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Why’s It Got To Be All or Nothing?

by Shawanda Greene

Clipped couponsOver the last few days, I’ve been reading How to Shop for Free: Shopping Secrets for Women Who Love to Get Something for Nothing by Kathy Spenser. This book is packed, packed I tell you, with valuable information on how to score tons of coupons, combine them with store sales, and get a bunch of stuff for free. It’s funny, compact, and very easy to read. I highly recommend it.

As I was tearing thru the pages of How to Shop for Free, there were moments when I felt that maybe I too could be someone who routinely receives 97% off my checkout bill. Why not? I mean, I have a job and everything. But I distinctly remember seeing an Extreme Couponing episode where a working woman was able to replicate the savings of a housewife.

I was inspired.

Well, I was inspired until Farnoosh Torabi penned a rather discouraging blow titled Extreme Coupons: TV Show Draws Extreme Backlash. In the article, Farnoosh talks about recent changes made by retailers to thwart off the obscene savings by would-be extreme couponing copycats.

For instance, according to Rite Aid’s new coupon policy, they now only accept a maximum of “4 identical coupons for the same number of qualifying items as long as there is sufficient stock to satisfy other customers within the store manager’s sole discretion.” I can only redeem 4 coupons for the same item? At the manager’s sole discretion? Eek!

At least now I know what to expect. Thanks for killing my dreams, Farnoosh. I’ll just go back to paying full retail price for all my shopping needs.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels this way. Phil Lempert of Supermarketguru.com says that “shoppers no longer feel good about saving $10, or 10-to-20 percent. They’re becoming depressed that they are not able to buy $1,000 or more groceries for 25 cents.”

But why does it have to be that way? *Stomps foot, folds arms*

Just because I’m not a kept woman, surrounded by coupon doubling supermarkets, I have to pay top dollar to subsidize the grocery bill of some bitch who is? Enough of that. I’m putting my foot down and becoming one of those bitches – kind of.

I never intended on ridding a shelf of 72 bottles of mustard. I don’t have room to put all that crap anyway. If I can save an extra $200 – $300 a month from clipping coupons, I’ll take it.

We often take the all or nothing attitude with other areas of our lives.

“I can’t save up the $3 million I need for retirement, so I’ll, uh, spend every dime I make and spend my golden years in squalor.”

Is slightly uncomfortable not superior to so broke and miserable you’d rather be dead?

There’s so much to explore between “all” and “nothing.”

Whatever it is you’ve been struggling with, whether it’s financially related or not, ask yourself, “Can I do something?”

What are your thoughts? Any instances where you’ve successfully implemented an all or something approach?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica June 29, 2011 at 8:47 AM

Great post! The all or nothing mentality has a way of taking over. I can't cook gourmet meals so I might as well eat out every meal. I can only take one class at a time, so why bother with college. I can't save very much money, so I'm not going to save any at all. I think it's motivating to know it doesn't have to be all or nothing. It's easy to do a little at a time. Small steps. Thanks!

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Shawanda June 30, 2011 at 5:41 AM

Jessica – Thanks for commenting! During my junior year of college, I'd call my mother every night and list all the things I had to do that'd I'd never be able to get to. I'll never forget my mother, rather abrasively, telling me to stop complaining about everything I had to do and just do something. As it turns out, I was able to accomplish it all that semester. Changed my life.

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Pamela July 1, 2011 at 2:23 PM

I agree with you, Shawanda. Also, let's face it, it's not as if most of us have the time or energy to keep up with that sort of couponing–the people on that show spend a good 40-70 hours a week doing it (getting the inserts, buying coupons from clipping services, tracking sales, etc.). It would be easy to watch that show and think, "Ugh, I could never do that, I won't even bother trying."

Like you, my home is small, so I don't have a lot of storage. I don't eat a lot of processed foods (well, Kraft Dinner. Orange powedered cheese and macaroni is the ambrosia of the junk food gods, darn it). A lot of the items you can get for free or close to it with coupons and sales are not items I'd be eating anyway. So I agree–use what you can use and be glad to save a little money (and leave enough stock for other people to benefit as well).

Also–those frugalistas who feel badly for not couponing before now, or not doing it as extremely should take heart. Amy Dacyczyn herself wasn't that enamoured of couponing.

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