Over the summer I really began my conversion to self-proclaimed "crazy coupon lady". Extreme couponing became a sort of "way of life" for me. The thrill of a good deal, the rush of getting a whole cart full of personal care items for FREE. And even better, leaving the store with more value in gift cards than you actually paid in cash. Yes, sometimes they pay me to shop. It's in these past two weeks since I've taken a short hiatus that I really began to reflect on "couponing" and what it means to me and what some people interpret it as.
In my opinion, couponers tend to get a bad rap. We're just cheap, or what's the point in just saving a buck, we're trying to cheat the system, we're thieves, it's wrong. I've heard it all. Trust me.
If you know a couponer, or think you understand why couponers do what they do, I'm asking you to set that aside for a minute and hear me out. Let me tell you why I coupon. I'll be honest, some of us are just cheap, trying to save a buck. Some do "cheat" the system and commit coupon fraud, it happens. But the vast majority of us are in it for something much greater. We're not only in it for ourselves and our family's benefit, but to offer help to others.
Truth: I don't coupon to save money. I am blessed with a hard working farmer-husband that provides more than enough for us and I can certainly afford to go out and buy the basic necessities, groceries, toiletries that my family needs to survive. We are abundantly blessed, beyond measure. Some couponers are just considered poor right off the bat because we're trying to save money. Let me assure you, I am not poor.
Truth: we have struggled financially, I have gone to the grocery store without enough money in my wallet to buy the things I need. My credit card has been denied in the check out lane and I've had to put everything back. We've gone without. I wish I knew then what I know now about coupons, because it was then that I needed the "saving" part of couponing. During this time, I was at the home of one of the families at our church and my friend's mom (who knew we were going through a hard time) took me up to her stock pile room and let me pick out and take whatever we needed. Shampoo, conditioner, soap, shave gel. I remember leaving her house with a bag bursting at the seams with personal care products. I was practically in tears. To me and my family (just the farmer and I - at the time) this meant money that we didn't have to spend on these items could either go toward food or just straight to savings. To her it was nothing, I bet she doesn't even remember and I bet she didn't ever think twice about it. But to me it meant the world.
And that is why I coupon. It started as a way to get stocked up on diapers for princess. But it has transformed into so much more than that. I want to give away all that kind of stuff to others that struggle or have fallen on hard times just the way Natalie helped us out when we were in a tough spot. And I have, and I know how much it helps. Even if my friends are not struggling and they're over and they are like "oh, I have to get going...gotta stop and pick up some deodorant before work tomorrow" I'll be all like "oh heck no you don't! what kind do you use and do you want regular or clinical strength?" Because if I can clear some space in my stock pile that means I have room for more! Which means more deals and more thrills!!
So to all the nay sayers, next time you see me at Target with my cart full of more Pantene Pro-V and Crest Mouthwash than you'll ever use in your life time, don't roll your eyes. And if I have the lane blocked off with 4 separate transactions and a mountain of coupons to accompany each one, please save the under-your-breath comments and sighs of annoyance. I promise you what I'm doing is benefiting many other people than me. In fact, the farmer would probably agree that it really doesn't benefit me at all. Other than just really loving the art and science of couponing - and always having a plethora of shiny new personal care products to choose from - all I do is pay for this stuff and spend hours of my time planning the deals and doing the shopping to, in the end, give it all away. And I wouldn't change that for anything. If I can bring tears to someone's eyes because I just saved them $30 or $40 this month on personal care products than my work was not in vain. In fact, all my time and energy and money spent was quite worth it.
Give coupon ladies and gents the benefit of the doubt. Assume that if they have a cart full of product that either 1.) they have a home full of small or grown children, orphans or missionaries or 2.) they plan to donate most of or all of what they are buying. Don't roll your eyes, just pick another lane. And if you feel up to it, commend them for working hard to save money so they can help others. I've had a few guests and cashiers cheer me on in recent trips and there's nothing more exciting - than to see other shoppers get excited with you. It gives me a platform to talk about the new ministry I've started at church and to talk about the way God has abundantly blessed me and my family. Couponing has opened doors and has created new relationships for me. It's been a fun journey so far. I've taken a little break, but I'll be back in full force as soon as the farmer and I return from our little getaway this next week.
This was just an introduction to a couponing series I'd like to put together. I'll dig more into the methods to my madness and give more in depth couponing tips. I do not have a time line for this series, so just be patient. My new focus has shifted slightly from actual couponing and shopping myself to helping equip others to save money with coupons. So until my next post - happy couponing from the Farm.
The Farmer's Wife