Friday, April 24, 2009

Thursday 13 - Why Coupons Don't Pay

Esmé's Mommy here. Notice anything odd about the photo below?

Other than the purple dress shoes with tshirt and denim shorts? The bunny bag well after Easter? The butterfly carrying the magnifying glass instead of being under it? Take a look at the eye.

Yep, that's my mascara. Waterproof mascara. Most of it has been washed off already, but she doesn't want soap in her eye for some reason, so I can't get the rest off.

Exhibit A that NOTHING is out of Esmé's reach. NOTHING. And a screw-on lid is just part of the fun.

We'll get back to that.

You know those claims from people who buy $200 worth of groceries for only $5? The ones who know all about stacking coupons to get things for free and then get cash back afterwards?

I've been listening to them too much. Today I decided to play the online coupon game. I checked out the "terrific" matches available at 3 local stores. And here are 13 reasons I should never play this game:

  1. It takes time. Lots of time. There is a reason this Thursday 13 list is being published on Friday.
  2. It makes Internet Explorer crash. Over and over. I keep having to install this Coupon Printer software. Again and again. For practically every coupon I print. And when it crashes, I have to start all over again.
  3. It costs printer ink. Now, some coupons print out a nice neat little coupon, but many fill up the whole page with lots of color and one little coupon at the bottom.
  4. Oh, and when Internet Explorer crashes and your coupon doesn't print, you go back to try to print it again. And a coupon prints, only it says: "Sorry, you've exceeded your household limit." So you've wasted your printer ink, and your time, and your paper, and you don't even get a coupon.
  5. You have to walk 10 miles looking for the things you want to buy. Even if you're semi-organized and have the coupons sorted by categories or aisles (which I don't), you have to go back through the whole grocery store when you can't find what you're looking for.
  6. You can't ever find what you're looking for. I was trying to find a specific soda. I looked in the chilled drinks section. Nothing. The soda aisle. Nothing. The health food aisle (yes, you do get healthy sodas, I'm told.). Nothing. So I've gone through the store three times and never found the product.
  7. When you do find the product, usually the store brand right next to it is even cheaper, even with the coupon.
  8. Even worse, you buy the product, and then find it cheaper in the next store. Because you're shopping at multiple stores to get the maximum benefit from your coupons, right? So you know exactly how much you got ripped off, instead of living in blissful oblivion.
  9. You know those double-it-up coupons? The store coupon that will double the manufacturer's coupons? They are made of floating material. I lay my coupons down in my cart several times, and each time that specific coupon floated away. I recovered it a few times, but when I got to the checkout counter, it wasn't there. And the oh-so-nice clerk informed me that she couldn't help me with another one. No coupon, no double discount. So there went half of my meager savings on the few products I could find.
  10. And then you come across a super deal. The prize of all coupon deals - the clincher to coupon success. The coupon is a $5 coupon, but the specialty cereal is on sale for only $3.94. Score! This one is on the house, baby! So you get to checkout, and the oh-so-nice clerk informs you that you cannot use a coupon that is more than the value of the product. The computer just won't accept it. It is completely unacceptable! So here, take the coupon back and go use it somewhere where the cereal costs more. There went my entire game plan, out the window.
  11. You have to squeeze those diabetic snack bars that cost almost nothing into your packed cupboards somehow, even though you have no diabetics in the house.
  12. You forget to buy all the regular things on your list, like bread and garlic.
  13. You finally get through the second store. Your toddler is cranky. The third store has another prize deal - a $5.99 candle, a $2 store coupon, and a $4 manufacturer coupon. FREE! I CAN'T afford to miss out! And then I think - the computer might not accept the coupons. And WHERE on EARTH am I going to burn a sweet-smelling candle when my toddler can reach ANYWHERE? It's just not worth it.

Though if any of you find a coupon for mascara with a child-proof top, please let me know.

More Thursday 13 participants can be found here.

Thanks to Samulli for the Thursday 13 header.


Somebody Loved said...

At first I thought...
dang a top off the bottle popped off in her eye... silly Grammy.

why couldn't I guess that.


Elouise82 said...

You very neatly summed up all the reasons I don't do coupons. They (that mysterious, ubiquitous "They") claim it saves so much money, but between the frustration of finding the items, organizing the coupons, printing the coupons, etc ... not to mention the pointless items you buy because "I have a coupon!"--it's just not worth it in the long run. Stick with buying generic store brand--no coupons needed, and always cheaper!

Alice Audrey said...

Being an accountant type I checked my budget after about a year of coupon clipping only to discover I had actually paid more over all for groceries than I did the following year. Now and then I will still use a coupon, but only if it is for something I was going to buy anyway, right down to the brand.

angie said...

I've tried this before, too. It just doesn't pay for me.......way not worth it to drag 5 kids store to store.

CristyLynn said...

Thanks for the early morning laugh! I am so with you on the coupon thing. I've tried it, and it just doesn't work for me. My cousin is a whiz, at this, but I'm just, not.
Hope you remembered the garlic the next time you went out, can't live without garlic!

Pregnantly Plump said...

Aww! What a rough day! I'm a couponer, but refuse to play the coupon game thing mainly for the reasons you site -- we don't need most of the stuff you can get the "best" deals on. Certain stores in our area make shopping with a toddler easier - Trader Joes and Harris Teeter give out free balloons. But I usually bring snacks with me, which helps a whole lot.
We have 3 major grocery chains in our area, so I go to their websites, find the deals I like and typically use coupons from the flyers. This works for us, but it is a huge time commitment from me (and much to his chagrin, Little Elvis.)
And it's awful when they figure out screw on tops isn't it? Little Elvis poured out half a bottle of baby shampoo when I realized that he could open them.

dani said...

that couponing sounds like a nightmare, j!!! one thing that might help would be to install firefox. according to my it friend that works at the pentagon, ff is a much better program than internet explorer. so far, my system has only crashed once since i installed it at Christmas. good luck:D

esme, of all little girls, YOU do NOT need mascara!!! i bet it was a lot of fun opening and using it, though, huh?!!?? tee-hee:P

much love,
dani xxx

Jennifer said...

I second the recommendation to use Firefox instead. I love it. And it has a built-in spell check!

Obviously, you've seen my FB updates that the couponing thing does work for me. I don't spend more than I otherwise would because I only buy things we actually want to use or eat. I haven't paid for deodorant or toothpaste in over a year!

My tips -

Subscribe to a blog that does all of the coupon matching work for you (like Money Saving Mom).

Only work on it after Esme has gone to bed.

Try to go to the store after bed time, alone if possible.

And start using Firefox!