I was hooked.
Sure, it cost some money up front. Sure, it got some strange looks from passersby. Sure, it even consumed my evenings and weekends. But I was saving money. I was stockpiling all sorts of necessities. I was guaranteed to never pay more than 50 cents for a tube of toothpaste ever again.* I was couponing. Not the fill-up-five-carts, clear-the-shelves kind of couponing, but I was couponing nonetheless.
And I got really good at it. I knew where to score cheap Sunday papers (thanks, Dollar Tree!). I knew which friends and family I could hit up for more Sunday coupon inserts. I knew which cashiers at Target wouldn’t roll their eyes at me when I used a MQ (clipped, printed, or peelie), TQ, and Cartwheel.** I knew how to score freebies on tons of items that we used regularly.
Then everything came to a screeching halt.
As I was wont to do after most of my couponing triumphs, I texted a photo. Contained in that photo were two jumbo bottles of contact solution with the caption: Free! Score! Saved over $20! Rather than replying back with her usual adulation and misused abbreviations, she sent a response that stopped me in my tracks: Good thing. U don’t wear contacts.
That’s right. I don’t wear contacts. Neither does Mr. P nor does anyone else in our family for that matter. Sure, I could probably track down a third or fourth cousin*** who wears contacts, but I’m not all that eager to kick start a family reunion over contact solution.
Fortunately for me, there is a nearby women’s shelter that accepts donations of all sorts of toiletries – including this contact solution. Still, it was a pretty big wake up call for me when I realized I was couponing for things that I didn’t need. While I haven’t ended my relationship with coupons entirely, I’m much more of an occasional user now. I find that in the long run, a more relaxed take on couponing saves me time, money, space, and sanity.
*If you’re a couponer, I know what you’re thinking.: 50 cents for toothpaste? Amateur. I score that free all the time!
**If you thought coupon would be abbreviated with a C, you thought wrong. And yes, couponing does have its own language.
***Do fourth cousins really exist? What about third? I’m pretty sure I can only follow the logic for first cousins. Maybe someone could draw me a picture.
So tell me…How often do you buy things that you don’t need? Are you a fan of coupons?
kay ~ the barefoot minimalist
Oh that show had me hooked for quite some time! I loved it! But I don’t have family, friends, or neighbors who deliver newspapers that can get me dozens of inserts. That appeared to be the way so many on the show seemed to score so big. Plus, I think a lot of manufacturers have gotten wise to our ways and figured out all kinds of angles to get around the giant savings. And now that I live in Florida, there doesn’t seem to be double couponing down here. So anyway,, like you, I coupon a bit more relaxified now. I know it’s not a word, not yet anyway! 😛 Super article and SO nice to meet you Penny! 🙂
I totally agree with all your points! My city is too big to really do double coupon days, and I do think stores/manufacturers have tightened the reigns quite a bit. Now if I coupon, I think about how much time I’m spending. So I’ll usually just scan my grocery list, compare to a printable database, and be on my merry way in about five minutes. Great to meet you, too. Thanks for stopping by! Hope to hear from you again soon!
I use coupons, but only on the things we need. I can understand the rush from scoring something for free.
I completely understand that freebie rush. I don’t play the lottery or gamble, but I can totally understand how small win after small win could hook someone in for a very long time. That’s great that you’re very purposeful with your couponing. I’d like to think that I am much more now, too. Thanks for chiming in!
Vickie @Vickie's Kitchen and Garden
I was a big couponer too! Our stores here quit doubling about the same time I decided we need to eat a little healthier. Now I coupon but it is mostly e-coupons and a couple of coupons I may print. Things change and sometimes quickly!
I’m a big fan of printables now. Once I make my shopping list, I can search a database really quickly. You’re right about the healthy eating, too. Unfortunately, most coupons are for processed foods, which we try to stear away from. Thanks for stopping by!
Heather @ Simply Save
Thanks for sharing your experience! My wake up call was when I realized I have more shampoo than I can use in the next 10 years! I donated some to a shelter. I still believe that stockpiling can save money, but I don’t stock as much anymore. I’m more of a casual couponer, meaning I don’t seek them out like crazy, but when I receive them or find them, I do try to stack them and save.
I agree. It’s definitely something to be more strategic about. Coupons can yield big savings, but I try to keep my time in perspective, too, now.
Great post! I like using coupons, but I don’t take out extra time to go find them, I look through the ones I get in the mail and clip the ones that are only for things I will need. I keep them in a pile and before I head out to run errands I see if I have a coupon for anything on my list. I don’t like to stockpile too much and there will always be another coupon for it later so if a coupon expires before I need it, no big deal.
Thank you, Liz! Your strategy sounds very effective. And you’re right. The deals always come back around. Glad you stopped by!
I’ll draw you a verbal picture on the cousins. Your first cousins are the children of your parents’ siblings. You share grandparents with your first cousins. Your first cousin’s children are your first cousins, once removed (meaning one generation). Your children and your first cousin’s children are second cousins. Your first cousin’s grandchildren are your first cousins, twice removed. Your grandchildren and your first cousin’s grandchildren are third cousins–and so on down the line.
And I bet I could’t pawn my contact solution off on any of them! Thanks for the fun reply.
Mel @ brokeGIRLrich
Couponing is sort of fascinating to me, but as someone who has generally lived in small spaces, I never got all crazy into it. .50 for toothpaste is pretty impressive to me though!
Our space is somewhat limited here, too, so I’ve never been big into stockpiling. But I was definitely guilty of buying silly things like the contact solution.
Hayley @ Disease Called Debt
So far, I’ve haven’t been overly into couponing just because of the time factor. But I do collect them for my local supermarket and overtime, I can transfer the coupons for money off my shopping or various household goods! I would like to do more though.
Sounds like you’re off to a great start. And staying mindful of how much time you’re spending is key, I think! I’d love to hear from you again if you decided to get more into it.
We don’t really have great coupons here in Australia, save for the petrol voucher ($0.04 off per litre) we get when we spend $30 on groceries in some supermarkets. If we did, I’d probably be buying a lot of stuff I don’t need too. Saving money is addictive and when you’ve already formed the habit, it’s hard to break unless you stop and regroup, just like what you did. 🙂 You did well, congratulations! And good luck on your moderate couponing!
I’m intrigued by this petrol voucher! You’re right that saving can be addictive. But I think I’ve got my sanity back, now. Thanks for stopping by!
We do rather get 50 Cent off an item, than getting it for 50 Cent entirely. That’s in Germany. Also we do not have coupon inserts in Sunday Papers.
Myself I buy one Magazine, that has Coupons worth about 60 €. Not all of them I use, and they are the “buy one – get on free” kind. So if I have something, that I really like, I might buy it or if it is something, that I’d like to try.
Then there are also coupons, that I give to my oldest niece, so she can get 2 for one or I buy the item and give them to her. Therefore she gets a little help.
Sweets I buy only when I know, that I’ll have guests, to whom I can offer them.
But the show fascinates me. They not only buy, what they don’t need (sometimes), they also don’t factor in the cost for gas, for electricity (when they buy extra computers or freezers) and time. And time for me is the most expensive item, as I don’t get that back ever. At least with the magazine, I have something nice to read.:-)
I liked your article very much by the way. Well written and informative. Thank you!