This post was inspired by a Google search for “so over coupons” that led someone to my site. I laughed when I first saw it, then I realized, Hey, I really AM over coupons! So, for the person who searched for that term, I don’t know if you’re still reading or not, but this post is for you.
My Historical Hatred of Coupons
When I was a kid, my mom had this ugly vinyl pouch full of coupons. In all her OCD glory, Mom stuffed that pouch so full of coupons the Velcro wouldn’t even fasten, and they were all alphabetized by brand. (Does that make her a hipster since she couponed before it was cool? She would be so excited!) I used to roll my eyes when she brought it on grocery trips – sometimes I even stayed in the car while she lugged her pouch and looked for deals. It was SO EMBARRASSING.
Of course, I didn’t realize how poor we were growing up. My parents were experts at spending money where they thought it counted. My sister and I had name brand clothes, cute backpacks, and we were the first family in our neighborhood to own a Nintendo with the PowerPad. I had no idea how hard they were working in the background to skimp on other things so we could look like everyone else. All I knew was, using coupons seemed like we were trying to get something for free, and I didn’t like it.
So anyway, that was my sole experience with coupons for a lot of years (except for the fact that Jayden’s great-grandmother on his dad’s side uses them to hoard laundry detergent, and pronounces it “Q-pins”). When I got married and moved out on my own, I didn’t clip coupons, even though we were pretty broke. I didn’t know anyone my age who walked around the store with coupons in hand. I even got pissed off standing behind someone in the checkout line trying to use Walmart’s price match – “Those 12-packs of Cherry Lava Spit Soda are on sale at Kroger. The chips are buy one get one free at Save-a-Lot.” Then the clerk spends 30 minutes searching through the various print ads to make sure the person isn’t lying.
I mean, REALLY?!?!? Can’t you just pay for your stupid groceries and get out of my way?
The Couponing Frenzy
Oh yes, couponing is a verb now. That’s how many people have jumped on the bandwagon. TLC’s popular show Extreme Couponing has created a monster. And I’ll just tell you – I’m over it.
If I thought it was bad before, all I had to do was wait for a recession. Suddenly it’s trendy to buy these enormous color-coded binders, hit up everyone in 3 states for the ads out of their newspapers, and post freaking PICTURES of your “savings” on Facebook. Oh, and you have to buy all kinds of stuff you don’t even use just because you can get 30 of them for $6 instead of the $79 retail price. And be sure to take pictures of the bottom of your receipt so everyone can admire how much you saved.
Question: If you have to go spend money on binders and tab dividers and baseball card holders, then drive around to get all those newspapers, then spend 200 hours a week organizing all the coupons and checking expiration dates, what exactly are you really saving?
Oh, America. Even when you save, you waste.
I watched a few episodes of Extreme Couponing. For research purposes and out of morbid curiosity. And while it was definitely entertaining, I’m not sure it was for the reasons TLC intended.
So these people literally have shelves and shelves of STUFF in their basements. Shampoo. Shave gel. Canned corn. Fabric softener. Their homes look like grocery stores. And they’re all like, “ZOMG I never have to buy mustard ever again LOL!” Except they do – the next time there’s a coupon for mustard.
One lady bought like 60 bags of cat food and she didn’t even own a cat. In her defense, she did say she planned to donate it to an animal shelter. But I have a friend who constantly buys cheap dog food and doesn’t have any pets. She’s keeping it “just in case” she ever decides to get a dog. I’m sorry but that’s bullshit. Because then people like me go to the store to get the certain type of dog food that my picky dogs will eat (you know, because I actually OWN dogs), and the shelves are empty. “Sorry about that,” the employees say. “There was a coupon in Sunday’s paper so it was gone really quickly.”
What exactly are we stocking up for, people? A zombie apocalypse? Shouldn’t there be a point where you don’t need to go to the grocery store anymore EVER, because you’ve purchased all of the things available for sale? But the coupon-obsessed are in the store every five minutes because they need their fix.
That’s right – couponing has become an addiction. The rush of waiting to see if you can get $1000 worth of junk for $300. The panic attacks when a coupon can’t be doubled, rendering your entire strategic plan useless. The back pain when you carry 60 bags of cat food to your 3rd floor apartment, just because you saved money doing it. The SUV you buy to bring home all those bags of cat food because they won’t fit in a car.
People from other countries make fun of us because of our affinity for excess. As a nation, we’re fat as hell. We drive Hummers that require $200 in gas just to pick up our little snowflakes from school, because riding the bus is for common people. (I admit I’m guilty of this – not the SUV part, but picking Jay up from school even though he could totally ride the bus.) We consume food, electronics, media, and clothing like the world is ending and we’ll never see these things again. And now we’re using coupons, something that should SAVE us money, to buy and consume more than ever before. Yeah, I think we kind of fail at frugality.
Don’t send hate mail.
I know there are some people who use coupons like normal humans. They are trying to provide for their families on a limited budget, and the money they save on groceries is carefully budgeted to pay for other necessities. Those aren’t the people I get mad at.
But when you’re strolling through Walmart with two shopping carts, chatting on your iPhone while trying not to ruin your manicured nails, buying 100 bottles of ranch dressing to lug into your McMansion so your housekeeper can put them away? Get over yourself. You’re just doing that to be like all the other cool kids. And you aren’t saving any money because you probably spent $500 on the clothes you’re wearing. And you probably used a credit card to pay for all those groceries in the first place.
If coupons work for you, that’s fantastic. For me, it just doesn’t make sense to put forth that much effort to save $10 on my groceries.
Personally, I’m looking forward to a new trend. Hopefully something like Extreme Saving. Because no matter how dysfunctional most of us are (and I’m including myself in that category), it’s pretty hard to screw up actually saving money instead of just pretending we are.
PS. Right after I published this post, someone on Facebook posted about attending an extreme couponing class for “only $50 a person!” So now you’re spending fifty bucks to figure out what binder is best for your coupons?!?! WTF?