I have always been skeptical of the little old ladies who stand in front of me at the super market checkout with a fist full of coupons. How much could they possibly be saving that it is worth holding up the line for 15 minutes, I mean how much cat food can you really need anyhow? Upon marrying my wife, I had no clue that she could very well end up being one of those little old ladies, minus the cats of course, but what I DEFINITELY did not see happening is that I too would become that person who keeps you waiting in line while he watches every single coupon being swiped and the dollar signs diminish.
For B, she has always had a love of shopping, which in the past has gotten her, and now us, into a bit of financial disarray. For me, I was always happy to get free stuff. Coupled with my addictive personality, I didn’t stand a chance. As we creep closer to climbing out of that hole, we find ourselves searching for ways to combat both her shopping addiction and my need to have a hobby and collect things. Couponing it is!
B started to coupon before we got together, however, with the addition of 2 children and 1 hungry husband, I think it’s safe to say it has intensified. Once we bought our house and were closer to all the key coupon spots, it was game on. Every Sunday, B would buy 3-4 papers and start clipping. She’d search online sites and blogs for the current deals and printable coupons, then find the corresponding coupons in the paper to get the maximum savings. After she had all her coupons together, she would hit the stores. At first, I stayed home with the kids, as coupon fever had not yet struck me and I still did not understand her system. She would come home with her loot and I would help her put it all away, amazed but not quite sold.
Part of my hesitation had to do with the fact that I did not see my role in the process, as B seemed to have it all in hand. Then one day, the TV network TLC debuted a show called “Extreme Couponing”. This show features the savants who have turned a simple money saving venture into an artform! I was intrigued at how a person could take a $1000 purchase and reduce it to a few bucks and in some cases, make money! Being a stay-at-home parent, I am always struggling with the fact that I do not bring in a paycheck and therefore the brunt of the financial burden falls on B’s shoulders. But again, how could I become a cog in B’s coupon system?
As I continued to watch the show, I noticed how these people seemed to have an endless supply of coupons, some from inserts, printed, or even ordered from a clipper service. I also noticed that they seemed to be pretty well organized in binders and began thinking about how much time B spends sorting and cutting her coupons. While there is a procedure of calculating the deals that my brain is not quite suited for, the sorting, clipping and organizing aspect was right up my alley. Then I thought about my baseball card collections I had as a kid and how the card pages made it so easy to organize and sort my cards, which happened to be the same size as some coupons. But did we really need that much space for only a few newspapers worth of coupons? Or was the issue that we needed more coupons? With more coupons, we could take advantage of better deals, but where would we come up with extra coupons that wouldn’t involve buying them? A woman on the show had the answer, however it did seem a bit unorthodox and taboo.