There are many things I like about my mother. Her bargain hunting when I was a child isn’t one of them.
I remember plenty of long Sunday afternoons sitting in the family car as my mom went through her grocery receipts. Item by item, loaf by loaf, miniscule cup of yogurt by cup of yogurt, she was determined to find those few cents that the crater-faced clerk had overcharged her. Then she would go charging back into the store to make sure she got her 6-cent refund.
“Mooooooooooooom,” my brother and I would whine, but it was no use. She was a woman on a mission to save.
I developed even more disgust with bargain hunters when I took a job at the Bon-Ton in high school. For every sweet old lady who shopped there, there was one who thought she is entitled to a 20 percent off coupon or senior citizen discount every day of the week.
How about I just give you the Alfred Dunner sweater, lady? Would that make you happy?
Given my frequent youthful griping about super shoppers, I find it a little distressing that I’ve recently gotten into coupons.
I’m not sure when it happened exactly. Probably as I was getting out of college when the cold, hard reality of a budget hit. But I’ve started to clip them every week, even if I do feel a little dorky doing it.
I know what you’re thinking, and I’m not. I’m not and never will be one of those extreme coupon people. I don’t know how they do it. I’m way too picky about what I buy.
Who needs that much barbecue sauce? It’s just me, my roomie and his cat in the house. We could eat exclusively barbecue sauce for the next decade, and still have some left.
But it is a rare shopping trip that I don’t use at least one coupon. I carry them with me in an unmarked envelope in my bag, waiting for the moment when I finally need something name brand.
“OMG, I have a coupon for that!” I’ll tell whomever I’m shopping with. My friends just shake their heads.
But there’s something oddly exciting about saving a few cents– especially if it’s on something obscure. One time my cookware-challenged boyfriend asked me to pick up a baking dish on the way home, and I was downright jubilant when I had a coupon for it. Who has coupons for Pyrex? I do! Heck yes! I told everyone I know.
I also get super psyched when it’s a coupon for something I hate buying. Last week, I spotted a sale on laundry detergent at Weis, and I had multiple coupons. I bought four bottles for $22. $22, guys! It felt a little borderline extreme couponer as I headed out the door with that much soap, but I was pretty jazzed about the money I saved.
It’s amazing the things you’ll get excited about once you’re poor and in your 20s. I’m afraid for the stuff that will get me excited in my 30s.