I am a coupon clipper. I have been for forty years. If using grocery coupons was an Olympic event, I would place in the top three.
I clipped my first coupon the day I started my own household, but back then I was a total amateur. I clipped every coupon I found and bought stuff I never used. It was obsessive and wasteful.
When the babies came along, I realized I had to learn to be thrifty, so I asked both my mother and my mother-in-law to help me collect baby coupons. I swear on a stack of Proctor and Gamble products that every paper diaper the younger two used was purchased with a coupon. It saved me hundreds of dollars. I was learning by experience.
I perfected the art when the kids hit their teenage years. I was able to direct the money I saved on hair products and pimple medicines into food dollars (though I also coveted coupons for cold cereal and frozen pizzas). I became so obsessed with coupons I ripped them out of the magazines in the doctor’s office.
I was good, real good. I was now professional level.
When my three left home and I found myself single again, I gave myself a respite from coupon clipping. I took a sabbatical. I strutted through the grocery aisles like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, throwing grocery items willy-nilly into my cart, not a care in the world. I timed the moment the cashier asked, “Do you have any coupons?” so I could smugly answer in a loud voice, “No, no I don’t.”
But I came back. I became a born-again coupon clipper when I married HoneyBunch, not because I needed to count my pennies, but because as a one-time professional coupon clipper, it made sense. There are whole aisles of the grocery store I no longer shop. I don’t own a pet. I gave up sodas and chips, and at my age, I have no need for feminine products. That’s a lot of coupons I no longer clip, but there are also products I use every day – high-fiber cereal, household detergents, and toiletries. It made sense to spend a little time clipping those coupons and save myself a few dollars every time I go to the store.
Professionals don’t quit. They ride off into the sunset, a flaming torch in one hand, a dollar coupon in the other.