the great [coupon] compromise

I find these days I can hardly participate in anything without having mixed feelings about it. What does that say about me? Indecisive? Insecure?

Anyway, here I will document my journey through my mixed feelings about “couponing”. Don’t worry, I won’t post a picture of ridiculous amounts of food that I paid virtually nothing for. I hate those pictures. In the past they would fill me with frustration and anger that I was paying so much for food and other products. (Again, what does that say about me?)

In the Beginning:

I never though couponing was for me for three reason.
1. I felt guilty. I felt like I was ripping someone off. It almost felt dishonest.
2. It seemed like all that was being purchased was processed foods and drinks I wouldn’t buy for my family at any price.
3. It takes so much time and it was too overwhelming.

In the End:

1. An experienced couponer in addition to my business-minded husband (who audits a grocery store) reassured me that no one loses in the coupon game. It’s all part of doing business, and marketing/advertising. (I’d be happy to enlighten you if you are the guilt-prone type like myself.)
2. Although the processed foods seem to be the most common sale/coupon items with regard to groceries, I’ve found that there are many other products I will use and can save on. For example, since I started using coupons I’ve saved 50-90% on toothpaste, deodorant, EVOO, whole grain pasta, razors, chapstick, shaving gel, cheese, yogurt and more.
3. It does take time. No rebuttal there.

In the middle:

Let’s be honest, couponers can be annoying. I can say this now, because I’ve done it. They rub their good deals in your face constantly. We do this because it feels so good to get good deals, we have to share it with the world. Yeah, we’re basically bragging and no one likes bragging.

I decided to try the whole couponing game because I have two kids in diapers and I was desperate for a way to save. I started reading the blogs and talking to my friends who do it. (And all have been very helpful.) But for the first couple weeks I found myself having serious anxiety. I got more and more jealous when I would see the pictures and hear about the awesome deals people were scoring. I would lay in bed at night thinking about it. Jealousy is ugly. It does ugly things to you.

Before I came to peace with the ways couponing could work for me I had a crisis. I realized that I was becoming as obsessed with saving money as some people do with spending it. And it was just as damaging to my mood. I had a few great experiences where I got good products for pennies and my adrenaline was pumping like I had just finished a race. I also had some terrible experiences where I swore I was done with it all.

For awhile couponing was making me greedy. Even now I fight the temptation of greed. It became about saving more and MORE and MORE! And it became about getting more and MORE and MORE product. I was caring about money more than I ever had, in a totally selfish, greedy way.

Now that I’ve gone through these feelings, learned about it more and let go of the greed, I’ve learned how I can best utilize the concept. I’ve learned that when a product my family uses and needs is on a good sale, I can preorder it and buy enough to last us until the next good sale. I am not willing to work my menu around my good deals though. So I am slowly building a supply of the things I actually want to feed my family rather than buying what is cheapest and finding ways to use it. “Stacking” coupons and “matching-up” coupons with sales is also very helpful with saving on things we can’t live without like sunscreen, swim diapers and toilet paper.

Thank you to all who have helped me learn the art of couponing. The saying “All things in moderation” is very wise. Unfortunately now it is extremely painful to pay full-price for anything.

6 thoughts on “the great [coupon] compromise

  1. I've had the same battle, but honestly, I feel way too stupid to figure it all out. Plus the thought of a “confrontation” of any sort at the register makes me almost hyperventilate. I am glad you're saving money though 🙂

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  2. I think it should be allowed that every couponer deserves the right to brag about their savings! It's a huge accomplishment and so much more worthwhile than a some hobby-ish activities people spend time doing. Even if you don't use some of the processed things, it's always nice to give them away to people who do. It's the female version of the big “hunt”. Man goes out, hunts for food, brings it home to family. No different when woman goes out and does the same thing. Good job Jo! Keep up the good work.

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  3. I have thought about couponing and am sure I would fall into the temptation of greed. But now that Bryan does the shopping, I guess it would be partly up to him!

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