Now, a little anecdote about an A-HA moment...
On New Year's day, I was consumed with "clean slate" zeal. I wanted to start the year on the right foot by having the house all tidied up, the laundry done, paperwork filed, etc. One thing that always foils my attempts to have everything done is coupons. We don't get the newspaper, so my coupons come from my mom, who saves them up until we get together. As a result, I get several weeks' worth of coupons at a time, and it always seems like a huge chore to go through them.
We don't even use that many coupons, especially for food. Health and beauty products and cleaning supplies account for most of our coupon usage. Even so, when I page through the coupon supplements, I'm constantly thinking, "But what if so-and-so goes on sale REALLY cheap? Then I'll wish I had a coupon." So I dutifully clip the coupons for Ritz crackers and Chunky soup, even though I can't even remember the last time we bought either product. I also keep all the coupons for shampoo, lotion, deodorant, etc. even though our bathroom closet is fully stocked.
So what happened on Sunday? I sat down with the coupon pages with the No-Thing New challenge in mind. Any coupon expiring within the next week was automatically out, because we're not spending ANY money. Any coupon expiring within the next three months had to be for something we might actually buy within the terms of No-Thing New. Out went all the coupons for shampoo, lotion, and deodorant. We have plenty to last us and no reason to buy more. Ah, I felt liberated.
So liberated, in fact, I was able to, for the first time, get past that "What if?" mentality while clipping coupons. If it's not a product we usually buy, why keep the coupon? We buy all of our cereal at either Aldi or the salvage stores, so what's the point of having coupons for Cheerios or Honey Bunches of Oats or Special K? I've never felt compelled to redeem any of the coupons I've clipped for Pom juice (and there have been many), so why have I kept doing it?
The result was that I kept about five coupons. I think one was for yeast, another was for potato chips, one was for frozen vegetables, and I kept some cold remedy coupons even though the store brands will almost certainly be less expensive should we be unlucky enough to need them.
I know this sounds like a lot of ado about nothing--duh, use the coupons on products you would buy anyway. I just think we need to be careful about coupons creating a need. After all, these companies aren't offering coupons just to be nice. They want to sell their product, and by showing you a picture and sweetening the deal a little, they have a lot of influence. They are advertisements. I'm not going to allow them to convince me to buy things I don't need or spend more on name brands, and I'm not going to let that pile of coupon fliers make me feel guilty anymore. I am in control here, not the advertisers!