Diary of a Couponing Newbie: Anger, Theft, and Other Stuff I Don’t Get

by Marcy on August 24, 2011 · 9 comments

The following is a guest post written by Devin Ventre for Stretching a Buck Blog, chronicling her journey into the world of couponing. This post is part 5 in the series “Diary of a Couponing Newbie“. Learn more about “Extreme Couponing the Smart Way” in the All About Couponing Series.

**Be sure to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5Part 6 and Part 7 of this series.**

Even though I have self-promoted my couponing status to “Expert,” (lucky for me, there is no governing body out there to assign these statuses) there are still several things I don’t understand. I’ll begin with a little story of my experience with a certain store clerk who I used to see every Tuesday on my weekly grocery run. Despite my willingness to adhere to the coupon policy and my generally amiable and cheerful manner, this clerk always met me with a scowl because I was a coupon user. She would stop her work (unfortunately, I also seemed like someone willing to listen to her rants) to tell me stories about the horrible “crazy coupon ladies” she comes across during super-double coupon weeks. According to her, these “crazy coupon ladies” are selfish, mean, stingy and downright rude. This woman was completely consumed by her anger and resentment toward these couponers… and super-double coupon weeks. I couldn’t help thinking that perhaps it’s time for her to look into another line of work. And maybe some therapy to get past all that resentment. It was definitely time for me to look into shopping at a different store.

So, here’s what I don’t get: Why do coupons tend to bring out the worst in people? Generous, kind people who volunteer their time at soup kitchens, donate to charities and would do just about anything to help a friend turn into crazed maniacs when their $0.20 coupon isn’t honored. Maybe they stayed up until 3:00 a.m. clipping coupons and matching them to store sales, only to actually go shopping and find that the store updated its coupon policy at 3:02 a.m. and it was all for naught. I dunno, but I say we make a better effort to be NICE. I recently saw a bumper sticker that said, “Wag more, bark less.” That’s good advice for everyone, especially coupon users.

Along these same lines, a friend recently sent me an article about newspaper theft. It seems that people are stealing papers to get the coupons. An Arkansas woman actually said that she didn’t think she was doing anything wrong. Now, there’s one for the Morality Police! Sheesh… Sometimes these thefts are from stores and sometimes people are plucking them right off their neighbors’ driveways. My guess is that these newspaper thieves are not ones who would steal products off a store shelf, and yet they feel justified in stealing newspapers. Why? The only possible rationale I can come up with is that newspapers usually end up in the trash anyway. Of course, so do TVs and computers after a person has used them all up, but maybe the thieves didn’t really think about that.

I have a few more unanswered questions that I’ve been wondering about for awhile… Like, why are some coupon inserts better than others? In my first article, I commented that the Washington Post had the best coupons. It really does! What the heck?! The Red Plum insert (which seems like it should be the same everywhere) has more pages with more coupons on them. Since the Post at the store costs $1.50 more than my local paper, I’d like to know how I can get the good coupons at better prices. I don’t dumpster dive and I don’t commit driveway theft, so those choices are out. Other suggestions are welcome.

Finally, bloggers (like Marcy) match up coupons to store sales for free. I pay for a Grocery Game subscription which is $5 a month because they have advertised and UNadvertised sales. Am I a sucker? Are the bloggers offering the same service for free? If so, I am totally going to kick myself…

I said it before and I’ll say it again – couponing is not for the faint of heart. It’s time-consuming, complicated, and confusing. But let’s not let it compromise our willingness to do the right thing and be charitable to our neighbors and cashiers. If you’re like me, an honest, cheerful coupon user, throw out a bit more smile and cheer to the cashier the next time you have 400 coupons on super double coupon day, and be thankful. It will go a long way, I’m sure.

Devin Ventre is a homeschooling mother of two living in northern Virginia who wanted a cleaning lady. She couldn’t afford one, and decided to save some money using coupons. Now she has her house cleaned twice a month. This is her story.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bobbi August 24, 2011 at 5:38 PM

Hi, I’m rather new at this (like…..4 days, lol) but so far, i’ve found that subscribing to everyone’s blogs on facebook has really helped me find the best deals. We also have a class here, to teach couponing, at the local community college. It’s taught by the same girl who runs a local coupon blog> Chicksdigdeals.com is a Nebraska local blogger, and she writes about sales/promotions+ coupon deals, nearly daily. Most of them are for chain stores like Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, and some others, and some are local deals. She doesn’t charge subscription, and while she may MISS some unadvertised sales, since she goes quite often, and is a subscriber to some of the store’s newsletters, she doesn’t miss a lot. She’s also on Facebook, and updates daily. She will also tell you where to find the coupons, and when the sales are going on. Hope this helps!

2 Jennifer August 24, 2011 at 6:41 PM

I did grocery game for many years. Now with the world of blogging and store/coupon match ups I don’t think you need it. Waste of money! Marcy and many other bloggers do the exact same thing, but better.

