Down East 2013 ©
I run into my cousin Ronnie’s daughter, Shannon, down to the Wally Mart the other day. She was there with her friend, Emily. They’re cute girls, both in their mid-twenties, unattached. You should have seen their shopping cart loaded to the gills with paper towels, toilet paper, feminine products and about twenty bottles of Oil of Olay.
“Wow,” I says, “would you look at that haul!”
“We’ve been couponing!” Shannon says. “Got some wicked good deals, too.”
Now, working at the A&P, I know my way ‘round coupons. And since the economy went south, I’ve seen more and more people using ‘em. Why not save money where you can, right?
Heck, growing up, I still remember my mother filling up her books with them S&H Green Stamps. Seems like it took a million of ‘em to get a toaster, but she stuck with it.
But this “Extreme Couponing” thing is something else all together. Have you seen that show? On TLC, I think. Oh, Mister Man, is it ever fascinating in a watching-a-train-wreck sort of way. (Kind of like “Toddlers in Tiaras,” now that I think of it!)
OK, for all you who haven’t seen it, the show features people who are so into couponing, that’s ‘bout all they do. They got whole rooms in their house just filled with stuff they’ve picked up for next to nothing. I mean, shelves upon shelves of shampoo, dishwashing liquid, boxes of macaroni and cheese, cereal, baby wipes, you name it. It’s like they got their own grocery store.
These people have ring binders, three-inch thick, plumb chucka full of coupons. Really! They buy five or six papers a day, then literally spend hours and hours cutting and sorting. For these folks, a typical shopping trip involves a half day of planning, minimum. Some even suffer from couponing-induced insomnia. I mean, they lie awake at night either thinking about how much they’re going to save, or worrying about missing a sale. Some (this is the God’s honest truth) even go dumpster diving for coupons. We’re not talking homeless people you understand. These are regular folks like you and me, diving into a dumpster to save a couple of bucks on Hawaiian Punch!
And yes, I know they’re getting a good deal on what they’re buying. But when is a bargain no longer a bargain? I mean, what exactly do you do with nine dozen eggs? Or three bunches of bananas? Come on! They’re going to spoil! I guess you could make banana bread, maybe for the Band Booster Bake Sale. After all, you got all those eggs. A ton of work, though.
I watch these folks and wonder, if you factor in your time, are you really saving money? Or, if you want to save money, why don’t you stop buying stuff and use what you have stockpiled in your garage? Or give some of it to a homeless shelter or soup kitchen, or something. Maybe they’re stockpiling for the Apocalypse, I don’t know.
Shannon and Emily didn’t seem that far gone, though. They haven’t got to the ring binder stage, yet. They’re still stuffin’ their coupons in an envelop. I’m thinkin’, no need for an intervention. They’re just a couple of girls with a hobby, killing time between boyfriends.
I says, “Couponing keeping you girls out of trouble, then?”
“Yup,” Emily replies. “The only danger’s getting beat up by the people behind us in line!”
“And the surly cashier, when we hand him a stack of coupons an inch high.”
“Yes,” I says. “I can see where that would be a problem.”
“It’s worth it though. Last week, we got over three hundred dollars worth of stuff, and it only cost us eighty bucks.”
“Wow! That’s impressive. What do you do with the stuff, though. Aren’t you living over there in one of Guy Plourde’s apartments?”
“That’s the problem. After today, we’ve agreed we can only use coupons on food, ‘cause we’re running out of space.”
“Filled up all the closets,” Emily confessed, “ and we got stuff stacked against a couple of walls. I think some of today’s haul is going to have to stay in the trunk of my car!”
I go, “Well, you can always give it as gifts.”
“Yup,” Shannon replies, “my sister says I’m turning into Aunt Donna. Come Christmas, she’s always giving us a bottle of shampoo or something she’d got on sale. With the price tag still on it!” That got them to giggling.
“Donna knows her way around coupons, that’s for sure,” I says.
“You’re not kidding. Well, we’re off. Need to get six bottles of mouthwash, and we’re done.”
And off they go down another aisle, in search of the next big bargain. And I’m thinking, Call me crazy, but isn’t it only a hop, skip and jump from “Extreme Couponing” to “Hoarders.” (That’s another TV show you can probably miss!)
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side! Listen to Ida's podcast.