Cutting corners

Day 3 of shopping week at the JMD blog; moving right along…

There’s something awfully cool about watching the total on your shopping bill start dropping; there’s something awfully cool about coupons.

I have to admit, coupons and me were a natural fit.  When you match up the organizing and tracking of all the useful coupons with a mind that likes things neat, it’s just too perfect.  Not to be confused with an ordered mind, you see, for I’m a big fan of chaos…just as long as everything can be picked up and put away afterwards.

My couponing career began early, spending time with Mom on Sundays helping her clip coupons from the paper.  For you Moms reading this, it’s a fun thing to do with your kids.  They get to play with scissors and colorful paper and you get help on your clipping duties.  Mind you, you might want to start them off with non-useful coupons until they get the hang of cutting on those dotted lines, but after they get going, they’ll probably be sad there aren’t coupons on more days than Sunday (in my day, you would also get plenty of opportunities on “food day” – which was the Thursday paper).

Mom kept a coupon organizer, one of those little plastic boxes with tabbed dividers, so she could quickly access her coupons.  While I never possessed my very own plastic box, I did keep the coupons organized and separated for many years.  With my penchant for neatness and an aptitude for numbers, I would often change up my coupon sorting from expiration date to value to category.  No real reason, just to add some variety.

During an especially competitive time among food stores, there were all sorts of coupon offers – double, triple, in-store, matching – to keep even the sharpest shopper on their toes or risk having their head spin off trying to figure out the best store to shop that week.

And, to challenge your choices even more, the stores in those days also offered the now nostalgic savings stamps.  Oh boy, were those fun!  You had your S&H Green Stamps and Top Value (which I think was the one with the elephant).  My sister and I used to help stick these into books at Grandma’s or with Mom or later, just for ourselves.  You could get cool merchandise (usually small appliances) and there were stories of people who saved thousands of books and got trips and other more ridiculous stuff.  Today’s “points” credit cards do the same thing, but at a less rewarding conversion factor.

For a while, couponing was a major part of my shopping process.  Even though I had no spouse or kids, I still bought enough major brand products to spend a considerable time cutting and sorting through my “cupes” each week.  During the rare triple coupon days, it was a ton of fun to watch the numbers “go backwards” on my shopping bill.

Recently, with my dropping many classic name brand products due to the disparity in price from the satisfactory store brands, my couponing has been…er…cut.  Occasionally, though, I catch a facebook friend posting their big shopping trip accomplishments, which show them getting a basket full of goods for a fraction of its original cost.  That nearly brings a nostalgic tear to my eye and a fond trip back to my scissor-wielding past.

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