Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I'm Okay with Extreme Couponers

I had a realization when I was in the grocery store last week that I'm okay with Extreme Couponers.  I was waiting to check out at the grocery store and it was about 5:30 so it was super busy.  I got in line behind a woman.  She had a bunch of groceries and a pack of lighters.  She was paying with an EBT (food stamps) card and she had to pay for the lighters out of pocket.  Apparently, her bag of onions didn't have a tag so the cashier had rang them up as the price but as an open food item.  Because the system didn't know what the item was, it didn't qualify for food stamps.  The woman wanted to know why her out of pocket was so high, it was around $5.  The cashier looked and realized that it was due to the onions.  She had to send a coworker back to get a bag of onions with a tag on them so she could scan it.  This is taking quite a while so I have time to see what the woman bought with her EBT card.  Besides the onions and potatoes, the woman had bought a lot of junk food and pre-packaged food.  It was stuff that is more expensive than actually cooking ones own meals.  It really annoyed me that she was on goverment assistance and was buying lighters.  I could tell that she was a smoker (I smoke so I can totally pick out smokers and yes, I do judge people).  The way that I figure is that if you have enough money to buy smokes, you should be able to pay for your own groceries, or at least onions.

Anyway, as I'm waiting, I thought of the Extreme Couponing Show.  The common theme with all of the couponers on that show is that they started couponing when they had something bad happen financially.  Some of them had a lot of credit card debt and some had lost a job.  I have to say that I have respect for those who take the matter into their own hands and cut coupons, watch the deals, and take the time to plan their grocery trips to save money than those who live off the goverment.  I think that as long as you follow your store and coupon rules, then it is fine. 

The Extreme Couponers show has not been very well received in the PF blogosphere because of the way that they do it and most of them look like hoarders.  However, isn't it much better to coupon than live off the goverment?

Sidenote:  I think that food stamps are a wonderful thing in our society.  I don't think anybody should have to go hungry.  I just think the system is abused quite often.

9 comments:

  1. You are right it is abused. But many of the recipients do not know how to cook or they work low paying jobs and have small children and are just too tired to cook. It is a catch 22. Some people just cannot get out. I don't like it but I can't do anything about it. Smoking is expensive but it is also an addiction. People have to eat they do not have to smoke. But when you are addicted to nicotine even when you are poor you are still addicted. Sigh, wish I had an answer.

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  2. Seeing stuff like that also upsets me. Like when my friends complain about money then I see them buy copied movies from a guy off the street. Systems like that are often abused but you have to remember they are some good people using it and it would suck if it was taken away because of a few bad apples.

    I've never seen extreme couponing but I have no problem with what people do to save or earn money so long as it is legit.

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  3. I struggle with these thoughts sometimes. I work with a lot of people with very low incomes, and rarely can you see the whole story from a limited sample of behaviour (e.g., what they're buying on a particular day at the grocery store). For instance, she could have bought staples last week to cook with, and this week convenience food was on sale, so she stocked up to get her through the days she didn't have time to cook for whatever reason. I don't think we'd want to start a system where we dictated what food people could buy with the food stamps they are given. Think of the politics and factions that could ensue! I slip often, but I try not to judge what people eat or what they spend their money on, cause I wouldn't like to be judged in those categories sometimes!

    I don't have a problem with the extreme couponers. I just don't know if the time invested is worth it for me. I saw one woman who spends 60 hours a week couponing. If it pays off better than whatever job she could get, fine, but I don't think I could make it worth my while in that respect.

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  4. Psychsarah, you are so right. I also need to remember that not everybody has the knowledge or the time to cook meals from scratch. I learned how to cook from my mom, watching friends and watching TV. Others may not have had those experiences.

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  5. I've never watched the show. I use coupons but not at all to extreme. I think some people just don't have any idea how to shop for or cook healthy meals. Maybe there should be a class on that for people on food stamps.

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  6. For me, if people need food stamps, I think its good that we have a system in place to help them when they are down and out... I just don't know how to reform the system to fix all the abuse because that makes me upset.

    I'm also fine with coupon-ers as long as they aren't breaking the rules and trying to use coupons for items they haven't purchased... to me the ones who commit fraud are just as bad as those abusing the food stamp system.

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  7. Did you ever read MoneyMate Kate? She had an extreme couponing thing going on but gave her purchases away to a homeless teen shelter and to people she found on Craigslist. I don't think people object to extreme couponing; it's when it becomes the storage of great amounts of items that will never be used that it becomes hoarding and disturbing. After all, no one cares that Mormons store tons of food because they do it systematically.

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  8. Kerry, I did read MoneyMate Kate. She is great. She doesn't post very much anymore but I miss her.

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