I’ve been hearing a lot lately about homemakers who use coupons and save big money. I’m not just talking about saving 50 cents or a dollar here and there. I’m talking about saving well over half of their grocery bill. I always thought it wouldn’t be worth it for a single person to go to all the trouble to try to work the system, but since some friends of mine are starting to really get into it, I’ve begun clipping and carrying coupons with me now, so that I always have them whenever I run into the grocery store to buy something.  You know how that automated checker always ask “Do you have any coupons?”  I always have to punch NO, and am sorry I couldn’t save a dollar because I had a tiny slip of paper in my purse.

Well, I am discovering there is definitely more to it than just carrying those things around with you. I’ve been collecting coupons for a couple of weeks now, and last night made a trip to the grocery store. I was shuffling those little things, running from aisle to aisle, picking up a certain brand item and comparing it with my coupon, then putting it back because the store brand was cheaper than the the name brand even with the discount. It was very frustrating, to say the least. By the time I was through, I used three coupons and saved just $7. (It would have only been $2, except one of them was a store deal of $5 off if I spent over $50 AFTER all other discounts). Big deal! Ugh! What a lot of work for hardly any return.

But the real story here is the lady who checked out in front of me. She had a huge basket of groceries and a big handful of coupons. I watched the clerk scan and scan and scan coupon after coupon. When she was all done, the clerk announced “$27.53.” I thought I had heard her wrong and it must have been $127.53. So I inched up to where I could see the register display. Sure enough, $27.53! When she handed the lady her change, she circled a number on her receipt and said “You saved $151.xx”. I was floored! I spent more than twice what she did for a third of what she got.

So it’s back to class for me. And seriously, there are online classes for this. I’m now thinking about investing in one. Since Marvell no longer provides a big hot lunch for me every day, my grocery bill has really multiplied. If I can put a little work into couponing and save 25% of my bill, great. If I can save 50%, even better! If I could buy $179 worth of groceries for $27.53, WHOO HOO!!!

As I recently tweeted, I removed my old computer desk and painted my home office. I also got some new funiture. I dragged Daryl to Ikea to help me load and haul a new desk system home. When we got to my house, Daryl just got busy helping me assemble and setting it up. It turned out really nice, I think. I still have to do something with the window. I want to put a curtain or valance there. But it’s organized. I even have 5 empty cubes on the shelf unit! I haven’t decided what I’ll put on them. It’s wonderful not having any clutter there right now.

October 10, 2009

From left: Dale, Betty, Don, Dave, Carsten, Heather, Mark, Donna, Camden, Brian, Mom, Robin, Nathan, Jennifer, Karen, Dayna, Richard, Dianna, Gisele, Daryl (Early Saturday morning, Devon & Derek were still sleeping)

I grew up in a big family: 4 brothers and me, the only girl. We had a lot of fun as kids, taking lots of family camping trips, swimming in the back yard Doughboy pool, chasing dust devils across vacant lots, getting ice cream sundaes at the local Dairy Queen, and celebrating homemade holidays. When we reached adulthood, we all married, had kids and scattered across the country. Amazingly, we have not all been back together in one place at one time in 40 years! This weekend, that changed. From the four corners of the earth (well, maybe just four regions of the country), we came. Richard and Dianna, Don and Betty, and Devon came from California; Dayna came from Texas; Robin came from Idaho; Dale, Jennifer and Dave came from New York; and Karen came from Pennsylvania. We converged here in the Mesa/Tempe area (with Mom, Brian, Carrie, Lauren, Nathan, Andrew, Daryl, Gisele, Derek, Heather, Mark, Camden, Carsten, and me) and had the time of our lives.

Donnie, Dale, Dick, Daryl, Donna behind Mom

It began about six months ago when Mom connected with Dale’s oldest, Karen, on Facebook. We have not had much contact with Dale’s family over the years, so it was a delightful surprise for Mom to hear from her. In quick succession, we all “friended” Karen, then Dale and Dave. (Jennifer is in school full time, and as a dedicated student, has resisted the time waster called Facebook). Karen soon announced she wanted to make a trip to Arizona to meet her grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins she had never known. Through wall posts, FB inbox messages, and email, we began to put together plans for a long weekend in mid-October. When Karen wrote that “we are all four coming”, we were ecstatic.

I didn’t even ask Robin if there would be any possibility of her coming because she had just been here in August. But she had other ideas and secretly made plans to join us … and surprise me.

Dave, Heather, Brian, Robin, Jennifer, Karen, Dayna behind Grandma

Starting Saturday morning, our mouths didn’t stop for the next two and a half days. We ate. We talked. We watched old home movies. We ate. We talked. We toured L.I.F.E. We ate. We talked. We slept a tiny bit. Did I mention we ate and talked? We compared jobs, iPhone apps, bald heads, musical passions; and patiently smiled while Daryl’s neighbor s-l-o-w-l-y focused 12 cameras, one by one, taking our group photos.

It was a wonderful weekend. Here are some pictures. As you can see, we spent a lot of time around the table. Did I mention we ate and talked?

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