Years ago I used coupons faithfully. I was a stay at home mom making ends meet on an extremely tight budget, and I had a vehicle to get around in. This was back in the day when you got your Sunday paper, clipped your coupons and sorted them into a coupon folder. This was back before you could download coupons from the Internet, and before coupons were spit out with your register receipt.
Things are different nowadays. There are many ways to get coupons, and there is the new sport known as Extreme Couponing. I know a few of these extreme couponers and I have to tell you I wonder if this is not just another addiction or hoarding problem. I know they spend a lot of time working to get these deals when they could make more money working at a part time job.
My use of coupons decreased when we lived without a car for three years. If the coupons were not good at the nearest grocery store (products on sale to use the coupons with because typically if the brand name item is not on sale then you can get the almost always just as good generic for less money even if you used the coupon on the brand name item) then they were useless to me since to get to another store would cost more money and time on the bus.
When we moved out to this rural area, and I started working three days a week I found my use of coupons declining even further because now I had less spare time on my hands and unless I spent time running errands after I got off work I had to drive a minimum of 25 miles to the grocery store on my off days.
I finally stopped using coupons altogether when I stopped eating processed foods and stopped using chemical cleaning and personal care products. It’s not even worth it to buy the paper on Sunday. First of all, I’d have to drive 25 miles to get one… yes, I could have the paper delivered but this is another of my money saving techniques – don’t look at sales ads. I find that I get a case of the “gotta haves” whenever I look at any of the store ads, so by not looking I totally take that distraction out of my life.
I hear about these extreme coupon theatrics and it just seems to me like couponing is being taken advantage of to the point where more and more rules are going to be implemented and eventually I think it is going to become too much trouble for the companies to offer coupons, and stores to accept coupons, especially when they literally need to send their cashiers to additional schooling just to make sure they know all the rules.
It used to be that the cashier had to enter the coupons and she (or he) would verify that you had the exact product. Then it became possible to scan in the coupons and it was a little easier to skirt around the “rules” because even though the coupon said one thing, it would often scan for another product by the same manufacturer. I admit that I tried that once in a while. Say the coupon said chunky peanut butter but I wanted creamy. I figure that is innocent enough. But apparently nowadays there are these things called “overages” which means you actually would get money back if your coupon is higher priced, except they don’t actually give you money back, you just make sure to have enough items to make up for the difference. When I was couponing there was no such thing. If the coupon was for $1.00 and the peanut butter was $0.79, then your coupon just decreased in value to $0.79. Sometimes the scanner doesn’t catch that the coupon is expired. Back in the day I went through my little coupon wallet and tossed expired coupons. Nowadays I guess you hang onto them for weeks to see if you can still use them.
It is definitely a lot more complicated than it used to be.
Are you an extreme couponer? Do you know any? Do you aspire to be one?