Coupon Newbie: Beat the Coupon “Stigma”

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Ever feel as though you pick up a coupon and people automatically see you as needing “help”? Ever feel that people are staring down your neck when you are at the register with your handful of coupons? What are the customer’s thinking? What is the cashier thinking?

There is no doubt that a person who uses coupons has a certain “stigma”. People may have many perceptions of you as a coupon user. Such as: “does he/she need money?”, “Are they struggling?”, “Are they poor?”

Some raw and interesting facts: According to the Nielsen Company:

The income of the “heaviest” coupon user: $70,000
The income of those who do not use coupons: $25,000

I won’t lie. The first time I picked up a coupon I instantly felt as though people were staring. People wondered and I even sometimes hid my coupons so others didn’t know.

For those that are new to couponing—don’t worry, you are not alone. But the good thing is that it gets better! Your fear does go away and things do become easier. Sooner than you know—you will be walking into the store with your coupons in hand (maybe your binder as well?) and when people stop you to ask you what you have—you will be proud to say “my coupons”

This day in age—one should consider couponing as the “trendy” thing. Everyone is suffering from this broken economy. This  economy is all about saving money—not spending it.

Tips to beat the coupon stigma:

:: When you go out with your coupons—prepare yourself. I shop with three kids 90% of the time and I usually set all the coupons out that I plan to use and store them in my wallet and have them ready so when I hit the register—it is quick and painless.

:: Shop at night. The hardest thing for me was to get over the “at the register” feeling. When I was about to check out I would feel like others were staring me down and thinking about WHY and HOW I was using coupons. I admit—I’m a tad self conscious when it comes to others—so I always felt like they were judging me.
So shopping at night makes it easier because there are less people in the store. Less people to stare. Less stressed out it makes you feel.

Regardless, there will always be a stigma behind people who use coupons. We are not poor; we are not living in poverty. We are saving money by beating the grocery stores and drugstores at their own game. YOU as the coupon user should consider yourself a financial wizard. You are spending the time  that is necessary to save money for your family and to provide for them by giving them the things that make them happy. You are being smarter than the average grocery shopper and not paying the prices that you think  you “have” to spend to feed your family.

So next time you head out the grocery store—put your head up high remember all the awesome benefits that you are reaping for your family. When someone complements you on the awesome savings you just scored; make sure to say “Thank You”.


  1. Mona says

    Ugh! I’ve been seriously couponing for almost three years and I STILL feel anxious at the register. I’ve actually never really thought about whether or not people think I’m poor or struggling…I always anticipate problems with scanning, and I hate holding up the line. I’m working on getting over it though, because while I’m standing there all flushed and anxious, it’s hard to accurately track whether all of my coupons are being scanned. And I’ve made too many trips back to the store after checking my receipts and finding errors.

  2. Mary p says

    @Mona – Mona–I’m right there with you…I HATE holding up the line and I always am nervous that a coupon isn’t going to scan right or something crazy is going to happen…and you’re right, because of this, I too have had to go back many times to have things adjusted (as a matter of fact, this mainly happens at Target, probably because no matter when I go to my Target, it is ALWAYS busy!)

  3. Kristen says

    Thanks for the great article. I’m new to couponing and had to go back to the store to set the coupons straight, but what I’ve noticed is that as long as I have a big smile and ask super nicely, usually they’re nice….except for this one mean lady at CVS, but whatever… she’s the mean one, and I’m NOT!

  4. Yvette in Corona says

    I totallay agree with you all! If anything, I am more nervous when I am at the register because of the same reasons as Mona. I am now getting more comfortable with “exposing” my coupon binder (LOL) and stopping in aisles to read my coupons and shopping list :)
    I also have to happily say that I have seen more people shuffling through their coupons and binders in the store now-and I am always curious to say hi! I think if more of us bust our our coupon binders/coupons, we may be able to make some awesome friendships-especially living in the I.E.–we are a scare set of people!

    So, if you someone with an open red and black binder, that’s me! LOL

  5. Christle Arias says

    When i started couponing about a year ago. I was super anxious but after the first month. I was actually relieved. I don’t care what others think of me, I use coupons to save my family money! We live on a VERY TIGHT Budget and if I did not coupon we would be Over Budget every month. I hold my head up HIGH each and EVERY TIME I go in to the store with my kids and my coupon binder in my hand. I love it when my kids are shopping with me and they ask for something they know i have a coupon for… It brightens my day that it was number one on SALE and then have a coupon to use. I feel if eveyone would use coupons they would be able to do the things they would want to do. I try and save money any way I can and Coupooning has helped me not just save money but help other families in the same situation as I am in to learn to use coupons as a POSITIVE thing… Sorry for rambling on and getting off subject abit. But to U LADYS>>> KEEP YOUR HEADS UP!

  6. Miann says

    So glad to hear I’m not the only one stressing out at the register. I’ve only been doing couponing for a few weeks now and am loving it! I usually live paycheck to paycheck and our cupboards don’t have a lot in them, but this last week I started my stockpile and am so excited to have the cabinets more than half full. Even better is I still had money left over after shopping! I haven’t brought my binder into the store yet, I think that people will stare and give me a hard time. Hopefully it won’t be as bad as I fear. LOL, I have a red and black binder too!

  7. Jose says

    I have been at the coupon thing for a little over a month now and every week I am learning new tricks and shortcuts. Sites like this one are a HUGE help and encourage us to keep mastering the practice. To feel anxious is natural and human nature but knowing you are saving money each and everytime you go thru the process should ease the pain. Brush off the looks, stares and negative vibes and remember the rush of pride you feel as you see you paid under $20 for $200+ worth of groceries & goodies. Works for me!

  8. Cecia says

    Thanks for this post! Your the first to finally address this feeling (that i’ve read) … I am new to couponing and this is EXACTLY how I feel … and it gets even worse when the hubby goes with me and is breathing down my neck to see IF and HOW much money I save “him” … aaahhhh!!! Thanks =) Atleast I am not alone… and omg u shop with ur 3 kiddos?? I can barely shop with my ONE child lol

  9. Mona says

    @Mary, make sure you watch Target very closely. I haven’t been frequenting Target as much as I used to, so I’m not sure if they’ve fixed the problem, but their registers are NOTORIOUS for not taking off the full value of coupons. I had actually signed a petition (late last year) after encountering this issue repeatedly, and was contacted by a lawyer from a firm in Minnesota that was attempting to gather information for a class action suit against them. About six months ago CBS did a story on that very issue and found that out of the 7 southland stores they visited, all of them had errors of some kind (partial coupon amounts scanned, or scanning at $0). I myself have had to go to customer service many times to have them go back over the receipt, pull the coupons, and refund the difference (as much as $10)!

    So…you definitely SHOULD watch Target very closely…like a hawk actually! I know it’s frustrating – but oh so necessary.

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