Honest Couponing?

The following is a guest post from Dana of Mrs. Moneysaver. Dana’s mission in life is to love God and love people.  Helping others do more with less is one way Dana hopes to serve and show love to those in her community and nationwide.

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” –Luke 16:10-13

Jesus was directing his message to two contrasting social groups. First, he was directly speaking to his disciples, a group of ragtag villagers and fishermen who had very little. And secondly, he was addressing the Pharisees, a group of the educated, wealthy and elite. Jesus had a similar message for both, a message that will benefit us these two thousand years later should we choose to listen.

His message- the love of money is slavery.

As Jesus illustrates the portrait of the dishonest man and his money, notice that he compares the dishonesty to slavery. Like a cruel taskmaster, the man’s love of money becomes master and forces him into a hatred of God.

What can we learn from this parable?

Money, possessions, wealth—these things are not wrong in and of themselves. This bears repeating. Having (lots and lots of) money isn’t wrong! It’s the love of money that is wrong.

We know we love money when it takes control over our lives. When we disobey God’s will in order to get it (or save it), we’re giving money the control in our lives. And we’re allowing money to become our master. And here’s the thing:

If money is your master, there is no room for Christ as Master.

What about those of us who are journeying toward a more frugal lifestyle? Those of us who are striving to be good stewards of the monetary wealth God has given? What could Christ be saying to us in Luke 16?

Are we so consumed with saving a buck (or even a quarter) that we would sacrifice our honesty to do so? If so, then we are being slaves to money. We are turning away from what God desires for us to do as we seek after money. If you are trying to live frugally, being a slave to money may look much different than many in the world. They may be chasing after money by working long hours and buying expensive cars. But you may be rationalizing your own way of monetary slavery.

How could you possibly become a slave to money while trying to be frugal?

If money becomes an idol in our lives in any way, it’s sin. The idol worship of it may differ- from saving money to spending money- but it’s sin nonetheless. God commands us to have no other Gods besides Him. (Exodus 20:3) If my focus is on my frugal lifestyle rather than the Lord, I have set up an idol in my life. I need to remember to consistently ask for God’s grace in not becoming consumed by money saving.

If we have set up the idol of frugal living in our lives, we may be led to do dishonest (sinful) things in the pursuit of our idol. Have you ever read the fine print on coupons? Or on a drugstore customer rewards card application? The legal stuff. The rules. The “contract” details, if you will, that dictate the agreement we enter into with the company by way of our signature or decision to take part in a program. This fine print calls us to an honest use of the coupon or rewards card.

For example, a drugstore rewards program might limit you to one card per person or household. It would be dishonest to acquire multiple cards for your use. Or perhaps an internet coupon for a free product says limit one print per customer in the fine print. To print many copies and use them to get loads of free stuff would be dishonest as well.

Our government’s laws require us to obey the wishes of the companies in their legal fine print, not find a way around them. And God asks that we obey the laws in our country. (See Romans 13:1-5.)

Don’t know or understand the fine print? Ask the company! I’m sure they would appreciate your honesty as well.

Of course, our God is a loving and forgiving God. And He cares most about our hearts. If you unknowingly disobey a store’s rules, He knows your motivation and heart, so find peace in that truth.

Perhaps we should all take some time today to ask God to show us what we are a slave to. Am I a slave to money? Or to our Lord? I must seek His heart in learning the best ways I can live a frugal life and honor God with my finances.

If you have not yet had the pleasure of reading “I Married a Couponaholic”, by Dana’s hubby, I highly recommend it. Not only is he supportive of Dana’s frugal ways, the man can write!

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About Alyssa Francis

A thirty-something wife and mother of four! Two daughters by birth, one son by marriage, and a sweet baby boy born in April of 2009. Oldest sister of four girls raised by a single mom. California native. Grew up in Hawaii. Somehow ended up in North Texas. Once a single mom. Former agnostic. A survivor of abuse and addiction. Forgiven by a great big God. Married to my best friend.

Comments

  1. Great post! Aside from the fact that honesty IS the best policy, it’s the people who DON’T coupon honestly who make it difficult for the rest of us (like more and more stores not accepting IPs)

  2. A Frugal Friend says:

    I am a fellow North TX Mom and have been blogging a month……and I have been wanting to post on this very topic. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in this great post. Ethics applies to couponing too! Coupons are VOID if sold or bought online and I hope more people read the fine print and honor God in their couponing and frugal living!

    Thanks Alyssa!

  3. Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates says:

    What a great article! That is a good perspective – we have to be careful to keep God first in our lives, no matter what our financial situation may be.

