Monday, June 6, 2011

Coupons and Criticism

I like saving money. Mostly because when I save it I have it spend somewhere else. I took up couponing about 8 months ago and I have really started saving money on my groceries. I won't make this into a coupon blog (or even a money-saving blog) because there are plenty of other ones out there. I plan to continue filling the random-party-crafty-type-thing-bizarre-thought-mixed-into-the-everyday niche that I currently occupy now, please don't worry.

But back to the couponing. I am not someone who is easily daunted. I very easily fall into righteous indignation equally over rights and wrongs. I am just as likely to return a dollar to the cashier as to make sure they don't overcharge me a dollar. I am all about fairness-especially when it comes to businesses.

And I am a fine-print reader. Want to know the ins and outs of a store's return policy? Ask me. Want to know what exclusions apply to a sale? I know them all. So when it comes to coupons, and coupon policies, trust me, I know what I am talking about. I can tell you that Proctor and Gamble's coupons say, "Limit of 4 like coupons in a transaction" in bold red print, I can tell you that trial sizes are excluded from almost everything. I know I can use a Target coupon and a manufacturer's coupon at Target to get a better deal.

And you would think, since I am so committed to honesty and integrity, that my transactions would go flawlessly. And you would be wrong. I have spent 15 minutes at Target's customer service counter because they CHARGED me for a coupon-rather than discount my purchase the amount (and it was $3!). I have had to read the fine print out loud to the cashier. I have had to recite their own store's coupon policy to them ("yes, you can take this coupon, you just need to reduce the amount so I am not getting an overage").

In short, it hasn't really gotten any easier. I am constantly fighting with the cashiers for justice. Often they just huff and tell me, "well, they will do it this once". Oh, thank you, for following the rules! You are so gracious. After a particularly trying episode at the commissary this week- three separate coupon "discussions" to put it nicely, I thought about just giving up. Was it really worth all the hassle? There are days when I feel like I am educating every cashier in Colorado Springs about coupon etiquette. And I am in no way an extreme couponer!

Every time I stand at the register with my fist full of coupons, my heart beats a little faster. I prepare myself for battle, knowing that imparting this knowledge will come at a cost. Mostly to me, to my patience, my kindness, forcing my own sense of injustice back down, telling myself that I must assume that they are ignorant. Otherwise, wouldn't they be rejoicing with me at all the money I am saving?

I really think they don't know. They think I must be doing something wrong. If it was as easy to save money as pushing a little piece of paper across the counter, wouldn't everyone be doing it? And it is, but also it isn't. They think I must be cheating, trying to take something that I don't deserve, that I haven't earned. And I am, but I'm not. You know? So they argue with me, and they reject my coupons, and I have to patiently explain, over and over, that I know I am doing the right thing. They don't have to use their own coupons, but could they please just let me use mine?

And it makes me feel like I am a coupon evangelist, of sorts. Trying to convert the world to saving money, one cashier at a time. And I was struck by how it really is just like true evangelism. I know the right way, I am doing the right thing. But it just seems so wrong to everyone. A little too easy. But they don't see how once I clip that coupon, I have to go out there and use it- it won't change my life by sitting in a drawer. And using it is the hard part. But I can't give up, because I know in my heart it is the right thing to do.

Explaining over and over to unfeeling minimum wage employees, who suddenly become very possessive over a system they don't fully understand, and that has never done them any good-"just buy our products at regular price, we have the best ones and it will save you money", just because it is all they have ever known, can be very trying. But I keep doing it, because I know that being a good steward of the resources I have been blessed with is the right thing.

And I have to keep sharing the real Good News in the same way. Even when I am embarassed and I just want to shut down-to keep it to myself. And even when I want to just clutch the precious gift that I have been entrusted with to my chest, I can't really have faith until I use it. Even when others don't understand- when the old ways seem just fine, even though upon close inspection, anyone can see that they are barely passable at best.

And there will be plenty who won't understand-who don't even want to understand. They are content to try to establish the system based on their own flawed knowledge, content to try to work their way into a heaven that has very legible fine print, but is the Cornerstone over which men stumble. "I AM the way, the Truth and the light- NO man comes to the Father, except by Me." John 14:6 (emphasis mine). It just seems a little too easy-and we want to feel that we have earned our rights. Except we can't.

And it is truly my job to explain it. Over and over and over. Even if they still choose to close their eyes. Even if they reject it outright. I have been given stewardship over the keys to true life, and I can't keep them in a drawer. It may seem to good to be true, but it is complete Truth. And I can't give up, because I am absolutely convinced in my heart that it is the right thing to do. So I will keep patiently explaining, and kindly reminding, and in the end, I know I won't be the only one to benefit.


  1. Good for you...don't let others state your intentions either! You are responsible, honest, and informed.

    Great analogy, as always.

    In a side note - we HAVE to meet up soon, I miss you! I know you are in VBS Zone right now (hopefully you have no sheep sheering shack to make), so let me know when is best for you. :0)

  2. Clare, I'm not sure how I missed seeing this a few days ago, but somehow I did. You have my apologies. I, like you, know the value and the love of having someone comment on your blog.

    So, first off, I'm glad you're going to continue blogging about an eclectic mix of topics. That's how I blog and it's my favorite. It frees us up to blog about whatever, whenever :)

    About coupons.....the lady that came to our co-op and explained couponing (my computer doesn't recognize that word....yet :) could definitely commiserate. She said she's ALWAYS explaining the rules, reading cashiers the fine print and she always keeps the store's policies in her coupon folder! She also spoke of coupon-etiquette :)

    I'm one of those people that is pretty familiar with a buy one get one, or get $.75 cents off if you buy one, etc. etc. Where I get confused, and therefore give up, is on the coupons that allow you to buy multiple items with one coupon (I always thought you needed a separate coupon for each item) or the coupons that don't fit tidily into a set of rules (like store coupons combined with sales, etc.). Oh well!

    Thanks for the blog education on coupons, and sorry for the blog-length comment. Love ya!

  3. Couponing interests me however, the problem is where to start for me...and obviously I need to brush up on the rules....I need a couponing for DUMMIES Book!

  4. Clare - maybe you should write a post on how to get started 'couponing.'



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