Do you remember your first trip using coupons? Looking back now I can see that using coupons for the first time is really not as hard as it looks, but when I started out it was terrifying.
I was talked into using Coupon Sense. A friend just swore that I needed this, and there was no changing her mind. She got me signed up, and even gave me coupons to get me started and I … did nothing.
Every Sunday I was getting multiple copies of the newspaper for the coupons. I figured I could start slow, and just started stacking those newspapers in a box by the door. Before long, the stack of papers was overflowing the box and I knew it was make it or break it time.
I diligently went through each newspaper and removed the inserts, and then labeled them as my friend urged me to do. They all looked so nice is their labeled folders! I was all ready, so I …did nothing. Can we say slow starter?
Starting something new can be scary! I wasn’t quite sure how to put all the pieces together, but I was feeling pretty happy with the labeled folders containing whole coupon inserts, so I let it be at that.
Fortunately for me, my friend was not going to let it go! What more did she want from me? I pulled those inserts out, labeled them and filed them. I was on the coupon track. But no, that was not good enough for her. She actually wanted me to make a shopping list with coupons and then *gasp* redeem them! I was pretty hesitant to follow through with this hair-brained scheme, but I knew I was cornered when she showed up with a printed shopping list and a page listing all the coupons I was to cut. Pretty persistent! Begrudgingly I went along with it.
I cut my coupons, and then placed them in an envelope with the shopping list. I managed to get it as far as my purse, and there it sat. I was really nervous. The savings the list showed were not possible. In my mind, the only people who got these kind of savings had to spend hours and hours of time, and were considered crazy! Why on earth did I want to join the crazy coupon ranks?
I decided I would try it once, watch it fail and then my friend would have to let it go. I set off to the store with more than a little apprehension.
My first list consisted of some basics like cereal, cheese, toilet paper, deodorant, pain meds, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc. I only bought the coupon items on that first trip to get a real feel for what was going to happen.
I gathered the appropriate amount of products in my basket and headed for the checkout. I was the third person back from the register and I started the cold sweats.
“What if the cashier decides I am stealing these groceries?” “What if I did it wrong?” “Did I get exactly the right items?” I checked and then rechecked the expiration dates on each coupon and fidgeted and practiced deep breathing to calm down. Yes, paranoid is an understatement.
By the time it was my turn at the register, I am sure I looked like a mental patient. Sweaty and breathless is not the typical grocery store patron, right? I watched each item pass the scanner, making sure it was ringing up at the right price and the correct amount of items were accounted for.
I think by this point I was making the cashier nervous also. I shakily handed over the coupons and waited for a security guard to escort me to the door. Lo and behold, each coupon scanned and my total dropped further than I even hoped to imagine! The poor cashier had to tell me the total twice, because I was sure she had it wrong. IT WORKED!
Confession time: I have now joined the ranks of the crazy coupon people and I like it. A lot. It is not unusual for me to find someone in the grocery store looking at an item that I have a coupon for, hand it to them and then watch for their reaction at the checkout.
I met a friend at the store and gave her some coupons. After getting some Tic Tacs for free and having the clerk tell her that she owed nothing at the end, she started dancing right there at the register. The fun never ends.
How did your first coupon transaction go? Share your stories in the comments.