December 31, 2010

Sacrifices or How I Learned to Stop Sneering and Love the Coupon

Order Miche Bag Online!

It's been about three weeks since I discovered the word coupon can now be used as a verb. A woman in my mommy group suggested that we have a get-together to discuss tactics for "couponing." Puzzled, I went ahead and scheduled it. Then I started hearing about couponing all over the place.

Remember that scene in Jurassic Park where the lawyer suggests they have a "coupon day"? Let me refresh your memory:

Did you hear the contempt in his voice when he said the word "coupon"? That's how it has always sounded in my head. Coupons, to me, were a waste of time and used only by little old ladies to save $5.38 on their grocery bill. Probably the same people who keep their thermostat set to 65 in the winter. I just couldn't see how it was possibly worth the effort.


I guess I was wrong about that.

My family has been hit hard by the economy. Even with all the fat trimmed from our bills we are barely getting by each month. As the person who stays home (and the person who worked in finance for 11 years) the whole money thing falls on my shoulders. The one budget item we can actually do anything about is groceries. We pretty much buy everything generic but our grocery bill still averages around $600 / month.

A friend of mine told me about a television program she watched that showed people saving hundreds of dollars with coupons. I was skeptical but intrigued. I've done a lot of reading about it this week and I'm starting to understand how it works.

Step one: Acquire multiple copies of the Sunday paper each week. Record which coupons are included in each insert (there are websites that do this for you) and then file the inserts by date.

Step two: Wait for sales. When Colgate is on sale at Albertsons for $1.18 go dig out that Colgate coupon from three weeks ago and buy several tubes for the sale price minus the coupon value.

There's way more to it than that, but I'm getting the gist of how it is possible to save a LOT of money over time. Many people also take advantage of online sales with free shipping. I haven't started exploring that angle yet. I'm not sure how I feel about it. Truth be told I'm not proud of most of the things I've done to save money. Could there be a more evil corporation than WalMart? I can't even begin to categorize the many ways they are destroying society and the planet. But I've got to feed my family and I'm just not willing to pay the higher prices anywhere else.

Online shopping is terrifically convenient, but how much more oil is being used to mail the item directly to me rather than shipping it in bulk to a store? How many additional pollutants are released into the air? That's the crux of the entire global warming problem, isn't it? Convenience. There's a limit to how much we are willing to give up in order to preserve the planet for our grandchildren.

Sorry. I know that was a tangent, but I'll leave it in. It's something I think many of us are battling right now: cost & convenience vs. global responsibility. It's forgivable for one man to steal bread (destroy the planet) to feed his starving family, but what happens when every family is starving? If we're all stealing bread the whole system collapses.

I'll still be the first in line to order when has a big sale. Especially if I have a coupon.

 >>NEXT Check Out: Competent Dads and Other Mythical Creatures

1 comment:

  1. I think Deal Seeking Mom is a great resource for couponing:

    I have a hard time with couponing. I love the idea of it, but I'm not willing to compromise my family's health to buy the highly processed foods that coupons are usually for. You don't generally see a coupon for an apple. Shopping at Trader Joe's has really helped me save money without coupons AND get organic items.

    It's hard though, because our grocery budget is very high because we eat this way. I keep trying to find "budget friendly" organic/healthy recipes, but it's a challenge... So much cheaper to eat crap. Hate that.


All opinions welcome, but play nice or be deleted.