On Coupons and Capital Murder.

Coupons2I’ll tell you about the first time that it happened.

We were newlyweds. Knowing that I loathe trips to the grocery store, Kellan had offered to go with me. Our cart quickly filled, and we made our merry way to the checkout line where we innocently parked our loot behind a petite blonde. [Henceforth known as tinyblondething.] We watched with mild interest as her total crept to over $280.00—and then, it happened.

Do you have any coupons?

With great flourish, tinyblondething whipped a fat stack of coupons out of her purse, and handed them over. I watched with morbid fascination as cents and dollars began peeling off her total, until at long last, her final bill was well under $70.00. Tinyblondething smugly trotted away with her stolen goods, looking for all the world as though she’d just cured cholera instead of saving $1.29 on Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  Then, it was our turn. As Kellan loaded our groceries onto the belt, he turned to me expectantly and let it fly:

Honey, where are our coupons?

Hi. Have we met?

I stared at my newly-minted husband blankly and stated the obvious: Um, WE don’t have any.

His baffled expression made it clear that I might as well have lit a hundred dollar bill on fire and smoked it right there in front of him.

Smalls, it’s FREE money. Why don’t we have any coupons?!

ON ACCOUNT OF THE FACT THAT EVERY SECOND OF MY FREE TIME THIS WEEK WAS DEVOTED TO GOOGLING ‘How to get Mint to file Nordstrom receipts under groceries.’

Now, this story would not be noteworthy but for the startling fact that it proceeded to repeat itself with numbing regularity. Like clockwork, Kellan and I would find ourselves standing in line behind an extreme couponer on Sunday afternoons, and I’d be all OH HI WHEN IS YOUR CULT COMMITTING SUICIDE? Meanwhile, Kellan could always be counted on to turn to me with the same expectant look on his face and ask where our coupons were, confirming my sneaking suspicion that I married a high-functioning sociopath.

Let me be clear: I work hard to save money. I shop sales and pinch pennies with the best of them—but I have yet to fall down the couponing rabbit hole. The blogosphere and TLC specials have created a devout following around the art of it all. Articles like “How to feed your family of ten on $18.00 a week” make me feel like a straight-up SLUGGARD for not stockpiling eleventy-billion rolls of cheap toilet paper next to enough bubble gum toothpaste to caulk the Taj Mahal. Somehow, hoarding boxes of Totino’s pizza rolls has become a mark of the steely fortitude that would have impressed our pioneer ancestors. Frankly, if there is a Zombie apocalypse, I can tell you exactly who will lead survivors into the new world order: THOSE HOARDING COUPONERS AND THEIR FREEZER-BURNED MINI PIZZAS.

Now, I have been forced to study the Proverbs 31 woman at just about every church women’s event I’ve ever attended [Jesus take the wheel], and somehow I missed the part where she spent her evenings clipping coupons for BOGO spicy Cheetos and jumbo tampons.  I consider myself to be a reasonable person, and have made ABUNDANTLY clear to Kellan that I will happily use coupons the second he either starts clipping them or gets me a sister-wife and frankly, I COULD GO EITHER WAY. Until then, I’m standing my ground for the following reasons:

  1. I never see coupons for virtuous foods like cilantro or honeycrisp apples. Coupons arrive for things like nuggets in the shape of small woodland creatures, and CookieKrisp cereal. Now, these are foods that I love so much I could snuggle them, but I’m trying to quit. Because I can’t afford new pants. Because I don’t COUPON. FARE THEE WELL DINO-NUGGETS. FARE. THEE. WELL.
  2. I’m SORRY, but can I tell you what sounds better than spending my evening hours scouring newspapers and clipping coupons? Literally ANYTHING. I fear that I would become ENTIRELY emotionally unhinged and be driven to hard drugs.
  3. With few exceptions, coupons encourage me to purchase food that I wasn’t planning on buying in the first place. HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU canned radioactive cheese sludge! Y’all, my life is hard enough without a violently misfiring colon.
  4. Perhaps most important of all: Kellan knows where the scissors are.

Tell me the truth: am I just lazy? Do you coupon? If so, do you get anything GOOD, and what are your thoughts on sister-wives?


