Smarter Shopping with Age

Sunday, March 28th column in the Martinsburg Journal

I’m loath to admit it but it appears I’ve officially become an “old guy.” My new status was confirmed when I picked up my soon-to-be 12-year-old son at school the other day.

“You’re in a good mood,” he said getting into the Jeep.

“I just saved 45 bucks at the grocery store,” I explained with perhaps too much self-satisfaction.

My savings were the result of the coupons I’d clipped the night before and the diligent use of my bonus card. I didn’t purchase anything that wasn’t on sale or for which I didn’t have a coupon.

I don’t know why I expected my son to marvel at what I’d achieved. But then again, he doesn’t marvel at much of anything … except video games. Instead, he mumbled something under his breath, and I thought I saw him roll his eyes as he turned away.

“What’s that?” I asked.

He turned to face me directly. “Only old people use coupons, Dad,” he said much clearer and slower as if I needed a hearing aid.

It wasn’t that long ago that he told me I wasn’t so old, which, at the time, made me feel pretty good. I guess a few months makes a big difference with the middle school set.

Since then, I’ve rationalized his latest assessment of me as more of a judgment of my cool factor. It doesn’t really matter, though. My status as “old guy” has been solidified with him.

My quest for savings began after watching a cable news show about a woman who was practically earning money while grocery shopping. Of course, the fact that I was fascinated by her story to begin with simply underscores my son’s opinion of me. But watching her rack up amazing savings through the use of coupons and sale items inspired me. She hardly paid anything for a completely full grocery cart.

When I told my wife I was going to take over responsibility for grocery shopping, she was a bit skeptical, but of course she didn’t complain. However, when she began to find stacks of coupons all over the house (my new found coupon-clipping hobby hasn’t translated into a method of being more organized), she advised, “Don’t buy anything we don’t need just because you have a coupon for it.”

I told her that I wouldn’t and I haven’t. Between the bonus card and coupons I’ve saved quite a bit on items that we normally buy.

So far, my passion hasn’t faded, although my wife keeps warning me that it will.

“In case you haven’t remembered you were all about coupon clipping and grocery store sales when we first got married,” she warns.

I do have a vague recollection of that. But things will be different this time. After all, following through on commitments is something that often comes with age.

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