Lately, I’ve witnessed some really ugly behavior in the coupon community. It’s as if the veteran couponers have forgotten what it’s like to start out. It also seems like the act of couponing has little to do with saving their family money. Instead it’s become a competition and a ploy for bragging rights.
Watching couponers tear each other down and the constant need to one up each other made me think about my very first coupon experience.
Let me tell you about my very first couponing experience.
I spent at LEAST 4-5 hours working out a scenario at a local drugstore that would allow me to pay very little out of pocket.
At that time, we weren’t managing our money that well (read Our Story to learn more) and I knew that if I wanted to hop into the Drugstore Game, I was going to have to do it with what little cash I had been able to scrape off my grocery budget that month (I had not yet braved coupons at the grocery store!).
Armed with my coupons, and my two young children, I set out with my scenario and coupons in an envelope in my purse.
Time to Shop
I walked into the store shaky and uncertain. I had been in this store numerous times, but never with the intention of rolling rewards and completing multiple transactions.
After reading several forums, I knew I might not get a coupon friendly cashier. Or even worse, the items I needed to work my scenarios might not be in stock. I prayed they were, but had thought to add a few back up items to my list just in case.
As luck would have it, all my items were in stock. So I headed over to the cashier to check out.
Long story short, I left the store IN TEARS. Without my purchases. With my daughter and son asking me what was wrong? Why was that lady so mean to mommy?
I came home and read the coupon policy of the store. I posted what happened on a forum and was gently informed where I was wrong and where I was right. No one attacked me.
I decided I’d try another store later that evening when my husband came home and I could go alone, without my kids (just in case we had a repeat performance!).
This time, I went in confident. I went in armed with the coupon policy. I went in determined to save my family money.
And I did.
No roadblocks, no issues. The cashier seemed to understand what I was doing and was incredibly supportive. I drove home absolutely ecstatic. I had purchased items my family needed and I had saved over 90%!
Let’s Get Back to Basics
Too many would-be couponers give up because they had the first experience I had and they never had the courage to try again.
Too many would-be couponers give up because they made a simple mistake.
Too many would-be couponers don’t even begin because they are too scared.
Let’s make the coupon world a welcome place for these would-be couponers. Let’s support them when they are starting out. Let’s gently help them when they make mistakes.
Let’s celebrate the success of saving 10% the same way we celebrate the success of saving 90%.
Let’s be the kind of community that we can all be proud to be a part of.
Let’s not make this a competition.
Let’s say it’s okay to leave our coupons at home sometimes because our time is valuable too. Let’s give each other grace.
Let’s save money because it helps our families. Not because it’s a rush. Not because it makes us feel superior. Not because we feel burdened by doing so.
Let’s not be extreme. Let’s not be hoarders.
Most of all, let’s remember why we started couponing and reflect on where we are today because of those who took the time to teach us. Be THAT person for someone else.
Do you want to learn how to use coupons? Read my series on Strategic Shopping. I also have a series on Living Healthy on a Budget which will teach you how to eat healthy and live healthy while still utilizing coupons.