Embarrassed by my Own Frugality

I am a big believer in coupons. Since I started clipping I haven’t paid more than 50 cents for name brand shampoo, conditioner, soap or dish washing detergent. I estimate saving between $20 – $40 each week by reading the sales circulars and combining sale items with manufacturer’s coupons.

There is only one problem with clipping coupons… they often fail to work. The cashier scans the coupon, the scanner beeps, the cashier looks at the coupon, the cashier rescans the coupon, the scanner beeps, the cashier asks me to show her the item, I ruffle through the bags to find the item, she looks at the item, she looks at the coupon, she looks back at the item, she rescans the coupon, the scanner beeps, she lights up the ‘help needed’ sign on the register, and all of the people in line behind try to refrain from groaning.

Now every single time this happens I want to slink away from the register. I hate knowing that the unlucky individuals in line behind me will be stuck for one more second than they have to be. I know in my heart that my time is more valuable than money. So I won’t wait in line for 10 minutes to save 10 cents. But sometimes it’s worth standing in line to save the money. For example, on Sunday I had two coupons for free items, cat food and candy. The coupons saved me roughly $7. Of course, neither of the coupons worked, despite the fact that I purchased the brand, size, and quantity listed on the coupon, so I waited for the store manager to help me.

But the whole time I waited I felt guilty. I apologized to the woman behind me at least three times. She said not to worry, that she had the same coupons for the same items, but I felt awful nonetheless. What do I feel? Is it guilt? Embarrassment? I’m not sure. Would I be less embarrassed if I didn’t make a six-figure salary? Would I feel differently if my family needed the money to pay the bills? I don’t know, but every time I wonder… Why do I feel bad?

3 thoughts on “Embarrassed by my Own Frugality”

  1. I completely understand your feelings. I try to shop during ‘off’ hours (Thursday nights at Wal-Mart in my area, but there’s still a line behind me. What I found to make it easy is that I tell the cashier that I have coupons at first and put the couponed items in the front. It’s quicker,; sometimes though, we still need a manager. Then the people in the line are upset at the store for not staffing well enough and less annoyed by me. Hope that helps!

  2. Sometimes when I’m trying to find the answer to something like that, I go find a quiet place, relax a little bit (meditating to reach a deeper state of inner awareness, if you do that) and first ask myself the question “Why do I feel bad when I use coupons?” or “What do I feel when I use coupons and delay others?” Then I wait. If nothing pops into my head, I might start asking my best guesses and “feel” for the answer. So, like, “Do I feel like I am wasting other people’s time?’ or “Do I feel like I am selfishly using other people’s time to make/save myself money?” these questions are best phrased as a yes/no. A yes feels different, internally than a no.


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