Growing up, my life was dictated by coupons. If there wasn’t a coupon for it, Mom didn’t buy it.
Mom spent a good portion of her family budgeting time clipping ads from the newspaper. We knew not to wander too closely to her at the time those scissors were snapping. Otherwise, we’d end up with an impromptu, one-sided haircut.
Then we’d have to sneak up to her on the other side in hopes of an even trim. There was the risk of a nipped ear, of course. Fortunately, Mom had just clipped a coupon for bandages.
She jammed the 25-cents-off bandages coupon into the proper category of her packed accordion folder, which appeared ready to explode from overcrowding, and was ready for a trip to the grocery store — which she would have done if it had been double coupon day. It wasn’t, so I taped an expired aspirin coupon to my ear instead.
I probably would have been born a year earlier, but Mom and Dad were hoping the obstetrician would run a second-kid-50-percent-off deal before starting a family. The doctor didn’t, and that’s why there are no twins in my family.
We didn’t have a lot of money growing up — which turned out to be excellent training for adulthood, by the way. I don’t have a lot of money now that doesn’t belong to somebody else. I know because every month I’m writing checks and mailing them off with the other kind of coupons.
When I bought my car, I was pretty excited when the dealer said I’d be receiving a coupon book in the mail. Then it came — two books, to be exact — with a coupon for every month, but not a discount in sight. These were not the kind of coupons littered about the bottom of my briefcase and lining my coat pockets.
It’s the deals for which my scissors and I search. I was trained from birth never to buy anything at retail, and I remain a cheapskate to this day. A house just isn’t a home if there isn’t a place or three to clip and stack save-a-buck offers and free sandwich deals.
True, my bookstore coupons come by e-mail. There’s an ice cream place that zaps me monthly deals. And one restaurant sends me a Web link to a buy-one-get-one dinner every year for my birthday. Just click and print. You still have the piece of paper in your hand, and clicking lessens the chances of cutting off the ears of stray kids.
It’s not the same. How do you know you’re cutting your shopping bill without scissors cramps and a touch of ink on the fingertips?
Nothing beats settling into an easy chair — I bought mine with a coupon — packing yourself in with wads of newsprint and splashy inserts, a pair of scissors and an organizer held together by rubber bands. I’m not even interested in some of products I clip. It’s the thrill of the hunt. I figure somebody I know could use a combination nose hair trimmer/garden trowel if it’s 30 percent off. I have the coupon.
And if the Friday night date falls through, cozy up with the organizer and fish out all the expired coupons.
I’ll probably do so this week. I just clipped a trial box of trash bags.