Posted in coupons

I’ve Got a Coupon Box, and I Know How to Use It!

This is what my table looks like right now. David and I are planning a trip to Dubuque tomorrow and I am going through coupons and ads in anticipation.  You would think it was rocket science, the amount of time I have been putting into this list and sorting through my coupons this week.  In a way it is a science, just not the rocket kind.

First of all, my coupon box is a mess. I still have to weed out the coupons that expired the end of January. Then there are all the unadvertised sale reports I’ve been reading about on refundcents.com. I print out pertinent information and circle anything I should be looking for, then check to see if I have coupons for those things. The goal is free, of course, but occasionally I’ll be searching just for cheap. For instance, I do have approximately 20 $1 off any Post-It coupons that expire on the 10th. I haven’t come across a clearance sale of those products so the question then becomes what can I find for around $1?  I am willing to pay a dime or even a quarter if I can use the Post-It items for a gift (think stocking stuffer or prize) OR make money on it at my garage sale. I already invested 8-cents in each coupon. If I let it expire before I use it, I just wasted $1.60. In this case, I would be better off investing another 25-cents and selling each of those 20 items for 50-cents, resulting in a net profit of $8.40, instead of a $1.60 loss. 

Is your head swirling with the facts and figures yet? Or, like most non-couponers, has your mind shut down completely? 

This stuff is second nature to me now; sifting through the sale prices vs. cost of coupons and the possible profits at a garage sale. I don’t even have to think about it all that much if I just keep in mind that I do not want to invest heavily into anything, whether that is a razors I use as Christmas gifts or things I pick up to re-sell. Bottom line, there is no “deal” I will fill a cart with unless it is free or cost me mere pennies.

So my husband and I will head out tomorrow morning armed with my coupon box and a long list.  I expect we will hit the Walgreens and Target, with a side trip to Hy-Vee, where David can drink a bottomless cup of coffee while I hunt the aisles for products I can’t find here and deals I just can’t resist.  (think good fruit)  I expect we will also check the Goodwill shelves for books and maybe even look for walking shoes at Kohl’s but we do agree that the game ends when it stops being fun and becomes a chore, instead.  There is also that bunk bed we are hoping to purchase for the little girls, which involves yet another store, perhaps two. In between all this shopping, we can talk about all the subjects we don’t have time to discuss normally.

I once wrote a parody of a romance novel excerpt marveling at David’s bulging biceps as he dug deep in the recycling bins, the smouldering of passion between us when I discovered a stash of People magazines in the newspaper bin, magazines I would later revel in as I leaned back in the bubble bath, a bath that would prepare me for a romantic interlude later:

Our eyes met across the newspaper recycling bin as our hands brushed against each other’s in our search for the glossy coupon inserts amidst the piles of newspapers. My heart started beating faster and my cheeks flushed red with excitement. After fifteen years, this man knew the way to my heart. He smiled as he handed me a huge stack of uncut coupons, and smiling broadly, he pulled a Motrin IB box from his coat pocket. “Look what I found in the cardboard bin,” he said excitedly, “and I bet there’s more where that came from.” 

Pulling an old curtain rod from the back of the station wagon, David deftly cornered a 42-load Ultra detergent box in the cardboard bin, flipping it over the side with one twist of his muscular arm. My knees trembled and my heart raced as I saw him reach deep into the large bin for yet another treasure to warm my heart.

and at the end of the essay:

“Look,” he whispered. I turned to see the older couple facing each other across the same newspaper bin we had just shared a tender moment at moments before. The woman gestured excitedly to her husband, waving a stray coupon insert in front of him. He laughed and reached over to caress her cheek lovingly. I looked back at David and didn’t even need to voice the thought we where both having…that’s us in 15 years.”

It’ been fifteen years since I wrote that article, and that is us. If there was a recycling center nearby, I’m sure we would manage to spend some time there together, looking for coupon inserts. 

Looking back, I couldn’t imagine when I wrote those words that we would have three more children, I would have over 100 more articles and essays published in various magazines and anthologies, or that we would have to face cancer together. 

The one thing I wished for that did come true: our relationship has flourished and shared activities like double coupon sprees and book sales has contributed to that. And the dates at Chuck E. Cheese restaurants haven’t hurt either.  😮

Author:

Author, public speaker, and workshop presenter for community colleges, libraries, women's groups and for grief support groups, Hospice and retreats. Reporter for the Manchester Press newspaper and popular public speaker and workshop presenter on the topics of writing and finding hope in grief. "Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America's Extreme Obsession" was published by Familius Publishing in 2014. "Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage" and "Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace" were released by Familius in 2014. "Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink," co-written with Mary Jedlicka Humston of Iowa City, was published in September 2015.

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