My BOGO's Gone Blinky!

(originally in Abilene Families magazine)

The economy may have affected your job situation, paycheck, or status. Gas prices have all of us evaluating our driving habits. One side effect of the economy is that a simple cost-saving measure seems to be bubbling to the top as America’s new favorite past time.

Scraps of paper, specific types of accessories, blogs with excessive! exclamation! points! with corresponding mystery lingo like BOGO, wyb, blinky, peelie, and OOP all characterize one of the money saving techniques known as couponing.

I have attempted to save a few bucks with coupons in the past, but it never goes well. I always end up buried under heaps of newspaper and clippings, looking like an Edward Scissorhand massacre gone awry.

Scanning the Internet, however, the coupon craze is the pastime of the stay at home mom (or, you know, SAHM). I marvel at the blogs devoted to this modern-day sport, soon to be an Olympic event. These women say they turned to coupons as a way to stay home with their family, yet it seems to have become its own full time job.

Never mind the time spent clipping and organizing, these gals are scouting every web site for sales and coupons, every store for clearance items, and every newspaper stand for extra coupons.

Then there is the non-stop blogging. *SALE NOW* *OVERSTOCKS AT THIS SITE* *BOGO ON KRAFT DRESSING* Whew. After they blog and tell us where all the sales are many return home from the shopping trip and take a picture of their haul, receipt, tallying the savings for the year and percentage of money saved vs. gasoline used divided by the numbers of planets in line. Truly... it wears me out.

Am I a lesser person if I just want to be able to feed my family without incorporating a slide rule and abacus to save some money?

Of course, since this is America, couponing has gone (cue fanfare music) “Extreme.” Or, what A&E network likes to call “pre-Hoarders.” Yes, put couponing with rock climbing, skateboarding, sky diving, and BASE jumping as another pastime to go extreme.

Even amateur coupon wielding folks proudly display their stockpile of cabinets, pantries, and garages full of cereal, soap bars, and shaving cream. Extreme couponers have their own bar codes and inventory list. Are these people expecting some sort of disaster that will make them unable to get to a grocery store for 4 years?

I understand wanting to pay the lowest price possible for a product, but are those bug-free boxes in your bug-free garage? How much cereal does your family possibly eat before cereal is on sale again? And will your family eat cereal or pasta that has bugs in it -- even if it did only cost $.07/ box?

I can’t stand to ever be on a bandwagon, but the economy has showed up at my doorstep, too. So I am trying to make another go at this couponing thing. You can tell by the little scraps of paper all over my house and the newspaper strewn hither and yon. You may also recognize me in the grocery store, zig-zagging the store as I chase down $.25 off a tube of Preparation H. This is what the fuss is all about?

Of course the Coupon Czars have convinced me to set up a special notebook. It’s an accessory -- what can I say? Maybe I should market a coupon purse. Of course, no one would ever pay full price for it, so that invention may not be worth the effort.

I don’t have room for the hoarding/ stockpiling portion of couponing, so it may be a bust for me. I have a few things tucked away here and there. I think I do have a back-up box of toothpaste for the next person in the family that runs out. I think it was a blinky. Or BOGO. I’m not sure. I think you have to go extreme to know the lingo. I have openings for sponsors, if you’re interested.

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