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Couponing time-honored tradition

Every two weeks, coupons, those miraculous slips of money-aving madness, take over my Sunday mornings.

Who would’ve thought little snippets of paper could be so addictive? Not, most assuredly, I, the mocker of coupon groupies whose purported purchasing prowess in snagging a year of groceries for a family of six for $15 seemed too outlandish to be true. But when the nightly news was suddenly replete with couponing as the way to save, save, save, in these times of no money, no money, no money, what’s a middle-class girl to do?

Coupon-up, that’s what.

Onward! I shouted as the Sunday newspaper arrived that bright summer morning many months ago. The potential savings excitement mounted with each methodical turn of the paper but I was determined this would not be an obsession; determined to broaden my horizons before my bank account by reading news first, coupons second but … as I inched toward the pretty inserts, a sharp pair of scissors miraculously appeared in my hand and before I could say, “show me the money,” I was carefully, systematically and with rapt attention, scanning, snipping and sorting until a neat pile of coupons lay on the countertop.

Six months in and, although I’m no coupon diva, I do enjoy dabbling in the coupon world and saving moola. I’ve also figured out a few things.

Coupons incite adventure. No longer do I live vicariously through those who can afford the new and hottest item on the store shelves. Case in point, a recent $2 off coupon that made a new coffee adventure affordable.

Coupons can be addictive. Financial failures, unemployment, global warming, which presidential candidate is bashing who – these front page headlines have taken a back seat to the shiny inserts that shave oodles off my grocery bill.

Coupons can be a pain. Shopping with a wad of colorful paper in hand can be difficult but as I carefully flatten the tiny papers for scanning at the checkout, I can almost hear the ding of “The Price is Right” bell with each deduction. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, $20 saved is $20 earned.

Couponing has gone viral. Move over grocery coupons. Outta the way food ads. Television, radio, Internet and Twitter have joined the coupon wagon where everything from tummy tucks to roasting rumps can be bargained, bartered and bantered for at a cheaper price.

Smartphones can scan coupon bar codes; gives up-to-the minute deals that set money-saving hearts aflutter. Yollar,, and reality coupon shows offer ways to save, save, save while you spend, spend, spend.

Still, it was bound to happen. One Sunday, in the midst of a coupon clipping frenzy, I found myself asking, “Coupons – was it always this way?”

Suddenly, I was moseying into a right nice mercantile, grabbing a mighty fine pair of dungarees and pulling out my familiar wad of coupons to…

Oh … this sounds familiar? JC Penney spokesperson Ellen Degeneres, you say?

Well, that may be. Or perhaps I’ve had a tad too much chocolate in my mocha, but the gist of all this is, couponing has been around since the dawn of time … or at least since the wild, wild West.

That’s my coupon story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Voices correspondent Sandra Babcock can be reached by e-mail at Previous columns are available at columnists/