Friday, April 10, 2009

I am a Couponing Dropout

That's right, folks. At this point in my life, I have decided that couponing (in the gung-ho, truest sense) is not for me.

How did I come to this conclusion? Back in February, I signed up for a 10-week couponing class and I was determined to give it the full ten weeks before making a final decision. Well, this is now week who-knows-what ("who cares" is my actual opinion) and I have officially given up on this couponing thing as of a couple weeks ago.

As it turns out, some of the origninal problems I had had that first week that I blamed on my not being coupon-savvy were things that I would continue to deal with throughout the weeks' assignments. Things like online coupon links either being broken or changed (the manufacturers have a certain number of coupons they will allow to be downloaded), paper coupons that are expired or totally non-existent (this may not make sense if you aren't familiar with couponing, but people who know what they're doing often post ideas on how to save $ by using certain coupons, giving the date of the coupon insert from the Sunday paper. I often found that the coupon referenced was expired or could not, for the life of me, find that coupon in MY insert for that week.)

And one of the most disheartening of all was that, when I looked down the list of a dozen great deals and found those two or three items that I could get, they weren't things I needed or even wanted. Add into that the fact that when I do almost any shopping, I have three children four and under with me. The answer was quite obvious. It was pointless.

I am not going to run to Walgreens for two items I don't want, jaunt over to Wal-mart for one item I don't need, and then head to the grocery store to do my "real" shopping. If you have even one child, you know how difficult it is to run even the simplest of errands. The time and energy expended in getting three children into and out of their car seats four times makes me exhausted just thinking about it. The inducement of three whole free items I have absolutely no use for just wasn't enough for me. Would it be enough for you?

The entire thing makes me wonder if I will ever find that kind of couponing appealing and worth it. Do I really need to add to my clutter by buying things I do not need, or adding to my schedule by trying to find someone who does need or want those three measly items? All tolled, I have probably wasted hours on some of the assignments, inputting my name and e-mail to get a 30-cent coupon, (not to mention the time spent on deleting the several-a-day junk e-mails I now get even though I opted out of anything that would let me) trying to find that paper coupon (Where is it? They say it's in this coupon insert. I must just be overlooking it.), clicking on broken or expired online coupon links, and, yes, downloading the "coupon printer" or other program that must be done if I want fifty whole cents off that can of soup. This is a concern in and of itself.

My husband is a computer guy. We have a slew of security protecting our computer from destruction. My motto with internet downloads is: "don't." It works. We don't get computer viruses because Casey knows what should and should not be trusted, and I will not install anything without clearing it with him first. The few times that I did find an internet coupon that was still good, coupon software installation would get hung up (probably running into our security filters) and Case wasn't comfortable with turning off a filter just so I could save 75 cents on a tube of toothpaste. I don't blame him.

So for the last couple weeks I looked at the assignments, after all the rigamarole of finding one or two free items I could run and get from Walgreens, I weighed how much it would take out of me and there wasn't even a question: it wasn't worth it.

What about you? Do any of you find this couponing stuff invigorating? Money-saving? Worth your time? Does it get in the way of other things, like a virus-free computer or a clean inbox? Is it worth going to four different places or making a half dozen transactions to get deals on the items you get? Am I just too lazy to find it worth my while?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Too Little, Too Late

Okay, I have to brag on my husband. We just passed our sixth anniversary. I mean to write a tribute to my wonderful hubby in honor of the occasion, but writing has not been top priority lately. Until I do write a belated tribute, I will just share two recent things my husband has done that show an incredible amount of love and his servant's heart.

A few nights ago, Casey gave me an evening and and overnight with a friend. In all, I was separated from my still-breastfeeding baby for 18 hours (not comfortable, but completely worth it). My first overnight without children since last April . . . very refreshing. And, not coincidentally, the first 6-plus-hour stretch of straight sleep I've had since about the same time last year. . . even more refreshing!

The past couple weeks had been a real struggle, since we're dealing with some difficult things in our immediate and extended family. So, one night last week, Casey suggested I take a day . . . maybe a night, too . . . and get away for some renewal. He even suggested a friend, and plans were made. What this meant for my man, besides a still-waking-at-night baby, was that he had almost zero "weekend" or refreshment himself, as he cared for our home and all three girls alone (as their primary caregiver, I can attest to the fact that it is no easy task).

And as it would happen, the friend I was "on call" for in case she needed help in labor, happened to go into labor this weekend as well. I hope to address the subject more on my birth blog (with her permission), but on this blog, I just have to brag on what a sacrificial and supportive husband God has given me.

My friend's hubby called yesterday afternoon to see if I'd come by and help assess labor. Casey, well-aware of my extreme passion for birth, was more than willing to free me to help our friends as long as they needed or wanted me. And as things turned out (very well, I might add!), Case's duties included feeding three girls four and under dinner, putting them to bed, and getting them up again around midnight to come pick me up from the hospital, take me back to their house to pick up our truck, and return home around 2 a.m.

And because yesterday's activities ran late into the night, Casey took a personal day today to help me with the girls (some of whom have been a little out-of-sorts with their weird night).

How thankful I am that God gave me a man who is attentive to my needs and desires, and gives sacrificially and generously (without complaint!) to meet the needs of the ones God has put in his care.

(On a personal note, I do not intend for this--being gone from my family for many hours at a time--to be a regular occurrence in our lives. Perhaps when the children are older, but for now, it will be a rare occasion for me to do this.)