Define Normal

If an average consumer went to Walmart to buy Tylenol for a headache-prone household and they came across a shelf of Halle Berry Reveal perfume on sale for $1, marked down from $16, how many would they purchase? One for themselves? Two? Maybe a total of three bottles for future gifts? How many packages of smooth-writing Bic Velocity pens, marked down to $1 from $2.94, would they buy?  What about Nivea Body wash priced at $3 that they can get free with their $3 coupons? Hanes 12-pack of socks clearanced for $5, that they can get for only $4 with their $1 coupon? Johnson & Johnson dental floss priced at 88-cents, free after $1 coupon?

In the past few months I’ve been walking a little more on the wild side of shopping-ville. Ironically, through the months of researching and writing my book on coupon use, I have been prone to using less coupons than usual.  I missed some big deals, ditched Walgreens sales several times, ignored at least one Pamida store doubling opportunity. I was too busy, too tired, and not quite certain it was all worth it. After all the clipping and the sorting, the organizing, and then the incessant searching for the best deal, the best price, the best combination of sale and coupon…Well, sometimes I want to just be a “normal” shopper. You know, walk in a store without carrying a large plastic coupon box, and stroll through the aisles with a sort of abandon, not comparing every single price and size. I’ve actually done that a few times in the last few months, and it wasn’t a half-bad feeling. I’d almost convinced myself that some of the studies I’m quoting in my book were right; that using coupons is a waste of valuable time.


It only takes a couple of boxes of full-priced cereal and a few missed opportunities at a clearance shelf to convince me that I am NOT the “average” shopper. I have too much fun deal-hunting to abandon it completely. I won’t go crazy with it, stockpiling 1500 deodorants or 60 bottles of mustard like some extreme couponers, but as long as there are deals like today’s, I’ll do what I’ve always done: take advantage of them. 

The Nivea body wash? I’ve got Christmas baskets to fill for my adult children.  The perfume?  I’ll peel the $1 sticker off and leave the $16 price tag on. I can price four of them for $6 each at my sister’s consignment store, and make $2 off each one. In selling four, I will make back my investment of $8, basically paying for the other four.  I’ll keep a couple (if I like the fragrance) and use a couple for Christmas gifts. As a writer who does all her rough drafts on legal pads with a pen, I go through a lot of pens, and the Bic Velocity are one of my new favorites. Those packs are all for me. And the socks?  When else could I get 12 pairs of quality Hanes socks for $4 for Abby?

What a rush at the checkout when my total went from $52 down to $19. How I beamed with delight as I left the store with my bags of goodies. The good feeling lasted until I got home, unpacked my bags and showed my husband David the contents of my bags. He was impressed with the free Nivea, delighted over a new perfume for me to try, and happy with my Bic find.  He had only one question.

“Where’s the Tylenol?”

I’d forgotten it. I didn’t  purchase the item I’d gone to the store for. 

Normal, right?

3 thoughts on “Define Normal

  1. Beth says:

    Mary, you didn’t need the Tylenol after that shopping trip. The high from the trip would take care of any headache.

  2. jacki says:

    Mary….Brian swears by name brand Tylenol, but if you find the generic works, I found special packs of generic Tylenol 100ct bottles for $1 each at Walmart! They had generic Advil for the same price for the 100ct bottles. I really think you should publish your blog entries in book in book form! The writing is superb and the topics so interesting and also helpful!

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