This post is in response to an article on salierb.com. It was originally a comment on the article, but the longer it got, the more the comment box glared at me reproachfully. …so, I shuffled my little self over here to air my thoughts…
I experimented once with being a dedicated couponer.
I failed miserably.
I tried, though. I really tried. I even took a class and everything. Maybe I did it wrong, or maybe I just don’t have the knack, but for whatever reason, my couponing experience was a colossal failure…
First, I subscribed to our local newspaper in order to get the weekly coupon insert in the Sunday paper. ($52 for six months…but bonus points for being able to claim it on my taxes since I was also teaching Government and Current Events that semester.)
I spent every Sunday afternoon scouring the inserts and sales papers trying to match up the deals and coupons in order to get the best “bang for my buck.” (At least an hour every Sunday that I could have spent napping or studying for class.)
Then, I would march into my local Publix – the Mecca of the Couponing World – armed with my sales papers and coupons, intent on racking in the discounts…only to find that the shelves had already been wiped bare by previous couponers.
In frustration, I would either get a rain check for the item (and then remember to return for it), or if it was something that I really needed, end up buying it at Walmart – many times for less than what I would have saved at Publix. It was an entirely frustrating and fruitless experiment.
Well, maybe not fruitless…I did learn some things:
1.) Unless I’m buying in bulk, couponing really does not make that much of a difference.
Please don’t shoot me.
I know, I know, I could have gotten fourteen bottles of mustard for three cents each…but I don’t need fourteen bottles of mustard. I barely need one bottle…and I think that one bottle has been in my fridge for two or three years. (I hate mustard, and it takes a really long time to expire.)
I rarely buy anything in bulk. And when I do, I’m usually buying something for the school or church, and I generally do that shopping online. (Online shopping is vastly different from shopping at a brick and mortar store. Yes, there are occasionally coupon codes from sites like RetailMeNot, but savings are usually built into free shipping promotions or discounted prices for a higher unit purchase.)
2.) I am far too brand loyal to be good at couponing.
I’ll admit it. I’m a snob.
But once I’ve found something I like, I stick to it. I don’t like change. I rarely “branch out,” and I only “try new things” if I’m dissatisfied with what I’ve already got. If I find a coupon for something I’m already going to buy, great. But I’m not going to change my habits just because I found a coupon that makes another shampoo thirty-seven cents cheaper. (And in the great irony of the universe, I usually run across coupons for my brands when I don’t need them…and they expire before I do need them.)
3.) I really dislike couponers.
I feel I need to add a caveat to this statement: I have several friends who coupon, and I like them as people. I even admire them for their ability to feed their families on strict grocery budgets by making use of coupons or other means. …But I would really hate to be in line behind them at the grocery store…
At the pinnacle of my couponing fervor, I found myself seething behind a lady who was buying twenty-seven bags of powdered doughnuts and had as many coupons. Several of them were printed from a website, and the scanner was having difficulty reading the bar code, so the cashier was having to enter them manually. It was seven minutes before our mid-week service started, and I had run in to the store to quickly purchase a box of cookies for my toddler class. I was so irritated that this transaction was tying up the only available checkout lane, that I left my purchase on the conveyor belt and fumed out of the store.
4.) Subscribing to the newspaper was a really, really bad idea.
Remember that six month subscription for which I paid $52 and only garnered about $4 in savings?
That was a really bad idea…and not because I lost money.
Ever since I canceled that subscription, I regularly get calls asking me to renew. I say “No, thank you.” They call back. I say, “Really. No.” They beg. I hang up. They send me a letter. I throw it away. They call back, this time offering me a severely discounted price. I say, “Stop calling me.” They don’t listen.
It’s really getting rather embarrassing. I’ve been told I’m hard-hearted, but it does make me rather uncomfortable to listen to grown men cry because I won’t take the newspaper. When they start offering me their firstborn child, I’ll probably have to do something about it…
So, there you have it. That’s why I don’t coupon.
But don’t just take my word for it…sound off in the comments below about your own experiences.