Chillin’ With Mr. Whipple


Every Sunday afternoon I sit at the dining room table and my wife stifles a smirk as she comes into the vicinity.  I no longer look up to see her expression because I can hear the faint, suppressed snort of the unspoken: Oh look, there he is going at it again. Isn’t that just adorable?  But just so we’re clear here, she doesn’t actually mean “adorable.”  We’re talking mockery here of significant dimensions.

I am a Sunday newspaper coupon cutter.  It is a routine that I’ve had since I moved into my first post-roommate-era apartment when I was in my twenties.  For years it was my little secret.  But I was compelled, as with so many of one’s private addictions, to reveal it in now two marriages.  Depending on how you look at it, this is perhaps not the most masculine of activities in which I could be engaged.  But I choose to see it as an important fiscal moment of my weekly activities.

For many years wife #1 slowly took the joy out of my routine because she saw herself as a smarter shopper than me.  With the introduction of warehouse shopping clubs in the nineties, she began to bring home massive-sized bundles of certain products that had an ostensibly lower unit cost than what regular stores would charge.  Suddenly we were spending the same amount on laundry detergent that it would cost for a steak dinner, salad, and dessert at the neighborhood grill.  I finally gave up, waved the white flag in surrender, and curtailed my Sunday supplement activity solely to salivating over the latest unaffordable electronic gadgetry at Best Buy.

Speaking of which, do you recall when Best Buy was a place where you could actually find bargains?  That place is expensive!

I restarted coupon-cutting during my return to bachelorhood.  I have my routine down pat: With a laser-like focus, I go through all of the coupons and select only those products which I truly buy — the coupon for a jar of Nutella that always ends up becoming expired? I don’t even bother with it (does anyone really eat that stuff?).  Then, with my small pad of paper next to me, I study the circulars for Walgreens and CVS — my go-to joints for savings during the week.¹  From there I match up whatever coupons I have of the current week’s offering or from those leftover from previous weeks that are in a white envelope actually labeled — ready for this? — “unused coupons.”   I then write my shopping lists for both stores (two pieces of paper each) and attach the coupons with paperclips.  The two lists are placed on my desk near my keys and wallet, where they will eventually be transferred to the car.

It is this protocol of grouping, alignment, and usage that my wife finds so amusing.  

Am I saving any money?  I honestly don’t know.  When Walgreen’s features a sale on paper towels in its circular and then suggests that I find the associated coupon for it in the Sunday paper, my spidey senses are telling me that there’s a bit of collusion going on between the manufacturer and the store.   Probably not enough to get the Federal Trade Commission interested, though.  And truth be told, I really don’t care.  I apparently find fulfillment in coming home with the nine-count package of toilet paper that is normally priced at $7.99, but I bought it on sale for $4.99, and then got an additional $1.00 off because of my precious coupon.  Isn’t that on some basic, organic level exactly what we’re all searching for?  I’m speaking metaphorically of fulfillment here, not toilet paper.

Speaking of toilet paper, I lived for many years in Washington, DC, a city that really loves its toilet paper.  In the DC metropolitan area, they suffer from an acute case of winter weather fear.  At the mere rumor of a snow forecast, the grocery stores become packed with anxious shoppers looking to stock up for the impending doom.  The two aisles that are cleaned out in minutes are the ones containing bread and toilet paper.  Local news anchor Gordon Peterson used to shake his head at this when a reporter would toss it back to him from the scene of the grocery mayhem.  Gordon used to rhetorically ask, “I can understand bread, but why toilet paper?”  Fortunately for those of us watching, we were never told the answer.  Sometimes it is best to just let the mystery be.

Many years ago a friend of mine told me about visiting his retired father.  He said that the man’s kitchen pantry was absolutely full of tuna fish.  Tuna cans were piled on shelves up to ten deep.  When he asked his dad why there was so much tuna he answered,“because it was on sale.”   This is not a retirement behavior I wish to emulate.

