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Don’t Know What to Make of These “Coupon Books”

by J. Money on Wednesday, August 18, 2010

life list
These Coupon Books intrigue me… You know the ones I’m talking about? The ones that claim to have $5,000 worth of coupons in it, yet sell for only $30? (I think they may be called Entertainment Books too). I usually get hit up by kids in the neighborhood or friends on sports teams trying to raise some extra cash, but I can’t tell if they’re really WORTH anything.

So half the time I end up giving in and just telling them to keep it since I know for a fact I’ll just let it collect dust in the corner. And plus, that way they can probably just sell it again and make another $30 :)

But I’m wondering – do any of you actually find these useful? Do you REALLY scour through them and take full advantage of all these hundreds of coupons? I mean, they always have local restaurants and places of entertainment on there, but it still goes back to the whole “spend something to save something” mentality I’ve been having issues with lately.

I guess, with everything, it depends on how often you frequent these places they’re pimpin’. But it would really suck if you end up shelling out a good chunk more in the long run – on top of the original $30 – just because you HAVE all these discounts at your fingertips!  It would be an interesting study, that’s for sure (maybe one of you can research it for a thesis?! :))

At any rate, it always feels good supporting a friend or little wee one in whatever ventures they’re workin’ toward. I’ll just consider it a “donation” and continue keeping my house free of clutter :)

(Excellent photo by fontplaydotcom )


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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 KitchenPenguin August 18, 2010 at 8:00 am

Aloha!

I bought an “Enjoy the City” book from a co-worker a couple of years ago and I “saved” more than I spent on purchasing the book. Most of the businesses had 4 coupons in the book and it was $20, there were even spend x save y coupons for grocery stores. Between buying Krispy Kreme (buy 1 dozen get 1 dozen glazed free) to take to meetings and BOGO Cheeburger Cheeburger, I “saved” more than $20 on something that I was going to buy anyway. I gave coupons to friends that frequented the restaurants and I tried out a couple of new places because it was BOGO. It all depends upon how often you eat out and if the book has coupons for places that you’d actually visit, if the coupons are useful then it’s a way to stretch your entertainment budget. Or just wait for the 80% sales on Restaurant.com and buy gift certificates there.

Cheers!
- KP

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2 Philip August 18, 2010 at 8:12 am

The ones that I have purchased had several $5 off $50 at grocery store which with those it paid for itself and who does not spend that much at the grocery store a few times a year :)

Then they are also small enough to keep in the glove box and when you don’t know where you want to go out to eat try pulling it out and pick somewhere out of there to try. Yes that is spending to save but you had already decided you were gonna spend.

I like the cards that I used to get from some of the high school band kids that had a couple of deals that I used probably 50 times saving probably 80-100 bucks from the initial $10 purchases and helped the kid out at the same time!

Keep the ones with the itty bitty stamp type sticker coupons though, I hate that style of em.

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3 jim August 18, 2010 at 8:17 am

We only ever buy them when we’re going out of town for a long period of time. The last time we went to Lake Tahoe, we bought one for the region because we knew we’d be eating out a lot and doing some of the touristy things those books tend to have coupons for.

We’ve never purchased one for our home town though.

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4 Jeff @ Sustainable life blog August 18, 2010 at 9:10 am

My parents used to buy them when I was growing up. I figure for the paltry sum that they paid (like $30) there had to be enough in ‘usable’ coupons to make it worth the cost. I do remember there being a few really good ones and using them once or twice would pay for the book, but our problem was that we frequently forgot we had the book and didnt use the coupons because of it;.

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5 Molly On Money August 18, 2010 at 9:51 am

I was borrowing my Mom’s car this weekend and spotted her ‘Entertainment Book’ in the side door. She’s been buying that thing for over 20 years! I browsed through and pulled a few coupons out for my own use; they were only ones I knew she would never use! Really,…I think.

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6 Techbud August 18, 2010 at 9:51 am

I currently have one. Paid $20 for it. I always keep it in the car, so its in hand when we visit a restaurant or entertainment place. I have already made my $20 investment back using 3 – $10 coupons from the book.

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7 Brianna August 18, 2010 at 10:11 am

I used to get Entertainment Books as a Christmas present. I found them very useful. My favorite coupons were for movie theater tickets (usually $2-3 off each ticket), plus some more coupons for concessions. Other favorites were for local restaurants with big 2-for-1 deals.

On the down side, all of the coupons expired in November (why not December??). Overall, I enjoyed the books but I don’t think I’d ever shell out the $$ to buy one for myself.

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8 Jenn August 18, 2010 at 10:33 am

Since I live by myself, and often eat out alone, the book was not that great of a value for me. That being said, I still made my money back on it due to a few coupons that I could use on my own (ie most are buy one get one free… I’m not generally buying two dinners for myself), and a couple of coupons in the back for the local grocery store that I used to get a kitchen appliance I really wanted for super cheap. I don’t think there are very many people who wouldn’t get at least the purchase price back out of the book.

