It’s fun to bring my lack of expertise into a subject like coupons. [Note: this post veers off sharply to the dark side, not the dark side of coupons, exactly, but a warning seems fair.]

My successful adventures in coupons are rare, and there are reasons.

The makers of coupons know these reasons. Oh, yes, they make it difficult on purpose.

They know you will not keep things sufficiently organized to be able to pounce on this coupon. They don’t care if you use it, in fact the best case scenario is when this coupon makes your brain go BINK! and you tuck their corporate identity into your already overfull Hopper of Things to Remember and then you forget the coupon and its salient details.

They know the percentage that will cause you to make an extra stop at the stores. Those scratch-off percentages? Totally just trying to get your attention long enough to look for a dime while you are thinking about them. What a bad romance.

They like to create urgency and their accurate timing to pump up this urgency only improves with improved tracking. If you bought a bunch of underwear, they can be sure you will not visit the underwear store within the month, unless something has gone terribly wrong or perhaps you have a big shiny coupon for panties. BINK! Your “HURRY NOW PANTY COUPON” has arrived!

If you can look at your underwear collection and wonder, “What happened?” chances are coupons happened.

Stay strong. Do not let coupons run you. You run the coupons. If they entice you to buy something you don’t need, is it even something you want? Why did you just buy 100 soy candle wicks when in the normal course of events you don’t make anything out of soy, not even food?

Breathe. Pause. You are perfect.

Coupons cost time. Sure it might be “worth” driving five miles to save five bucks, but how much time is that going to take? Coupons may save you a whopping five dollars while costing you 20 minutes of your life. You are losing your life to an aspirational minimum wage in this scenario. Horrified? Welcome to everybody’s world!

With all this in mind, cash back and coupons can be fun. Think of it as your tiny leverage on The Man, which is also fun, as long as you stay alert to all the ways it can be tiny leverage on you. I started using a cash back program which actually led me to try a store I adore. Winning for everyone, right? The trouble is that now, the program wants me to tell all my friends about it. Oh, how it nags me. It’s like a bad partner who whines. No, I will not introduce you to “all my friends.” Joke’s on you, program: I have no friends!

So! There are things you can keep in mind to master all things coupon, and some of them are listed here:

  • Don’t spend more than one second on a coupon situation. That includes scratching.
  • Do not keep coupons for things you weren’t already planning to buy.
  • If you forget to use the coupon, immediately forgive yourself and carry on. Do not go back.
  • Do not give them extra information to get a deal, unless is something genuinely harmless like how much butter you just bought. What are they going to do with that? Give it to the margarine police?

If this all sounds vaguely like a conspiracy theory, well, it is. If you’d like to understand better or worse, the reason we love a conspiracy theory, you could read this.

Or like my friend (okay I have one, I guess) asked rhetorically, how could anyone believe that there’s a vast cabal of pedophiles working in the shadows? I replied, “Uh, priests are everywhere and they seem pretty real.” BINK!


This message brought to you by butter, police, priests and walking into a bar.

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Howler in the House, LLC

A mouse got in and pretended there was no cat in the house. Who expects a nonchalant mouse? My cat. Neither of them pay rent.


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