Author Topic: How to game the Entertainment.Com coupon savings book  (Read 8775 times)

hybrid

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How to game the Entertainment.Com coupon savings book
« on: July 31, 2013, 08:11:05 AM »
This post isn't about not spending money on entertainment, it's about maximizing the money you do spend on entertainment.

I've been a big fan of the Entertainment.com coupon book for years now.  It has always paid for itself many times over.  Of course this means you are spending money, which doesn't sound very Mustachian, but even MMM sets aside about $50 a month for restaurants.  So this is based on the notion that you spend some money on eating out and other forms of recreation.  Here is a way to stretch that dollar further.

The Entertainment.com Book Coupon Savings Book (ECB), for those who haven't seen one, is a very thick book of coupons that typically offer 2 for 1 entrees or attractions at restaurants and entertainment venues (sporting events, local theaters, golf courses, etc.).  It comes out around Labor Day in the Richmond VA area (I presume the same for other locations) and retails for $35.  The coupons are good until November 1 of the following year, a 14 month window. 

So here is how to game the book.

1.  Do NOT buy the book when it is released.  As the months go by the ECB will get discounted more and more heavily as it gets closer to the next release date.  By Christmas the book is often on sale for $20.  By March or April it goes on sale for $10, and I have bought them as cheaply as $5 (with free shipping) as recently as a few weeks ago.  So there may be a window between Nov 1 and late winter or even late spring when this is not at your disposal, so think about it as a seasonal event.

2.  Get a Mustachian Buddy (or a big spender, or anyone that likes saving money this way) and buy books together.  Then coupon swap.  There are restaurants that my wife like to frequent multiple times, your friends will have the same.  This essentially doubles or triples your book for your favorite haunts.

3.  Avoid the pricier restaurants in the front of the book unless you go there already.  You might have an offer saving you $20 off an entree and still walk away with a $60 bill.

4.  Look for the inexpensive restaurants, especially your favorite haunts.  There is a Jamaican restaurant near us that has a $9 coupon.  Two entrees, two drinks, tax and tip (based on what you would have spent without the coupon, don't be a dick to your waitress) sets us back about $15 instead of the $23 we would have spent.  $15 is a pretty cheap date night, and the savings were closer to 35% vs. the 25% in the example above.  Cheaper still if you prefer water, but we typically get soda or tea.  With coupon swapping and multiple books we can go here four times a year for the same price as that $60 swanky place and have just as good a time and enjoy really good food.

5.  Be sure to look at the various coupons to other non-restaurants.  In our book there are three coupons for Dicks Sporting Goods - $10 of $50, $15 off $75, and $20 off $100.  I frequent Dicks at least a few times a year and we buy our athletic shoes there, so this is just a no-brainer.  It was money we were going to spend anyway, now we don't spend as much.

6.  (Edit)  Also, you can print discounts from their website after you register the book.  And do register the book, they will let you know via email when they are selling the book on sale.  The coupons you print typically are only good for a few weeks after you print them, so don't print until you know you are going.

7.  Don't go out just because you have a coupon!  Go out because you had planned to go out in the first place - just do it cheaper.

8.  And most importantly, keep the book in your car.  There WILL be a time when you want to eat on the spur of the moment while out and about and it doesn't help you sitting on your bookshelf at home.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2013, 12:31:53 PM by hybrid »

kikichewie

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Re: How to game the Entertainment.Com coupon savings book
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2013, 08:37:16 AM »
They went out of business in March. I wouldn't count on seeing any new books this Fall.

http://www.freep.com/article/20130313/BUSINESS06/303130037/Troy-Entertainment-publisher-files-for-Chapter-7-bankruptcy

Redbeard

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Re: How to game the Entertainment.Com coupon savings book
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2013, 08:46:37 AM »
The version my wife and I use also includes four "$5 off" coupons for a local grocery store. They are all valid at different points throughout the year, but those coupons alone pay us back for the price of the book. I agree with all of the points outlined above.

hybrid

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Re: How to game the Entertainment.Com coupon savings book
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2013, 09:19:43 AM »
They went out of business in March. I wouldn't count on seeing any new books this Fall.

http://www.freep.com/article/20130313/BUSINESS06/303130037/Troy-Entertainment-publisher-files-for-Chapter-7-bankruptcy

I think they successfully reorganized under new owners after their Chapter 7.  This article suggests the new books will be out this year.  I guess I'll know in a month!

http://www.freep.com/article/20130425/BUSINESS/304250147/Coupon-book-publisher-bought-out-bankruptcy-rehiring-employees 

kikichewie

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Re: How to game the Entertainment.Com coupon savings book
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2013, 09:28:15 AM »
Oh that's good news, especially for the people who will be getting their jobs back!

dragoncar

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Re: How to game the Entertainment.Com coupon savings book
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2013, 09:57:54 AM »
I just use the coupons I get for free in the mail.  Paying for coupons?  Have you seen restaurants.com?

hybrid

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Re: How to game the Entertainment.Com coupon savings book
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2013, 12:28:01 PM »
I just use the coupons I get for free in the mail.  Paying for coupons?  Have you seen restaurants.com?

Yes I have, and I use it for one pizza / sub place we are quite fond of.  But by-and-large their selection is not great where I live, and I had an issue once with a restaurant not honoring it.  To answer your first question, yes, paying (far less than retail) for a coupon book.  I don't get $20 off $100 from Dicks in the mail.  And the vast majority of the haunts we go to don't do coupons in other ways.  So in this case we are spending a little money up front to stretch our entertainment dollar a lot farther on the back end.