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9 jolie August 18, 2010 at 10:40 am

My son used to have to sell them for hockey. Since graduating into more evil kinds of fundraising, we do our payback and buy one from a younger athlete. Though we have a small staff, our kids are all busy in activities so someone is usually selling them.

Ours cost $30. used to be $20 but inflation… :-)

It is very easy to make your money back and then some. I keep track til I’ve made my money back or double it, just for fun. It’s essential to keep it in your vehicle though so you have it when the urge hits.

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10 Kate Kashman August 18, 2010 at 10:41 am

I love the Entertainment books, and I have found them to be a good money-saver. You do have to flip through it regularly to familiarize yourself with the offers, or you are likely to discover an applicable coupon two days after you’ve gone out to dinner (or taken clothes to the dry cleaners, or had your car washed, or whatever.)

In addition, the prices go down dramatically as the year passes, so it is great to buy one for a summer trip (like Jim said.) You can often get a book for $10 by summer.

J, I think it would be worth your money to wait until Sept/Oct when the 2011 books are published, then buy one and track your savings. I bet you would save a bundle!

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11 Steeb August 18, 2010 at 10:56 am

Here in our part of Canada they’re called “Treasures” books. If you remember to use it when you’re going to buy something / eat out anyways it ends up saving you money. My wife and I found a lovely restaurant this way — we were going to go out for dinner without the kids, so narrowed our choices down to places we had a coupon for. Ended up at a great Mediterranean place that we would never have known about otherwise.

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12 Lyndsey August 18, 2010 at 11:16 am

I usually buy an entertainment book on sale for around $20 each year. Will I use every coupon in the book? Not even close. Will I recoup the initial purchase cost? Many times over! The reduced price movie tickets are a gold mine for me, since they usually give a $3-4 discount per ticket, plus extras like free ticket on your birthday. I just saved 50% off an oil change (about $16.50), which almost paid for the entire book. If you take the time to get familiar with the discounts in the book, you can really use it to your advantage!

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13 Jim Juber August 18, 2010 at 11:39 am

When I lived in Tennessee, they absolutely were worth the money. Our books had coupons for Hotels, Car Rental (free upgrades and 10-20% off), Oil Changes (5-10 bucks off), Movie Theatres, Movie Rentals (Blockbuster and Hollywood Rent: one/get one free), Bowling, clothing stores, car repairs, resturants (Subway, Micky D’s), …..etc. The catch was you had to remember to use them.

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14 craig August 18, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Coupon books are out dated and now with Groupon there is no reason to spend money on it.

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15 Jenna August 18, 2010 at 1:01 pm

I think the key is whether you’d be spending money at those businesses anyway. If you have favorite restaurants that you’re going to go to regardless of whether you have a coupon or not, and if those deals add up to more than the cost of the book, it’s worth it. The great thing now is that you can check the website for the book and preview the entire contents in many cases to see if you’d really use the deals before you buy the book. There are 3 books and 1 card available for my area, so I went online to compare them and decide which book we’d get the most use from.

Plus, you get to help out a local school or organization at the same time. Win-win!

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16 JusFrugal August 18, 2010 at 1:23 pm

I’ve bought Entertainment books in the past and you can definitely get back your $30 and more by using them. I usually keep mine in the car so we have it with us in case of a spur of the moment need for it. I also tend to share the coupons with family and friends so more of them get used. They can also be great if you pick them up for half price to use on a vacation (for example grabbing the Orlando book if you are heading off to Florida for a week).
I did not purchase one this year because I also think that having it can encourage more spending than what you’ve planned to do in trying to use the coupons, and I didn’t miss not having it.

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17 Kelsey August 18, 2010 at 2:02 pm

I’m all about the Groupons. I also always buy the “All You” magazine at wal-mart. It has tons of coupons in it- the same types that are in the sunday paper- and I usually make my money back.I get another magazine to read AND I save money with coupons.

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18 YOY August 18, 2010 at 2:27 pm

sort of a tangent, but similar to what you mentioned about the kid keeping the coupon book. when kids come around doing fundraisers with “stuff”, food, catalogs, coupon books, magazines, you name it, I just donate $5 or $10, and not bother with the stuff .. I feel they have to pay way too much for this junk to sell in the first place, and get way too small a cut of the take.

as for the coupon books, haven’t owned one myself, but my sister generously shares from hers, we used coupons for state historical sites and saved more than the purchase price in one day .. just have to remember to use them. we giggle about how we’ve become just like a not-so-favorite aunt who was embarassingly miserly

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19 Donna Freedman August 18, 2010 at 3:06 pm

I tend to get one through MyPoints, when free shipping is offered. Later in the year, MyPoints starts offering them at half-price; I’ll get at least one more then if I find I’ve found the coupons useful. I like the BOGOs to local casual restaurants, because my sister and I take turns buying lunch. As Lindsey pointed out, the $7 movie tickets beat the $10.25 ones all to hell and back. I enjoy the free Auntie Anne’s pretzel, too.

