To Coupon or Not to Coupon, That is the Question

CouponingIn my household of four we are consumers but in the literal sense, we buy it and we consume it, so there is no hoarding going on here, not even toilet roll. I don’t hate coupons, but I do love to save money and I’m willing to make it worth my while to clip them. However, reflecting on my shopping experiences has given me pause to consider if it’s really necessary—whether the time and energy it takes is worth the savings.

There are so many resources available; entire books have been written on couponing to help one become a thrifty and savvy shopper. Me? When it comes to grocery shopping I like to stick to the simplicity of clipping coupons, browsing through the weekly flyer ads and striving to benefit from the in-store discounts that are offered. Buy one get one free is terrific, but lately it’s all becoming too complex. I typically end up going to three out of six grocery stores in my area. (Hey, don’t judge, this works for me!)

Here’s the thing: strategic planning is necessary and I’m on a budget. I have this neat phone app that helps me (a shopping list with bar scanner and the ability to take pictures as well as keep track of my spending), so once I’ve looked at the flyer ads, weeded through coupons, checked the expiration dates and created my shopping list, it’s off to the races. I want to take every advantage, and this weekend I had an epiphany—instead of fighting though the competitive traffic of other shoppers on a Saturday morning, I decide to go at 5am.

Wonderful! Hardly anybody in the store, so I’m thinking this shouldn’t take long. I’m strolling along, purse in arm, flyer and coupons in one hand and phone app in the other. In the meantime, I’m scouring the items in front of me (this gives multitasking a new definition). Hang on, this item isn’t on the flyer, it’s not on my list either, but it’s on sale and it’s too good of a deal to pass up, so it take’s me a minute to decide. Sold! Moving on, I compare prices, brands, fumble through coupons (now I need an app to manage my coupons), fiddle with the phone app, but soon grow tired of punching in the data. I try to make smart decisions while trying to stay on budget, but these discounts and sales are hard to pass up. Sod it! And forget the budget! I become overwhelmed by it all and to my horror, I’ve spent an hour and forty-five minutes and have yet to check out. And it’s only my first stop.

This does not bode well. What kind of an idiot (oh yeah, me) subjects herself to this pantomime? I can’t help but get angry with myself in allowing these sales and coupons to become lordship and manipulate me. I’m mentally drained and physically exhausted, and I’m over budget. And this pesky phone app, a completely objective device designed to make life easier, ends up being abandoned, not to mention what I’ve spent in gas hopping from one store to the other.

At the end of the day, after reviewing my receipts, I find to my dismay I could have saved another $4 because I overlooked some coupons. However, I did save about $66 dollars and that is an excellent deal. So yes! In my world of madness, couponing will continue until I can figure out a more practical way to shop.

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One Response to To Coupon or Not to Coupon, That is the Question

  1. Patrick Scullin says:

    Thanks, Del, your shopping trip makes splitting atoms seem like child’s play.

    Great article, insights and point of view.

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