Coupon Hostility

Lately I’ve noticed two things: First, there is an increase in coupon use thanks to the Great Recession. Second, thanks to the increased coupon use there is a more vocal judgement of coupon users on Internet forums and at my local coupon swaps. People are not shy about criticizing others for “eating nothing but junk” or accusing them of inflating the savings they claim to be getting when using coupons. What is this anger toward couponers all about?

I’m not a extreme couponer, but I do manage to rack up a decent amount in savings every week by using coupons on everything from groceries to restaurants to online shopping. If you give me a chance to save money on something that I’m going to buy anyway, I’ll take it. It disturbs me when I see other couponers post their savings, only to get jumped on by other forum or swap members.

Exact quote from my local coupon swap: “Sure, you saved fifty bucks on your grocery bill, but I’ll bet you’re nutritionally deficient.” Further aggravating the situation, this person rarely brings any coupons to the swap because, “I refuse to help people buy junk food.” (Why she’s a member is a mystery to me.) She’ll only bring coupons for toiletries and paper goods. She can’t be bothered to just bring coupons because other people might want them. She turns every swap into a personal statement against what she considers unhealthy food.

This person is assuming that there is no other way to use coupons than to buy over-processed junk food. While there are plenty of coupons for junk, there are also lots of coupons for things like eggs, frozen/canned veggies and fruit, meat, toiletries, paper products and pet items. Unless you take someone’s receipt and examine everything they bought, you have no way of knowing how healthy they are. Maybe they saved that $50 on toiletries and paper goods. Maybe their store offers lots of coupons on fresh items. To judge a persons eating habits based on the fact that they use coupons is mean and unfounded. And even if they’re eating junk, so what? It’s not your health that they’re ruining so there no need to comment.

If someone isn’t sniping over the quality of the food being bought, they’re contesting the savings themselves. “I really doubt you saved $75 last week. You just can’t do that around here,” was another comment I heard at the swap. The person was referring to the fact that few stores around here double coupons. But stores don’t have to double to rack up big savings. If you have multiples of high value coupons, you can save big money. Some stores let you combine manufacturer coupons with store coupons. Even without doubling, you can save significantly just by using lots of coupons on an order. I have no doubt that someone saved $75 in one week because I’ve done it. But even if I thought they’re stretching things a bit, I wouldn’t get snarky about it. It’s not worth starting an argument over.

These are not isolated incidents. I’ve heard similar comments over and over. What is the point of being mean to others over their coupon use? Is it jealousy over the amount saved? Is it just to take someone who is successful at something down a peg? Is it to prove that you are somehow superior because you eat and live so healthfully you couldn’t possibly use a coupon on a single store bought item? I don’t know where this hostility over coupon use is coming from. Why can’t people just be supportive of other’s efforts to save money on the things they buy, whether you approve of the purchase or not? I may not buy a certain cereal, but if it’s someone else’s favorite, I can be happy for them if they save $1.00 off the purchase and I can take the time to clip a coupon for it and take it to the swap to give away.

The bottom line is that there are many ways to use coupons (just as there are thousands of ways to save money in general). What works for one person doesn’t always work for another. Just because some people choose to use coupons on certain items does not make them any better or worse than you. Just because someone can rack up hundreds of dollars in savings doesn’t mean they’re lying or cheating somehow. Maybe you should listen to them. They might be able to teach you something.

There’s no need to hammer other people who are just trying to save money. Everyone has different ways of living and saving. Just because you don’t approve doesn’t mean you have to make rude comments. You can choose to say nothing, or simply say, “Hey, good for you.” Support people who are trying to save. At least they’re trying.

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8 Responses to Coupon Hostility

  1. Minny says:

    People like that are everywhere – why not tell her to leave the group? If she does this constantly it can’t be just your nose she’s getting up – many others will want her out.

    The same on forums – some have a system where people who are consistently rude are given the elbow – sent of their way!

