The Coupon Collector

We all know the two rules to shopping. Life takes Visa. For everything else, there is Mastercard. Don’t ask me what “everything else” means – Entertaining expenses in Heaven? Ice packs in Hell? I don’t want to know.

But there is also a third rule – Stores take coupons.

In childhood, I collected stamps. For some time, I also collected coins. Now that I am older and (presumably) wiser, I collect coupons. Blue Bed Bath and Beyond coupons, Pink Linens n Things coupons and Macy’s coupons. Pizza coupons, dry cleaning coupons, oil change coupons. We-will-clean-your-place-to-a-sparkle coupons. We-will-move-your-goods-and-your-grand mom coupons. Yes, I collect them all.

I cannot see why anyone would pass up these coupons. Don’t they represent free money? Okay, I don’t see that I need a mover right now, and maybe my car does not need an oil change either, but so what? Isn’t it better to have them handy for when you need them?

You would think I must save a lot of money each month with these coupons, right? Well, I certainly try. But here’s how things usually work out:

R: “I need a new set of pillows. Let’s go to Bed Bath and Beyond.”

Me: “Okay.” Start to daydream about what else I can buy at Bed Bath and Beyond. Scented candles? Bath salts?

We drive a few miles. Then I suddenly remember.

Me: “I haven’t taken the Bed Bath and Beyond coupon! We have to turn back! We shouldn’t go there without it!”

R: “But we are almost there! Can’t we buy the pillows without the coupon?”

Me: “No, no, how do we know we will only buy pillows? I might buy a..a.. santoku knife. We shall end up spending $50 then! That’s a $10 saving with that 20% off coupon! No, no, you should definitely turn back”.

R (Sulking): “Why don’t you keep that coupon in your handbag? You will never forget it then.”

Me: “The Bed Bath and Beyond coupons are too big to fit in my handbag.”

R: “Get a bigger bag then.”

Me: “You are right, maybe I should.” (Dreamily) “You remember that lovely bag I saw in the Coach store? Maybe I should buy that.”

R (Sputtering now): “You mean that $500 bag? But..but..hey, we agreed! That’s too expensive! I mean…not this month!”

Me (Dreamily): “Yes, but it’s big.. and I really liked it. It is perfect for the Bed Bath and Beyond coupons”.

The car now starts to veer a bit. R is getting very nervous. They say, in moments of extreme stress, one lapses into one’s mother tongue. So it is not surprising that R now starts talking Finance-speak.

R: ”But what about the Return on Investment? That’s a $500 handbag! You are probably saving $5 on average with those coupons, at most! What about the payback period? Look at the Net Present Value!”

Me (now sulking): “Well, I didn’t start this topic. You did. You wanted me to get a new handbag. I just told you what I liked.” I start looking out of the window. Why should I look at Net Present Values? They are obviously not even good-looking.

R decides that further conversation is too dangerous. He turns the car around.

R: “Okay, let’s not go to Bed Bath and Beyond today then”, he says.

And so it goes…

Today I found another Linens n Things brochure in the mail. I carefully cut out the “20% off” coupon and added it to my growing pile of coupons.

Someday, I am sure, I will actually use one of these coupons. All I need now is a bigger handbag.

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16 thoughts on “The Coupon Collector

  1. Maybe the stores and handbag makers have formed a coalition to rip off unsuspecting hubbies !! Reminds me of a tamil quote which roughly translated means – The actually item costs only 25%, but the carrying cost is 75% ..

  2. I read five of your posts at one go.I found unequal music particularly good.may be i’ll do a post on polygyny as i see it.as for coupons continue to collect them.you are young and energized.my experience in the Us tells me that it is not as simple as in India.my daughter took me to a labor day sale some 50 miles from her place,we sttod in a queue for an hour to pay the bill and had hardly anything to show when we returned.coupons or no coupons India is definitely better.

  3. Pingback: Shop-a-holic goes coupon-clipping | DesiPundit

  4. Hilarious! Husband’s mother tongue retort (as u pointed out) can be a dangerous thing. Mine starts speaking in Saint.
    Coupons was also a topic of discussion many times between me and my more-settled-in-america cousin. So when I came there I was planning to put full use the knowledge I had but alas I dint start getting any of those zany coupons till it was time for me to leave. All I got was K-mart and grocery stores fliers all the time!

  5. ..women and the eternal quest for a good bargain. my ma used to go for sales like that – so remember similiar conversations between my parents.

    Wonder whether the husband feller is related to your R. He slips into finance speak everytime any non-roti-kapda-makan spending comes up.

  6. hahaha…this happens to me all the time (only, i cannot imagine HG accompanying me to B, B & B.) I have started keeping the coupons in the glove compartment of my car. Helps a lot in these occasions.

  7. Hi, I’m a fervent coupon-clipper myself…and mostly I use them, cos I keep them in my (large enough) handbag. But sometimes I’ve done things like buy more items just so that I am eligible to use the coupon and then forget to use it!! Exactly what the stores want you to do!!
    BTW, the comment you left on my blog is one of the biggest compliments I’ve received on my writing! Obviously, I haven’t published anything yet…but thanks for telling me I could do it!!

  8. Pingback: Great minds.. « The Imagined Universe

  9. I am in the same boat as you in terms of coupons. I meticulously collect them from different sources, then forget to take them to the store and end up spending some more time every few months weeding out expired coupons.

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