Using coupons has been something we've all done at one time or another. Everyone likes to save money or spend a little less on something.
Most of us use coupons occasionally, while others are so good at it that they can spend pennies on the dollar for items being promoted.
Two services that do very well for consumers are www.groupon.com and www.livingsocial.com. Each delivers a deal, typically on a daily basis, that offers about 50 percent off on a product or service through a local vendor.
Some of the local deals I've been offered include restaurants, car washes and outdoor events. Not all of them are something I want, but when they've clicked for me, they've been great. To use the coupon, sign up for the deal, pay the stated amount and you are e-mailed a file to print and use.
In every case when I've used these coupons, the merchants have known of them and there have been no problems.
Another service I use is www.restaurant.com. Their typical offer is a $25 coupon for $10. It's not unusual to see discounts as high as 90 percent. Again, you buy a coupon for a certain amount, then receive a file that you print and take to the merchant.
One service that I've used for years is called www.idine.com. For a few years, they were called Rewards Network. For $50 per year, you register any number of credit cards. Then, whenever you use one of your credit cards at a participating vendor, you receive anywhere from 6 to 50 percent as a rebate on the total cost of your charge — food, beverage, tax and tip. Typical rebates are 10 percent.
What's nice about iDine is that there's no coupon to buy, print or present to the merchant. The rebate used to be issued as a credit to your credit card, but iDine has started sending out rebate cards in the form of cash cards, which I find less appealing.
If you're looking more for traditional coupons, try www.redplum.com for a broad variety of coupons that you can clip.
There are plenty of other coupon sites on the Internet, often appealing to niche interests. Google your favorite subject and include the word "coupon" and you'll be amazed at what comes up.
For me, these discounts — especially at the 50 percent level — get my attention. And I'm pleased with the number of area merchants participating. It's been great to meet and experience some new places — and make doing things with my family more affordable.
Mark Mathias, a 30-plus year veteran of information technology and a resident of Westport, Connecticut, was named by Computerworld magazine to their inaugural list of “Premier 100 IT Leaders.” This column was originally published in the Westport News on Wednesday 9 February 2011.