Why I don’t use Coupons

quit the coupon game

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.

Promotes Consumerism

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.

Time

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.

Questionable Ethics

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.

More Resources:

In coupons we trust?

Comments

  1. says

    Those are all great points. I'm not a coupon user myself– It works AWESOME for some folks but I can totally see how it could quickly become a dangerous obsession for me. I already struggle with wanting to have control over things, so I could definitely see the potential to become more focused on what I could do versus what God is doing in my life. Refreshing post– Thank you and be blessed!

    • Crystal says

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts :) I think it’s awesome that you are able to make a wise decision based on knowing yourself and your tendencies…I had to learn that lesson the hard way.

  2. says

    Coupons generally are only for convenience foods, things I try to use sparingly. But I will use them on things like detergent, feminine supplies and shampoos (I have 2 girls at home as well as myself). I pretty much only use 2-3 a week at the most, and rely instead on paying attention to sales and stocking up when possible.

  3. says

    I am finding myself using coupons less and less, for many of the same reasons your quoted above. I found myself buying products for pennies that if they had been full price I never would have brought into my home because their contents did not meet our healthy diet and lifestyle standards. I however still use some, for things like shoes (finish line) and eating out and such.

  4. Laura Lindeman says

    I can definitely see spiraling into an obsession with coupons. This past month I only had time to do my regular weekly grocery shopping, none of the additional stores that I often go to only for the deals, and I was amazed that I spent LESS by not using the coupons (which seems kind of obvious, but I hadn't really thought of it). I have DEFINITELY been tempted by something I would never usually buy because it is free, and that rush you get from completing a good deal can definitely get addicting. Good for you for following your convictions! I am still endlessly impressed by your $200/month budget.

  5. says

    Thank you for the details of this post. i fall into ‘feeling bad for not using coupons’ when our budget could certainly use it. You just helped give me a sense of freedom for my choices~ praise God. *smile*
    ~Sheri

    • Crystal says

      Sheri, I’m so glad my post could help…you definitely shouldn’t feel bad for not using coupons :) It was hard to give up at first because I knew I could be saving, but I have experienced a freedom since I no longer use them.

  6. says

    I don't use coupons either. I tried it and realized it would get me buying things I really don't need, using name brands at the price of the off brands and using my valuable time to find and use the coupon, send me to a bunch of stores instead of just one or two, take up my precious little cupboard space, and so much of the food items are super processed stuff. Perhaps I didn't give it enough of a chance, but I just didn't see the benefit for my family versus the time it would take me. Loved your perspective about trusting God and not getting consumed by consumerism. Blessing to you and your family!
    Amanda @ http://www.the-cadence.com.

  7. says

    Thanks for sharing Crystal. You voiced a lot of the reasons why I rarely use coupons.
    Sometimes God speaks to us and we don’t know the why- only what He is calling us to do. I admire your courage to step out in obedience-even when you can’t see the full picture.
    Many times God calls us to do just that to test our faith- makes me think of Noah- people thought he was totally crazy. :)
    Good reminder that I should simply trust and obey.
    God bless you.

  8. amber says

    I hear ya sister! I used to go through the coupon ads and clip a bunch of them, put it on my grocery list and either forget to use the coupon (resulting in paying full price for a product I didn’t need) or getting a small deal for something that just sat in the cabinet or was unhealthy for my family to eat. So I don’t even look at those ads any more, just toss them in the recycling bin. I even gave up doing my weekly grocery shopping at walmart for price matching. Now I grocery shop only at one local store(which has MUCH better produce most is local and speacials that aren’t even in their ad) buying only what I need, rather than being lured by all the convience things of a supercenter store. And about once a month go to walmart or target for diapers/toiletries/clothing for my children if they need any. Doing things this way is better for my family and keeps us under budget.
    And God bless you for speaking the truth on why you stopped couponing. I believe God talks to us all the time but we just don’t listen or are too afraid of what other people would think if you told them.

