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Coupons aren't just for groceries

Need your carpets cleaned, your teeth X-rayed, your roof gutters cleaned out? Look for a coupon.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 10, 2012 1:22PM
Image: Money (© Corbis)Don't have dental insurance but need an exam? Eyeglass prescription a couple years out of date? Worried about your dog's health, your dirty carpets or the state of your roof gutters?

Get a coupon.

Coupons aren't just for groceries. Significant discounts can be had for carpet cleaning, veterinary care, eye exams and glasses, auto work, dental exams and other potentially expensive essentials.

Where do you find a coupon for something like that?

Look around. The Sunday inserts frequently have discount eye-care coupons. I get weekly coupon mailers from Seattle-area businesses offering everything from roof repair to bathtub refinishing. Some phone books (especially the Yellow Pages) have coupons, too.

And of course there's the famous "blue envelope," i.e., the Valpak coupon mailers. I've seen Valpak coupons for services like windshield repair, veterinary exams, lawn-mowing and carpet cleaning. The company now offers electronic coupons as well, including through a mobile app.

Getting a customer's attention

Big-ticket coupons work the same way that 50-cents-off-cereal coupons do: by enticing shoppers to try a new brand. That's how I found a dentist: through a $29 Valpak coupon for exam, cleaning, X-rays and teeth-whitening kit. (Post continues after video.)

This was a gamble for the dentist, since I could have just taken advantage of the initial deal and never returned. In fact, a really old crown needed replacing, and he wound up with a new patient.

Is it ethical to use these deals even if you're not sure you'll be back? Yes. Just as with those grocery coupons, companies assume the risk that you'll try their services only once.

Sure, some consumers probably hire a yard service once or get a single oil change and then move on to the next hot deal. But others become repeat customers. Companies wouldn't keep putting coupons out there if they didn't work.

That dentist got me through the door with the deal -- but he got a nice chunk of change from me later on. Without the lure of the coupon, that work might have gone to a competitor.

Where do you find big-ticket coupons? How have they helped your budget?

More on MSN Money:

Sep 15, 2012 9:52AM

About Rite Aid Rewards.

According to refund world magazine, Rite Aid Rewards are no longer usuable on the same day of purchase. You used to be able to buy one product, then use your reward toward buying another product the same shopping trip. Now you have to wait until 6AM the following day to use it.

Aug 13, 2013 5:01PM
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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.


Donna Freedman

Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.