Let’s talk about how much fun we can have saving money. I know we simple folk are supposed to be spending to pump up the economy while the rich folk save to pump up their bank accounts, but at this point we’re really stretching it. Reeeally streeetching it. I can have as much fun spending money as the next person, but the leaves have fallen on the spending season. Now it’s time to hunker down save.
Raise your hand if your job growing up was filling the Green Stamps books. Did your mother scrape the last of the egg from the shell with her finger, add a little extra water to the frozen orange juice and a tiny bit to the dregs in the ketchup bottle? My mother was a Depression Era kid, and since I was the oldest, I got in on the starting-out end of my family of origin. I learned about shopping once a month at the Base commissary, shopping at factory outlets, shopping sales and comparing prices. Coupons weren’t such a big deal then, but by the time I started my own household, they were worth clipping. I’m not an extremist, but I’ve always used them to some extent. Never buy cereal without a coupon, right?
Well nowadays it’s never go to Rainbow/Shoprite/Winn Dixie unless it’s double coupon day. We’re not shopping, really. We’re hunting. I tell Clyde that I’m the hunter-gatherer now. He’s the builder-protector. He’s fine with that. There was a time when he wouldn’t shop with me because of the coupons. “Coupon Kathy” he calls me, but these days he’s wont to brag me up when I go in for the kill, maybe once a month. My latest victory was $89.22 savings on a $147.16 bill, which meant that I paid $57.94. (Yes, I saved the tape. It’s like a trophy.) I was behind a young couple—cute story—who were seriously coupon shopping. They split up in 2 orders so each could get the maximum doubled coupons. The guy was more into it than his wife, and really proud of their accomplishment. He was bagging his groceries when the cashier rang me up, and he gleefully congratulated me. “Nice savings!” he said. Isn’t that cute? And we visited about the good deals while we packed our cloth bags.
That tape also shows that we were up to $.95 a gallon on fuelperks, which is Clyde’s idea of taking a scalp at the gas station. So he’s coming around.
I watch for sales on things I use, make a list, clip coupons from the Sunday paper while I watch TV, and make sure I pay attention to the sales fliers for maximum satisfaction, which comes with little victories like having a coupon on top of a sale price or getting a BOGO and having a coupon on the buy. Or getting coupons for freebies! Generally I save 40-60% on big box grocery trip. I don’t keep an album of coupons–I have envelopes–and I don’t have a stockpile of deodorant in the basement. (By the way, from what I’ve read, “the TV show “Extreme Couponing” is set up. Typical “reality” show.) Trader Joe’s is my favorite store for quick stops–produce, bread, certain staples–and they don’t take coupons, but their prices are really good on what they sell. And we’re getting a Whole Foods soon!
We’ve all done our office/school supplies shopping for the year now, haven’t we? You don’t want to miss those July-August deals. I do stockpile this stuff. Folders, notebooks, pencils—great loss leaders at a penny, nickel, 5 for $1 and like that. So, yes, money’s tight these days, but it’s fun to save, improvise, make your own. Attitude is everything, kids. We’ll get through this.
And the more we save on eggs and ketchup, the more we can spend on books. ONE BRAVE COWBOY will be in stores Sept 20—available for preorder now. But pile on the comments today, share your money-saving tips, and I’ll draw one name at the end of the day and send out the winner’s choice from an earlier book from the series.