  9. says

    I’m not going to lie…at first it did sound a little crazy! :P But you explained it very well…points 2 and 6 really helped me understand your personal/spiritual decision better. Especially six. It’s silly how people try to abuse the system. If you’re going to cheat, there’s so many other quicker and more lucrative ways to do it. And how sad is it that they do it at all?

    • Crystal says

      God’s word tells us that He will guide us and that He will not hide from those who seek him :) So, I do believe that He will tell us what to do if we seek after Him :)

      lol@ the more lucrative ways to cheat comment…that’s so true!

  10. Angie Abella says

    I don't coupon…but I do use the clearanced racks. Reduced produce, reduced bakery goods (freezer worthy!!), manager's specials (that aren't advertised in the ads), etc. Clearance rack fabrics (for those bolts going out of season making room for incoming), etc…I'm not above saving when I can!

    • Crystal says

      Kim, I can definitely understand that! I used to be a scrapbooker with just one baby, but the second one nixed that pretty good :) lol

    • says

      I used to use them quite a bit, but I discovered that we were eating nothing but junk food for the sake of saving money. Then we moved and the Kroger here has a limit – only 7 coupons per transaction and only one can be doubled…apparently they were losing too much money on the whole thing.

    • April Zook says

      With coupons, I was buying things I didn't need and ultimately spending more to "save". I'm happier without the pressure to hunt, snip, and rush before expiration.

  11. says

    Thanks for your honesty. We don’t use coupons either (except for hearing aid batteries) for two main reasons:
    1) I don’t need 25 boxes of cereal to save $1.00… we don’t even eat cereal

    2. Stuff we use doesn’t typically use coupons.

    You are not “weird” to be following the Lord’s prompting. Me may not tell your neighbor to stop using coupons but if he is prompting you then you are simply being obedient. If others think your weird, perhaps there’s some religion in them.

    Blessings!

  12. says

    Crystal, I just love your honesty. I find myself nodding a silent “Amen” so often reading your posts. I tried using coupons for a while, but also stopped.

    My reasons weren’t quite so well thought out, but I decided I’d rather use the time to make things myself/ learn how to do without rather than spend time couponing. Plus, if I really love a product, I’d like to able to support the company.

    As others have said, doesn’t mean I don’t like the reduced rack! I figure if things are going to be tossed if they’re not purchased, buying them *helps* reduce waste!

    Thanks for sharing at Thrifty Thursday!

  13. Sarah says

    I love your reasons! I used to use coupons all the time. And it did start to become an addiction and just took up way to much time than it was worth. Yes, I would save a lot, but I’d also spend a lot of my time that I could be spending on my family. God has slowly taken this from my life. And when God does something, you just have so much peace about it!

  14. says

    OMGosh! Reading this article was like looking in a mirror. These are all reasons that I have stopped using coupons too! I was letting it get out of hand; using way too much time and energy where it could have been focused on my husband, children, and home instead; buying things I didn't really need because it was a 'bargain'; and buying processed foods in boxes instead of making, baking, and cooking healthy things from scratch. Thanks for the article.

  15. says

    Let me take this time to encourage you by letting you know that I admire your faith and obedience. Your right, for some, the reasons you listed would sound "weird", but to me it sounds like a women seeking God in all she does.

    And the reasons you did list, well….they made sense to me and I agree.

    God Bless

  16. Amanda says

    I use coupons, and even belong to a couponing site (that I have to pay for…) but I only use the coupons for things we use (diapers, formula, cereal, laundry detergent, etc) OR on new things I would like to try, but only if the coupon gets the price low enough! Otherwise I agree with others that it’s time consuming and often I either forget to use the coupon or have to buy so much that it’s not worth it! I would LOVE to get my grocery bill lower, but with 2 little boys that eat as much as hubby and I it has been difficult….but stocking up when there’s a deal has been HUGE – and I will be trying some of your other ideas in your various posts. Thank you!

