Lately I’ve been trying to do a better job of budgeting myself, my time, and my money. In my quest for ideas on how to stretch each dollar to its fullest potential I’ve found myself obsessed with these super-fanatical couponing shows on television. Don’t judge please. They’re fascinating. I’m horrified to watch most times, but truly can’t help myself. I’m drawn to them. These programs are a cinematic train wreck. I experience a massive conglomeration of emotions every time I watch one. I am amazed by the hours of time and effort these women put into clipping coupons, planning shopping trips, and carefully scanning each aisle for their desired trophies. They have notebooks with dividers and special pockets to maximize their couponing experience. It is treated as a fine science. Each detail is carefully thought out. These ladies perfectly time and plan out each shopping trip to achieve ultimate savings. I’ve heard many of them say on the show that their shopping excursions can take up to six and eight hours at a time. WHAT???!!! I don’t even want to do something I LIKE for six hours.
If you’ve not had the privilege of viewing one of these shows yet (and I can’t suggest strongly enough that you do) the premise is that they will clip coupons for specific items and then go to the store- which has been carefully mapped out- and purchase as many allowable items per coupon as they can. Bulk shopping. Whereas you or I go to the store when we need ketchup and buy a bottle or two these ladies will leave the store with 53 bottles of it. I’ve watched them drag their husbands along on these all-day shopping marathons and literally clear off shelves at a store. Shopping carts filled to the brim with 38 tubes of toothpaste, 19 boxes of tampons, 67 pounds of salmon (on sale, of course), 14 bags of dog food, 10 jars of pickles, and 88 packages of Dr. Scholl’s Orthotic shoe inserts. Yes, as I viewer I see that you’ve saved $723 on your purchase, but my question is what do you do when your kids want breakfast? I’m sure that 67 pounds of salmon will come in handy when you have the Miami Dolphins over for dinner, but let’s talk about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When does that get to happen? Many of these women have certain rooms designated for nothing but these bulk items. I’ve seen some families who have been forced to add rooms onto their house to store the overflow. Okay, so let me get this right…. I can save $4 on that purchase of Sarah Lee freezer desserts, but how long is it gonna take those savings to offset the $36,000 home renovation you’ve just incurred?
Once every cart is filled and running over it is time to check out. The real moment of truth. I find myself nervously watching as they select a lane and the poor, checkout girl (whom I’m sure could kick her own butt for not having gone on break just 5 minutes earlier) drags the 9,000th item across the infrared scanner and then rings up a total which is usually a staggering amount. The camera crew will then immediately pan to our “super couponer” who will grimace when she hears the total – generally somewhere around $500 or over. Our super couponer then reaches into her purse, for which I’m assuming she paid about 14 cents at a flea market considering how frugal she is, and pulls out a stack of coupons. The already-stressed-to-the-max checkout gal then forces a smile and takes the stack of 300 coupons and begins to run each one over the aforementioned scanner. [Close up on the checkout computer screen] I am now literally scooted to the edge of my couch and watching with bated breath as the hundreds and hundreds of dollars in purchases is systematically being lowered and lowered by each swipe of each coupon. By this time usually a crowd of shoppers has gathered round our super couponer and further fuel the frenzy by covering their mouths or uttering audible gasps of amazement- dare I say “envy”- as they see this woman’s total plummeting to a near-zero balance. I’ve actually seen some coupons have their totals taken all the way down to a zero balance and then the store be forced to give her money BACK for her purchases! She’s gone through each aisle in that place, cleared off hundreds of items of merchandise which will have to be restocked, given the poor check out gal carpal tunnel, and now the store pays HER! Amazing!
Of course I say most of this in jest. I completely understand the value in saving money any way that you can. I just hope that I’m not ever the shopper who comes in behind this woman and the wreckage and carnage left behind in her wake of saving. 🙂