Monday, May 31, 2010
Something got me thinking about coupons a couple of weeks ago and I started to write this post then forgot all about it. Found it today languishing in my drafts list, so here it is.
I find the whole coupon phenomenon somewhat fascinating. The main thing that fascinates me is trying to figure out what the couponers actually eat. Most coupons I see are either for processed food that I would rather not buy or things that are completely unnecessary. I’ll admit that I haven’t looked that hard, but I don’t see a lot of coupons for apples or rice.
It also seems like most coupons are buy one-get one or spend x amount of money and get a discount, so you have to actually spend a lot in order to “save” a lot.
This approach doesn’t work for me at all, as I really try to limit how much I’m buying and focus more on the total cash outlay than on the unit cost. I definitely spend more than many people on the individual items I buy, but the total I spend is generally much less than most people because I buy less. I also have much less tied up in inventory. I’m always amazed at how much food people have whenever I go to someone else’s house.
I didn’t used to do this quite so much, but after a brief period of trying to get the lowest price, I realized that buying a lot in order to get a low unit price often turns out to be a false economy, mostly because I’m weirdly picky about stuff, and if I decide I don’t want to use something, I won’t. Sometimes I don’t want to use it because I decide I don’t like it anymore, but sometimes it’s because I realize it’s completely unnecessary and I would be better without it. If you buy things in bulk, you then end up with a whole bunch of stuff you have realized you either don’t want or don’t need, and that’s no bargain at all.
But like I said, I’m mostly baffled by what people who get a huge shopping cart full of groceries for $1.75 actually eat. I see lots of condiments and maybe some snack foods and some other processed food items. There was this one video I watched online where a woman got this huge shopping cart of groceries and everything in it had a coupon; her total cash outlay was less than two dollars. They interviewed her while she was shopping and she talked about what she was getting. For instance she had a coupon for a dollar off from the seafood department, so she bought a quarter pound of fish, which was just over a dollar and used the dollar-off coupon, so it basically cost nothing. But at the end of that transaction, she had a quarter pound of fish. Which is one not-very-big serving. Is that what she cooked for dinner for her family? Yum. Eat up, kids.
I would love to know what the monthly menu is, and also what the total spending is for everything across a whole year, not just the trip where they use all the coupons and spend $1.75. How much did they have to spend to build up the “bonus bucks” and everything else they used on that trip?
It reminds me a little bit of this time I talked to my grandmother after she’d been to the racetrack. I said, “Did you win?” She said, “Yes, I won twenty dollars.” I said, “How much did you bet?” She said, “Well I don’t know, but I won twenty dollars.”