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The Death of Coupons

Grumpy-old-lady-and-meby Yvonne DiVita

RIP coupons. You do not live at my house, anymore. I shop at stores that do not raise their prices and then tempt me in with a cents off coupon. Even when it's doubled.

According to Forbes magazine, JC Penney made a big mistake by getting rid of coupons. Profits are down and Moms everywhere are sending the CMO nasty notes. Apparently, they love wasting time on coupons.

I have been a coupon Queen. I have spent hours and hours clipping coupons, comparing prices, saving what seemed like hundreds of dollars, mostly on groceries. And, I still use an occasional coupon for groceries.

However, over the last 10 years, I have slowly given up the whole coupon thing for the other shopping I do. Honestly, I don't have time. My time is worth more than their coupons. And, I don't shop for the sake of shopping. I shop when I need something. I have favorite stores - like JC Penney - and that's where I go. 

Don't get me wrong. I like a bargain as much as the next person. I watch TV and I see the ads. This No-coupons store is promising 20% off this weekend only (well, until next weekend, when they'll change the focus of the ad but you'll still get a deal of some sort); this store says watch for the coupon in Wednesday's paper; another store says they're the low-cost provider, why would you shop anywhere else - and here's a coupon to prove it! Over time, I have come realize, it's all PR. That's all. Major PR. NO REAL SAVINGS! Because, in the end, how much is your time really worth? The women who are saving the most spend hours and hours on coupon clipping. Hours and hours. And hours. 

Faith Popcorn, who should know better, is advising JC Penney to do an about-face. She is quoted, in the Forbes article, here: "Popcorn says DeGeneres could play a key role. “I’d come back with a very strong apology campaign showing Ellen cutting coupons in secret, and making it very clear how important these pieces of paper are to their consumer base,” she says. “He needs to get on the same page as his consumers before he alienates them forever.” Rather than deprive them of something they value, she says Penney’s execs should focus on “surprising and delighting” their customers through the very promotions and gimmicks they hoped to do away with just three months ago."

Really? Honestly? I'm so angry I could spit. Women need to stop letting everyone else tell them how to do what they do best - take care of their own families. We don't need coupons. Coupons are a crutch. If, as Popcorn suggests, removing coupons is the equivalent of taking booze from an alcoholic, it's time to go cold turkey and give women back their lives. And, people like Popcorn need to help the issue, not hinder it. She could be a prime force, as Ellen DeGeneres is, in showing women that they don't need to bow to corporate policies that no longer work.

Women have other things to do with their time than cut coupons. If you think couponing is helping you, I ask you to stop for a month...and buy only those products you actually need. Buy stuff that your family needs, not what it 'wants'. Shop in stores that want your business because they have quality products - not because they have inferior products they're willing to sell cheap, via coupons.

Me - I'm done with coupons, unless it's "free-free-free" without having to buy a dozen other items first.

I have a budget. I stick to it. I know where to get the best products at the best prices, and JC Penney is one of the places I shop. If they go back to couponing, well... not so much. 


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Carol Bryant

Very interesting perspective and you made me realize how few coupons I clip. I do, however, love to save, and I am with Veronika on those "get me into store" savings like Bed Bath and Beyond. I love my 2 cups of Keurig tea in the morning; it's my luxury (that and buying the dog toys), but I wait for the BB&B coupon for 20 percent off to come. Interesting though, how my purse is weighed down with store cards now... lol

Mary Schmidt

I too love a bargain. I'll even use coupons, but I don't see couponing as a lifestyle. And I don't use many name brands or prepared foods. There was a recent article in the NYT, that you'd find interesting. My eyeroll came when I saw the bottled water in the photo. Good for the two women in the article who have managed to turn couponing into a business. However, I find I save the most money when I - um - don't buy things. And, knowing how to cook saves even more. (I do get coupons from Smith's that are produced based on what I do buy, which I use.)

Amanda P

Honestly, have people criticizing the change even visited JCP? JCP does this "best deal" thing and I got a nice purse for $10 -- so I didn't need a coupon and a sale. Rather than carry coupons around, if people shop at JCPenney on their two Fridays every month where prices are "best", you don't need a coupon. However, women have been so trained by a frenzy of coupons and early bird sales, that maybe it's hard for some people to adjust. It's like you said, Yvonne, I shop at Target too, and don't ever bring coupons with me. I just assume the price is good and I don't have time to run around to 12 different stores to save 50 cents. Half the time, I forget to bring my recyclable bags in with me (sitting in the car) and that would save 5 cents per bag right there.


I agree--I'll do a Bed Bath & Beyond coupon, but that's about it. I don't buy the mainstream stuff that has coupons, and organic items don't seem to do coupons. I probably wouldn't remember to them anyway.

But I think people see those coupon shows on TV and think it's really worthwhile. I think they probably need to show how much they lowered their prices or something in order to prove they don't need them anymore.

Veronika Freeman, dotcalm

I agree! As an entrepreneur time is money!

If there's an easily gotten coupon for a reasonable amount on a product I typically buy fine, I'll clip and carry it. But typically I just can't be bothered for 25-50¢.

I like easy and big savings; Bed, Bath & Beyond does it right - $5 off $15 or 20% off purchase will get me in the store - and their coupons NEVER expire! You can use them anytime!

Rebates are another annoyance - if I can't do it online I won't be bothered with it.

Glad to hear I'm not alone Yvonne! We're too busy making the dollars to trade that time for pennies!

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