5/8/14

Confessions of a (Former) Couponer

I am really good at couponing if I do say so myself. At one time, I considered myself extreme in my own right. Anyone who will drive from one CVS to another in search of a free toothbrush is an extreme couponer.!  I just loved taking those pictures, you know...I got all this for free, in fact, they paid me $10 to leave with it. Truth is, today I would not take it if they paid me ten times that amount. Seriously, what did I get for my money?  Or, for my time, which is much more significant to me?

Good deal! Almost free!

In the end I lost so much more than I gained...except for my weight, I definitely gained that snarfing down frozen pizzas and ironically "Healthy" Choice lunches. Gee, Wasn't I a "Smart One."

I waved my "Lucky Charms" over the cashier and walla, free cereal.

Thankfully I never lost my virtue in my couponing days. I was honest to a point of spending 35 minutes in Walmart Customer Service trying to explain why I owed them ten dollars and they could not for all the coupons in America figure out:

A. Why I would confess this
B. That I was really serious
C. How the heck to accept my money without the whole operation crashing to the ground.

I had my hands slapped by a cashier for trying to pick up one of my own coupons! I experienced the Eye rolling as they treat you as "ugh! one of those people. Seriously, in the end it was seriously beneath my dignity to hand over a coupon and I almost went in in sunglasses and a trench coat.

I grappled with myself as to whether it was honest to come home with 15 bottles of some vitamin I will never take (still have some if anyone wants them) because I "made" $5 in Walgreens credits just for stepping in the store.

So, there were many reasons I stopped couponing but the biggest one of all happened a couple of years ago when one day, as I was thoughtlessly downing a free box of Mac and Cheese, free Crystal Light drink mix and following up with 66 cent Oreos (score!), I stopped a second and looked at the ingredients. Not just the calorie and fat content. But the actual ingredients. Then I threw up in my mouth a little. I was not eating food. I was not sure what I was eating, there were 25 ingredients on the box and I didn't recognize a single one... except high fructose corn syrup. I knew that one. My world came crashing down that day.


                                        Image courtesy of cbenjasuwan/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I tossed the coupon book, cancelled my four, YES FOUR, Sunday paper subscriptions and went all old fashioned. I started sourcing raw milk and grass fed beef. We bought chickens for fresh eggs. I tossed the white sugar and flour, purchased raw honey and real maple syrup and started making my own bread. I decided that we would only eat food that was still actually food, not a food like substance and are we richer because of it?

I am not going to lie. It is expensive. But are we richer? In more ways than I can count. I do not spent 25 hours a week clipping coupons, checking coupon sites, and driving to five or six different stores to pick up one or two items at each for free. Now I spend my time learning and growing and teaching others. Our health is amazing. Our moods are even. And I know more now than ever before.  So, are we richer? Absolutely in more ways than I could ever have imagined.

I have become a conspiracy theorist in my old age. Life was easier when I had my head stuck in my closet smiling staring at my latest haul. But when I look at what the coupons are good for, I have to wonder what is the marketing tool used for? And who is footing the bill?


Indulge me in this for just a moment. Couponing did not get me hooked on a single product. In fact, my friends who refused to jump on the bandwagon with me and coupon refused because they only wanted to use Tide, and nothing else. Couponers can't be choosy. You pick the brand you can get for pennies on the dollar...or free is even better! So, if it is Sun, you get Sun. So, the idea that companies dangle a coupon out there for you to try their product in hopes you will love it so much you will be loyal does not jive with me. There are a few people that may roll that way, but not extremists, Oh NO! Branding means nothing to us. So, why are companies consistently just giving the stuff away?

Let's look at the places where you get your greatest coupon values! The Pharmacy. Isn't that Special? Why do CVS, RiteAid and Walgreens send you out with most of your products for free? Why is the biggest assortment of candy on earth available at these three stores? Why do these three stores that have the most items for sale to get you "well" also sell the products most likely to back to buy the products to get you "well," and well, if you have coupon for a free snickers, might as well pick that up along with your Tamiflu and Sudafed on the way out the door. Be back later for more free candy and expensive OTCs! Both of which are going to do the same thing to me...wreck my gut. Not to mention chemical laden cleaners and beauty products, synthetic vitamins that give the appearance of making you healthy, and shelves full of frankenfoods that have no place in the food chain.

Not everything in those stores is bad. They have razors, and...band-aids.. Around here, the two go hand in hand. You can also find glass water bottles and raw nuts. So, maybe, just maybe there is a reason that coupons exist. It is not and never has been to save the average consumer money. It is to get you to buy a product, period. And for most of us, it is a way to get us sicker and sicker so we have to pay more and more to the drug store. You can draw your own conclusions here. But I will pass on the coupons and the fake food and the drug store.

Do you find this "Pinteresting"? Is it likeable? Does it leave you Twitterpated? Please consider following My Lamp is Full on Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter.

