The Crazy Coupon Lady
Dec. 14, 2010 8:46 am
Updated: Jan. 4, 2011 7:27 am
So now be honest; have you ever been in line at the grocery store, and you realize that the lady in front of you has a three inch stack of coupons, and is watching each and every item price as it runs across the scanner? Have you ever thought to yourself
, "Oh (fill in the blank), I'm never gettin' out of here!"? I have. I try to be patient, to remind myself that I don't have any place super important to be, but I admit that I've desperately looked around and tried to quickly find another open checkout that
I could switch to....That's why this entry is so hard to write. I've become the crazy coupon lady.
It happened a couple of months ago. My sister came to visit, and we started talking about an idea that I had to try to really ratchet back the grocery budget due to the upcoming holidays. I do watch prices, but I don't really have limits for myself when it
comes to buying food. It's just food after all, right? It's not like we can go without it. I read a book some time back about a woman who was feeding her entire family on $75/week. Ludicrous. I can easily spend more than ten times that during the course
of a month, and we hardly ever eat out. But the thought was intriguing. I mean, where else is it easier to shave some money off your monthly expenses other than groceries? I'm not going to go without bathing or live in the dark, so the best place for me
to make some changes would be in the grocery budget. Sis and I decided to make it a competition in order to have someone else to be accountable to. That first week was HARD, and I blew it by about triple. It wasn't my fault, really; It was a couple of weeks
before Thanksgiving, and the grocery stores were starting to put turkey and ham on super sale. I bought 8-10 frozen turkey breasts, 4 spiral sliced hams, and 4 whole turkeys and filled our stand up freezer. That was in addition to our regular grocery shopping.
Needless to say I lost the competition that week, but it was worth it because I had a full freezer for about a quarter of what the regular price would have been to buy that stuff. I stayed on budget the following week, and the rest of the month I did pretty
well. That first month (November) after I added up all of my grocery store receipts, I spent about $400, and saved more than $600. This was huge. Our AMEX bill was lower (by a lot) than it had been any previous month in the last 5 years. That's when
I decided to break out the coupons.
The last few weeks have been eye opening, to say the least. I always have the Sunday newspaper delivered specifically for the coupons, but I'm kind of infamous for never even looking at them. I get busy with the kids, and at the end of the day I'm too tired
to get organized, there are dishes to be washed, laundry to be done...I could go on forever. I generally would pull out the coupons, set them aside, let them pile up, put them in a drawer, and then a few months later throw the whole unviewed stack in the
recycling bin. It was not very efficient or economical. I sat down one night at the end of November, sifted through the whole ridiculous stack and started clipping. I couldn't believe all of the things I bought last month that I actually had coupons for,
and all of the money I could have saved but didn't. Since that night, I haven't gone to the store without my coupon organizer, a detailed grocery list, and a calculator. I scan the circulars, shop the sales, and try to only buy "shelf" items when they're
both on sale and I have a coupon. I don't think I've gone over my grocery budget a single time this month, and my pantry, which I worked so hard to clean out a while back, is jammed full once more. I'm hooked on coupons. It's official, I really have become
These days, I get excited for the lady in front of me with her stack of coupons. I want to see how much money she's saving, and if she's doing better than I am. I don't mind waiting in line an extra 5 minutes while she argues with the cashier about how that
chicken was supposed to be $.99/lb and not $1.19, because she's saving me from having the same argument in a moment. I have a new respect for cashiers, too. They should be nominated for sainthood after dealing with people like me all day. The next time
you're in line at the grocery store and you realize you're behind the crazy coupon lady with her three cranky children who are all covered in cheese crackers, be kind. That lady is me.