How do you feel about a person ahead of you in a store checkout line who is using coupons? Do you think to yourself, “Now there’s a smart shopper”? Or do you think, “What a cheapskate”? The New York Times reported on a study in which people using low-value coupons (50 cents off on a $4 item, for example) were perceived as cheap by people further back in the line. And not only that, but the poor shopper immediately behind the coupon-user was perceived as cheap as well. How’s that for a negative halo effect?
I have to believe that in our current economy this tide will soon turn–that coupon users will be seen as the wise ones.
Speaking of coupons, several readers pointed out an error in the last issue of Matt About Money. I described how you could get extra discounts on Restaurant.com coupons and noted that you’d be able to get a $25 meal for $3. It turns out that participating restaurants require that you spend $35 or more in order to use a coupon. So, I should have said you can get a $35 meal for $13. The savings are still good–just not quite as good as I thought.