This post is partying with these awesome hops.  Check them out for inspiration



25 comments:

  1. I loved reading this. I always wondered what it was that flipped that switch from extreme couponer to healthy living guru :) I was never able to get into couponing too much for those reasons you just listed.. there was too much junk that I could get for free and not enough good stuff. I still like to stack my coupons at Target for a great deal on diapers or use my cartwheel app to get a deal on some berries :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. YES! Just 20 minutes ago I was speaking with a patient about the JUNK food coupons. I'd rather make my own yogurt or buy organic instead of buying yoplait because I have a coupon!!!
    THANK YOU for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wish you had pointed out sooner that I was buying junk. :) I need to get back on the target site...now that I am no longer addicted and see if they have coupons for their organic foods. Thanks for reminding me about that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They often have cartwheel deals for their simply balanced food!

      Delete
  4. Yes! Sharing in hopes someone has a light bulb moment while reading this.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ha Lyida! I am so thankful that mine came when it did.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well said Janine and nicely explained. I don't miss those days. Wink, Wink!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  9. THIS is why i dont coupon. It's why I don't use apps like Ibotta. It's ALL junk or products I don't use (we're almost all organic/natural here, and I make my own cleansers for 10% the cost of ANY cleanser out there, and they work. I wouldn't bother if they didn't.)

    Health has no price tag. You can't coupon your way to better health.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Truer words were never spoken Stephanie.

      Delete
  10. Excellent article and very enlightening. Stopping by from Juggling Real Food Party. Carrie, A Mother's Shadow

    ReplyDelete
  11. I laughed all through your post ... at your gut wrenching honesty! I've never been one to use coupons because so much of what they are for ... are items I wouldn't normally buy. You have to be careful ... and even the grocery stores who do those 10 for $10 ... price items at a dollar ... that normally cost less than a dollar! Thanks for sharing your story ... fantastic post that many should read!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I do think some of the deals I used to get were not the greatest deals. Toilet Paper was still probably cheaper at Sam's Club.

      Delete
  12. Oh thisis so true! My husband got so excited about couponing a couple of years ago (after watching "Extreme Couponing") and once we started buying the papers and cutting coupons we realized that most things we buy-flour, yeast, meat, veggies, cheese, cheese, cheese...heehee DO NOT EVER offer coupons! So they are just trying to get me to buy products, and that what we should be calling them-products! Not food because they are things that started out as food and are now just-products. Bleh. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Katie. I actually did get a lot of really cheap cheese as I recall. The other stuff, no not so much.

      Delete
  13. Love this!! Although I wasn't nearly as awesome of a couponer, I did attempt to do it for a little bit. Problem was, the only products I could find coupons for, were nothing I would want to eat or use in our home! Once I just started cooking for scratch and making most of our toiletries, I didn't need to coupon so much :) And I sure didn't mind missing the red-faced feeling I would get every time I would show up to the register with my massive coupon binder ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why did everyone else have the courage to say, I won't eat this or use this, so I am not going to buy it? I just bought everything! (Some I donated). It was like a drug I guess, glad I have come clean. :)

      Delete
  14. Truly revealing. I have never been a couponer because, well, I don't care what my couponing friends say ... *they* really don't offer coupons for organic meats, raw milk, and produce from the local farmstand.

    ReplyDelete
  15. YES I agree! Eating healthy is way more important to me than saving a few bucks! Checking this great, well written witty post out from Thrifty Thursday! :-)
    Cathy @ three kids and a fish

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great post! I will use coupons for products that I already use, but I never went "all in" with couponing. We're slowly making our way back to more foods with ingredients that I recognize as well...my waistline and sanity are worth those few extra pennies!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Well done you for giving it up and adopting a healthier lifestyle. x

    ReplyDelete
  18. I must admit I often find it is more trouble to use coupons than it's worth that is for sure! I rarely buy products I wouldn't normally because of a coupon but your post is really thought-provoking - and very witty too :-)

    ReplyDelete
  19. I used to coupon, but now I live in a rural area and it's not worth it anymore. I was always picky when I couponed though. I got a lot for free, but if I didn't use it I didn't buy it. Thanks for your homeacre blog hop submission :) Feel free to stop by this week and submit another!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Janine,
    After watching those amazing couponing "super star" shows on TV and marveling at the savings these couponers garnered for their families, I was tempted for a few moments, but I am not cut out for the hours of prep, organization, store hopping and shopping required to optimize this system. Plus, as you discovered, I don't want to eat processed foods or use lots of body care or cleaning products with harmful, often toxic, ingredients. Why should I fill my pantry--or as some couponers do--a whole storage room with unhealthy products even if they are free. My family's health is worth much more than that so thank you so much for sharing this revealing post with us at the Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Party Blog Hop! We appreciate it!

    ReplyDelete