  1. You had me laughing out loud!! Been there, done that. (At one point I had 23 boxes of Cheerios hanging out on the upper shelf of my closet…but I only paid $.25 a piece for them and they were all gone in a matter of 6 or 8 months so I really wasn’t THAT extreme! Or was I??) over the years though, I have realized that life as a wife and mom does not afford me the time to pursue extreme couponing on and that’s ok. There is a time and a season to every purpose under heaven. I applaud the moms who can make it all work, I just have learned that God has more needful things for me to be about during this season of life. I love how you bring out the “Proverbs 31 Woman.” She was not given to us so she could become a god or give us reason to become a crazy coupon lady who clears the shelves of every last container of baby wipes (been there, done that too.) God is to be God in our lives. The woman in Proverbs is an example of enduring faith in God, resourcefulness, and loving care for her husband and family. What’s amazing to me is that the details of that looks completely different for every single woman on earth. Thank you, Ashley P Dickens, for writing such a funny, yet challenging piece. I always look forward to reading your posts! :)

  2. I used to use coupons a lot more than I do now. Now when I get home from shopping I open up Checkout51, Ibotta, and ReceiptHog apps to get rebates on items I already bought and earn credit towards gift cards or a Paypal refund. Like you said, coupons encouraged me to buy things I wasn’t already going to buy and there’s usually at least a few offers on fresh produce. Most importantly, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes and no scissors are required ;-)

  3. YES on not every having coupons for fruits and veggies! Why is that!? (Oh, it’s because of Farm Subsidies and Big Agra…right. That. Pbbth.) Sometimes I get coupons that print out from the grocery store with my receipt “oh, you’ve bought 19 million MiO drink flavor thingies, here, how about 0.25 cents off your next one, only if you buy it in this 8 day window though… It’s exhausting. I don’t coupon, I do feel that most of the time it leads to buying things I don’t actually use or need. The times I DO buy things that coupons exist for, I never remember to look for a $0.30 cents off slip of paper. Time is money, amiright?!


  4. I tried it once… And I cannot tell you about my experience… But I will tell you this… I may or may not have ended up with 27382916 toothbrushes and 638492 bottles of mouthwash… You know… Just in case. Now I consider using our credit card that gets double points as couponing. Whatevs man. Whatevs.

  5. Hilarious, as always, Ashley! I use Target’s Cartwheel app and Kroger’s coupon app. I just look up items that I’m already buying while I’m in the store (Cartwheel even lets you scan the item). I tried to clip coupons for a while, but I felt like it took too much time and I couldn’t find coupons for things I actually needed that way.

  6. Meredith Stricker says:

    i coupon.

  7. Nell Brock says:

    I enjoyed reading your blog and laughed out loud as I read it. Too funny!! I agree I don’t do coupons bc I don’t want what they offer. Plus if I ever save one I leave it home when I go to the grocery so it does me no good. Keep weighting!! You have a way with words that I can relate to.

  8. Nell Brock says:

    Keep writing! Sorry ☺️

  9. LeeAnne says:

    Bahahaha!!! You made me laugh out loud. Literally. No, I do not coupon. I used to when my kids were little but no more. It seems there are never coupons for what I need to buy and IF I do cut out a coupon, I forget to take it with me to the store. I do use the Wal-Mart price-matching app, and Checkout51. We also have a local grocery store that will match the other local competitor’s prices and lower it by 2 cents so I do that fairly often. Otherwise, my time is much better spent doing something I enjoy like golf or hanging with friends!

  10. Well, I think you nailed it. Bless your charming soul I hope Kellen enjoys how funny you are. No coupons here for the very same reasons.
    Sister-wives, ummm thinking it just might not be biblical. Besides when we read about Sarah and Abraham and Hagar no one seems to be having a good time and it would seem we are still trying to clean up THAT mess.

  11. I don’t think you’re silly. And also, yes he knows where the scissors are. One thing I quickly realized with coupons is that while there may be a coupon for the name brand, the regular price for the store brand is still less. So yes, I could save 50% on Pillsbury, or I could just buy the store brand cinnamon rolls. In good news, our grocery store has lots of coupons online, and you just click them to add them right to your store card. So before I go to the grocery store each week, I just take 5 minutes to click “add this coupon” on every single one. Then I’m bound to have some savings, right? And much less work! The one friend I do know who is an extreme coupon spends multiple hours per week doing it to get the kind of deals that really change a budget. Personally, I am willing to pay to get those hours back. Also, I do look at the store circular to see if there is anything I would normally want to eat that I can now get for less. I figure it’s a compromise.

  12. just discovered your blog and this made me laugh out loud. We have lived overseas most of our adult lives, and in the stretches in the States, I once tried to save money with coupons. It was exhausting, and every point of yours is true. My husband pointed out that ‘living simply’ is better done by just doing without some fancy food products, instead of spending a lot of time and energy getting them for cheap. But there is a residue of guilt- feeling I should be more devoted to saving money…. now I’ll remember your post and cast it aside with a laugh!

  13. this had me dying laughing in triage tonight. I hate coupons. I hate the apps that make you think you have coupons and save me 5 stupid cents but steal 20 minutes of my life logging in. Nothing makes me swear or sweat like coupons with secret expiration dates or limits or non-inclusives or the assertion that I could be saving us sooooooooooooo much money by using them. Guess what I’d rather do than collect coupons? Wipe poop off an old man’s buns for an extra hour to cancel out a month of couponing madness. Which is what I tell my husband when he dares mention it, and he lets it lie for another 6 months or so.

Speak Your Mind