For National Coupon Month – a Contrarian View

September is National Coupon Month. But don’t believe the hype – not all advice about coupons is worth your time.

When I heard this was National Coupon Month, I wondered: “Says who?” Apparently, the Promotion Marketing Association (PMA) decided 13 years ago to declare September “a month-long celebration of savings.”

Except I’m not buying it, with a coupon or not.

I use coupons, but I purposefully flout a lot of the advice I’ve read this month about what I should be doing. For example…

Coupon killjoys

Don’t buy an item you don’t need just because you have a coupon for it.” Well, I do. And on purpose. I hate frugality experts telling me I need to save money by forgoing fun. I intentionally use coupons for stuff I’ve never tried before. Last week, I had a buy-one-get-one-free offer for Special K. I’ve eaten Special K before, but never in strawberry or chocolate flavors. So for the price of one box, I got to try two boxes.

But what if I like strawberry Special K? And chocolate Special K? Warns this killjoy expert: “Once you’ve tasted it, you might be tempted again next week, and suddenly it’s a regular item on your shopping list – at the regular price.”

Oh no! I’m enjoying a meal I never had before! Turns out, I dig the strawberry Special K, but the chocolate was terrible – I’d rather just eat real chocolate. Still, I consider this a coupon success, not a coupon disaster.

Intentional disorganization

Organize your coupons.” If I spend $35 on this coupon organizer, I can save hundreds later. Sorry, but I’m not going to spend money and hours clipping coupons. If a coupon is valued at less than 50 cents, it’s beneath me. if it requires me buying more than three of the product – why do yogurt coupons always want me to buy six or eight? – then forget it, I’m not that hungry. So all the coupons I do clip are worth my time, and I don’t have so many that I can’t keep track. Also, I usually use coupons within a few days of clipping them, further cutting down the coupon clutter. Maybe I miss some deals here and there, but I never have that angst of uncovering a big coupon I could’ve used, but now it’s expired.

Enough with online, already

Internet printable coupons have expanded our resources for saving on our weekly grocery bills.” Maybe, but I spend too much time online already. I work on a computer, and I’m not too proud to admit I play computer games. The last thing I want to do is scour the worldwide web for coupons, although there plenty of meta-search sites (like this one). So where do I get my coupons? From the newspaper. I subscribe, which is cheap and convenient. And if I find some good, pricey coupons – especially the Holy Grail of coupons, those for $1 off or more – I buy more newspapers. This may sound odd, but here’s what I do: On Sunday morning on my way to the grocery store, I drive one intersection further and buy a couple more copies of my local paper from the homeless person who works that corner. It’s convenient and cost-effective for me, and I know at least a few cents are trickling down to someone who needs it.

Not on the first date – or the 100th

Is it cheap to use coupons on a date? This has been a gray area in discussions with my friends.” Do your friends date much? And are they guys? Because I’m reminded of a study I wrote about last month that claimed, “Only 44 percent of women say frugal dates are smart and sexy.”

Recession or not, it’s never a good idea to whip out a 2-for-1 coupon at a restaurant with your new sweetie – or even your old spouse. I’d never take my wife of 12 years on a date and use a coupon. Now, we eat plenty of meals at restaurants and have used coupons before, but never on our “date nights.” Those are supposed to be special, and no coupon is special enough. So here’s my parting advice: Don’t let your coupon-mania get in the way of your sex life.

So this is just one man’s opinion – and not the same as Money Talks News owner Stacy Johnson. He’s given a lot of the same advice I disagreed with above and done lots of stories promoting coupon use, including this one: X-Treme Coupon Clipping. But the writers here are encouraged to provide our own opinions – and now you have mine!

What’s your opinion on coupons? Leave a comment or drop us a line!

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

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  • Anonymous

    I believe there is a fine line between couponing for saving money and couponing as a sport. When I read these blogs of how people spend $5 and save $250 (for example,) I can’t help but wonder – do they have an entire room in their house dedicated to their finds, with cereal and toothpaste stocked from floor to ceiling? And you normally can’t get coupons for staples like milk, meat and fresh produce, so I also believe they must have much bigger grocery bills that they aren’t touting on their online blogs. So I think the best way to use coupons, like anything else in life, is with common sense. Use them on what you would buy anyway – for restaurants you would go to anyway (even on date night dude-any woman who wants you to spend carelessly because the dinner is a “date” must not care about saving money), and for donation to local food pantries. Just my 2 cents!

  • Anonymous

    Being someone who is just now looking at coupons differently I think you make bad points.  We clip the coupons from our paper for everything.  We trade or give them away to friends who use the products we don’t and vice versa.  And expired coupons don’t go in the trash either.  There are groups which collect them to send to overseas troops who can use them for up to 6 months after expiration.  Looking for coupons online is not bad, just follow a group or someone on facebook or have an email sent to you of ones they find and you can pick and choose what you want to print.  But don’t bash those that want to save as much money as possible.

  • At the end of the day, smart couponing is about getting what you need or want at an affordable bargain.  If it becomes an obsession that eats up your time, better not have it at all.

    No idea too that there was such a thing as national coupon month.

    Wholesale Beads

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