What won't you do for a bargain?

For the love of a saving … but how far would you go?

The Magnum stick was licked clean. I’d slobbered on it for a good 10 minutes before I’d realised it was a winner, entitling my worthy self to one entire free Magnum ice cream. All I had to do was hand my slobber stick over (which was also my prize) to the next shop cashier I saw.

Ewww. No thank you.

We all have a frugality line. We’ll bend over backwards to skimp on one thing if it means we can splurge somewhere else. I used a box as a bedside table for years because I’d sooner spend my money on entertainment which is my super secret codeword for ‘wine’. But you’ll be damned if you catch me using a coupon or a bus, even though I’ve never really been in a position to be so choosy.

Mum was a coupon whisperer. Able to wrangle all the coupons from all the dusty nooks of the home with the military precision required to spend them in the right places, at the right moments for maximum effect. It was a science, she claimed, and I often imagined her combing through the junk mail in a lab coat like an eccentric genius.

Her savings! It’s aliiiiiiive!

And wow, they saved her a lot of money. I’m surprised she never made it on to A Current Affair, selling the secrets of the coupon whisperers like a spurned magician dibdobbing on an entire industry.

Claire Harvey drew the battle lines on her frugality at the weekend, when she begged to be spared from the Costco juggernaut which opened in Sydney and offers big savings, if you’re prepared to buy in hefty bulk:

“Please don’t make me go to Costco. I don’t want a bargain. Not that much. The idea of buying 180 rolls of toilet paper to save $4.50 is too awful to contemplate.

And isn’t it better, frankly, to be ripped off by Coles or Woolworths than to be subjected to the retail waterboarding that is a big-box discount store?

The rising cost of living is hurting all, so many families are spending much of this precious weekend in the slow chug to Auburn to check out Costco’s bargain bonanza.

If you wanted to queue up for three hours, pay a membership fee, scramble across a concrete floor in search of gratification, and then face the nightmare of getting the hell home, why not just go out for a drink in Kings Cross?”

Costco: less fun than a bear trap.

That’s to say nothing of those for whom Costco might be a wise investment. Or those who need to because belts are, as they say, tight. The point is that all of us, in one way or another, prioritise our spending.

My own family might have wallpapered coupons and dockets across town like they were fiscally responsible confetti, but it was so we didn’t have to skimp on other things. Like contact for our school book covers. You get what you pay for, Mum told me, and if we tried to haggle on contact prices we’d all end up with books that looked like the hide of a forlorn elephant.

She was right.

As for me? I’d sooner attend an opera performed only by sheep that lasts several days than be caught using a coupon. But then I recently lived without home Internet for 18 months. Go figure.

What will (and won’t) you do to bag a bargain?

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