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Friday, January 04, 2008


Do You Coupon?

Do you coupon? I do. It’s amazing how those little pieces of paper mount up and fill a shoe box. Just as amazing is how much I’ve saved through the years and on what types of items.

Before marriage, I did the shopping for my parents, my sister and myself. I learned early on in life how to stretch a buck. When I married my husband-I got custody of the shoe box.

My newly legal partner scoffed, “What could we possibly save? A dime here, a quarter there? What good will that do?” Back then no supermarket doubled their coupons.

So I made him come with me on the next week’s trip. I handed over my treasure trove to the cashier. I could feel my husband cringing in embarrassment about the pride I took in the thickness of the stack.

Our bill for the two of us totaled $65. Then off came the coupons. I had whittled down the amount to $57. Not a fortune, but I pointed out that the $8 was better in our pocket than the market’s! My darling realized that if I averaged even $5 a week that it covered almost a month of groceries at the end of the year.

We started to make a game of it. On our calendar, I recorded my coupon savings. I still do that today. With quite a bit more success I assure you! Our first year of marriage, I wound up with a savings of $350. At the end of 2007-my total was $2,958.24.

Not so bad for some scraps of paper and a few minutes of my time. Very soon after that first trip, my once red-faced new groom now started coming home very proud of the coupons he found and brought home for me to use.

Then came the coupons to use in restaurants, haircuts, dry-cleaners, new lenses for our glasses, make up, food for the animals, discounts at the vets, freebies for our kids-the list kept growing on what we could use our clippings on and how much we could save.

Thanks to diaper manufacturers, not only were our children’s bottoms covered, but their bodies as well! I received free tee shirts, shoes and caps. We were sent coloring books and crayons, cameras (believe it or not-3 instant Polaroids with film and batteries and I didn’t have to even pay postage and handling), picture frames, audio-story tapes with toys to go with them.

Nowadays, the freebies are far and few between, but the savings still total up! Especially during the last decade or so when most stores doubled the savings. We have saved ourselves time as well. When the kids were young and had birthday parties, I’d save the required UPC codes and the matching coupons and have a stash of books and toys ready to be wrapped and presented. I can’t remember what product it was, but we used a lot of it-their promotional item were free hot wheel cars. We had so many that I never went to a toy store for a boy's present until my son’s friends turned 8.

Remember this story the next time you throw out a lowly coupon-it may have let you retire a few years earlier. At the very least, you missed a really luxurious vacation!

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