Before we begin, you really should understand that I'm not bashing couponers! You should also know where I'm coming from: I'm a pastor's wife and working mother of three with about an hour commute each day, and it's important for me to do my best in those capacities.
IS IT JUST ME, OR IS COUPONING LESS REWARDING THAN IT USED TO BE?
For the past three years, I've been an educated, committed, accordion file maintaining couponer. For some reason, my average savings dropped from almost 50% three years ago to only 30% now. While that's great, it isn't enough to "Wow" me. The bottom line is that the savings I've been seeing wasn't motivating me to invest the time required for me to purchase papers, organize inserts, develop coupon match-up lists, and cut out coupons. Therefore, my coupon trips slowed to only once a month, so the money I was investing in maintaining multiple inserts began to be wasted as more and more inserts were expiring before I used the coupons in them.
IS COUPONING RIGHT FOR ME AND MY FAMILY?
I knew I needed to make a decision. I began to pray about quitting couponing, since I believe God is interested in every choice we make. My question wasn't whether or not couponing was bad, but rather was it right for my family in this season of our lives?
IS THERE AN ALTERNATIVE TO COUPONING?
Soon afterward, I made a trip to a wholesale club and realized...
- the unit prices were about what I would spend with coupons - not better, just about the same
- the cost for an annual membership was a lot less than the cost of all the papers I bought each year
- shopping there instead of couponing would save all the time I'd put toward maintaining the file, preparing the lists and cutting the coupons
- I could actually save on brands we're loyal to but that rarely have coupons.
THE HAPPY ENDING
I believed I had an answer to my prayer and committed then and there to stop couponing. I was surprised to experience guilt over possibly not being a good steward of my family's resources. But that was ridiculous, given how close the savings from shopping at the wholesale club was to shopping with coupons. I got over that soon enough, but then I felt this silly burden of finding a good home for my accordion file and all those inserts. God laid someone on my heart, and you wouldn't believe how attached I'd become to that thing! It truly felt like I was letting someone adopt my pet. I pulled it together though and went through with it, leaving it and couponing behind me! I'm much happier without them!
I still appreciate a good coupon and use them whenever it's convenient, but I no longer depend on them to save money on groceries. Maybe another time, another place, but this is what's right for us now!