Lately I’ve noticed two things: First, there is an increase in coupon use thanks to the Great Recession. Second, thanks to the increased coupon use there is a more vocal judgement of coupon users on Internet forums and at my local coupon swaps. People are not shy about criticizing others for “eating nothing but junk” or accusing them of inflating the savings they claim to be getting when using coupons. What is this anger toward couponers all about?
I’m not a extreme couponer, but I do manage to rack up a decent amount in savings every week by using coupons on everything from groceries to restaurants to online shopping. If you give me a chance to save money on something that I’m going to buy anyway, I’ll take it. It disturbs me when I see other couponers post their savings, only to get jumped on by other forum or swap members.
Exact quote from my local coupon swap: “Sure, you saved fifty bucks on your grocery bill, but I’ll bet you’re nutritionally deficient.” Further aggravating the situation, this person rarely brings any coupons to the swap because, “I refuse to help people buy junk food.” (Why she’s a member is a mystery to me.) She’ll only bring coupons for toiletries and paper goods. She can’t be bothered to just bring coupons because other people might want them. She turns every swap into a personal statement against what she considers unhealthy food.
This person is assuming that there is no other way to use coupons than to buy over-processed junk food. While there are plenty of coupons for junk, there are also lots of coupons for things like eggs, frozen/canned veggies and fruit, meat, toiletries, paper products and pet items. Unless you take someone’s receipt and examine everything they bought, you have no way of knowing how healthy they are. Maybe they saved that $50 on toiletries and paper goods. Maybe their store offers lots of coupons on fresh items. To judge a persons eating habits based on the fact that they use coupons is mean and unfounded. And even if they’re eating junk, so what? It’s not your health that they’re ruining so there no need to comment.
If someone isn’t sniping over the quality of the food being bought, they’re contesting the savings themselves. “I really doubt you saved $75 last week. You just can’t do that around here,” was another comment I heard at the swap. The person was referring to the fact that few stores around here double coupons. But stores don’t have to double to rack up big savings. If you have multiples of high value coupons, you can save big money. Some stores let you combine manufacturer coupons with store coupons. Even without doubling, you can save significantly just by using lots of coupons on an order. I have no doubt that someone saved $75 in one week because I’ve done it. But even if I thought they’re stretching things a bit, I wouldn’t get snarky about it. It’s not worth starting an argument over.
These are not isolated incidents. I’ve heard similar comments over and over. What is the point of being mean to others over their coupon use? Is it jealousy over the amount saved? Is it just to take someone who is successful at something down a peg? Is it to prove that you are somehow superior because you eat and live so healthfully you couldn’t possibly use a coupon on a single store bought item? I don’t know where this hostility over coupon use is coming from. Why can’t people just be supportive of other’s efforts to save money on the things they buy, whether you approve of the purchase or not? I may not buy a certain cereal, but if it’s someone else’s favorite, I can be happy for them if they save $1.00 off the purchase and I can take the time to clip a coupon for it and take it to the swap to give away.
The bottom line is that there are many ways to use coupons (just as there are thousands of ways to save money in general). What works for one person doesn’t always work for another. Just because some people choose to use coupons on certain items does not make them any better or worse than you. Just because someone can rack up hundreds of dollars in savings doesn’t mean they’re lying or cheating somehow. Maybe you should listen to them. They might be able to teach you something.
There’s no need to hammer other people who are just trying to save money. Everyone has different ways of living and saving. Just because you don’t approve doesn’t mean you have to make rude comments. You can choose to say nothing, or simply say, “Hey, good for you.” Support people who are trying to save. At least they’re trying.