3 cathi carpenter August 24, 2011 at 7:26 PM

Girl I hear ya…
I for sure WAG MORE … especially when I coupon…and why not… I am HAPPY to save money…isn’t everyone…? Well, what I find is that cashiers and managers alike, ESPECIALLY at a certain mass market retailer, who’s name I won’t say, but starts with a big WAL and ends with a MART….treat me like doody! I have virtually STOPPED shopping there for ANY grocery things. They SAY they price match…but they make it so hard and they treat me like a thief…so in defense to the lady saying crazy coupon women were mean and rude…maybe they are just at the end of their rope… Now as for THEFT… OH MY…we tackled that in my subdivision…see…week after week after week after week I see people just IGNORING the EXTRA Thursday toss away that has coupons…and SOMETIMES we get an extra on SUNDAY….so, day after day it would kill me…. My husband and son would say…just take them. They are free and obviously that person DOESN’T want it. But I said NO. It’s stealing. I don’t care that they didn’t pay for it. It is on THEIR property. Period. If a person can shoot you for being on their property, that paper is off limits. And it IS stealing. Now I did get up the courage to ask for them. The first neighbor…NO ENGLISH … had no clue what I wanted. Second and Third said ok…and it lasted about a month. Then they started taking it in. I’d like to believe they too have “seen the light”…but honestly… I think they just didn’t want me to have it…so they started picking it up. The only time I will snag papers without permission is if a house is abandoned or empty or if it is CLEARLY in the street, out of the curb. Then I figure that is fair game for anyone walking or driving. The circular thing…totally frustrates me too. I mean … we only have ONE major paper… the AJC… and that whole “regional thing” What’s up with that….doesn’t EVERYONE need Rayovac Batteries ??? Sigh. Lastly, the coupon service. I wouldn’t pay for it. I really really think that the bloggers I read do more than the job… I read SEVERAL very faithfully and I have never been steered wrong. I just won’t give my $$ away for the service. I also do not buy coupons from a coupon service… I don’t see the point…why am I spending $50 if I am trying to save??? I mean, maybe I’m seein that wrong…but I just don’t think that it would be cost effective.

I like you, am sort of a newbie…but everyone thinks I’m so good at it…Heck…I’m pretty close to expert…huh? haha! Thanks for writing these chapters…they are great! Keep up the good work!

4 ashley b August 24, 2011 at 11:36 PM

i live in southern indiana and subscribe to the louisville(kentucky) paper. i never knew this until my husband’s coworker who lives in louisville started sending me the coupon inserts she had already been through, but the kentucky edition always has a couple more pages of coupons than my indiana edition. while it’s frustrating not getting the extra pages with my paper, i am thankful for the ones i get from her. do you know someone who gets that extra-special-extra-coupons-newspaper? agree to trade your leftovers. maybe she has a baby, you have a dog, you only use colgate, and she never drinks coffee. match-maker, match-maker, make me a match!

5 Leslie August 25, 2011 at 8:17 AM

Good post. You’re so right on! Coupons do have that tendency to bring out the worst and I’m just so tired of seeing it. I definitely keep my smile on when I’m shopping, no matter what. I’ve left the store feeling like they think I’m trying to beat the system somehow, but I know I’m just doing the honest thing (using a few coupons to save money). I’m sure the media and the recent surge in coverage on the extreme couponing shows has not helped our plight, but I think that couponing is still here to stay.

6 Natalie August 25, 2011 at 10:00 AM

I’ve been using coupons for 3 years now and I see a lot more people doing the same now. It makes it harder to find deals and I don’t think the coupons and the deals are as good now. My local supermarkets have started to limit the number of like coupons which usually isn’t a problem for me, but occasionally I would like to buy more of something and have to go round again. I have found that if you treat cashiers politely and in a friendly way every time, they are really nice back. That’s the kind of person I am naturally ( for the most part!), so it is not really hard for me, I think that every cashier has a few ‘crazy couponer’ stories so I have to believe that not everyone is pleasant and respectful when using coupons. I have never paid for match-ups as I am very happy with the ones here and on another couple of local sites. I’ve heard that people steal coupon inserts from newspapers in stores too! Unbelievable.

7 Angela H August 25, 2011 at 12:43 PM

I will speak as someone that works in a grocery store and is a coupon user. There are a few very nasty crazy coupon people out there that are so horrible it really sheds a bad light on all of us. We have had many people commit coupon fraud and stand there and argue with you until they are blue in the face, plus the ones that buy things with coupons and then return them for refunds and claim they never used a coupon so they can get a full refund. Also there are the ones that use a coupon and come back saying they forgot to use a coupon and try to use a second on the same item. Don’t even get me started on expired coupons. It is eternally frustrating for everyone and unfortunately some bad seeds have ruined things for the rest of us. The greed of some people is what really sets up everyone in the store I think. We are not excited for you when you get $1500 worth of groceries for $20 like they show on the TLC show. It sucks! Who do you think has to listen to everyone else complain about it because we are now all out of sale items? Around here there are several extreme coupon users that are buying the products to sell in there little corner stores, hate them too!

8 Teri August 25, 2011 at 1:02 PM

The bloggers have the same information! If you are trying to save money with coupons don’t spend it for the matchups. Coupondivas.com, krazycouponlady.com, and there are tons on facebook that match up. Look at the different bloggers who like stretching a buck and they can lead you to; or already post matchups!

9 Laura August 26, 2011 at 9:59 AM

I find this funny because I used to buy the Sunday Post all the time and I hated them because they never had the RedPlum coupons. I kept reading on the blogs abt all the fabulous RedPlum coupons but I never got any. I guess there were enough complaints they put them back in. I still pick it up on occasion but generally I find the local papers have better coupons.

Before we moved from DC I had a difficult time finding it on the stand with the coupons still in it. I always checked before I bought. Now that we live out of the city I don’t have that problem.

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