn't feel like bragging about it.

So now I have a policy. No coupon use at empty restaurants. Unless, of course, the food is terrible. And some day, when the money's really flowing, I've vowed to give up coupon redemption entirely, divorcing myself from the petty, penurious, off-putting practice altogether.

Meanwhile, it's time the unscrupulous, well-paid coupon-heads among us are exposed for what they are: cheap.

So do it today. Go ahead. Next time you're with people yakking on and on about their endless string of coupon deals, freebies, discounts, etc., just tell 'em what they need to hear: that they're just cheap. Plain and simple.

Tell them, as their friend, that, hey, life is short. And there really is a lot more to life than saving a couple bucks on a pair of Sansabelt polyester pants.