Coupons are ruining my life. They’re supposed to help us save money and introduce us to new products, but I’m starting to wonder if they are more trouble than they are worth.
I’m directing this column to those of you out there who also clip coupons. Coupon clippers tend to be those of us who run the finances and are trying to reduce the grocery bills, and those of us who actually do the shopping. I may be stereotyping here, but more often than not it is women, not men, in the coupon-clipping club.
So men, this column may bore you to tears unless my hypothesis is incorrect and men actually do clip coupons. If you do clip them, do you store them in your wallets? Do you have a separate coupon wallet? Perhaps you carry a satchel or man purse? Men, regardless, of your coupon-clipping behaviour, this column could provide you with a subtle, yet frightening, insight into a woman’s psyche. Unfortunately, you didn’t ask for this, because unlike us gals, you don’t spend a lot of time asking yourselves, and then us, what we are thinking about.
If you are a coupon clipper, have you ever stopped to think about the amount of time you spend on them?
First, there is the evaluating process. Believe it or not, I seem to have developed criteria for which coupons I clip. This process has been refined over years of carrying around coupons I never use, or buying products I really don’t need that sit in my pantry, or sit on my hips, for way too long.
I only clip coupons for products I already buy or their direct substitutes. Also, I don’t typically clip coupons under a 50-cent discount. I use the theory that if I would go out of my way a bit to pick up that amount of change off the ground, why wouldn’t I clip the coupon?
Next, let’s look at the clipping process. As I’m going through the paper and flyers, I rarely want to get up from my seat on the couch to get the scissors. So, if the paper is not perforated, the ripping can take a few minutes. There is the accompanied cursing when I rip into the coupon or rip off a necessary section (like part of the UPC code or the expiry date).
Now the filing process: I try to put the coupons into the “holder” I have in my purse, in some semblance of order, by date or type of product. My holder is an old bank book sleeve and, since I rip coupons, their ragged edges stop the coupons from sliding in, and I am forced to get the scissors.
On to the searching process once in the store: I spend way too much time searching through my holder at the checkout (to the annoyance of those in line behind me). It is a race between the cashier and me to see if I can find the right coupon before the cashier is done ringing in the groceries.
Then there is the quarterly cleaning coupons out of my purse that are past due. This part is almost fun for me. The joy I feel in recycling coupons is significant, making me wonder if I even like them to begin with. Couldn’t I save myself a lot of time and aggravation by throwing them directly into the yellow bin from the start? Maybe I could, but throwing out coupons for products I typically buy seems like throwing away cash. Since I am not independently wealthy, I am not in the privileged position to be so frivolous.
On top of all these phases, there is a significant amount of time I spend making myself feel badly for all the times I forget to use the coupons in my purse, especially when I bought said products. Can you imagine? With all the things there are in the world to worry about or think about, I berate myself for not being more effective in my coupon use.
I wonder if I am alone in this madness. Do others engage in the same types of behaviour? Or, do I have the market cornered on the coupon-clipping crazies?