I shared in passing, on my $200/month grocery budget post, that I don’t use coupons. I had several questions about this, and the answer is somewhat in depth, so I decided to elaborate on my reasons.
It’s a fair question. Extreme couponing is huge right now–there are just look at all the books telling you just how to do it, and it really can save you money.
In a nutshell, the answer is this: God told me to stop using coupons.
For some people, even Christians, this tends to sound “weird.” But, if we are open to His guidance, God will direct us. And He made it abundantly clear that He wanted me to stop using coupons.
I have to remind myself that God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). There are reasons that could make sense to me, but in the end I may not ever know the exact reason, and the reason doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I hear his voice and heed it. However, I have thought about it a lot, I decided to share some possible reasons that God might ask me to give up coupons:
A Test of Obedience and Faith
Sometimes God asks us to do things that don’t make sense. There may or may not be a tangible result. The end purpose might just be a blessing that will come through our obedience. My pastor loves the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5:1-14. God told him, through Elisha, to dip in the Jordan 7 times. The Jordan was dirty, and Naaman was appalled. But, he finally did it and was healed, because of his act of obedience to something that didn’t seem to make sense.
Unhealthy Reliance on Coupons
When people would tell me they didn’t have time for coupons, I found myself saying, “if I didn’t have to use coupons, I wouldn’t. This is the only way for us to make ends meet.” Every time it passed my lips, I felt a tug of conviction. Really? I need coupons? Is it coupons that allows us to make ends meet, or God’s provision? I found myself testifying about the good of coupons more often and more excitedly than the provision of God. He has shown us for the past 7 months that we didn’t need coupons after all. All we need is Him.
Our family values simplicity, seeking freedom from materialism and consumerism. Playing the coupon game goes against those basic values. It sometimes requires buying things you don’t need in order to get (for free or cheap) things you do need. I also found myself buying things such as boxed mixes, convenience foods, etc. that aren’t very healthy, and go against my values of preparing healthy, homemade foods for my family.
It’s Bad for the Environment
We try to be environmentally friendly. We have taken a lot of steps toward this purpose, and couponing was a big step back. I purchased things that we didn’t need (the opposite of “reduce”), and a part of what makes the coupon game successful is buying the smallest packages of everything, which is worse in terms of environmental impact.
Using coupons took up entirely too much time and energy. I’ll be honest and say it almost became an addiction or an obsession. I spent a lot of time cutting coupons, searching online forums for the best deals, and shopping. But what was worse than that was the mental energy I put into it. Crystal from money saving mom said recently that she had a “nightmare” about paying full price for something and felt a crazy amount of relief when she woke up to find it was only a dream. When I was using coupons, I could relate to that. Deals and missed deals became way too much of a focus for me. It wasn’t as bad as the Extreme Couponing show on TV, but it was more than I was comfortable with.
From the time I first started using coupons, I was absolutely appalled by unethical coupon use. As I got deeper into it–looking at deals sites and forums, the number of people doing it and the level of dishonesty seemed to multiply. I became increasingly uncomfortable with what was going on around me. At the same time, I became increasingly frustrated about the deals I missed out on because I was following the rules, and the deals I saw others getting because they were not following the rules.
I should add, I know that some people don’t have any of these problems, and some people casually use coupons. I am NOT saying that coupons are bad, or that everyone should stop. But, these are some of the reasons that I stopped playing the coupon game, and now no longer use coupons, except an occasional store or restaurant coupon.
- Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half–how we feed our family of 4 on $200/month…without using coupons.
- Pocket Your Dollars
- Penny Pinching Mama
- Dining on a Dime
- Debt Discouragement--How a $50 revelation helped us overcome debt discouragement and get out of debt on a low income.