Regarding my coupon fiasco of last week, I think I redeemed myself with my recent trip to a Hy-Vee. My intent was to use up some of the good coupons that were expiring yesterday, as well as stocking up on some big juicy oranges. My dear husband ate his lunch alone while I roamed the aisles, hunting for good deals. My heart beat a little faster when I saw a bin full of McCormick seasonings marked down to $1. I passed on the Mustard Seed and Celery Seed but happily added 20 bottles of cinnamon, parsley, and chili seasoning to match the 20 $1 coupons I had in my box. When I came to an end cap of short-dated Kraft grated cheese priced at $1, I pulled out 10 $1 off 2 coupons and 20 packages of cheese soon joined the seasoning in my cart. These freeze well and can be used on pizza and in lasagna in the future. No Yolk noodles were on sale for $1.58 so I bought 10 of the dumpling size, using my Buy One, Get One Free coupons. Swanson chicken broth was 67-cents and I had 40-cents off 4. I also used Hormel $1.50 off 3 towards the smallest cans of chunk chicken. I did all my Easter basket shopping, as well, on items I can’t find in this area, including spring colored Tootsie Roll pops, Brachs Robin Eggs, and pastel Junior Mints. There won’t be any one pound chocolate rabbits this year, either. Instead, I’ve hidden away a bunch of full-size candy bars I got free with coupons last month.
Checking out, I warned a woman coming up behind me that I had a lot of coupons to use, but she just shrugged and stayed put. My total before coupons was $125.39.
Then the cashier started scanning the coupons. After about the first ten, I noticed the woman behind me leaning in closer to see what was being scanned.
“What are those $1 coupons for?” she pointed.
“McCormick seasoning I found in the marked down bin for $1,” I answered, and the cashier added, “So she got them free.”
The woman pushed her cart up a little to get a better look.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure,” I answered, waiting for the inevitable How many kids do you have? or Why do you do this?
“How much are you saving?” she asked, and it was my turn to shrug my shoulders.
“It tells the total coupon savings at the end of the tape,” the cashier answered for me and all three of us watched as the tape slowly spit out, calculating the final tally.
“60.34,” the cashier said.
“Is that how much you saved?” the woman asked, impressed.
“No, that is how much she owes. She saved $65.05.”
“You saved more than you spent?” the woman’s attention turned back to me, “You should write a book!”
“I am. I am writing a book about extreme couponing.”
Both the cashier and the woman were duly impressed and congratulated me on my savings.
I walked away from that transaction feeling as though I was walking on air.
It isn’t always like that, believe me. I have seen the eye-rolling, heard the sighs behind me, and watched as cashiers looked over my coupons suspiciously, as if I’d made them at home. A recent study suggested that one reason consumers hesitate to use coupons is because of the negative attitude of cashiers who make it clear that it is a bother to accept them.
On the other hand, a gracious cashier can make any transaction much more pleasant.
And a customer behind you in line exclaiming in awe?
They can make you feel pretty darn smart for using coupons.