Coupons! What came to mind just now when you read that word? Savings? Bargains? Affordable shopping? Maybe you have thoughts of resentment! I am a couponer. I love coupons. I have helped family and friends with savings, given to food banks and other forms of charity, handed out coupons to non-expecting shoppers who appreciated the surprise savings I had to offer them and much more. I do love the art, sport, hobby or whatever category you feel couponing should be in. I admit, I do not coupon as much as I used to. It is getting harder to get the savings that we all love. However, with such a nation wide outbreak of couponers in the works, all running down the isle looking for their next big bargain, how could we expect the savings to last. There has to be a limit.
I coupon. I am sure you the viewer of this site and this article I am writing has used coupons. A lot or a little, it does not matter. You like savings. We all do. However, I am finding that couponing has been given a bad name. It has become a cashiers worst nightmare, a store managers pain in the backside, and companies who are generous enough to produce such an abundant amount of coupons for people such as ourselves, well they are strategically marking the coupons with strict wording that makes it harder and harder to apply coupons in the "stacking" fashion that we, the couponers like to use. I like a free item. I sometimes get several if it is free. However, I have not ever filled a garage, room or an overly large section of my house with goods. I have 3.5 ft wide pantry with 3 shelves in it, and a cupboard in my bathroom for personal items. I also have a shelf over my washer and dryer for cleaners. I am not saying that a stockpile is wrong, however, some of the reasons why couponing is getting to be a hard thing to do, is because of some of the actions that we as couponers do are causing the rules to change, store policies are constantly updating to stricter wording. Staff members in stores are watching in-store coupons like security guards because people will actually take the entire pad, without leaving any for the next person. TV shows showing us mass amounts of items purchased, or as some would consider not purchased, influencing all of us. Many of you would say that these shows are giving us couponers a bad reputation or teaching us it is OK to clear shelves and fill our homes with obscene amounts of product. I Admit I love to grab extra when I come across a great deal. I might buy 10. If I am sharing with family or friends, I might get more. But there has to be a limit. If I was about to get 50 free toothbrushes, and a thousand people are getting the same deal somewhere around the globe, that is 50,000 toothbrushes that the company has to pay out to the retailers who provided them for the customer and accepted their coupons. Lets say the price is $1.50 each normally. The coupon company would be reimbursing $75,000 for that many toothbrushes. That is a LOT of money. Imagine how big those numbers could and probably actually are in reality. Think about the viral outbreak of couponing shoppers that we have around the globe today. More than the average person is aware of. Now, think about the amount of products that a company produces, how much they are paying out to retailers for coupon savings. Crazy I know. I never used to think about it like this. But couponing was not as abundant or misused either.
I honestly feel that coupons and the art of couponing has been and still is an amazing skill to have learned in my lifetime. I have helped many people learn some of the tools they need in order to save money. However, I have always said, and always will say, there is no reason why a person needs to fill their house, back room, garage or shed with product that will probably expire before it is used. I honestly don't see much harm in getting great deals in a little larger amount if you plan on donating to charity and food banks. I think that it is a great tool to be able to give the gift of food to those who have very little. I know many of us couponers do this sort of thing. It is amazing. The company gives us the gift of savings, and we gift that gift forward. I am sure that a toothbrush company would be glad to reimburse a store for a toothbrush that you might have found for free with a good coupon if they knew that it was going to charity. I am sure they don't mind you get a freebie once and awhile for yourself either if it means you might continue to use their products, however, 150 toothbrushes for free, I can see why they might decide to pull the plug.
Now, how many of us want to be able to use coupons and keep getting savings in the near future? I DO! I think that we the couponers, myself included, should step back and think really hard as to why these rules are changing, why coupons are getting harder to find, why that cashier was just rude to you. Couponing is, as you could say, on the endangered species list. Companies are getting fed up. Stores are getting tired of the confusing policy changes. I would like to try and think of an answer to all this. In some way, I would like us to join up, and share our input on how we, the savings seekers can make this better for everyone. What can we do, to make sure that the companies are not going to pull the plug on coupons all together?
