Updated on 08.31.07

Is An “Entertainment” Coupon Book Worth It?

Trent Hamm

One of the more common fund raisers for youth groups around here is the “Entertainment” book. It’s essentially a rather thick book of coupons (the Des Moines area one we have has about 300 pages) with a lot of “buy one, get one free” offers – and some straight-up discounts – on items from local businesses. For us, the book cost $20 and most of the coupons last through the following November.

At first glance through the book, it seems like a spectacularly good deal. Not only is your $20 helping out a local youth group or civic organization, you also get an enormous book of coupons for items from a lot of local businesses and chain stores. For me, the real value comes in the coupons for buckets of balls at a local driving range – you can buy one and get a bucket for free. This means that my $4 or $5, which would normally buy a single bucket of balls and thus provide me about an hour’s worth of entertainment suddenly becomes two hours’ worth, or else it lets me go bash some balls around with a friend for free (assuming of course my pal buys a bucket).

There are two reasons why a book of such coupons might not pay off – here they are along with strategies for overcoming them.

The first possibility is that you’ll end up spending more because you have the coupons. One good way to fend off this possibility is to go through the entire book of coupons soon after you get it, pull out all of the coupons that you’re pretty sure you’ll use, then get rid of the book so you’re not tempted to use some of those other “coupons” to spend money you shouldn’t be spending. I went through our book and pulled out somewhere around 50 coupons, then I proceeded to give the book to friends to pull out more coupons that they might use – I didn’t even want the temptation to “buy one, get one free” at a local coffee shop.

Another possibility is you might forget all about the book. The best way to do this is to keep the book out in a place where you’ll often see it. We do this by keeping the coupons we already pulled out in our coupon box, which we go through so often that we regularly see the ones we decided to keep. I also keep about three of them in my wallet at all times – almost always, I’ll carry one around to bat a bucket of balls at a driving range.

Here’s the bottom line on such books: if you look at it as a way to participate in a group’s fund raiser, it’s definitely worthwhile. I’d much rather have one of these books that could potentially save me some money rather than an overpriced item out of a catalogue that I don’t want at all. From a strictly frugal standpoint, it’s questionable as to whether it saves money – for example, I’m more likely to go out and whack away at a bucket of balls for $3 than for $6, but would I have gone anyway without the coupon? Still, if an “Entertainment” book is an option for you as a fundraising purchase, it’s likely a much better option than some of the other overpriced things you could be asked to buy.

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  1. Roberta says:

    I used to never buy these books until I received one in a gift basket once. It was a great gift. I got to try new places and share coupons with friends and relatives.

  2. frugaljane says:

    My husband and I are going to go to the movies and out to dinner anyway. We use the Entertainment book to try new places. Choosing restaurant x rather than restaurant y is the biggest way it influences our decisions. A hint, though – I bought mine in February online, and got it for $10 off with free shipping. That makes it a much better deal, and we paid for it and saved money in movie discounts alone.

  3. Scott says:

    I worked in Charlotte, NC and had lunch often with a co-worker. We split the cost of the book and then used it at the restaurants we would normally visit. I estimate that for my $10.00 I probably saved about $80.00 over time.

  4. Lauren says:

    As mentioned above, if you wait a few months into the new year, you can get a fantastic deal on the Entertainment book. I bought mine in April, when they were running a promotion with Restaurant .com.. It cost $20 + shipping, but I got a $25 gift certificate plus $5 cash back because I ordered through FatWallet. I’ve only used maybe 10 coupons, but I had profited just by buying it. The only downside to this option is the most (all?) coupons expire at the beginning of November.

  5. Mike says:

    My wife and I just purchased the 2008 coupon book and we received the 2007 book as well which we had just used up. We were able to save again on items we have used this past year plus start working on the 2008 book. That in itself paid for the $20 spent.

  6. Jessica says:

    If you’re interested in giving to a school you’d be better off doing it yourself instead of through a fundraiser like the Entertainment books.

    According to the Entertainment website, the organization (school) can purchase these books for $5 less than the retail price. The retail price varies from $25-45, so depending on the price the school sells it for, the could only be getting $5 back in profit.

    Just some food for thought.

  7. Danny says:

    I have bought both the “Entertainment books” for ~$30 and the “Gold C coupon books” for ~$10.

    The smaller, Gold C books (in the Portland, OR area anyway) have 12 coupons for a grocery store. I think it was Safeway. Each coupon was something like $10 off $100, and each coupon was good for one month out of the year. That is what made the book worth it the most, we just did the same thing we always do, and save the cost of the book in one month.

    I always would just use the other coupons like for fast food when I was going out anyway, rather than saying, “Oh, I have coupons so I will go out to eat more.”

