How to be frugal without going insane

Read the Frugal Fine Print
by Kari Patterson
Sacred Mundane

I had the coupons printed. It was the last day to get the deal. It was pouring down rain. I pack my two small children in the car, fasten into carseats, drive to Rite-Aid. Unload, get them in the cart, safely maneuver around the candy aisle and the toy car display without a scene. So far, so good.

We only need one thing so I head straight to the back. I search the shelves until I find the two small pink boxes. Check the coupon: $2 off two boxes Playtex tampons. Perfect, done. I hope for a female cashier (am I the only one who hates purchasing feminine products from men?). Hope is dashed, of course.

I keep my eyes down, hand over my pink boxes. The total is way too high. Must be wrong. I hand over my coupons. Beep beep beep. They don’t work. I begin to sweat. Try again. Beep beep beep. A line is forming behind me. My kids start to fidget. “Mommy, are we done yet?”

The cashier holds up the boxes, compares them to the picture in the ad. Are you kidding me? Sweat beads on my forehead. He picks up the intercom phone, “Can I get a price check on register three, please. Price check on three.” Oh, for crying out loud!

Finally a small committee forms at register three, analyzing my boxes of feminine products while a sea of customers lined up behind me looks on. Can’t they open another register? It must be a hundred degrees in here. “Oh, ma’am, the coupon is for 24-count. This box is 18-count. Sorry, we’re out of 24-count boxes. Would you like your coupons back to use for another time?”

Oh, it’s ok, no thank you. I turn and face my audience, smile in humiliation, and lead my children out of the store, empty-handed. Why is being frugal so frustrating?

Ok, honest show of hands: Ever had one of these? A humdinger of a frugal failure?

It’s all about the fine-print.

Of course seasoned couponers know what to look for in the fine-print, which is why we turn to our coupon experts here at FrugalLivingNW to help us along the way. But there’s another sort of fine-print, so to speak, that can be equally frustrating when not taken into account.

Over the next few posts we’ll look at this frugal fine-print, at how to make this Frugal Living thing work long-term without a life of beeping cash registers and embarrassing moments. Because, let’s face it, no one wants a frugal failure. So let’s figure out how to succeed.

Leave a comment! What’s your most embarrassing coupon moment? Do you have a fine-print failure you’d be willing to share with the rest of us?

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