Extreme Couponing anyone? I recently became a fan of Extreme Couponing, the new show broadcast on TLC. Though I watched my first episode quite by accident, something interested me about people who dedicated considerable time honing a skill that allowed them leave a grocery store with $1,100 dollars of groceries for a mere $52 bucks.
Intrigued, I began to research and implement couponing in my own home (albeit with a less “Extreme” and more pragmatic approach). One would think after years writing ads, I of all people, should be immune to “buy it now” web blinkies and 60 second shameless plugs for products and paychecks.
My first month of couponing revealed otherwise. Not only was I faced with a sobering reality check of my stewardship habits, it forced me to take a hard look at the small fox that has found its way into too many of our homes – the need for instant gratification.
Even I was not immune to a culture where instant gratification is the norm. Today, everything from our account balances to our oatmeal must be available in only a moment. Lightening fast Wi-Fi connections allow us to get email, locate friends, share pictures and tweet -- instantly. It seems everything that surrounds us screams: SEE IT NOW! HAVE IT NOW! DO IT NOW!
Much like other areas in my daily walk; couponing requires a serious mental shift, and a lot of change. Retraining has been challenging to say the least. Here are a few of the things I have learned so far:
· Couponing requires patience. Instant gratification must be eliminated for success. Extreme couponers only buy when it is the most profitable. This means getting control of self.
· The successful couponer has lost a sense of entitlement. They live on what is available and what is on sale, instead of insisting on favorite products, brands or timing.
· Couponers think exponentially, plan carefully and act confidently. (Imagine if more people exhibited faith in this way!)
· The best coupon clippers realize blessings can be multiplied. If one is a good deal, why not multiply it and have an abundance share?
One of the best tips I saw on couponing came from www.grocerycouponguide.com. An article suggests taking $20.00 and practice using coupons to donate as much as possible to a local food pantry. Not only does this practice bless others, but it retrains the mind to let go of brand loyalty and bad spending habits. Realizing that the author was able to donate thousands of dollars worth of food for only a few hundred got me excited to try and bless others on my meager budget!
As with any reality TV show, some of the people on Extreme Couponing have gone way overboard; complete with family drama; OCD arrangements of coupons and stockpiles that border on hoarding. But applied in moderation, there are some valuable concepts to be learned.
I won’t even pretend that I am going to live for months on $1 per day; dumpster dive for newspapers, or fill my home to the roof with toilet paper and ketchup. I will, however, allow God to make me more thoughtful, hopeful, grateful and giving --- and save a few bucks in the process. Now that’s a sweet deal!
“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.”
- 2 Cor 9:10 - NIV