I used to agree with Money Saving Mom in that everyone should use coupons. I no longer completely agree. I do think that many of the reasons people don't coupon aren't really very valid but I also know that life has seasons.
Last fall was not a season for us to be couponing. I was struggling to get through my work days while Craig was having to work hard full time as a grad student, part time as a sub and handling everything I had been doing. So, couponing fell by the wayside. I have a feeling that the next few months won't be full of lots of couponing either. But that is okay.
But the thing about getting out of the habit is that it is easy to convince yourself it isn't worth it. It does take time and effort and you begin to think that $0.35 off that box of cereal is not a big deal. Yet these last few months I've been reforming the habit and I realize that it does make a difference. Plus I love getting good deals, there is a certain thrill to it. Some people get their kicks by bungee jumping or parachuting out of airplane. All I need is the chance to get a free gallon of milk and I'm set for the week!
Recently though I was reminded of one of my favorite reasons to coupon- generosity.
Two weeks ago a little neon green bag was stuck in our door by the Girl Scouts asking for grooming and hygiene items for a local shelter. So a few days later we sat and went through our linen closet where we keep all the extras we have. We normally have quite the stash of toothpaste, shampoo, and deodorant that we have gotten for free or almost free (<$0.25), primarily at Walgreens. It didn't even take ten minutes to grab a few of each, put them in the bag and hang it outside for the girls to pick up the next day. And we just happened to be out that next morning when I looked around and noticed that we were the only home in the whole place that had a baggie on the doorknob. I was a little disappointed thinking of the girls that would be arriving soon but not having much to pick up. Now truthfully, if we didn't have the stuff on hand, we probably wouldn't have donated anything either. Even if I had remembered to pick something up at the store (and that is a big if), I probably would have just bought one or two cheap items. Instead we were able to donate at least $20 worth of items.
But generosity isn't limited to just charities. The last few years most of our friends were in school. The grad program Craig was in wasn't like a lot of them in that it didn't really offer much in the way of financial aid or grants nor did it leave a lot of time for part time work so many of his fellow students were living off student loans or the money they managed to make over the summer. Now, it would have been really awkward for us to offer to help them in most ways but it was easy to be able to offer the chance to raid our closet for items when they were over at our house, especially at the end of the semester when we knew they were surviving off ramen noodles. And since Craig was always bragging about the great deals he got, they knew we meant it when we begged them to take some shampoo because we couldn't open on the door without 5 bottles of Pert Plus falling on our head.
We've also been the recipient of generosity many times too. Just last weekend our Sunday School class had a ladies craft night were we taught each other sewing and knitting tips. One of the ladies in our group is known for her couponing and deal-finding and she did not disappoint. She managed to find these awesome knitting needle kits complete with a case and needles in multiple sizes for just $0.99 each. They were normally $19.99! So for just a few dollars, she was able to use her generosity and thoughtfulness and provide the group with over $100 worth of knitting supplies. So next time you see a coupon, don't think of it just as a way to save money. Think of it as a ticket to generosity.