Here at Crabby Housewife, I’m all about saving money – usually. If you’re a member of some of the groups I’ve suggested in the past, you may have noticed that it has been business as usual for those sites. They are still recommending coupon deals and such. Something about it didn’t sit right with me, so I asked myself, “Should you coupon during the COVID-19 outbreak?
So, Should You Coupon During the COVID-19 Outbreak?
Needless to say, the Coronavirus attack is unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes. People have equated it to the Spanish Influenza of the early 20th century. We’re fighting an unseen enemy, and state and federal officials have asked us all to do our part to stop its spread.
I rarely make a strong statement about couponing. We live in a free society and I love to save a few bucks myself. However, seeing elderly people in my community so worried because they can’t find milk, eggs, bread or toilet paper has highlighted to me the issues with hoarding.
Don’t get me wrong, here. Normally, I advise building a stockpile to save money. A stockpile that might feed your family for two or three months, though. Not enough toilet paper to take care of an army for the next ten years. There is a difference. One is common sense and the other is selfish greed.
Why Are People Hoarding All the Toilet Paper?
Of all the things that people have emptied the shelves of during this pandemic, toilet paper is the most surprising. Apparently, there is a psychology behind why people are buying up all the toilet paper. There are a number of reasons.
When people hear messages of uncertainty, they turn to something they can control. TP is a large item they can grab and gain a sense of normalcy from.
2. Group Mentality
As people see the shelves emptied of toilet paper, they grow scared they won’t find it when they need it and they start to panic buy it as well. It isn’t rational at all, but based solely on emotion. Buying dried beans is rational. Buying toilet paper for survival is not rational.
3. Gaining Control
Stockpiling gives people a sense of control in a situation where they have little control. Toilet paper is a large and visible reminder that they’re ready for the next however many weeks. They can fill up a closet and feel a sense of power over the situation.
It makes no sense logically, though. You can always cut up rags to use to wipe your tushy. Yet, I have to admit to feeling momentary panic seeing the shelves bare and getting low on supplies. When I finally found five packages of 4-rolls at a local store, I almost emptied the shelf myself. Then, I took a deep breath and bought two (about what we use in a week or so), leaving the rest for someone else.
Should You Be Couponing Right Now?
So, that brings us back to the initial question about couponing. Should you coupon during the COVID-19 outbreak? With the exception of digital coupons loaded to my Kroger Plus card, I personally will not coupon during this time for the following reasons:
- The cashiers at grocery stores are already frazzled. The stores are crazy busy and even grocery pickup is insane. They are tired, overworked, and scared of getting this thing themselves or exposing their families. Adding the stress of making them scan countless coupons and do price overrides seems cruel to me.
- There is a lack of food and supplies. If you are using coupons only to buy what your family needs right now, then fine. If you are buying 20 items because they are a “good deal,” then shame on you. Leave some for others so you aren’t a part of the hoarding issue we have right now.
- Consider the people in line behind you. We all want to get in the store and get out without contracting this virus. Having someone in front of you with a gazillion coupons slows down the process and adds stress. I personally won’t use paper coupons again until this is over. If you do choose to use paper coupons or need them to survive, at least be reasonable with how many same items you buy.
- You give couponers a bad name if you just buy stuff to buy it. People already get irritated about us using coupons. Adding stress to others isn’t going to polish up our image.
- You won’t really save money if you just buy stuff because it’s a good deal. When you buy more than you can use, you’ll wind up throwing it away.
Seriously, there is going to be time when this all passes and the store shelves are full again to coupon and stockpile. This isn’t the right time.
Never Empty the Shelf
If you’re one of those people who go to the store and buy way more than you’d ever use… If you empty the store shelves on a regular day because “it was cheap”… If you are that person, then stop and think about how you’re treating your fellow man.
There have been times I’ve had enough coupons to empty a shelf. I don’t do it. I take what my family needs and I leave my coupons for someone else. Sometimes, I will stop someone and point out what a good deal it is with the coupon and give them a coupon (don’t do that right now, because it isn’t practicing social distancing).
Leave a little for other people. Fall back on the rules of being a good person. Don’t be greedy. Don’t be selfish. Put others before yourself. If you’re out stockpiling and couponing right now and this article made you angry, I’m really not sorry. You probably needed a wake-up call about your behavior.
To the rest of you who are trying to be considerate and get through this together, good job. I will be the first in line with you to take advantage of the deals at a later date. For now, I’m going to watch out for my older parents, my children, my neighbors and my fellow man. That means no serious couponing or stockpiling for the next however many weeks.
Everyone stay well. I love you all, even if you’re hoarding right now. I just hope you reconsider that behavior and take only what you need, leaving some for other people.