Saving with Entertainment Books?

A few years ago, I discovered what I thought was the most amazing thing in the world – an entertainment coupon book. My little brother was selling them as part of a fundraiser for only $25, and it had thousands and thousands of dollars worth of coupons – a broke college kid’s dream! I bought the book, and made it my goal to use as many of the coupons as humanly possible over summer vacation.

Everywhere I went, for the entire break, I brought this coupon book. I would recommend places to eat with my friends, stores to buy clothes from, and where to go bowling and laser-tagging. Having the entertainment book made me feel good about spending money, like I was doing myself a favor by racking up the savings. But then after my summer ended and it was time to buy my textbooks for the fall, I realized that the summer had run me completely out of money.

Entertainment books can go one of two ways. Either you take the coupons to things you regularly do, and save money instead of spending. If you’re one to go out often, then this coupon book is an investment, and definitely something to get your hands on. The OTHER scenario is that because you have a coupon, you eat 50% off food, go on BOGO rock climbing trips, and get discounted designer shoes, when without the coupon book, you wouldn’t have done these things. Let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, 20% off of a $50 restaurant bill still leaves you with a $40 bill, often $40 that you weren’t really planning on spending.

So before praising yourself for being so financially responsible when investing in an entertainment book, take a minute to think what you are going to do with it. If you really love going out and do it regularly, definitely use the chance to save. But if you’re like me, and the coupons may cause you to impulse buy, skip the book, or at least hold yourself to pre-set rules (only one dinner out per week, I will not buy any more sunglasses, etc). This will help you to be honest with yourself, and make yet another step into being financially smart and secure.