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An "Aha!" Moment

January 9th, 2007 at 04:28 am

I realized tonight why I donít use coupons. It was an eye-opening moment, finally figuring out why, why, why.

Iíve been like Amy Dacyczyn (Tightwad Gazette) in some ways regarding coupon use. I felt that by cooking from scratch and buying bulk and buying generic and buying low cost items I had a very reasonable grocery budget. I was like that for years. Then, from being at the SavingAdvice site, I became intrigued by the idea of using coupons. Some people were savings serious amounts of money, and not just on junky convenience food. I won a batch of coupons from Flash, and I signed up for a Coupon Train.

I got the packet, and opened it up, and did not get excited. I felt overwhelmed. There were a ton of excellent coupons in there, but I just didnít get into it. I pulled older coupons like I was supposed to, filled it with the ones I got from Flash and a few I had been savings ($5 Citrucel, the like) and sent it off. And didnít use a single one.

I was puzzled. Here I am all into savings, and frugal activities, and I just couldnít get into coupons. I forgave myself and moved on. I decided that coupons were an excellent way to save money for many people, but that I was fine with my grocery bill (average $96 a month) and made peace with not using coupons, though I was still puzzled as to why.

Tonight I was getting into my bath and I brought a Costco booklet with me. The booklet contained a ton of manufacturerís couponsÖ.and they all say how much off but donít say the actual cost. And I realized thatís why I have been unable to get into coupons. I need to know the price I am paying. The amount off doesnít really matter.

If I skip the majority of items in the booklet which Iíd never buy (facial tissues, fabric softener, paper napkins, DVDs, vitamin water, instant oatmeal, Pringles, Folgers) and look at the items I might buy, I see things like ď$3 off Playtex 88 count.Ē The $3 means nothing to me. I know my bottom line is that I prefer paying a dime apiece or less for tampons; $4 a forty pack. (Yeah, this might be too much information, but dagnabbit, thereís not much I would buy from these coupons.) So I need to know whether, after coupon, the box will be $8.80 or less. Without that information, the coupon means nothing to me.

Now there are super organized people who can keep these organized and go to Costco and be able to quickly check and use the coupon if it is a savings. But this isnít a skill I am interested in gaining. When I find tampons at the right price I can stock up and call it good. I do other frugal activities I enjoy more.

It makes sense now that I do look at Safeway Club card mailers or any inserts that refer to loss leaders. I am on the look out for good deals- itís not that I am uninterested in getting the best deal; it's that for me, I need the bottom line to have it make sense. If the flyer says ď2 for $3Ē I know the item is $1.50, and can decide, sitting in my chair at home, if itís a good deal. With the cents off coupons, I have to take the coupon to the store to know how much I could potentially save, and even then, the savings could be nothing for a particular coupon.

Itís just nice to finally understand what my block was. Iím still at peace with not using coupons, but now I clearer on why.

18 Responses to “An "Aha!" Moment”

  1. boomeyers Says:

    And, if you are like me, you buy generic which does'nt need coupons!

  2. contrary1 Says:

    I too, gave them a try after hearing the buzz here again. But, for us, there was no real pay off for the time spent. I hate to shop, so going to a store to check out prices is NOT on my to do list. Actually have someone else shop for me here & they were diligently using the coupons & playing along with me to see if it would work.

    I don't think we shop like most people is my bottom line. I can go for ages before I run across something I write down on the grocery list.

    So, I ended up passing on the coupon bit...........and didn't notice a change in the grocery bill at all............but did save some time.

  3. LuckyRobin Says:

    I rarely use coupons, either for similar reasons. I will use them on organic products if I come across them, but that's about it.

  4. baselle Says:

    To tell you the truth, I much prefer to use the price book / rain check method than the coupon method, but even with the rain checks, I still don't cash those in all that diligently. I mean, ultimately, you have to buy the stuff in the first place. Not buying is going to be cheaper than buying with a coupon. Coupons really get you to try new stuff. I dun wanna!

  5. The Dollar Diva Says:

    I find many times coupons end up costing me money. They are on name brand products which cost more anyway and many times you have to buy two or three of the item when you only want one.

    I too pass on the coupons.

  6. StressLess Says:

    Interesting to hear your reason. I'm sure one of the reasons they put coupons out is to make you look at their product in the store--which is exactly what you don't want to bother doing if you're not sure the price is going to be right. I don't blame you. Frankly, I'm relieved when I can find a reason to stop using a particular kind of coupon, like when I discovered Aldi's tissues were just fine, and cost the same as when I bought Scotties on sale with coupons.

  7. vsjhoc Says:

    I use coupons rarely -- only if it's something I definitely want and there is no generic. Reynolds crockpot liners is the best example -- no one else makes them, and I'm not game to try and fashion a substitute and melt plastic all over my food.

    Another reason I don't like coupons -- sometimes I forget to use them for the item I've chosen! D'OH!!!

  8. princessperky Says:

    very cool explination....

  9. livingalmostlarge Says:

    Cool, thanks. I wrote about this too, and found that coupons don't work well for me personally. We're DINKS who eat from scracth, don't eat a lot of prepackaged/canned food, and we like to eat meat, veggies, etc. We do not need 270 packages of pasta (a woman on another board told me this) or 50 boxes of cereal (again same woman), because of the savings. Nor do I need 15 tubes of toothpaste, when one last a few months.

    I don't need to bulk up cleaners, laundry detergent, etc and I don't have the space. And it would last years if I stocked up like people said. So does it really make sense for us to bulk up to live in a bigger living area to save $4 on a dish soap?

    I'd save more by just shopping more and living in a smaller apartment.

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