When I first learned about couponing, it was fun. I would walk out of a store with savings and feel proud that of what I had achieved. I was on a savings high. It was addicting. The store clerks and cashiers would be happy over the savings I had just gotten, and would nicely see me out of the store with a smile and a wave. Now, when I go into a store that is well known for coupon lovers, I feel like a criminal, I feel watched, I feel like I am doing something wrong. How dare I try and save money on that item I just grabbed off the shelf? I walk to the till, lay my coupons on the pairing products, and I am greeted by a scowling cashier who is loathing me for taking up her time, making her read coupons to make sure they are applicable, and quite frankly ruining her day! How dare she give me that glare, that stare, that sigh, that rude farewell! I am not condoning this behavior from staff members and store clerks, for it is part of their job description to accept coupons from customers, (for now) and should be done with respect and patience regardless of their views or takes on what we do. However, can I really blame her? The cashier sees tons of people like me everyday, many going after deals and savings in substantially larger volumes than I ever have. She has her manager breathing down her neck making sure to read the coupons and apply them only if they are in a valid sequence, limit, size, etc. Her store manager has head office chomping at the bit that too many coupons have been used, too many coupons applied mistakenly, not knowing it could not be used with another coupon or on a specific product, therefor they do not get reimbursed from the company named on the coupon for the savings we cashed in on because of one little mistake or error.This leaves the store that just accepted our coupon footing the bill for our coupon savings! Head office has our beloved coupon producing companies on their tails, telling them they can not do this or that, or such in such is not a valid use of a specific coupon. All of this plays into effect as to why couponing is getting harder, more strict, and more frowned upon instead of smiled upon and adored.
For many of us, excluding myself, many hours per day/week are spent preparing for the next big "haul". Some of us consider it a full time job. I myself don't. I watch the flyer's for coupons and savings, when they come out, check to see what I have for savings, browse the isle for coupons when I am out and about. But I also have a day job that I have to do. I don't have that much time to commit to shopping. I am also a mother first and foremost. I admit my daughter likes to help with he couponing and even gave me the name Canadian Coupon Queen. But, I do not give up my little time I have with her to score big on coupons from a recycle plant or shop at midnight to get the savings. I just could not do it. Props to some of you who can run on lack of sleep and countless hours looking at text on the back of a coupon. Reading makes me tired. A little humour there, but regardless, couponing to me is not about changing one's life to have one's life fit in with couponing, it is fitting couponing into one's life.
I truly feel that if we want to continue to enjoy savings, we need to reflect on the ways we seek our bargains, how much of a good thing we really need, and how we treat our store employees who see so many of us everyday.
I was recently contacted by a BIG news press based out of Toronto who wanted me to give an interview on an article I had not heard anything about yet. I was too late for the interview by the time I read it in my email account, but skimmed through the article. It was not what I thought I would be reading about. It was sad. It was honest. It was true. I have not even read the whole article yet. It made me think after I read the opening paragraph. You can read this article HERE if you would like. It is an eye opener to say the least.
In conclusion to my out pour of my opinion on these matters, I would like to say, I am not scorning any of us, the couponers. I am not saying we should not bargain hunt. I have not formed the opinion that couponing is bad or that we are bad people for doing it. I just feel that we need to look back, ask ourselves if we are getting carried away with the thrill of the savings, or abusing this privilege in any way? I used coupons today. I could have driven across town to get a better savings on a particular product today, but I chose to shop at a locally owned store today and the item was on a Buy 1 Get 1 sale. I had many coupons I could have used, but I knew this store did not "stack" coupons. I was content using one coupon and paid $8.00 for 2 instead of $10.50 for 2, which was already a good price considering they are usually $10.00 for one. That was $4.00 each in the end. It was an awesome deal. Sure I could have gone to another store in town that offer's "stacking" and would probably be able to get the price down even lower with the coupons I had, but I did not. In the end, I realize the company that supplies me and my family with these awesome products and amazing savings coupons, well it's simple. They need to make money too. If they don't, quality on these amazing products could decrease and we will not want to continue to use them, leaving us without that wonderful product we have all known and grown to love.
So! What can we do? How can we help alleviate some of the problem that has been created. Do we cut down on how much we take home? Do we try less to get a FREE item and be grateful for savings at all. Do we learn how to hunt for bargains instead of walking out paying nothing? What is your opinion? How can we make this better for the product companies, the retail stores and merchants, while still getting ourselves some awesome deals? There has to be a way. If we find something that is on sale and the matching coupon we have makes the item free, do we limit ourselves to 3 or 4, or do we go for the whole shebang and clear the shelves? The latter is partially why these problems are arising. I look forward to your valued opinion.I don't want to see a world with no coupons. I don't want to be made to feel ashamed when I apply coupons to my purchase. I love coupons as much as the next couponer. So let's see what we can do about this. I would like to see how many of my fellow couponers can come up with an idea, a plan, a suggestion that could help make what we all love to do, easier and more affordable and beneficial for all, not just us, the coupon lovers.
*Disclaimer:This post was written by CanadianCouponQueen. All opinions are honest and my own. This post is to share my views. It is not a sponsored post.