  4. Well put. I don’t think that enough of us are cognizant of the ethics involved around “the hunt for the deal”.

  5. Alyssa, Thank you SO much for this post!!! It has been on my heart a lot over the past couple of weeks. I’ve seen several areas where I have let my desire for a great deal override my judgment and God’s principles. I have been convicted about it and am now turning things around. I am preparing to lead a church small group on saving money and living frugally, but I want to make sure that I am teaching Biblical, ethical principles. I want to be a good steward of the money God gives me, but I don’t want my need for a deal to surpass God’s principles.
    There are so many unethical deals on the internet, and it’s hard not to get caught up in wanting to save the same amount of money as others, especially when some who are saving so much are close friends. However, I know that by taking advantage of the stores, companies, and deals, I am destroying the generosity they have offered, and God’s trust in me.
    On that note, I recently read that CVS does not want its consumers (aka: us) using internet printable coupons…unless they email them to us personally. I have used SO many of those coupons, including the $2/$10 coupon. I have chosen to stop using those because I want to honor their wishes.
    It wasn’t easy, though!

    Anyway, thanks SO much for this post. I’m heading over to my blog RIGHT NOW to link people to it. Surely I’m not the only one who needed to read it. Thanks, Alyssa!

  6. Thanks, Virigina for your great post!!! :) Sorry I didn’t give you credit on my previous comment. I was totally not paying attention that you wrote it.
    Alyssa, thank you for publishing this!

  7. Okay, I too have been convicted … actually before the whole "face book" thing. I used a number of the 2/$10 also & now I feel terrible … because, yes, I read the fine print, and, yes, I knew what it said before I used it, and, yes, I used it anyway because … I was donating a ton of stuff to local charities. Well, that just doesn't cut it. I think I'm just done "linking" to coupons.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Ah, very thought provoking and inspiring. Thank you for the reminder, encouragement and guidance.

  9. I love this post. I am putting a link to it on my two blogs. http://www.savedsavingsave.blogspot.com and http://www.shopping4groceries.blogspot.com

    Thank you. This has been on my heart and mind recently.

    “Kasey” in SC

  10. Thanks for sharing this! It’s nice to see other people trying to do this honestly!! Just the other day I had a printed coupon in my hands that I’d thought was legit, then discovered it wasn’t! I stared at it for a minute thinking- but it’s such a good deal, what if it really works??! Then I thought, wow, am I that desperate for this product that I don’t really even need just because it would be a money maker. I realized it wasn’t honest and it was silly that I was even thinking of using it to make a few cents!! My husband and I really are NEEDING to be frugal as we start off our marriage, but we’re trying to do it all to honor the Lord, and using a coupon I knew wasn’t legit, was not honoring him and wasn’t worth it! I almost used it before I knew it was a fake, and I am glad that I discovered first it wasn’t!

    Thank you for sharing this post to help spread the message that more of us should think this way!!

    I never thought that those CVS $ off $$ weren’t really legit!! Yipes!! I’m still new to this and would love to learn more “rules” so that I do it all correctly!

  11. Thanks for the discussion. Very important info that really hits home. I think I needed to hear it today!

    CONGRATULATIONS! You have won the Mrs Nespy’s Frugal World Silver Medal for August 21st. Go to http://mrsnespy.googlepages.com/grabyourmedalhere to get the code to post your medal if you’d like. Thanks for the great writing!

    Kaye
    http://mrsnespysworld.blogspot.com

  12. homemakerhero.com says:

    This was an excellent post. Like others, I have used and even posted coupons not intended for me. lol I think couponing can be as bad of an addiction as some of the more obvious bad addictions. It’s probably easier to get away with abusing coupon priviledges and more than likely you won’t be arrested for printing a $2/10 CVS coupon, but God sees and knows everything we do. If we want to be able to continue to use coupons, let’s not allow a bad apple to spoil the bunch (including ourselves).

    I would love to repost this/something like this on my website. Thanks bigtime for posting this! Let’s all make a commitment to honor God and follow the rules. :)

  13. Centsible Savings says:

    This is such a great post! I’m going to share it in my Sunday Sustenance post! I gave you a bloggy award!http://www.centsiblesavings.com/2008/08/i-got-award.html

  14. a_lamb79@yahoo.com says:

    I just want to say WOW. As soon as I started reading this I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit all over me. I’ve been doing some dishonest couponing for a while. Ecspecially since everything seems to be a certain amount off of 2 items instead of just 1, which I personally believe is the manufacturer’s way of dealing with our economy issues. I’ve been using the 1 off 2 items coupons on just one item at most of the stores I visit because using it on 2 is a far less better deal and surprisingly, I haven’t had much of a hard time “pushing” them through. I’m sure the color drained from my face while reading this because I realized what an awful thing I’ve been doing. And although I knew it wasn’t completely honest my thought on it was “no harm, no fowl” because the manufacturer and the vendor get their money and I get my good deal. But from this blog I can see that the real issue here is not about the manufacturer or the store it’s about ME (and you) and our Lord. Not only is this thing dishonest but yes, it is bad for the reputation of fellow couponers and the future of couponing but the worst thing is that is says to our Lord – I don’t trust you. I don’t trust that you will take care of me in this trying economical time and I don’t trust that you will provide me with all the things I need and I don’t trust you that I can get by if I don’t get every single item free or discounted. Of course, the bible says we should trust in the Lord with ALL of our hearts. I am repenting of this sin and vowing to change my couponing ways. I just want to thank you for spreading the message that was laid on your heart because I know that it was meant for someone like me. God Bless!