  2. giax says:

    The same happens with every hobby out there. Try a book group “I don’t understand why someone would read just junk books like that”, gardening “Why would anyone want nothing but grandma flowers in their garden?”, computers “I’ve been using this OS since 1980s and I know it much better than you” … you name it.

    The attitude of that one couponer you mentioned kind of reminds me of people I’d define as vegenazis: vegetarians (or any other, usually voluntary restriction on ingested items, such as coffeenazi, no-caffeinist, no-alcohol, winenazi) who have loud and poisonous items about everything everyone else eats. “Whatever I eat is the best stuff, how can you eat meat/drink any alcohol/drink coffee I like less than the coffee I drink/drink wine that isn’t to my liking etc?” Unfortunately the best way I’ve found to deal with that type of people is to not invite them to lunch/dinner/coffee until they’ve proven in some smaller context of having learned to keep some of their opinions theirs.

  3. Nancy says:

    I am a coupon user, and love to find great printable coupons.
    The only problem I have with “extreme” coupon users is that some are greedy. I don’t think it is right to get dozens of coupons and wipe out a store’s entire inventory.
    I’ve seen people bragging on line about how they get dozens of an item because they get dozens of inserts. Some may donate some of the items, and that is good, but please don’t buy out a store’s inventory, so you can feel good about what a great deal you got.
    I am tired of trying to get an item with a coupon, and seeing that the store’s inventory is gone.

  4. Jo/GaelicWench says:

    This was an excellent article, Jennifer. Thank you for this. I honestly didn’t realize that there were people out there getting off on sniping others, and for what…..

    As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.” This is what I would tell the offender; jealousy certainly comes to mind when this occurs. She obviously pretty myopic when it comes to seeing the tremendous variety of coupons that are available. I go for these:

    Roman Meal bread
    Land O Lakes butter
    Folger’s Coffee
    Chobani Greek Yogurts
    Kashi Breakfast Bars and Cereals
    Campbell’s Soups – Healthy Request
    Planter’s NUTrition (not the bars)
    Stoneyfield Yogurts

    No egg coupons; I have chickens/layers. During produce season I use a vegetable and herb garden.

    I guess there are those who seem to think their lives are simply so perfect that they can judge someone else’s choice of which coupons to use. Tsk, Tsk!

  5. Gail says:

    Seems like every group has one. I think what they call them on the computer forums is trolls. We used to have one here that every money saving idea was torn down and the person told to just work extra hours instead of trying to save money. Apparently never realized that some folks don’t have that option. Oh wait, when people said they couldn’t do that the troll said go get a new job like they were so easy to find.

    I think as long as people are making an honest effort at saving and stretching their dollars they should be encouraged. People who have done nothing but buy all their meals out, may be now buying (with coupons) prefab food as a cost savings. Why discourage them? Help them to learn how to actually cook. I can see that perhaps someone might need some training in good nutrition and shopping but a coupon swap isn’t generally the place for it unless the person themselves are asking for help.

  6. I’ve noticed those same attitudes and I agree with your take on the subject. I have to say that the Extreme Couponing show is not helping because of how it highlights the hoarding element in some (extreme) couponers.

  7. Colleen says:

    I don’t see why we have to tear each other down. I use coupons, not to an extreme, but I do use them. And I also buy processed foods. For one thing, it’s good to have a storage to use from in case of an emergency. In a natural disaster, I’m not going to be able to run to the store and get fresh vegetables. And for another, while my children don’t eat mac & cheese for every meal, they do eat it. If we’ve got a busy day, I can whip that up quickly and give it to them with some carrot sticks or green beans and they have a decent lunch.

  8. miss says:

    I like to stock up on the Starbucks Groupon deal that comes around every now and again and buy 5 dollars and get 10 dollar gift card from Starbucks…I will buy around 25 dollars to get $50.00.That way i know every time i drink coffee at Starbucks its half off and if there is a coupon then even better.
    Then if you use your reward card and a coupon that is triple savings.

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