Adventures in Coupon Clipping

Paying full price is for suckers

If collecting coupons were an academic discipline, I would have my Ph.D.

With highest honors.

Coupons don’t mean I’m cheap. They mean I am a wise and thoughtful shopper. I am also a shopper who thinks ahead. That is why I keep my coupons with me at all times.

This fact was heretofore known only to my nearest and dearest, who consider it a charming eccentricity. But given the hard economic times, I decided it was time to share, as a public service.

For we thrifty folk, saving money is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. It does require consistency and discipline, however.

I faithfully troll the web and newspaper circulars in search of deals, always with a pair of scissors nearby.  Every few weeks, I sort through my coupons to cull the expired ones. Rebate offers are completed within 24 hours of purchase.

Although I have several coupons from department stores and restaurants, most of mine are for groceries. Since I often do supermarket runs on the fly, it is imperative that my coupons accompany me.

How do you keep them handy without looking mentally challenged, you ask?

Simple. Remember those plastic pocket protectors that the geeks in high school wore?  They happen to make perfect coupon caddies. (The pocket protectors, not the geeks, unless they’re willing to be your shopping slaves.) Pocket protectors keep the slips neatly in order, with the top coupon visible.

The most obvious benefit of having your carefully-scouted coupons at the ready is that you can avoid the embarrassment of paying full price when you didn’t have to. How many times have you found yourself in a situation where you lost out on a deal because you left your coupons at home?

Keeping your stash at your fingertips is key. Mine lives in my purse, next to my wallet. It is impossible to miss. Some have theirs in their cars, in the glove compartment or under the visor.

Once you get into the coupon groove, you will instinctively reach for your bundle as you walk into a store. Thirty-five cents or a buck off doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up. Every time you shop, you will feel righteous. At restaurants, your friends will shriek with delight when you pull out a 20 percent-off coupon for the entire check.

Remember, coupon clipping isn’t a job. It’s an adventure. At a discount.

GAIL SHISTER, TV columnist for the Inquirer for 25 years, teaches writing at Penn and is a columnist for She writes for The Philly Post on Tuesdays.