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Couponing, a North American “Sport”

United States One-Dollar Bill

At home, we always joke that if a product is expensive, I’m naturally attracted to it; and that if product is cheap, Feng is the one who can’t resist buying it. This is especially true when it comes to food: Feng likes good deals while I always subconsciously think that if food is inexpensive, there must be a catch. I guess it’s my French upbringing: in the old world, we think of food as a delicacy—the less, the more expensive, and the more expensive, the better.

This is probably why it took me a while to get into “couponing”—a very North America sport and a verb since the TLC show, “Extreme Couponing.” Indeed, “Coupon” may be a French word but these little pieces of paper are not used much in Europe. French go crazy during the sales periods, twice a year (imagine, in France, sales periods are regulated by the government!), but the rest of the time, they aren’t natural bargain-hunters—maybe because of this very French taboo?

When I first came to Canada, I did notice stacks of flyers filling the mailbox and catalogues left periodically at the front door, but I didn’t think much of it. Spontaneously, I’d put all that in the recycle bin. I mean, I hadn’t skimmed through a brochure since I was a six years old impatiently waiting to look at the Galerie Lafayette toys catalogue around Christmas time!

Feng like to skim through flyers. Sometimes, it drives me crazy. But I must admit they do contain some good deals. For instance, we often get coupons for restaurants in our neighbourhood. Since we go there once in a while, may as well use the “20% off dinner” or “two for one” offers, right?

Last year, I also started to use coupons for services, such as massage, pedicure, facials etc. These online deals are great is you are willing to be flexible and to read the fine print, and so far I haven’t had any bad surprises.

This is called “recession 101”: scoring deals is in, and paying full price is so 2008.

The savings added up, and little by little, I got into couponing. Don’t be afraid if I’m in front of you at the cash register—I’m not as bad as these people who show up with two carts of food and hundreds of coupons. I only collect coupons for brands I actually use, and I don’t have a pantry full of cans “because they were cheap.”

Lately, I discovered I could also get online codes discount. Ever better than browsing  badly-designed supermarket flyers, I can go online, search for the products or the brands I’m interested in, and get a coupon if available. If so, I just have to print it. Ta-da! That’s how I save quite a lot on amazon.ca,  or on photo printing, for instance.

In North America, competition between stores is fierce, and consumers can easily take advantage of it. I’m not saying you should go to great lengths to save a few pennies but shopping around, comparing prices and using coupons when available is a great way to make your money go further.

How about you? Do you use coupons? Do you have any tips for saving money?

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