  17. says

    I know that it is really easy to take couponing to the next level and go overboard. I use couponing with budgeting to try to make good decisions for my family to get things less expensive and live within a $160 monthly budget. I know that I couldn’t do it without a little help from coupons. When I first started, I had some issues going overboard but budgeting and menu planning resolved those overbuying issues for me. If you go to extremes, couponing probably isn’t the best route for you. I agree it is best to do what is good for you and your family.

    • Crystal says

      I completely agree, Alison, that we all need to do what we feel is best for our families and situations. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  18. says

    This is a refreshing post in a world where all the cool frugal people seem to be going crazy over couponing. I keep wondering how much longer the extreme couponing can last. Eventually, aren’t more stores going to catch on and be proactive – like the Kroger’s who only accepts 7 coupons per order? I’ve tried a couple of times to start using coupons, but it just felt… morally wrong to me. Like I was stepping (voluntarily) into a web of greed. It felt weird to admit that out loud until I read this post. Thanks for posting your thoughts so clearly.
    I also read your post on feeding a family for $200/month; we do most of those things too. I think one of the biggest factors in living frugally is realizing that we’re not entitled to anything. Our children don’t have to have “the best” just because they’re kids and they deserve a better live than we had. (I live in a very poor area; that’s a common mindset here.) The reason many of our lives are so rich now is because we had to sacrifice or do without things when we were younger. To some extent I want that for my children too. I want them to know how it feels to not have everything they want as soon as they want it. I want them to learn the value in hard work and patience.
    Oh no- I think I’ve been away from my blog too long and I’m taking it out on you. Sorry! All I really needed to say is: I’ve enjoyed reading your blog this morning. I appreciate the way your mind works, the way you communicate your thoughts, and the way you reply so graciously to all of your commenters. Have a beautiful day!

    • Crystal says

      Ruthie, your comment just made my day! I like your wording “stepping (voluntarily) into a web of greed.” I didn’t notice it until later, but I completely agree. I agree that something will have to give eventually. The manufacturers are the ones who lose the most because of the “extreme” couponers, and they have tried to make rules but people just don’t follow them.

      And, I completely agree with you about feeling entitled. I think people used to know better how to “make do,” and it something most of us have forgotten how to do. I also wrote a couple of posts about our kids, and I completely agree with you on that! I grew up really poor, and there are so many things I’m thankful for because of that and I do want that to an extent for my children as well, for them to learn the lessons that come from it.

      Thank you so much for your encouraging words today! Now I’m off to check out your blog :)

      • says

        I find this goes for price-matching too. I, also, only use a few coupons only on stuff I already buy (my kind of fab softener, L detergent, or my hubby’s soap) but most of my grocery savings (we have 7 children) come from price matching. But even this practice I have had to pray about often to keep me in-line. I have many friends and even I’ve been know to do it once in a while who uses a price match that doesn’t match exactly (using a generic 4lb sugar ad match for this store’s 5lb sugar and getting that extra lb free) and purposely going to the line with the young teenager in it who doesn’t care and won’t check your ads but just takes your word for it. I’m constantly battling that temptation and I feel the Lord’s tug every time I am tempted. Thank you for this very encouraging, yet convicting, post on why I will keep turning the grocery shopping over to the Lord!

  19. Natalia Faris says

    Yes! I went through a period of couponing and it did save us a bunch of money, but it was very time consuming. I hardly ever use coupons anymore, especially since we switched to eating healthy, whole food diet. There are no coupons for free produce and meat unfortunately :( but I do shop sales and price match, and plan our meals, which saves money as well. Great post!

  20. says

    I found that I didn't use 95% of the stuff coupons were for. Or house brand was cheaper even with the coupons. These days, if the store sends me $1.50 off any purchase of $15 or more, I'll use it but I don't even bother with the paper these days.

  21. says

    I gotta say, this is one of those happy medium things. Going crazy and buying things you don't need because you have coupons is an extreme, but so is not using them at all. If you're buying shoes, and a store has a 20% off coupon for shoes, there's no reason not to use that thing.

    • Crystal Brothers says

      As I said in the post, I do use a few coupons here and there as they are applicable, but I don’t “play the coupon game.” Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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