During a visit to Michigan last year we stopped in to see my oldest sister.  As she proudly showed us her beautiful new condo, she took us into a huge laundry and storage area. My wife noticed what appeared to be a very impressive reserve of paper products, specifically napkins and paper towels.  “Ah, ha!,” Gorgeous exclaimed, “now I see that this is hereditary!”

At the moment we are quite well stocked with toilet paper, thank you very much.  But we could stand to get some laundry detergent, fabric softener, and napkins.  And tomorrow is Sunday.  How adorable.

¹  For personal reasons of a social and political reasoning that I try to avoid in this blog, I do not shop at Wal-Mart.  I have no idea if they even accept coupons there.

18 thoughts on “Chillin’ With Mr. Whipple

    1. I, too, have always been a grocery coupon user and my wife never has been…..and never will be. I even have a little box full of white envelopes labeled Beverages, Breakfast, Cat, Dairy, etc. But, to properly use them, you have to snag the coupon doubler from the Safeway ad and use them at Safeway. Naturally, I never buy anything at the grocery store that is not on sale to begin with. Also, best to hoard those coupons until Safeway runs their $10 Off on $50 special, which they seem to do every few weeks. That way you can ad up your purchases, being sure not to go over about $50.37 (after deducting those doubled coupons) and then take, essentially, another 40% off. And be sure and go back and do it 3 or 4 times during the weeks they run those $10 coupons. But, you also really need to do your Safeway buying on Fridays, when they run their $5 Friday specials. Whew, is this ever getting complicated. If I was not retired, I would never have the time or patience for it. I am always quite disappointed if the receipt indicates that I have failed to save at least 50%. The Sunday coupon sections are where I first came upon those $60 off on five 1.75 liter bottles of booze rebate forms, too. You really should not let those go to waste, you know. What are we going to do when the print newspapers finally croak? Which may not be long now.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Hey, Snakes, loved the coupon blog. Reminds me of a story (what doesn’t?) that occurred 50 years ago. My dad and I were on line at the A&P and the guy in front of us was paying in coupons. My dad nudged me and said, “Look what he’s buying?” The man had loaded up on several quarts of prune juice and toilet paper. Nice.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha! Always good to have on hand, I guess.

      We were watching an old Adam 12 last night (hey, they show it, I’ll watch it) and they had to arrest a guy trying to pay with green stamps. I tried to work green stamps into this post, but it didn’t seem to fit. Maybe down that rhetorical road…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This post had me grinning. When I first married, I was heavily into couponing. It became a quest to see how much money I could save on my grocery bill. Now I am fortunate if I find the time to make a list of what I need before I head out for the store. I suspect I shall get into couponing one day.

    Your comment about green stamps was a nice walk down Nostalgia Lane. I remember my mother gluing whole sheets of them into small books after the weekly trip to the grocery store! Then we would dream of all the wonderful items we were going to redeem those stamp books for!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Haha. This made me smile on many levels. Mr. Whipple was awesome. My mom always cuts coupons, especially for paper products. I’ve learned to bring my own TP when I visit. My sister, her husband, and five kids live with mom. They have managed to run out of TP twice. Ugh!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment– one of the lamest posts I’ve written, so it’s nice to apply your salve. I have a friend who used to bring towels to his parents’ home because they still had the ones from when he was a kid, and they had turned into rags. Cheap is cheap!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. One person’s lame is another’s laugh. I think her sit had more to do with no one telling that they brought up the last roll. I call my extra roll “insurance”.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Jars of Nutella going to waste! Terrible.

    It can be used as a replacement or compliment to peanut butter with apple slices. In a more indulgent vein, you can use Nutella along with graham crackers, jelly (my preference is raspberry), and vanilla ice cream to create the best ice cream sandwich known to man. Alternatively, ditch the ice cream and just spread it on graham crackers with jelly and have it with a glass of milk.

    The glory of my 24-year-old eating habits and metabolism…

    Liked by 1 person

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