blog: Scrooge visits the grocery store |

blog: Scrooge visits the grocery store

I am the daughter of a frugal woman. She’s very…thrifty. Unwasteful. Prudent. Penny-pinching. (So says my trusty thesaurus.)

Ah, hell.

Let me be completely honest. My mother is the modern day version of the unreformed Ebenezer Scrooge. That is, if Scrooge were an aging Korean woman who yells about the rising prices of gasoline and produce instead of coal. And if Scrooge ate sticky white rice and fish instead of gruel, it would be a perfect match. (I can just see the book now””The heartfelt tale of a miserly Korean woman learning the true value of spending a buck.” It would be titled A Kimchi Karol, of course.)

Okay, so I’m exaggerating. A little. Just a lee—-tle. But to tell you the complete, unabridged truth ” my mother is a very thrifty woman.

My siblings and I were raised on clothing purchased from the bargain bin and ate meat that had been marked down twenty percent at the end of the day. I promised myself that when I was grown-up, I would always wear the best brand name clothing and never eat generic breakfast cereal again. I wouldn’t be interested in any sales, and I wouldn’t be caught dead browsing through the clearance racks.

It wasn’t until I became a stay at home mother that I earned a real appreciation for my mother’s frugal ways. It was only when I realized how outrageous the cost of diapers and formula and little jars of mashed up peas and bananas was that I realized that maybe it was time to become a little less like me and a little more like my mother.

I needed help. So I did what any other red-blooded American with internet access would do.

I did a Google search.

One of the first websites that caught my eye was “The Grocery Game is the fun, easy way to save hundreds of dollars on groceries each month. Everyone who plays is a winner!” The website promised. I was hooked. I want to be a winner too!

So I started cutting coupons from the newspaper every Sunday. I spent hours poring over the weekly supermarket ads. I constantly had a binder with me filled with coupons and ad inserts, neatly sorted and organized in to separate pockets. I ignored the strange looks I received from other customers and tuned out the sighs of frustration from the cashiers. I was a woman on a mission”a successful mission, it turned out.

Printed on the bottom of my receipt after my very first trip out to the grocery store: You have saved 53% off your total purchase.

I’m a winner!

A few weeks ago, I finally realized that my desire to save a few dollars had transformed in to an obsession. I had gone out for Sunday brunch with my parents and as we left the restaurant I pulled out the coupon inserts from The Denver Post that had been set out for waiting customers.

“What you doing?” My mother asked as I tucked the slick pages under my arm and followed her out in to the sunshine.

“What do you mean? I can use these.”

“That not your paper.”

“Oh, no one wants these coupons. They’ll just end up throwing them away.” My mother looked at me skeptically. I started to feel defensive. “I thought that you would be proud of me. I’m just trying to save money like you do.”

My mother just grunted and turned away, but not before I caught the pleased glint in her eye.

So if you’re out and about on Sunday mornings and see a small, dark-haired woman gloating over the coupon inserts that she managed to sneak out of some local restaurant, be kind. I am my mother’s daughter, after all.

Just call me Scrooge.

JoAnn Chaney can be reached at

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