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By Barbara Burns
Lately, Iâ€™ve given serious thought to obtaining an online degree in religion â€” not for a career change, but simply for the pure enjoyment of reading theology. A quick check of tuition stopped me in my tracks, as the saying goes. But, yesterday an opportunity fell into my lap. Hereâ€™s what happened.
I know a number of people who clip coupons. With the rising cost of groceries, I know I should use coupons. Whenever I come across a coupon for something that I use, I clip it. Thatâ€™s as far as I go â€” I either lose the coupon, donâ€™t have it when I check out at the register, or itâ€™s expired. My efforts have been haphazard.
Clipping coupons is no longer called â€śclipping couponsâ€ť â€” itâ€™s â€ścouponing.â€ť And couponingâ€™s popularity has reached epic proportions and seems to be almost an addictive behavior with some folks.
A year or so ago, I knew someone who spent the better part of her workday online looking for coupons and printing them out. Not good.
Couponing is popular enough to have its own TV show.
I pick up bits and pieces in the news about people who pay $1.50 for $75 dollars worth of groceries. So, when my friend told me how much she saved and how to get started clipping coupons, I couldnâ€™t resist at least checking out a few things. My previous hesitancies about the time involved in couponing and the possibility of â€ścouponing addictionâ€ť went by the wayside.
Last night, I googled â€śextreme couponingâ€ť and got 4.4 million hits. Curious, I googled â€ścouponingâ€ť and received 8.3 million hits. Couponing is alive and well on the Internet, readers.
There are blogs, websites, TV shows, workshops and classes on couponing.
â€śCouponing 101â€ť caught my eye. A-ha ... the website enticingly lured me by claiming â€śget your free coupon education.â€ť
Excited at the prospect of obtaining an online degree, free, plus instantly saving money on my groceries, was almost overwhelming. Additionally, with advanced education, I could learn how to actually get stores to pay me cash for my groceries.
Thatâ€™s what folks claim on blogs and websites. A shopper actually claimed that she got paid nine bucks and some change for a can of baby formula. Another shopper said she got paid $3 for shopping at Wal-Mart.
Iâ€™m naive, but not stupid or naive enough to believe that I can do my weekly grocery shopping and get paid in cold, hard cash.
In all seriousness, though, I see the amount of coupons available and believe I can save quite a bit of money by couponing. Hereâ€™s the catch.
I canâ€™t let couponing consume my life. There arenâ€™t enough hours in the day for me to accomplish all I need to do now. Thereâ€™s a possibility that couponing could run my life or ruin my life if I let it get out of hand and rule me. Maybe thatâ€™s where the â€śextremeâ€ť comes in â€” highly dangerous, like extreme trekking, extreme logging, extreme skiing, extreme snowboarding and now, extreme couponing.
Iâ€™m going to give couponing a try. The prospect of cutting my grocery bill by a considerable amount is appealing. Tonight, Iâ€™ll begin my education and read through â€śCouponing 101.â€ť
Iâ€™ll keep track of how much I save â€” and maybe how much I make. At the end of the year, Iâ€™ll check in with you, our readers, and let you know whether or not I pass or fail.
Barbara Burns is editor of Outlook and a columnist for The Observer News Enterprise. Her column appears in the Thursday edition of The O-N-E. Reach Burns at email@example.com.