  8. FIRE Finance says:

    You can get The Entertainment Savers Guide FREE of cost online. We have registered for it and downloaded and printed numerous coupons which has saved us hundreds of dollars during travel and dining.
    Link: http://firefinance.blogspot.com/2006/03/frugal-tip-free-entertainment-savers.html

    Hope this info. helps.

    FIRE Finance

  9. Mark M says:

    The entertainment books in are area have Lowes and Home Depot discounts in them. $5 off of $50,
    $10 off of $100, $15 off of $150 and $20 off of $200. If you own a house and keep up with it you end up spending a lot of money in these places.Those two stores alone make it worth it for me.

  10. limeade says:

    I used to think the book was a great idea, but if it makes you spend money on things you wouldn’t have otherwise, it isn’t as great a deal. Since I don’t go out to eat and things all too often as it is it probably wouldn’t really be worth it for me.

  11. lydia says:

    I think these books are a waste of time, money, and paper. I had never heard about them until I saw one at my brother’s house. The bulk of the one I saw was made up of nothing but fast food and restaurant coupons. Fast food is bad for you, and spending money on it is like paying to ruin your health. How is that ever a good thing even with a coupon?
    If you do want coupons, get the newspaper. It’s cheap, it has local coupons, and you can maybe learn a thing or two. Some people just get the Sunday edition which is $1.25 around here and has loads of coupons and deals. to me that is far more affordable and you only buy if you want to.
    Most people who have those books feel they have to use them. They think ‘I have a coupon so it’s cheap.’ But in reality it’s just an incentive to spend money!

  12. SAHM-CFO says:

    My local Entertainment book carries coupons for a popular resort town a few hours away so we were able to use coupons on vacation too. I saved $35.50 on pizza and waterslide admission that I would have purchased anyway. That makes it worth the $20 purchase price for the book in itself.

    But Trent umm… if I went to the driving range with a friend and the free bucket was dependant on the purchase of a full priced bucket, I’d split the cost. It doesn’t seem very fair that you’d get yours free while your friend payed full price.

  13. Michael says:

    Buying my local Entertainment book left a bad taste in my mouth. Some discounts that I wanted to use were no longer accepted by proprietors. But the publisher kept printing them in the book! I used my employee discount to buy one of these books for $18.00 during Christmas. I have yet to use one coupon.

  14. Garry says:

    One year I split the cost of a book with two friends of mine. While we were having “refreshments”, we passed the book around tearing out one coupon each, like a baseball draft. . . so I got a few golf coupons, minor league baseball, several restaurants, and had some fun picking a “good coupon” before one of my friends did.

    Lotta fun for just $7. We left the remaining 60% of the coupons at the watering hole for others to pick through.

  15. Christina says:

    For the record, I’m not frugile, I’m down right cheap these days. With that said, my roommmate was considering this book. We each paid $10. We will share the book. There were coupons for $5 off you at Kroger with the purchase of $75. We don’t usually shop together, but we both shop there. We decided to make our trips together until the coupons are gone. I think with a little planning and using on the coupons at places we go anyway, will definitely be worth my $10! I will just get the coupons that we out and pass it on to family and friends!

  16. Patrick says:

    I think they are great, as long as you are going to use the service anyway. It is very easy to recoup the expenditure from these books.

    I have often used buy one get one free deals with friends, but I always offer to split the cost with them, that way we both benefit. I think it’s the right thing to do. (unless your financial situation dictates otherwise and your friend is aware of that).

  17. MikeVx says:

    I buy these books when I can. I mostly run on the “I’m going there anyway” track, but occasionally when I’m in a mood to eat out, I’ll use a coupon as a reason to check out a place I haven’t been before. If I don’t like it, at least it was cheap.

    Doing the math, I benefit from buying those books most years, I’m going to lose on this years book because I misplaced it after a car accident (the car was the best place to keep it, I checked when going shopping and such). If I find it, I might get a few more coupons out of it.

    If you are not hurting particularly for cash when one becomes available, you might consider buying one and analyzing your usage, if you don’t save enough, don’t buy another one, if you do, get another one next year. I know from experience that sometimes you just have to risk something being a loss to see if it will be a gain.

  18. formul8 says:

    My G/F and I use it all the time. We live in Chicago, so the book it pretty thick. We like to eat out once a week and make it a priority to use the coupons for places in the book. It works out well, we try places we otherwise might not have considered or knew about and cuts the bill in half in most cases.

    Just last friday, we visited the Museum of Science and Industry (buy one get one admission- $11), ate at McD’s which had a buy one get one sandwich ($3.50), and ate at a really good Polish Restaurant which had $10.00 off a min $25.00 purchase.

