Thursday, March 15, 2012

Coupon Psycho

Confession time: I am cheap. I routinely shop thrift stores, Goodwill, consignment, and the 75% clearance rack. I love to get a deal! So when all this coupon craziness started happening I wanted to get in on it. Saving $300 on my grocery bill every month? Are you kidding? Sign me up!

And that's what I did. I signed me up with every product out there. It took forever, but hey, I was going to save a dollar with that coupon! I also saved all the coupon circulars; got my mom's extras and subscribed twice to the Sunday paper.

I would then go to my favorite coupon site and find the coupons that matched up with the sales, make my list, pull all the coupons from my file, and print any others. Generally, a decent trip to the grocery store would take me at least four to five hours of preparation. Really.

But I would save sooo much! My savings usually averaged between 50-70 percent. I felt well rewarded for my efforts when that receipt total was $80.00 and my total saved was $92.00.

So when I began to sense that God was asking me to let go of this money saver, I knew I must not be hearing right.

"No, no, that cannot be what You are saying, Lord. You know where we are financially. You know what a challenge it is to make it month to month. How could I possibly justify not saving ever possible penny? Isn't that what good stewardship is all about?"

There never seemed to be a divine response to all my reasoning. God is funny that way.

But the next time I would be trying to balance work, writing, and all the many responsibilities of wife and mom, I would cry out to God, " I am overwhelmed. How can I do all of this? What is it You would have me let go of?" That small, quiet voice would say again, "You need to give up the coupons." And I would again say, "No, no, that can't be what You are saying, Lord."

I'm not sure how many times I went through this cycle, before I finally admitted, "Yes, that is what You are saying, Lord."

What is ironic in all of this is that there was a huge part of me that HATED dealing with coupons. I hated the hours and hours of precious time spent planning, printing, clipping, organizing. I hated going grocery shopping and spending an extra hour at the store as I made sure I had the right product and the right coupons. I hated telling the person behind me, "You might want to go to another line. I have coupons."

Extreme couponing was not my idea of fun nor was it what my God was calling me to do.

When God speaks, nothing else matters. And God was calling me to write. Carving out that time was extremely difficult. It meant uninterrupted time. It meant getting up earlier or staying up later, so that I could have time to myself. Writing took concentration, quiet, and time. Preparing to use coupon at the grocery store took those same things, and then there was nothing left for writing.

God had to show me that in the world of stewardship, He wants me to use my gifts well. Laying aside writing to find hours for coupons was not good stewardship for me. It was throwing away the best thing for something that was good.

There are only twenty-four hours in a day. It's not a BOGO deal. In fact, I can't buy time. I can't make time. I can't find time. I can only use it.

Time is a precious commodity. God's gifts and calling on my life are precious too. Bringing those gifts and the calling under the limits of time and constraints of daily life is wise stewardship. Allowing other things to steal those limited resources is like giving away my life for nothing.

I may be cheap, but that is no deal.

1 comment:

  1. I had to give up couponing for a season. I was INTO it, too. I had a FIVE inch binder that was bursting at the seams. Many people do not know how it can become an obsessive activity. At one time, I was buying 8 papers a week.

    It can make you feel powerful to have that much control at the checkout. My stockpile was pretty impressive. I was able to tell one of my down-and-out friends that he could just come shop out of my pantry.

    I had to stop completely for a while. I was just completely out of balance with it. After about a year and a half, I am starting up again. I am taking a more balanced approach. I'm doing it more as a fun activity with my step-daughter than the endurance sport it was before.