Recently as I was checking out at one of the grocery stores I frequent, while the cashier was ringing up my purchases another store employee came over to her and said “another crazy coupon lady just walked in, watch out!”. I was making a small grocery run that day so I only had approximately $30 worth of products but of course I also was planning on using a few coupons, 3 as a matter of fact. When it came time to complete my transaction, I cautiously handed over my coupons while I stared blankly at the floor. The cashier looked at every single word on each of the coupons and checked my bags to make sure they matched the item I was purchasing. I felt my stomach get tight and I was wondering if anyone that I knew was in the store to see me use COUPONS! Why, must I ask; am I feeling this way. I wasn’t doing anything illegal or even immoral as far as that goes I was simply trying to use a legitimate manufacturers marketing concept to get a few dollars off my grocery bill.
A few nights later I heard a news brief about the rash of coupon related crimes. Apparently people are stealing newspapers directly from individual’s paperboxes and even going to the extent of stealing the entire 100+ pound paper machine at commercial locations!
I’ve already seen the effect this new found “extreme” couponing has had on the face value of the coupons itself, stores franticly changing their coupon polices, empty shelves where the “deal” once rested, and let’s not forget the not so positive store employee attitudes when they see you holding an elusive coupon! I’ve even had people comment “are you one of those crazy people from that TV show?” No, I’m not one of “those people” and I’m starting to think that I will not even look at the coupon inserts in this Sunday’s paper (that I pay for on an annual basis to be delivered to my driveway). I have even removed links from this blog to sites that associate themselves with “extreme” couponing. I am starting to even consider if using coupons will be worth the stigma currently associated with them.
My thoughts are these “extreme” individuals will do one of two things, either they will give up their efforts since to achieve the obscure 95% savings the time investment is just too much for them to keep up or they will manage to change the entire couponing practices of manufactures and stores alike so much that the coupon will be a thing of the past.
Many individuals rely on these discounts to feed their families within their set budget. I have been an avid coupon user for years and I have always thought it was a great way to utilize your grocery dollars WISEly. I have always believed that you can cut your grocery bill by 30-40% by shopping store sales, meal planning, and yes, using coupons. But let’s be realistic and keep our wits about us please.