I don't think couponed out is a real phrase. But if it was, that is exactly how I think most of us would be feeling these days from the onslaught of daily deals we get. Many years ago, I remember my Mom picking up the Sunday newspaper to pull out the coupon section to begin clipping. Coupons were neatly laid out in one section of the newspaper, and you could quickly cut out the five or ten that you thought you would use for your Sunday grocery shopping. Every once in a while in the Parade magazine insert there was an additional coupon for something like coffee or yogurt that you could add to little pile of coupons. Putting that scissor to the Sunday paper was almost cathartic in nature as you could feel the savings coming in your pocket. When you went food shopping, the supermarket may have also had its own insert that you put in your shopping cart to check out additional deals along the way within the store. When I went shopping with my mom, I also loved to help out by pulling some coupons from those little red machines attached to the shelves that spit out coupons just as paper towels are spit out today automatically from the electronic machines in the washroom.
I love coupons since saving money is part of what I do for people every day. I also love getting a deal just like everyone else. Heck, who doesn't like to feel good about themselves when they save 25% or 50% on something that they thought was going to cost them full price. But enough is enough! The day you start feeling stupid because you can't even manage the deal flow of coupons through your e-mail or when the deals actually turn into you spending more money because you buy more stuff that you don't need then the couponing strategy has officially hit rock bottom.
Let's start with the grocery stores and pharmacy stores. What's the point of making me really register for a card and put my 23rd plastic widget on my key-chain or in my wallet when you are going to scan me in for the deals anyway if I don't have card? It's just comical to me that if I haven't signed up to be a member to get the deals that you will give them to me anyway. By the way, for those of you with a smart phone that think it will be much easier when all 23 of your discount and savings cards are on your phone, I can't wait to watch you fumble through your phone come checkout time. Wasn't it easier when you just had the insert given to you at the entrance of the grocery store and ripped out the coupons along the way while shopping? Let's be honest, it's not like 90% of you even read the prices on the items anymore or check your bill to see if it was correct after you pay for the groceries. You just swipe your card, and presto it is all paid for ready to go!
Then we have all of these tremendous coupon and deal sites sprouting up faster than weeds in your backyard. Each of these sites is geared to give you 50% percent off (that must be the magic number by the way) on a particular item, or a buy one get one (BOGO) FREE opportunity of a lifetime. All you have to do is click a button and get signed up now! A few of the sites don't force you buy like www.scoutmob.com which is why I really like the way they go about couponing. On the sites where you have to sign up and take the deal or else, were you really ready to go the Roswell Ghost Tour or go see some show that wasn't quite on your bucket list. A deal is only really a deal if it is something that you are truly interested in whether it is a nice restaurant or a daily excursion to a water park.
Last, every department store we shop in has now magically put us on their drip list both through the mail and electronically. Do they send us FREE stuff . . . NO! What they mail to use is another deal! The send some opportunity to buy more things from their store at 20% to 30% off, or a blowout event that we simply cannot miss before the weekend is over.
Here's a question for you. With all of these deals, did you really save money over the last year? Or, is it possible that you spent more than you normally would have by eating out at more restaurants (the deals never allow alcohol and typically cap the amount per person), more at the grocery store (you buy stuff you really didn't need), and more at the department stores (picking up extra items until your closest is in the brink of explosion) than you had expected to you in your annual budget. Has couponing made us spend more in a given year even though the amount per item was less than normal price?
I don't know about you, but I have officially hit my coupon limit. I get around 8 to 12 deals a day within my e-mail and several more in the mail during the week. Life used to be so easy. Get your Sunday paper out and cut out the dozen coupons you really needed. I'm off to pick up a scissor this Sunday and remember the good old days!
Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc
oXYGen Financial, Inc. co-CEO Ted Jenkin is one of the foremost knowledgeable professionals in giving financial advice and Smart Money Moves to the X and Y Generation.
Phone 1.800.355.9318 or 770.777.0427
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