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20 wldflr August 18, 2010 at 3:31 pm

We have an Entertainment book and so does some of our relatives that live on the other side of town so what we do is a yearly coupon swap at Christmas! Take the coupons out of the book from the places that are close to where your family/friends live (30+ minute drive) and give those coupons to them and have them give you the coupons for stuff close to you! Double the savings and spread the goodies!

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21 Danielle August 18, 2010 at 4:12 pm

I buy my entertainment book straight from entertainment.com when they go on sale for about $12.99 in February. They are totally worth it. The movie coupons are fantastic. The restaurant and museum admissions (yes, there are museums in Vegas, haha) are perfect. By that time, they are usually offering free shipping. I refuse to buy them as fundraisers. Sorry kids, but I’m cheap.

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22 Rachel211 August 18, 2010 at 7:00 pm

I agree with Danielle – wait about a month after the new year and they go on sale big time.

When my hubby and I were first married and went out a lot more than we do now, we used it all the time for the buy one, get one deals. There were more than a few fancy restaurants we wouldn’t have been able to afford any other way.

And yes, ALWAYS keep it in your car! If nothing else, there is usually a TON of fast food coupons and you will always wish you had it with you when you go through the drive thru!

The only disadvantage I could see is if you city was really small and there were too many coupons for things like oil changes (how many times do you really need that in a year?) or like custom cabinets. Maybe that’s why I like the ‘entertainment’ ones better – they tend to have 90% food and entertainment venues.

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23 Rachel211 August 18, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Oh, and with the question of “Do you end up buying stuff you wouldn’t, even though it’s a discount?” – I would say for us, that would be no. We would usually grab it when we already knew that we were in the mood to go out, not sift through it just to look for something to use a coupon on.

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24 eemusings August 18, 2010 at 7:28 pm

I definitely plan to buy one at some point! My mum always does, and sometimes gives us coupons.

I would have a look online to see what kind of deals they have before purchasing though.

Like Rachel, we wouldn’t just buy stuff randomly. It would just be a way of encouraging us to try new things when we go out.

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25 kseahag August 18, 2010 at 9:42 pm

I buy one every year for $20 and get way more than my moneys worth. We used 3 coupons at Dick’s Sporting Goods each worth $10 plus we eat out alot. Eating out is my one vice :)

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26 J. Money August 18, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Thanks for all your thoughts guys! I had NOOOOOOOoooooo idea how popular/common these books were – wow. I literally thought maybe like just 1 or 2 of you would have heard of them before. Oops!

Totally makes sense how you all use them too – i might have to actually sort through one and see if it’s truly valuable for me or not. (I’m thinking the movie theatres one and fast food coupons would work, but outside of that i usually don’t go anywhere lately. but maybe they have one for lottery tickets?! haha….) Love the “glove compartment” idea too – I do the same with my Bed Bath and Beyond coupons. Actually, I keep a lot of things in my car that helps…hmmm…sounds like another post brewing!

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27 Madison August 19, 2010 at 12:07 pm

We got 4 books for free at a sporting event. We keep them in the glove compartment too. The 2-for-1 haircuts for my husband and kids worked out nicely.

Although, I don’t know if there was enough value that I would actually purchase one next year.

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28 Betsy August 20, 2010 at 1:20 pm

I’m a huge fan of the Entertainment Book. I always ask for it for Christmas, but no one will give it to me. (Somehow they don’t get that coupons are really a gift that I want and will use.) So, like others, I wait until they go on sale…discounted book and free or half-price shipping. I don’t keep up with it anymore, but I used to track my savings to make sure it was a deal. For my husband and me, the DC/Northern VA book is great. We don’t use even close to half of the coupons…but that’s okay. It’s still more than worth it.

We do quite a bit of traveling around the country. I always look to see if they have an Entertainment Book. If so, I look to see if it will have attraction coupons we want for cities we will visit. (With some work, it might be worth it for the restaurant coupons…but I’ve never gotten one for that.)

This past spring we went to Memphis. Their Entertainment Book is awesome. We got coupons for buy one admission, get one free for the Rock n Soul Museum, Sun Studios Tour, and Graceland! A Platinum ticket to Graceland (where you get to see more than just the manison — and there is a lot there) is $34. So, for two of us, that’s $68. Yikes! With my EB coupon, we got in for $17 each. For half of a day of entertainment, now we’re talkin’!

