Get your coupon freak on
A question I’ve often asked myself: If you have to spend money to “save” money have you really “saved” anything?
Something tells me Benjamin Franklin would say, “no.” Saving is saving and spending is spending and never the twain shall meet.
Last night we went to visit some friends we hadn’t seen for a while. We handed over our coats, settled in and made idle chit chat while their kids ran around screaming.
I’m not sure when it happened, but at one point our hostess disappeared and starting fiddling around in their pantry. She left the pantry door open and I peaked inside. My first thought was, “Wow. Look at the size of that thing.” My second thought, however, was, “Look at all that stuff!”
On those pantry shelves was an amazing accumulation of stuff. It looked very much like a well-stocked grocery store. There were multiples of every item. Five boxes of Cherrios, five boxes of Frosted Flakes, five boxes of Fruit Loops, and multiples on practically every other item as well, like Dow Scrubbing Bubbles, shampoo, deodorant, Rice-A-Roni, air freshners and much, much more.
“Holy cow,” I said. “You have your own little mini-mart in there!”
The wife of a fireman who works 48-hour shifts, our friend has had some interesting hobbies and habits as she spends a rather unusual amount of time home alone. She has always really been in to watching TV. She has all the channels and a DVR and has made it a way of life.
But now, she explained to us, she has a new hobby. It’s known as couponing. My web browser may not understand the word (and highlights it as misspelled) but punch it in a search engine and you’ll see that the internet certainly does.
“It’s a great way to save money,” she said, “especially if you aren’t picky about what you get.”
So it’s her new hobby. Her latest obsession. She says she can often go hours at it and gets things she doesn’t even need. (I even saw containers of anti-constipation stuff.) She also admitted that she’s spending money to get some of these deals – like “buy one get one free” or “save 50 cents on purchase,” etc.
Is it just me or does that sound a bit nuts? Spending money to get things you don’t really need and sometimes things you don’t even want. And I couldn’t help but notice that a lot of the things she gets are highly processed and/or full of chemicals. Ugh.
I’ve heard modern lore that if you apply yourself, do it intelligently and put in the time, couponing can lead to cart-loads of deals. I’ve heard of $125 trips that we completely free. I admit if it is usable stuff that I’d otherwise mostly want then that’s probably pretty cool. No doubt it would be a more productive use of my time than sitting on my ass.
So my friend has a hobby and like most hobbies, it isn’t too surprising if it ends up costing a bit of money. If she enjoys it as such then good for her.
When we left their house that night she loaded us down with four bags of stuff. I tried to refuse but she wouldn’t take no for an answer. We had breakfast cereal (although she kept the Fruit Loops for herself, dammit), scrubbing bubbles, body wash, deodorant, and chicken-flavored Rice-A-Roni. Since we’re vegetarian we gave the Rice-A-Roni to the gerbil who seemed quite excited to have a free meal and immediately made himself a box.