In a recent column, I shared stories, both from readers and from myself, of encounters with people who don’t use coupons or turn down offers of savings in-store while shopping. This column generated many responses from readers:
Dear Jill, I read your column from time to time, but I am too busy to ever look for coupons. In a ‘saving time or saving money’ choice, saving time wins for me. I personally would be quite aggravated if someone tried to give me a coupon in the store. I don’t want to talk to anyone or have anyone approach me while I shop. — Les B.
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Dear Jill, I am a coupon user, but I have learned the hard way that some people do not really appreciate you trying to save them money. You mentioned an example where a case of soda was $2.50 if you bought four, but $5 if you bought just one. The shopper rebuffed your suggestion that she might want to buy four.
I have had something similar happen to me. Boxed pasta was on sale for a dollar, and the coupon dispenser on the shelf had 50-cent coupons. I was getting pasta and so was another woman. I pointed out the coupons which made the pasta half price. She scowled at me, said ‘I am not poor,’ and huffed off with her cart.
I myself don’t think using coupons makes you appear poor, but that was the first time I realized there are people out there who really do. — Carlie A.
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Greetings Jill, I don’t think your article captured many real reasons that people would be hesitant to even take an easy step to save money.
1. Time costs required to save money: many people don’t enjoy shopping. They would like to make their trips to the store as infrequent as possible and get through them as quickly as possible. This means avoiding anything that would slow down the process, like adding coupons to their checkout. In fact, people of this persuasion have very negative opinions of couponers in line in front of them that appear to be taking their time for an assumed ‘small’ (right or wrong) savings.
2. Difficulty in transportation to save money: the person in the soda example (who did not want to buy four, even though each cost less when four were purchased) was in a mobility scooter. She had difficulty getting the boxes in her cart in the first place. She may also have difficulty getting that food in whatever vehicle she is taking to and from the store.
3. Intimidation with math: Personally, I like math, so I can see that part of the appeal with Super-Couponing. However, many people have bad educational experiences with math and recoil at any unnecessary use of it. (The reader had pointed out to a man that small bags of dog food were less expensive when purchased with high-value coupons) The man could have not understood the math or didn’t want to understand the multiplication involved. There’s a certain amount of psychological pain that could go along with trying to relearn something that caused you pain in the past; no surprise that someone might want to avoid thinking about that altogether.
I’m neither a big coupon user nor someone that pays no attention to sales, but I try my best to empathize with viewpoints that I don’t hold. Please don’t think of this as an angry letter. I know that you have a reach with your article and trying to spread some empathy to any crowd is worth the effort.
I do appreciate everyone who took the time to write in about this issue. I’m someone who is committed to saving money, and who is always looking for opportunities to help others do the same. That said, it is always valuable to consider others’ viewpoints. While we coupon enthusiasts enjoy getting a great deal, other consumers may not enjoy the shopping and savings process nearly as much.