The person in line in front of me had a AAA discount. It was only 10%…$3.40. Wow – I told my husband that our coupon was so good that somehow it felt wrong. I looked at all of those people who paid full price or just got 10% off and thought, “I’m so sorry.”

I got the book for $20 or $22 and free shipping before we went to Memphis. My in-laws are taking a trip out west this fall with some friends. They’ll stop and visit Graceland on the way home. They just got 2 books for $10 and free shipping.

We enjoyed the tours and 50% savings at the Rock n Soul Musem and Sun Studios too.

If you are heading to Memphis for the attractions, definitely get their Entertainment Book!

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29 J. Money August 20, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Are you trying to get me back to Memphis? Cuz I’m starting to get interested again!!! :) And we both live in the same area btw, so if you’re saying their good here then i might just have to pay more attention to ‘em!

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30 Lesa August 21, 2010 at 12:01 pm

We like to go out to the LaComedia dinner theatre at lease once a year..they have a BOGO spot in there and tickets are $65 so it already covers the $30 for the book..also with our Entertainment books, if you want to get another one you can order it on line for like 15$ and then you can get another two dinner theatre tickets and send you parents for their anniversary….my son tends to grab the fast food and pizza tickets and if you are in to sports they always have ones for our local ball team etc…has always paid for itself and then some

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31 Lesa August 21, 2010 at 12:04 pm

another thing…if you do my points on the internet, Entertainment book always has some promo that if you buy you get like 500 points and then I take my points and get gift cards for myself and family for Christmas sice I’m already spending the money I might as well get an extra return for it.

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32 J. Money August 22, 2010 at 8:30 pm

My Points? Not familiar with that one but sounds like you’re workin’ it! Well done :)

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33 Lauren Welsh August 23, 2010 at 5:55 pm

I learned something this year – I bought the book in July when they were heavily discounted. I think I got mine for $7 +shipping, and made up for it with only two trips to the movies. Since most coupons expire in November, they tend to sell the entertainment books at an incredibly low price. Granted, Im not helping out a neighborhood kid, or family member, but I find its worth the $7 I spent. There are hundreds of coupons I will never use, but I keep it in my car and its nice to go somewhere and come across a coupon in the book you can actually use.

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34 J. Money August 23, 2010 at 9:50 pm

That’s great! I’d do it for $7 in a heartbeat after reading everyone’s success now :)

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35 Nick August 24, 2010 at 1:37 pm

I too try and check out the actual coupons before I buy it (unless I’m doing it for another reason – like to support a friend or cause I believe in). I was at Boston Market a few weeks ago and for $1 they had a coupon book with $50 in coupons. One of the coupons was for something like $2 or $3 off of any meal. Because I had already ordered a meal I knew I wasn’t spending more to save. So I bought the coupon, saved the dollar or two difference and handed the rest of the coupon book to the person behind me in line. I wasn’t interested in the rest of them because I don’t go out to eat very often.

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36 J. Money August 25, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Ooooh good idea! So not only did you save some money, but you paid it forward too! Love it. Thx for sharing my man :)

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37 Pamela August 28, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Someone gave us one when we lived in a large metropolitan area. We didn’t use it much. There were SO many coupons in there and it wasn’t organized by suburbs well – it mostly split the areas into the major cities/suburbs, so finding things close to us was a real pain.

We now live in a much, much, much smaller town. Someone gave us a coupon book as a housewarming gift and we use it quite often. There are a number of free offers in there – for things like pizzas, coffee, desserts at assorted restaurants, etc. We’ve had a number of free dinners with those coupons. There are also “free X when you buy Y” and buy-one-get-one coupons. I keep the book in my car so we always have it.

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38 Jamie Johnson March 17, 2011 at 11:15 am

I’d just like to add that in addition to saving money, they help FIND things to do. When we’re bored we flip through the pages until something sounds entertaining.

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39 J. Money March 19, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Hah! Good idea actually :)

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40 JP September 14, 2012 at 9:22 pm

If you are planning on staying in a hotel anytime soon they are definitely worth. My girlfriend and I got a hotel in Pittsburgh that was normally $299/night for $170/night. we would normally never stay at such a nice place, but with that price it was worth it to splurge a little bit :) Also, if you are thinking well they must have “jacked up the price”, you are wrong. I called the hotel and asked what their nightly rate was first and then after she told me $299 I asked her what the entertainment discount was and that is when I was blown away. We are also staying at the Quality Suites this December in Pittsburgh and for 4 nights it is only $390. Without the entertainment book it was $598!!! And this specific Quality Suites has a full kitchen with dishwasher and a steam shower. VERY NICE place which we have stayed before and I would recommend to anyone staying in Pittsburgh.

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41 J. Money September 16, 2012 at 9:38 am

Very cool! I didn’t even know they had hotel discounts in there, I can totally see how that would make them worth it – thx for telling us :)

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