Despite many (admittedly feeble) attempts to “score big” using coupons, I must confess that I simply don’t get it. It’s not that I lack resources, of course. The blogosphere is filled with moms who would be delighted to show me the way.
Still, I can’t shake the feeling that using coupons simply isn’t worth the time and effort involved — at least not for me. I just don’t think I have the personality for it.
That’s not to say I’m a spendthrift. On the contrary, our family can be quite miserly. We have one reliable car, we don’t have cable, we have a super-cheap cell phone plan, I probably own (I am not joking, ladies) maybe four or five pairs of dress shoes, and we still use the same television that my hubby bought more than 10 years ago.
The only area where I’m guessing we spend a LOT more than the average family is on food. We like to eat at nice restaurants, and our grocery budget is rather large for a family of three.
But I don’t think that coupons would improve our lives for three reasons:
- I buy minimally processed foods whenever possible. Our usual grocery haul includes fresh produce, meat, bulk grains/dried fruits, milk, yogurt, cheese, butter, eggs and bread. From time to time, we’ll also stock up on olive oil, spices, jarred tomatoes and other basic pantry items. What I find is that coupons rarely apply to these staples. So unless you buy commercially prepared processed foods, do coupons really pay off?
- I hate shopping. Well, I don’t mind grocery shopping a couple of times a week, but I certainly wouldn’t want to spend a great deal of energy doing it. Making a list and going to one store (sometimes two) is really about all I can handle. So you can imagine that comparing circulars, assembling binders and darting all across the city might be a bit much for me. So for people who don’t love playing "the game," are coupons worth the time and energy involved?
- I don’t have the room (or desire) to stockpile. Couponing seems to be predicated on the idea that you seize opportunities when they arise — even if you don’t need an item at that moment. This might mean that you buy 10 boxes of crackers because they’re almost free (or because you earn points/store credit for future purchases of things that you do need). My tiny pantry simply can’t handle that degree of stockpiling. And my brain can’t cope with that many “what if” scenarios. So if you only want to buy what you actually need on a weekly/biweekly basis, does couponing even work?
Am I missing something? Sure, I’m fascinated by moms who claim to feed their large families on $10 a week (or some other amazingly small amount). But for people seeking simplicity and minimalism in their lives, is couponing a boon or bane?