By Barbara Burns
Lately, I’ve given serious thought to obtaining an online degree in religion — 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. Here’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. That’s as far as I go — I either lose the coupon, don’t have it when I check out at the register, or it’s expired. My efforts have been haphazard.
Clipping coupons is no longer called “clipping coupons” — it’s “couponing.” And couponing’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 couldn’t resist at least checking out a few things. My previous hesitancies about the time involved in couponing and the possibility of “couponing addiction” went by the wayside.
Last night, I googled “extreme couponing” and got 4.4 million hits. Curious, I googled “couponing” 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.
“Couponing 101” caught my eye. A-ha ... the website enticingly lured me by claiming “get your free coupon education.”
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.
That’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.
I’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. Here’s the catch.
I can’t let couponing consume my life. There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to accomplish all I need to do now. There’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 that’s where the “extreme” comes in — highly dangerous, like extreme trekking, extreme logging, extreme skiing, extreme snowboarding and now, extreme couponing.
I’m going to give couponing a try. The prospect of cutting my grocery bill by a considerable amount is appealing. Tonight, I’ll begin my education and read through “Couponing 101.”
I’ll keep track of how much I save — and maybe how much I make. At the end of the year, I’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 firstname.lastname@example.org .