When I’m teaching my coupon boot camp class, one of my rules of thumb is to only cut a coupon if you would purchase that item if it was free or cheap. Since I don’t have children or cats that has eliminated my need to mess with coupons that have anything to do with either of those categories. However, for nearly a year now, I’ve been ignoring that advice in some respects, and the results have felt wonderful.
A couple of months ago, I accidentally clipped a coupon for cat food. I filed it in it’s respective section in my notebook thinking that it was a coupon for the dog food I used. A few weeks later I was in the pet aisle of a grocery store and noticed my error. So I decided to peruse the cat food just to see if there was an ‘equal opportunity of savings” between one species and the other. As it turned out, the store was having a sale that week on the brand of cat food that I had a coupon for and combined with the coupon the cat food was free. I must admit, I found myself a bit excited to think that once again I could get something for free. And then, of course, I pinched myself back into reality, chiding myself about the rules of the coupon game. But then I remembered that my local Humane Society had been advertising for donations of food, cat litter, and toys for the pets they were presently holding. So, without thinking any further, I decided to get the free cat food, and then on my way home drop it off to the Humane society. The organization was appreciative of the donation and also gave me a receipt for the donation so that I could use it on my taxes if necessary.
Recently I had the occasion to fall head over heels in love with three very adorable brothers who had been placed in my sister’s home for foster care. The littlest one, 18 months, was nearly at death’s door when the authorities took him out of the home. He and his two other brothers, 4 and 6 years old, would be locked in their room for weeks on end with nothing but pop tarts and water to live off of. The mother would allegedly go on multiple day drug and alcohol benders and leave the three boys to the “care” of the 6 year old. After falling in love with these three boys, I couldn’t help but wonder what they were in need of the moment that they were taken into custody. Juice boxes? Pull-Ups? A comforting stuffed animal? This last week I got Capri Sun juice boxes for only 98 cents each. I got some Pull-Ups for only $1.50 for a pack of 6, and I also got a free toy from Target courtesy of their own store coupon and the manufacturers. Clearly the need of mothers, children, and families do not occur just at Christmastime. They occur all year round. I have to say that I’ve grown to love my couponing habit as much for what it can do for others as for what it can do for my own home.
Last August, the newspapers and stores were going crazy promoting back to school sales of school supplies, clothes, etc. As the founder of Women of Caliber, I tend to be a bit more aware of the domestic violence that goes on in my community. Growing up as the daughter of a single mom of five kids, I know that there were some really tough times for my mom. But I can’t ever remember not having the school supplies we needed. I can’t imagine how horrific it would have been for her if she wasn’t able to provide for us in this manner. But I do know that there are several families in this very situation all throughout the year. As a result, I took great delight in loading up my shopping cart with all of the free school supplies I could get my hands on (with the help of my coupons, of course) and then took a quick trip over to the Women and Children Center to drop them off.
I don’t tell you any of this for a pat on the back. I tell you because I think that the charitable aspects are yet one more way that we overlook the impact that coupons can have in our lives for good. Not only can others benefit, but we benefit as well—financially (with the tax write-offs), emotionally, and spiritually. Getting involved in our community in this manner also emphasizes the human-ness of all of those around us and reinforces the fact that when the chips are down, only the persons who are aware and prepared to act will protect the lives and well-being of others.
I can’t afford to help all of the people or animals who need it. But I firmly believe that I can do my part by keeping my eye out for how my couponing can add to the efforts of others. I say that because last year when I wrote a couponing article on this blog, one of the readers took exception to the whole “couponing nonsense” asserting that she had no need for anything other than organic in her life. She was quite adamant that the couponing effort was a waste of time and made little or no impact in her own life. When I suggested that she think about the potential needs of others and what the future might bring in a time of great trial, my suggestion was dismissed as “out of touch” and unrealistic. Well, my thought process for such coupon actions may not seem necessary or realistic to someone such as that, but I can tell you that the smiles and tears that I’ve seen from others in need have been very real indeed. And I’m very, very glad I can help with very little effort on my part. I hope that some of you may consider doing the same.
(Be sure that you check out our in-home Coupon Training Boot Camp program that comes with a video presentation as well as a manual for quick reference. Check our schedule of events for details for live and webinar classes)
For any questions or comments on this article, please leave a comment on the blog site so that everyone can benefit!
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