In reality, most couponers are ethical, use coupon etiquitte, and don't displace their children's play areas for paper towel storage. Here are a few myths people believe about people who use coupons, and some ideas for setting people straight.
Are there lots of coupons for processed food? Sure. Does that mean all couponers feed their kids a steady diet of Totino's Pizza Rolls and Froot Loops? No way. There are also lots of coupons for frozen veggies, yogurt, cheese, whole grain cereal like Cheerios, and even organic products like the DeLallo pasta and organic granola I've bought within the past few weeks.
Sure, this week I'm taking advantage of the fruit snack deal at Giant Eagle, but I'm not feeding them to my kids in lieu of actual fruit! (They're my go-to "ssshhh snack" for church!) Moderation is the key, and I find that most people use coupons for as many nutritious foods as possible, pick up a few snacks or treats when coupons match with a sale, then use the savings from those deals to help pay for meat and fresh produce. Savvy shoppers also watch the sales and plan meals around the meat and produce that are on sale for the week.
Myth #2: Couponers are crazy people who clear shelves and hoard 10 years' worth of deodorant.
Those people are out there, but they're not the vast majority. In fact, this site and most coupon sites encourage coupon etiquette and reasonable stockpiling. This means taking only what you'll need to get by until the next sale (usually around 4-8 weeks depending on the item). If there's a great deal, 4 deodorants is reasonable. 40 is probably a little inconsiderate of other couponers, unless you've done a pre-order with the store manager.
Myth #3: Couponers are rude and ruin my day by taking forever to check out.
I'm sure the "rude" part is a myth amongst our Sister and Mister family–you all are the best! Occasionally we need to explain something to a cashier, or even speak to a manager, but hopefully we do so with patience and courtesy. It's a great idea to have stores' coupon policies with you in these instances so you can base your discussion on facts and point them out if necessary. Hopefully any issues can be resolved with kindness and respect.
As for taking forever to check out…you know that saying "If she has a binder, don't stand behind her?" Guilty as charged–sorry! A handful of coupons certainly adds time to checking out. That being said, courteous couponers allow the guy buying only a gallon of milk to go first, and we don't hold up a busy drug store line with multiple transactions; we head to the back of the line for round 2 or 3.
Myth #4: Couponers are cheating the system getting things for free.
Ethical coupon use is not cheating the system. As long as you follow the stores' coupon policies (find links on each week's deal matchups), snagging the deals that result in free products or profits is just smart use of the offers made available by the stores and manufacturers. Stores offer "loss leaders" to get you in the door, hoping you'll buy other full-priced items. If you're smart enough not to fall into their trap, that's will power, not cheating. Manufacturers offer great coupons to build brand loyalty. Sometimes it works (although many of us wait till the next coupon!), and sometimes we try the product, say thank you, and move on. If you read the fine print on the coupons, you'll see that the stores are reimbursed by the manufacturers for coupon redemption. Coupons are essentially the same as money when it comes to paying for a product. We might be working the system a little, cherry picking the best deals and forgetting the rest, but as long as we're using coupons ethically we're not cheating it.
Have you encountered any other Coupon Myths in your shopping adventures? How do you explain to others the difference between what you do and "Extreme Couponing?" And will you watch the show?
Written by Megan Frederick, writer for Sisters Shopping on a Shoestring