Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Quit Wasting Time and Start Saving Money

The other day a coworker was selling Entertainment coupon books for his kid's school fundraiser. It took all of 25 seconds for him to talk me into buying one, as the moment I looked at the 2-inch thick tome of savings I recalled childhood memories of the Entertainment book we'd buy each year and my dad's reverence for its pages of half-price, buy one get one free, bargain bliss. Anywhere we went, it seemed the Entertainment book went with us and we consulted it regularly for discounts on anything from Arby's classic roast beef sandwiches to matinee movie tickets. The cover touted over $10,000 in savings and we were going to hit that number come hell or high water.

Perhaps you've never encountered the Entertainment book, and I myself had pretty much forgotten its existence until the very moment I was handing over a check for $25 on this fateful afternoon. Immediately I retreated to my desk with my prized purchase and, practically drooling, thumbed through its pages. I may be putting too much stock in this thing when I say the following: it's going to change my life.

You see, I have an aspiration to be The Kind Of Person Who Uses Coupons. It's just one personality descriptor on a nearly infinite list I've been steadily accumulating over the years. Also on that list: The Kind Of Person Who Prefers Herbal Tea To A Stiff Drink, The Kind Of Person Who Donates To Public Radio, and The Kind Of Person Who Owns A Collection Of Classic Rock and Jazz LPs. That last item, I realize, runs the risk of being douchey but I swear I wouldn't be all "mP3s are sucking the soul out of music, man" about it. I would just like to casually put on a record during a dinner party, once the table has been cleared and my guests sip brandy while sitting by the fire. I suppose this would also mean I need to be The Kind Of Person Who Serves Brandy After Dinner Parties, a goal I could potentially achieve since I own a decanter and a fancy silver serving tray. More urgently, to have such dinner parties, I should say I need to be The Kind Of Person Who Has A Dining Room Table, instead of an empty dining room that currently serves as a combination cat lounge and depository for groceries, kicked-off shoes, Target bags stuffed with nonsense, and whatever else I drag in from the car on any given evening.

Perhaps being The Kind Of Person Who Uses Coupons shouldn't be so difficult, but I've been failing miserably for the whole of my (admittedly new-ish) adult life. You know how when your receipt prints out at the grocery store, with it come two or three coupons specifically geared for your taste in products? "Oh, we see you bought cat litter, perhaps you'd also be interested in Activia and Betty Crocker Warm Delights single-serve microwavable chocolate cakes, as you're obviously a spinster." Well every time I get a handful of those bonus coupons at checkout, I bring them home, stick them in the junk drawer in the kitchen or atop the microwave, and abandon them until well past their expiration dates. Whoops.

And I've been equally useless in the world of newspaper's glossy coupon sections. I remember clipping coupons as a kid, "helping" my mom while secretly taking great joy in the activity. Occasionally I'd slip into the stack a coupon for some sugar-ridden product she'd never buy for me just to see if it would make its way into the shopping cart on her next trip to the store (it never did).

So when Devin signed us up for a subscription to the Los Angeles Times on a trip to the Rose Bowl Flea Market --you cannot let him out of your sight for one second, I tell ya-- I thought this might just be my chance to reap the benefits of its coupon section. I bet you can imagine the actual outcome. Yes, the papers arrived daily in plastic bags on our front lawn, and there they sat, bathing in the sprinklers for days on end until one of us would round them up and toss them in the recycling bin. The coupon section was never perused. Not even once. And then we cancelled the subscription... or just didn't pay our bill. Details.

And now here we are and I have this new Entertainment book with so many deals that my head is spinning with the possibilities of penny-pinching and personal growth. Free weekend day car rental with Alamo? Now I can be The Kind Of Person Who Frequently Goes On Fun Weekend Trips. Two for one games at the bowling alley? Maybe I'll be on my way to The Kind Of Person Who Participates In A Bowling League (a new aim of mine following the rush/fluke of winning the highest score in a game during an after work outing). Buy one get one free entrees at The Melting Pot is a two-fer: The Kind Of Person Who Goes To Fondue Restaurants AND The Kind Of Person Who Can Go Out For A Nice Dinner That Doesn't Result In An Anxiety Attack When The Check Comes And She Realizes All That Money Should've Gone To So Many Other Bills.

Plane tickets, sporting events, amusement parks, pizza places I've never heard of but could have fun seeking out... this book is like a promise of an eventful 2011. Sometimes I think all it takes to shake things up is a 2" x 3" scrap of paper offering you a bargain and daring you to try something new.


  1. yesterday when i bought a pepperoni pizza at ralph's...the coupon machine rolled out a two for one on arm and hammer tooth paste- First off i couldn't believe Arm and hammer made a fucking toothpaste.eww.

    wtf is that. like is the coupon machine getting sassy with me... trying to tell me something.

    what's next? the fucking thing is going to start rubbing my belly as I pay with cash or credit and ask me if "I'm happy with what I'm doing to my body?"

  2. We use Arm and Hammer toothpaste and it's awesome.

  3. Also, language... why are we so angry?

  4. Made me day - I to have an extensive and ever growing kind of person list. sigh....
    ps yes get a kitchen table OR just do soiree in the backyard with christmas lights (in July) and paper lanterns!