Don’t Do It, DECA

Update 9 March 2012:  DECA has confirmed that this rumor is false.  There are no plans to remove coupon areas from European commissaries.  Whoohooo!

So, I heard a nasty rumor today that the Commissaries in Europe would be removing the coupon sharing areas from their stores.  Anyone else heard this, or has it been removed at your store?

For those of you who do not know, overseas commissaries accept manufacturer’s coupons for six months past the expiration date listed on the coupon.  However, we don’t have a regular way to get these coupons.  Kind volunteers to the rescue!  Individuals and groups all over the US send boxes and packages of coupons to military bases around the world.  Different organizations at each base help to sort and distribute the coupons, resulting in significant savings for the families who take the time to coupon.  I only do it very casually, and I usually save $10-$20 a week on items that I was already planning to purchase.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to get coupons from the distributing organizations to the customers is through boxes at the entrance to the commissary.  Whether it is an elaborate wall of cubbies for various categories, or a simple basket with them all thrown together, the availability of coupons at the commissary is a key to fostering the couponing habit.  It is usually only after seeing the value of couponing that individuals will make the extra effort to seek out the stashes hidden “behind the scenes.”

In my financial counseling, I often suggest that families consider couponing as a way to decrease their food budget.  If they protest that they don’t have time, or it is too difficult, I give them a challenge.  Go to the commissary, do you regular shopping, and then make a stop to check the coupons before you checkout. Take ten minutes to go through the coupons, only taking out ones for items that are already in your shopping cart.  I can almost guarantee that on a “big” shopping trip, you will find at least $5 worth of coupons.  Not bad for ten minutes, in my opinion.

So, DECA, please let us know.  Is it true that you will be removing coupon areas from the commissary entrances in Europe?  If so, please reconsider.  Those savings mean a lot to many people.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.