    That’s $25.00 off our day right there!!

  19. Barbara says:

    Our school district (Central PA) does something called a “KidStuff” book – very similar to an Entertainment book, but marketed toward families with young kids. They’re very upfront about how their profit works – $12.50 of the $25 you’re paying for the book goes directly to the school. How much bang you get for your buck varies, of course, on how much time and money you spend entertaining your kids. Having worked with them from a PTO point of view, they’re very use-friendly as far as fundraisers go.

    Here’s an article on the publisher: http://pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_470004.html

  20. Jan says:

    I buy the coupon book when it goes on sale-no S & H and has a $25.00 restaurant certificate as a bonus-by then the book has paid for itself and anything I use is a bonus. Also as far as spending $ on things you normally wouldn’t like “whacking golf balls”..you may find you and a friend/family or spouse enjoying things together that you wouldn’t have because you didn’t have the incentive to do it..saving $ is a GREAT way to try new things

  21. Alex says:

    I purchase an Entertainment book whenever my family goes on vacation to Florida. It ends up paying for itself many times over. When we go home we leave it behind for someone else to use.

  22. coupon savings directories are great…. excellent marketing to customer and excellent benefits and reason for return for more and more visits to your site… come to palm coast coupons for flagler county florida coupons from local business

  23. In my opinion buying the book and forgetting about it is probably the most dangerous way to have it not benefit you.

    I know a lot of people who have bought these books before and they ended up stuffing them in a drawer somewhere only to find them over a year later when everything is expired. Some of these people used none of the coupons even though they went to place all the time.

    What about purchasing one and bringing it along with you on vacation? I would think this might save you over $20 almost instantly.

  24. kellykelly says:

    In my area, the dry cleaning coupons in these books ($7 off per order) make it WELL worth the $25 cost of the book.

  25. Steve says:

    I am pretty sure the book publisher doesn’t care if you use the coupons or not. I assume that the discounts are provided by the establishments at no cost to the publisher – in fact I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they pay the publisher to be included. So once the publisher has your $20 (or $45 or whatever) they have made their profit. Any coupons you use come out of the pocket of the restaurant owner. Using just a couple coupons will let you break even, but if you just break even then all you’re doing is taking money out of the restaurant owner’s pocket and putting it in the publisher’s pocket. On the other hand if you use more than a couple then it’s more worth it to you, and one would assume the restaurateurs wouldn’t agree to the coupons if they didn’t think they were worth it.

  26. Cameron says:

    My Opinion-

    Unless you are a very active entertainment spender, such as movies and dinner, don’t spend you money on this entertainment book. Find some coupons in your local paper instead.

  27. Joe says:

    I think these books are awesome. We trade all the time on Craigslist and http://www.tradeentertainmentcoupons.com/index.php?topic=992.0

  28. Andy says:

    I just bought this book and while I do like the driving range savings, it is the Movie tickets that make it worthwhile for me. I also do tend to go to the resturants that provide discounts…most of them are pretty good.

  29. D G says:

    These books,even at regular price,can be a real money saver.Just the Safeway coupons alone may pay for the book.
    Then there’s the movies (we bought 3 books,and went to 3 movies free on my friend’s birthday!)
    Some of the deals are amazing,and you can also get “lots” of coupons at auction sites.
    Also,they have a “tie in” with restaurant.com,
    try it,too.You can often get dinners at your favorite rest’s for about $20.They have sales where you can get a $25 dining gift certificate
    for $2! What a savings!They also give you $10
    gift certs for referring friends.
    Sometimes the Entertainment book will offer a free
    $25 restaurant.com certificate later in the year,
    with the purchase of a book.That’s a no brainer.
    You will save money,and if you want to avoid fast food, go for the salads!

  30. Victoria says:

    I buy this book for myself and as gifts. I have never received a negative reaction from any of my gift recipients, they love it. Nowadays everyone is looking for ways to save $$! My gift recipients and I look through our books, pick out our coupons & then let each other look through each other’s books & take whatever coupons we want. This year I learned about buying Entertainment books for your vacation destination, such a great idea!
    I love the fact that a charity is benefiting from my Entertainment book purchases plus I normally save so much with the coupons in the books that the book is basically free. Win-win for all!

  31. Steve says:

    We usually find that we use the coupons like crazy during the first month or so until we run out of “desirable” coupons — those which save us money doing what we would have done without the coupons. So we apply a little patience and buy the book about mid year. We still use the same “desirable” coups, but we only pay half price for the book and they usually throw in free shipping. In any case, we give it to one of our kids and tell them to yank out the coups they want and then pass it to another of our children. If it makes its way back to us — we pitch it.

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