Monday, May 17, 2010

Coupons, Worth it or Not?

Splashed across the header of the front page of yesterday’s newspaper in colorful text, I read “Save $210.78 with today’s coupons.” I knew that tucked deep inside the stack of glossy store flyers, which I hardly ever read, there lay page after page of coupons for brand-name items. They sit there, taunting me, the text screams from the front page, “Save, save, SAVE!”

Then, as added pressure to guilt us into using coupons, we have the self-styled Coupon Queen. Oh yes, you know who I mean. We've all seen her on television. Whenever the economy gets rough and food companies indulge in that ever-popular game of price-gouging, the news networks create the coupon challenge segment. Some reporter tags along at the grocery store with The Coupon Queen, holding an identical shopping list, and on your mark, get set, GO! They speed through the store and shop.

Afterward, at the check-out lane, when all the tallies are in, we “Oooh” and “Ahhh” at how the hapless reporter spent close to $200 on a cart full of groceries while the Coupon Queen spent $0.49 for the exact same name-brand items. “That’s right!” the reporter exclaims, “Only forty-nine cents!” With a smug smile on her face, the Coupon Queen gloats over her economically-purchased bounty packed nicely in environmentally-friendly, reusable shopping bags as I sit, gnashing my teeth, overcome by an urge to take that family-sized tube of Ben-Gay and shove it down her throat.

My question: In the end when we consider all of the costs, do we really save money by obsessively using these coupons?

When I see what they bought with that $200 or $0.49, respectively, I feel obliged to point out that you are not likely to find a single one of those items in my grocery cart. They are all name-brand, pre-packaged products, with rarely a piece of real, unadulterated food in the pile. I see absolutely no fresh produce, no bulk grains, no economical store brands.

What is the point of saving $1.00 on two boxes of Toaster Strudels (regularly $2.29) if I wouldn’t normally buy crap like that for my family? Are the bragging rights on saving money really worth the cost of feeding my kids processed food with no redeemable nutritional quality to it? The way I see it, if I used that coupon for $1.00 off 2 Toaster Strudels, I have actually wasted money. That $3.58 I spent “saving money” on Toaster Strudels could have bought a few apples, a much better food choice. Unfortunately, I can not easily get the same number of servings of a healthy alternative for the amount of money spent on crap food, and that is criminal.

When the newspapers start handing out coupons for $10.00 towards the fresh produce, then we can talk. Until then, I plan on sticking with my store-brand items and planning menus around weekly store specials to save costs.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Parenting Fail (and not my own)

While reading through the Huffington Post this morning, I found a video clip currently on its way to viralness. Normally a video clip showing some oversexed dancers gyrating to Beyonce or Lady Gaga wouldn't raise my eyebrows -much - but this one had me scraping my jaw up off the floor.

A cadre of 7 year-olds dressed up as Dollar Store Hookers managed to bump and grind, twirl and high-kick their way across the stage to "Single Ladies."

My immediate reaction was that I wanted to smack the shit out of the mothers who thought that this was a good idea. Dudes, I've have been pissed off if I were the mother of a 14 year-old daughter doing that dance, but for fuck's sake, 7 year-old girls? I'm equally pissed off at the commentary at Huffington Post which reads:

"Age appropriate or not, there is denying it's one heck of a performance." -Huffington Post

I ask you, if they had taken turns dancing around a pole or dancing on a 44 year-old man's lap, would someone quip, "Well, it may not be age-appropriate, but my goodness look at the technique!"


As an aspiring artist, I am all for the freedom of expression, but I draw the line at the sexualization of children. Make no mistake, that routine turned some adorable 7 year-old girls into caricatures of child prostitutes.

Those mothers ought to be rightly ashamed of themselves. Let's start tying in girls' self-esteem with a false portrayal of sexuality at an earlier age!