Not knocking getting discounts in other ways (like the mail), lord knows I do.  I have found over the years that the ECB works particularly well for us. YMMV.  But worth considering all the same.

arebelspy

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Re: How to game the Entertainment.Com coupon savings book
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2013, 02:07:22 PM »
Question: "How to game the ____ system" (Entertainment book, credit cards, store coupons, etc.)

A: You don't.  In general, especially with coupons, sales, etc. you will end up spending more than you would otherwise.  Just because you are getting it below retail does not mean you are saving money.  You are still spending money.  Don't do it.

(Rare exceptions aside.)

Since someone mentioned restaurant.com, they frequently have sales where their $25 gift certificates (which normally cost $10) only cost $4.  Sometimes they have even bigger sales, where they only cost $0.50-$1.  Those can be a good deal*.

*Again, provided you were going there, or somewhere else, anyways, and it's replacing other spending you'd already do.
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dragoncar

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Re: How to game the Entertainment.Com coupon savings book
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2013, 02:15:46 PM »
Question: "How to game the ____ system" (Entertainment book, credit cards, store coupons, etc.)

A: You don't.  In general, especially with coupons, sales, etc. you will end up spending more than you would otherwise.  Just because you are getting it below retail does not mean you are saving money.  You are still spending money.  Don't do it.

(Rare exceptions aside.)

Since someone mentioned restaurant.com, they frequently have sales where their $25 gift certificates (which normally cost $10) only cost $4.  Sometimes they have even bigger sales, where they only cost $0.50-$1.  Those can be a good deal*.

*Again, provided you were going there, or somewhere else, anyways, and it's replacing other spending you'd already do.

Yeah I agree... I usually keep coupons or whatever in a drawer and if I decide to go out for dinner someplace I then check to see if I have a coupon there.  I've personally never used restaurants.com because I don't like paying for my coupons.  Costco often has 20% discounted gift cards to local restaurants/attractions (I'm pretty sure they have an outreach program for local businesses).  Those also work well if you are already planning to go somewhere specific.  I always sign up for rotating categories on credit cards because why not?  I don't purposely spend more to get the discount, unless its buying gift certificates at 5% off at a place I regularly shop.

hybrid

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Re: How to game the Entertainment.Com coupon savings book
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2013, 03:53:43 PM »
Question: "How to game the ____ system" (Entertainment book, credit cards, store coupons, etc.)

A: You don't.  In general, especially with coupons, sales, etc. you will end up spending more than you would otherwise.  Just because you are getting it below retail does not mean you are saving money.  You are still spending money.  Don't do it.

(Rare exceptions aside.)

Since someone mentioned restaurant.com, they frequently have sales where their $25 gift certificates (which normally cost $10) only cost $4.  Sometimes they have even bigger sales, where they only cost $0.50-$1.  Those can be a good deal*.

*Again, provided you were going there, or somewhere else, anyways, and it's replacing other spending you'd already do.

Agreed.  But I think a few folks are getting hung up on the fact that they will put out a little money to save money in the long term.  As I put in the caveats above (especially point 7 about not using it unless you had planned to go out anyway).  I go back to the Dicks Sporting Goods and the supermarkets another poster mentioned.  Missus and I will buy a pair of athletic shoes over the course of a year, and that sum will be in excess of $75, and likely $100 (maybe I throw in an inner tube to get me from 95 to 100).  A $10 book gets me $20 off items I was going to buy regardless.

The key I think is not to fall into a consumption habit.  And hey, if I don't take the missus out for cheap date night now and then I'm going to have much bigger financial problems!  ;-) 

johnsmithindustries

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Re: How to game the Entertainment.Com coupon savings book
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2013, 09:34:42 PM »
Question: "How to game the ____ system" (Entertainment book, credit cards, store coupons, etc.)

A: You don't.  In general, especially with coupons, sales, etc. you will end up spending more than you would otherwise.  Just because you are getting it below retail does not mean you are saving money.  You are still spending money.  Don't do it.

(Rare exceptions aside.)

This may fall under your 'rare exceptions' stipulation, but I'd point out that even MMM is fond of gaming the system with credit cards. His recommends page advertises the ones that offer the best deals, cash back, etc.

Last year my ex and I got two chase credit cards for the $250 sign up bonus (provided you spend $1000 in 3 months). We simply did all our normal spending on them, and at the time my landlord even took credit cards for rent without a fee so it was easy. $500 later, plus the ~$100 in cash back they gave us for the purchases, and I'm $600 richer for virtually zero effort. They've never seen a cent of interest.

arebelspy

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Re: How to game the Entertainment.Com coupon savings book
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2013, 09:38:04 PM »
Sure.

Everything can be gamed.

Most of the time it's just not worth it.

FI being a notable exception.  Gaming the system to completely retire for 50 years off of 10 years work is a pretty neat trick.
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johnsmithindustries

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Re: How to game the Entertainment.Com coupon savings book
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2013, 08:46:11 AM »
FI being a notable exception.  Gaming the system to completely retire for 50 years off of 10 years work is a pretty neat trick.

That is indeed the greatest game of the system. All it takes is a little foresight and discipline!