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Powerball

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Several years ago, when the Powerball lottery jackpot surpassed a half-billion dollars for the first time, Coupons in the News posed the question – “Would you still coupon if you had $550 million?

Among many hardcore couponers, the answer was a resounding yes. Fast forward to the present, with tonight’s Powerball jackpot worth a staggering $1.5 billion, and maybe it’s time to pose the question again.

Picture yourself relaxing on your own private island, sitting on the white sandy beach, watching the azure waves roll in, as staff from your palatial estate bring you a fresh tropical drink. Are you gazing off at the horizon, basking in the warmth of the sun, thanking your good fortune, without a care in the world – or do you have scissors in hand, Sunday inserts strewn at your feet, so you can clip that coupon for 25 cents off a pack of toilet paper?

It seems that a lot of newly-minted billionaires would opt for the scissors.

A decidedly unscientific survey on Coupons in the News’ Facebook page yielded a near-universal reaction – no matter how much money one has, saving money would be a hard habit to break.

“I’d feel odd not shopping with my binder,” one Facebook commenter wrote. “I refuse to pay full price and would still use coupons,” another added. “I will always stretch my dollar no matter how many of them I have!” a third chimed in.

Still others said living a life of leisure would give them the chance to devote even more attention to their binders and stockpiles. “I would coupon MORE because I’d have time from not having a job!” one reader wrote. “Just means I could buy a bigger house with a bigger stockroom,” another offered. Added a third: “Well I’d need a hobby after I quit my job, so…”

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Those responses were largely in line with earlier, more scientific, surveys about coupon use and big lottery winnings. A 2012 survey conducted for CouponCabin found that 64% of Americans would continue living frugally, by shopping at discount stores and only buying items on sale, and 55% would still use coupons if they struck it rich in the lottery. A year earlier, a RedPlum survey found that an overwhelming 96% of respondents would still use coupons if they won a life-changing lottery jackpot.

But those surveys were conducted long before the top prize was anywhere near billion-dollar territory. And researchers have shown that what people say about how they’ll behave in certain hypothetical circumstances, often differs from what they really end up doing. Once the reality of a ten-figure lottery win sets in, and you realize that even a million bucks is practically chump change, would it really be worth your time and energy to hop into your limo and have your driver take you to the grocery store, so you can grab that two-for-one deal just because you have a coupon?

Perhaps. It brings to mind the old TV commercial, in which a young woman is shocked to see a wealthy man pouring a drink from a jug of cheap wine. “But you’re so rich!” she protests. “How do you think I got so rich?” he responds.

Several studies have shown that higher-income consumers are actually among the most enthusiastic coupon users, with those making at least $100,000 a year much more likely to use coupons than those who make less than $30,000.

Still, $100,000 isn’t a billion, and nobody’s thought to survey billionaires about their thrifty spending habits. Do Bill Gates or Warren Buffett clip coupons?

“Rich men can be poor men tomorrow. Always want to save where you can,” a reader warned. Another said she’d likely still use coupons after winning a billion-plus – “maybe after I spent it all!”

Of course, many truly frugal shoppers don’t buy lottery tickets at all. And every time they don’t play the Powerball, they save $2 – more than the value of the average coupon. You can’t win if you don’t play, but with only one jackpot-winning combination tonight – and hundreds of millions of losing ones – maybe they’re onto something.

If, however, you end up the lucky owner of that private island – drop us a line in a year or so. The rest of us will be curious to know how that couponing is going.

2 Comments

  1. If you have ever read the Millionaire Next Door, one of the traits of millionaires is to live frugally and that can involve the use of coupons. Becoming a millionaire by winning the lottery is easier then staying a millionaire by spending that money wisely

  2. As much as I enjoy couponing I would not be doing it if I won the lottery. I would be too busy buying my dream home, dream vehicle, traveling & helping others.

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