It's that time of year again, September- the start of a new school year, when every elementary school, middle school and nursery school- all over the nation- is promoting the yearly fundraiser- the infamous $25 "Kidstuff- Coupon Savings Book". Books are aggresively marketed like unwelcome solicitors- as they come home in the bookbags- even labeled with the student's name! I even see countless facebook posts of desperate parents trying to sell just one more book in an already saturated market. I figured I review books on this blog, why not this "book" as well, which has earned the same level of poplarity as the purile Shades of Gray series.
I am all for school spirit and supporting school programs. In fact much of my time is spent volunteering for various groups. Its just that having always been on a strict budget with my very modest entry level income- and now recently, having had just been laid off I generally don't do much shopping other than for the minimum basic neccesities. And even when I do grocery shopping, it is not in bulk- thereby making it unlikely I will ever spend the minimum purchase of $100 required at Shoprite to be able to use the $5 off coupons. The insert flyer promises the consumer that just by using a few of the coupons contained in the book, the book will pay for itself. But, a quick browse through the coupons reveal that you must literally spend hundreds of dollars at least to recoup the $25 paid for the coupon book. Yes it is true that if you are an active consumer or shopaholic and are always out shopping- you will evemntually recoup the cost of the book. And yes, I understand some money goes to the school- $12.50, at least. But for those families on a budget, who scrape by simply making a living and making enough just for food and utilites- it seems out of reach to actually save money while using this book when it requires sometimes extravagent and expensive minimum purchases to benefit from the coupons enclosed. And yes, for me, many of the theme parks entrance fees are simply too expensive even with a coupon and upscale retailers such as Lord & Taylor, Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, the Disney Store, NY & C, f.y.e, Disney On Ice, JoS A. Bank, Eddie Bauer, and Fridays, as well as minimum required purchase required to use the coupons, are too prohibitive for my budget. Even the discount retailers, such as the K Mart coupons, require a whopping $50 purchase to use the $5 coupon. I don't have any credit cards, so basically, my purchases are limited to what I have in my bank account after the bills are paid. I could never afford to go on a $50 shopping spree- no matter what the occasion, much less spend that amount at a single store. I wish I could afford to spend that much in one shopping trip to use a coupon, but I can't.
When I saw the McDonald's coupons, I thought to myself that those might prove to be useful. But then upon closer inspection I noticed that for many of the coupons, the discount required the purchase of a full priced a-la- carte item in order to use the buy one get one free. In bold letters, "Free" lured in the inattentive consumer, but the fine print revealed "with purchase of same". So, how is it saving money to buy a sandwich at full price and get a second sandwich you don't need? It would have been more useful to simply have a coupon savings off of a single meal. Many of the "Free" coupons in general required the purchase of a full priced item.
So basically, the book serves to simply show me everything I cannot afford to eat, buy or do. It shows me what "good" wealthier families can afford- so therefor I feel inadequate by society's standards. Is it the intent of this book to make hardworking families feel inadequate by showing them all the theme parks, and restaurants they can't afford? If I could afford to do a lot of shopping, then I could afford the book. But honestly, other than the four $1 off Happy Meal coupons, I did not see any other coupons that would justify me spending $25 on the book. Some will say there is something for everyone- yes that is true- but not $25 worth. But for me, to buy a $25 book just for the $4 worth of happy meal coupons is not something I can do when every dollar counts. Perhaps if a small group got together and pitched in $3 each and split the coupons amongst themselves- then yes, I could see the value in that. Personally, I will have to stick to the free coupons I get in the mail. Even if I never use those, at least I did not pay for them. And in my family where no one has money, jobs or even health insurance, with homes in forclosure, medical bills and jobless, I cannot in good conscious, guilt them into buying an overpriced coupon book. But, if you, the reader of my blog, happen to want to buy one, feel free to contact me, because I know three schools that are selling them.