The holidays are behind us and our bank accounts have been “slenderized”.  ‘Tis the season for scoring a great deal.  In my house, everyday is the season.  My couponing craze began as a young, married mother of two  Money was tight in the early days while we established new careers and juggled tots.  What was born of necessity became an obsession driven by thrifty competition.  It’s was me against the retail establishment.  Or something like that.

While I don’t spend long hours in my pursuit of a great deal as I once did, you will still find a dedicated compartment in my wallet for valuable savings.  I simply love the the thrill of obtaining  rock-bottom prices.  If you’ve read some of my past posts, you might notice that I am competetive.  Typically, my competitive streak rears it’s (ugly) head during bouts of air hockey and rounds of Jeopardy.  While I’ve been temporarily banned from competing in either sport (a needed period of self-reflection), the couponing craze still offers an element of satisfactory accomplishment.

As with all of other areas of life, couponing offers a unique opportunity to demonstrate grace and good form.  Will it never end!?  Not while I have breathe in this body.

Rule #1: Don’t rip out coupons from magazines and newspapers you have not purchased.  Confession:  While waiting for my annual girlie exam three years ago, I happened upon an advertisement and coupon for a beautiful state-of-the-art fishing rod.  Although I am not a fisher-person, I felt an overwhelming urge;  I had to have it.  I tore it from the magazine and neatly deposited it into my jacket pocket for future use.  Aside from the obvious question as to why my gynecologist professionally subscribed to Field & Stream when his patients were overwhelmingly suburban females comes the question why I would tear out a coupon from a magazine I did not purchase.  I was temporarily insane, of course.

Rule #2:  Take only the products you need (aka: don’t take all the goods).  Please be a good sport and leave some bargains for the next thrifty hunter.  Not only will you shine with good form, the stores and product producers will greatly appreciate you!

Rule #3: Ensure you read the fine print on the coupon.  Honor the redemption restrictions and expiration dates.  In your quest for a deal, you must keep your wits about you.  Nothing says tacky like a customer trying to pull the wool over the eyes of a merchant then engaging in a haggling session at the register.

Rule #4: Leave the “peeler” (the little coupon sticker attached to the product) on the goods unless you are actually purchasing it the same day.  Yes, it can be tempting to rip it off for a future need but for heaven’s sake, those pickled pig’s feet will still be collecting dust on the shelf when you you need them.

Rule #5: Be pleasant and thankful to the cashier and to the other customers in the queue.  Have your coupons and form of payment at the ready.  Be mindful of the other customers on line.  If you have a cart-full of goodies and the guy behind you just one jar of pickled pig’s feet, graciously allow him to complete his transaction ahead of you.

Now…let the savings begin.   Happy New Year!

K. Martini