Last week, I had the honor of being invited to talk about coupons to a group of women in crisis at a center in Bridgeport, CT. A woman in crisis has other things on her mind than couponing. I questioned the center’s counselors if they really thought their clients wanted to hear about coupons, but they assured me that yes, they do, and that so many of them do not know how to feed their families now that they are out on their own (you can interpret “out on their own” to mean many different things).
No doubt, the needs of this audience differ than those who come to the typical couponing workshop. But I could not have learned more from this group of women of all ages and all with the most soulful eyes who took an hour out of their complicated lives to listen to me about where to use SNAP benefits and how to save up to 90% off their grocery bills using sales and coupons.
Here’s what manufacturers who produce coupons and retailers who accept coupons need to know about women in crisis:
- They often have young children and desperately want and need more diaper and other baby-related coupons. (It would be great if companies donated piles of high-value coupons to women’s centers.)
- They don’t know how to join or take advantage of the baby programs at grocery stores (ie: Baby Bucks at ShopRite–anyone with a loyalty card gets a $10 coupon after buying $100 bucks in baby products–but many women miss the coupon).
- They often eat out (at the least expensive, least healthy eateries) rather than cook at home because they don’t know how to cook or don’t have time, but they don’t want to buy the processed foods at the store, either.
- They shy away from stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods because they are intimidated by them (ie: the customers that shop there), even though these stores accept SNAP benefits. A number of the women never even heard of Whole Foods and were shocked to hear that there were good sales there on healthy foods.
- They didn’t know that there were numerous local farmer’s markets that accepted SNAP benefits (most do, according to this list. And read more about it here.)
- They don’t have newspaper subscriptions so they don’t get coupons, don’t get sales circulars, and are too busy to read through them because they are too busy figuring out how to make ends meet.
- When they do have a store sales circular in their hands, it’s often too complicated to muddle through, so they don’t take advantage of the promotions that are advertised in the circulars. (This is a common complaint from people at every workshop.)
- Many of them do, however, have access to computers, but don’t want to waste the ink to print out online coupons.
- A few of the women who watch “Extreme Couponing” instinctively know how fake it is and don’t bother to want to replicate what they see on the show. (Women who have gone through serious adversity and who are now healing have their antennas up and know how to spot BS when they see it.)
I hope to teach more workshops to other similar groups around Fairfield County. If I even reached reached one woman to help her feed her family, that’s better than reaching no one at all.