How Coupons Can Cost You (Your Sanity!)

This humorous guest post is from Meg Sparwath at Perfect Zen Woman.

Coupons are not my friends. They taunt me by merely existing. The ad section of the paper sits, unused, silently reprimanding me for ignoring the free money it contains. Eventually, I feel guilty enough to face the dreaded, “do later, or possibly never” pile. I spend hours snipping and sorting (sorting is a dilemma in itself–sort by food group? grocery store aisle? expiration date? or my personal favorite, don’t sort, just stuff in an envelope). Occasionally, a surge of determination comes over me and I make a grocery list that contains items that correspond with my coupons. Next, I must make it to the store before the coupons expire.

At the store, which is already chock full of fun activities like checking prices and nutritional information, I need to make sure I have the right brand, size and quantity that the coupon instructs me to have. The coupon people do this on purpose and I am sure they are related to the “rebate” people, who dangle free money in front of us knowing that only the strongest, smartest and most dedicated of us, will be able to successfully navigate our way through the maze of detailed instructions. But I digress–back to coupons.

Fake coupons with Scissors

It’s all in that tiny print that no one over 40 can read. The conditions of the fine print usually says something like, “You have a better chance of winning a gold metal in lugeing than of successfully using this coupon.” Or it might say,”Save 25 cents on a can of Starkist chunk light tuna packed in oil, when you buy a carton of grade A large eggs, a gallon of Golden Farms 2% milk and a 20 oz. box of dark chocolate Hershey kisses.” No worries, that bored high school cashier never fails to re-gain consciousness long enough to interrupt my perusal of the National Enquirer’s “Celebrities and Cellulite” issue, to tell me that she can’t accept the coupon. “This is for the Savory Italian vegetable pizza, not the Savory Mediterranean vegetable pizza. Sorry.”

My reward for enduring this couponing hell is inevitably one of the following:

1. I forget to give the cashier my coupons and leave with a cart full of over-price stuff that will rot in the pantry.

2. After accepting a few select coupons, the cashier announces that I saved a total of $3.72 for my efforts.

Either way, the couponer in me goes dormant and I vow to give up Starbucks to offset the $3.72 that I won’t be saving.

But inner peace is not my destiny. Meet Super Couponers.

It didn’t take me long to identify them. They are often in pairs, huddled together over their mac-daddy three-ring binders, complete with pockets and dividers. They are confident and focused. No matter how many invisible daggers shoot through them during their never-ending checkouts, you won’t see them flinch. They are too busy hawkishly watching the cashier ring up complex couponing formulas. Super Couponers always purchase at least two and up to 25 of the same item. Finally, the cashier announces the grand total of $4.68 for one cart. FOUR DOLLARS and SIXTY-EIGHT CENTS FOR AN ENTIRE CART OF GROCERIES.

I want to be a Super Couponer, in a big way.

Sign me up for the class! That’s right, not only are these over-achievers saving a lot of money, but they also make money by teaching mortal couponers how to add “Super” to their titles.

At the end of the long couponing day, not all people and things are compatible enough to have a fulfilling relationship. And I’m at peace with that. The other day, however, I got my first “daily deal,” from Groupon and wow….

Meg Sparwath headshotMeg Sparwath is a 40-something freelance writer who lives in the suburbs of Atlanta with her husband, two daughters, two dogs and cat. She is documenting her extremely long and difficult journey to becoming a perfect zen woman on her blog,


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