Extreme obsession on the rise
Aug. 22, 2011
by Ivan Raconteur

Newspapers across the nation have been disappearing off of racks at a rapid pace lately.

That is great news for one who works for a newspaper.

Unfortunately, it is not because a new segment of the population has seen the light and started reading the local news. The increased interest in newspapers appears to be driven by a growing interest in the coupons they contain.

I would prefer it if people were grabbing newspapers because of the sparkling editorial content, but one can’t have everything.

I wouldn’t even mind that it is the coupons that are attracting these miscreants so much if they were at least buying the newspapers.

It appears, however, that many crackpots have been stealing newspapers from racks, driveways, porches, and wherever they can find them.

Some coupon freaks have even been observed rooting around in other people’s trash looking for coupons.

That seems like bizarre behavior, just to save a dime on a tin of tuna fish.

One suspects that the growing interest in coupons has something to do with the tanking economy, and the fact that people are desperate to save money wherever they can.

However, it appears that this fad is also being driven, in part, by a television show called “Extreme Couponing.”

I haven’t seen the program, but I have heard enough about it to get the gist.

It seems to me that if people are saving so much stinking money by using coupons, they should be able to pony up the price of a newspaper to get the coupons honestly.

Newspapers, after all, offer a terrific value.

In addition to stealing papers, there have been numerous reports of people stealing all of the inserts from papers in stores or in news racks, thus depriving people who legitimately buy the papers of the coupons to which they are entitled.

Some cases have led to arrests and to newspapers offering rewards for information about those who are committing the thefts.

Coupons can provide a good way for frugal consumers to stretch their limited resources.

Like anything else, though, when taken to extremes, collecting coupons can lead to other issues.

Following are The Curmudgeon’s observations about coupons (extreme and otherwise):

• If you have resorted to stealing in order to get more coupons, you may have a problem.

• If you spend more time collecting, sorting, and organizing coupons than you do working or interacting with your family and friends, you may want to consider an appointment with a reputable therapist.

• If you have turned your garage into a warehouse, or spent thousands of dollars adding a new wing to your house, just to make room for all of the products you purchased using coupons, it may be time to consult a mental health professional.

• If you think it is a good deal to buy a 10-year supply of a product that has a six-month shelf life, just because you had a coupon, you may want to consider spending some of the money you saved to take a class in economics or buy a good personal finance textbook.

• If you have cleaned out a store’s inventory of vast amounts of goods for a baby you don’t have, a house you don’t own, or any other items you don’t like, don’t use, or don’t need, just because you had a coupon, it may be time to have your head examined. And, you should probably do it now, instead of waiting until the clinic issues a coupon for the service.

In the world of coupons, as in life, it is usually the actions of a few extreme nut cases that ruin things for the rest of the group.

One supposes that most of the people who use coupons are responsible, reasonably well-adjusted individuals.

I do however, have a request for retailers. It would be a tremendous benefit for the rest of us if you would establish special checkout lanes or special hours for those “extreme couponers.”

If I get stuck in line behind one more knucklehead who has a train of shopping carts overflowing with bargains, and who insists that the clerk ring them up as about 50 different transactions to maximize his savings, I may need some counseling of my own.

The coupon freaks may not mind spending their lives satisfying their addiction, but I have things to do and places to be.

I avoid these clowns when possible, but sometimes they tie up the only lanes in the store that are open.

If there were special checkout lanes for these people, at least they would only be inconveniencing other people with the same obsession.

The coupon freaks may be saving money, but I intend to save what is left of my sanity.

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