  15. great and true thought – the idol of frugal living. love your blog!

  16. Anonymous says:

    I completely agree. I am not sure if you have been following the stuff about the Facebook scam, and if it were me, and I used Fraudulent coupons, I would take back the items to the store. Its stealing if you know, and do nothing about it. Its also irresponsible. I have a few friends who used them before they knew that they were fraudulent, and their response was “Shew, I am glad I used them before they were found to be Fraud.” Their response should have been, “oh no, these poor stores are getting ripped off, and its partially my fault.” Its sad how greedy people get when they get good deals. Especially when they have 20 bottles od shampoo stockpiled, why do they need one more? i could go on and on….the sad thing is, this is going to ruin it for the rest of us if people don’t stop being so disrepectful.

  17. Thank you so much for posting this. I have been really troubled when I see suggestions of using those online newspaper coupons, or using a BOGO coupon on a BOGO offer. I did in fact do the later once, and felt really awful about it later, because I know that it is not the manufactures intent that I get two products for nothing.

    I have also had experiences lately when I am using the coupons in a legitimate way, but felt like I was getting the third degree by the cashier. I guess they have had so many people trying to push through coupons that really shouldn’t have been accepted, that they question the legitimate coupons as well.

  18. This was a great post! I, too, have felt convicted on the $2/$10 coupon. When I heard they didn’t want it used anymore and took it down of the website I stopped using it but like everyone else said, it was hard. I’m always looking for a deal.

    I kept trying to remember that I want CVS to offer good deals. They do this often and with my legitimate coupons/ECB’s I am already saving tons…I don’t need to lie to get a good deal. Thanks again!

  19. Anonymous says:

    I have been struggling with the issues you raised as I have tried to become a more serious couponer. I am sickened by photos of hundreds of boxes of cereal and other items some people have lined up as if they are store owners themselves. I don’t want to sound sanctimonious, but the only way I will accummulate more than I need for a month or two is to give it to our local food pantry. I do think the internet coupons are the most tempting, and I have been guilty of printing more than one occasionally, most recently the free Southern style chicken sandwich or biscuit from McDonalds. I’m going right now to tear up the three extras I printed.

    It is fun to feel that you have made your money go as far as possible, but I don’t want to lose sight of my principles. Thanks for the reminder. Annos

  20. Anonymous says:

    I often wondered when I first started couponing what was fair and honest about some of the posted PDF coupons online. I wanted a good deal but it just seemed “wrong” to use coupons posted like that. I just stick to newspaper coupons now. What I want to know now is, is buying coupons off of ebay legit?

  21. MrsAdams06 says:

    This is all such a learning and growing process, isn’t it? Because there are so many fine print things involved, it can get confusing.

    To answer the question about buying coupons off eBay… The fine print on many coupons says that the coupon is “void if sold” or “void if purchased”. So it’s my belief and conviction that, no, it’s not okay to buy coupons from eBay or other clipping services.

  22. Jennifer Reed Middle, TN says:

    Amen! I am new coupon queen, so the info you stated above is Wonderful. I have four kids from pre-teen to toddler and anything to make it easier on us is wonderful. I had no idea how the couponing worked until I read this (in plain English). You have to know how much you are appreciated by us/the readers and G-D himself.

    G-D Bless you!

  23. Just ran across this posting and I’m not sure that some of the couponers here are looking at a few scenarios correctly.

    First, purchasing coupons – when you “purchase” coupons from a clipping service or through ebay – you are not purchasing the coupons. You are paying the person for their time to clip the coupons – and the coupons are free. We pay for services all the time.

    Using a bogo coupon with a bogo sale – this is perfectly legit and “legal” under couponing ethics. Let’s say the store is selling toothpaste for buy one get one free. The store is giving you one, and you are paying for the other. The store and manufacturer are happy. Now, let’s say there is no sale – but you have a buy one get one free coupon. The manufacturer is giving you one, and you pay for the other – again the manufacturer is happy (they gave you the coupon to begin with!) and the store is happy too.

    Using a buy one get one free coupon is just combining the both – the store is paying for one (per their sale) and the manufacturer is paying for one (per their coupon) – you pay zero – both the manufacturer and the store are happy – and so are you! Stores WANT you to take advantage of the sale, manufacturers WANT you to use their coupons. There is nothing being wrong and being savvy and combining the two! And if you think there is, that just leaves more on the shelf for me :)

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