Image: Harry Briggs/Photodisc/Getty Images
About This QuizCoupons are one of the great joys of modern retail. Saving money can be such a rush! (Oh, and it can help your budget, too.) But it's not all fun and games. Test your knowledge of the highs, lows and fine print of the coupon world.
You come across a coupon for $200 off a pair of $700 Prada boots, and you figure, why not? You love boots! How much money are you saving?
Unless you were already planning to buy these boots, you're not saving $200; you're just spending $500.
Which of the following types of retail Web sites offer promotional codes for a discount on your purchase?
Fashion, cosmetics and drug stores
Art supply, furniture and electronics stores
All of the above
You'll find that most Web sites offer promotional codes, often for free shipping, and sometimes for a percentage or a dollar amount off your order.
To have access to the latest coupons from your favorite online stores, you typically need to:
Pay a small fee.
Register for e-mail delivery at the store's Web site.
Most retail Web sites have a "sign up for e-mails" call (or something along those lines) right on their homepages. Registration is free, and you can opt out later on if you change your mind.
Provide your credit card number at the store's Web site.
Coupons delivered to your inbox can be used:
In different ways; it varies by coupon.
Any coupon for a store with both brick-and-mortar and Web presences will note in the e-mail whether the promotion can be used only online, only in stores, or both online and in stores.
In stores and online
One great way to get a discounted meal at a restaurant you normally can't afford would be:
Dine and dash.
Show the maître d' your student ID.
Go during "restaurant week."
Lots of major cities, including Denver, Boston, Washington D.C., New York, San Diego, and many others, have an annual "restaurant week" during which restaurants offer dinners for a deal (usually a pretty great one, too).
Expiration dates on coupons:
Are usually negotiable
Are usually strictly enforced
If you find a great coupon that has an expiration date on it -- and most of them do -- be sure to cash in before that date. In almost all cases, once a coupon expires, it expires.
Coupons never have expiration dates.
If you find a discount coupon included in the envelope with one of your bills, you should:
Use it, but only if it's for something you need.
Sometimes, bills that arrive by mail have some coupons included with your statement. Always check them out to see if one of them is for something you were planning to buy anyway (or could otherwise save you money in the long run).
Never use it; it's an identity-theft trick.
Subtract the coupon's discount amount for your credit card payment.
When the economy is struggling, retail stores often:
Offer fewer coupons
Offer more coupons
Offering a coupon is one of the best ways to get people to visit your store. Even if stores get less money for their goods or service, they win in the long run.
Stop honoring coupons
If you purchase a coupon online:
It's probably a scam.
You get a refund if you don't use it.
You lose money if you don't use it.
There are lots of legitimate sites selling coupons, and these can be a really good deal. It's very important, though, to consider the likelihood that you'll cash it in -- and to remember you have it! You don't get your money back if the coupon goes unused.
A possible pitfall of couponing is:
You might end up spending more.
For many people, gathering lots of coupons actually leads them to spend more, because it encourages them to buy things they otherwise wouldn't. Avoid buying goods just because you have a coupon for them.
You might see a decrease in your credit score.
You can only use a certain number of coupons per week.
Harry Briggs/Photodisc/Getty Images