Monday, September 29, 2008

Cutting Coupons

One thing that I did really like about Gold's Gym, was that when I would go running I had several tv stations to choose from. Depending on the time of day, I could always watch either Fox News or CNN, I could watch Seinfeld or Friends, or Law & Order was always on. Sometimes TNT would have a popular movie on.

Exercising on campus has not been quite the same. They have a new Cardio Theater(!) except, they're mis-informed. A cardio theater is a dark room with a big screen, which projects full-length movies, and instead of stadium seating it has treadmills and ellipticals and stair steppers and bicycles. A cardio theater is not four medium sized TVs that you can watch from a distance, just like you would watch normal TVs at the gym. But I digress.

On campus, there are always four stations on: the first TV is always on CNN. (Even though I would prefer Fox News, CNN is an acceptable choice, except for the fact that the first TV is so far off to the side that you can't really watch it from any of the treadmills. Lame! I tried to watch one time, and started running to the side and fell off the treadmill. Oops. Now I limit my CNN to when I'm on a bicycle.) The second TV is always on I don't know what, but it always has soap operas on. Or at least when I'm there it always does. Soap operas target the same people as tabloids do, I'm pretty sure, so... yeah, no. The third TV is always on like, the history channel, which would be interesting, except that a lot of times it's sooo sloooow moving and so much soft music, and not interesting fast enough, that it's just hard to watch while I'm running. And the content while I've been there has been hit and miss. Okay, it's been miss. The fourth TV is always on ESPN.

Anyway, not a lot of selection. No sitcoms. No dramas. No movies. Not even a cheesy gym music video channel. Just sports, stuff about Neanderthals, and soap operas. (Note: this makes me really consider buying one of those little portable DVD players, because I think I could set it up to watch while I was running, and I think it would be way more interesting to watch, say, The Office, or get caught up on Heroes or Pushing Daisies, than to squander valuable time with Dr.Phil.)

WELL, the soap opera channel switched to some program that was going to talk about personal finance, and since I love loved my Investments class this summer, I was all over that. It was just a little segment (of course they couldn't really do anything substantial about anything, well, substantial), but it was neat. It was about a lady who was feeding her family of 5 on like $10/week.

I really wondered how that was possible, because I spend hundreds of dollars on groceries every month, and I'm just one person.

Her husband wondered too, actually. He saw that she was bringing home huge things of groceries and spending like $5, or $20, and he thought she was doing something shady.

Turns out, she wasn't. She clips coupons. That's it. End of secret. A lot of coupons, though. She spends like 2 hours per week cutting coupons out, and she has this sweet binder that she organizes them in, and then she combines coupons with store sales, and she buys everything for a fraction of the actual cost.

Her family still eats name-brand stuff, too. She said she hasn't paid for pasta in years. (!!)Sometimes when she uses coupons with sales, she gets money back (which goes to other groceries, obviously--they don't pay her.)

I was amazed.

I want to do that!

So I decided that this week I would become a champion coupon-clipper. EXCEPT, of course I need like every Sunday paper.

Now, in California, you find these banks of newspaper boxes. There are a line of machines, and you approach one, you put your quarters in and the machine unlocks and you grab a paper. And nobody has to work on Sunday, and you can still have your paper.

I suspect Utah must have Sunday papers, but I just really don't know where. I haven't seen any of the newspaper boxes. We have newspaper boxes on campus, but they're part of the College Readership Program, and they're free to students. Nobody has school on Sunday, though, so they don't give us Sunday papers. I think grocery stores would carry Sunday papers, but I'm pretty sure my Smithy's is closed on Sundays. And even if they weren't, I don't know if breaking the sabbath over a newspaper (or several) is such a swell idea.

As far as I can tell, that leaves me with one option: subscribing. But I'm not too keen on that, because of my bad experience with the Daily Herald earlier this year. And who knows how long this hobby will last. I sort of expect to wind up with a bunch of coupons for dixie cups, which I don't really buy anyway, and olives, which I don't eat, and men's disposable razors, which I don't use either.

Here's my idea though: at the bottom of the receipt it always says how much you saved. If I took all the money that I was saving and put it in a savings account, I could start saving for this, which I've always wanted to do. And to go from hundreds of dollars every month on groceries, to like $30, I think it would add up pretty fast.


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MamaErin said...

You can always subscribe to the LA Times! I LOVE clipping coupons; it's a hobby of mine and a great money saver. I really like your idea of sticking your "savings" into real savings. Louis and I don't have a whole lot of extra money right now to stick into savings for Jeremiah. we pay for everything in cash and all of our coins, along with whatever loose cash we find in our pockets, around the house, etc. goes into huge coffee cans. When we reach $1,000 we will put it into a college fund for him. We have been doing this since Februaryish and we already have almost $600. Change adds up!

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