I had a busy day last Tuesday. I shuttled children to various preschool classes and therapy. (Putting more than 90 miles on the car before all was said and done). I went to the library, the bookstore, and the dentist.
Then I ducked into Walmart for a quick run to pick up milk and a few other items. I was pretty proud of my productive day, and happy that I saved nearly 50 percent on my purchases at Walmart using coupons.
But then I made a really dumb mistake.
I left my beloved coupon organizer in the shopping cart in the cart corral outside of Walmart.
When it was raining.
And I didn’t realize it until I’d made the 27 mile drive home.
For those of you who read this blog (or for those of you who are ferocious coupon clippers) you can imagine how awful I felt. I tore apart my minivan and every bag I had, and was horrified at the thought that my coupon organizer was out in the rain, far away from me, or worse yet, stolen.
I immediately called Walmart, and the first woman I talked to didn’t really seem to get what this little coupon organizer means to me. I mean… seriously, there is more monetary value in my coupon organizer than there is in my wallet. She told me to call back in a half hour, after the employees reign in the carts.
I was polite, but I was also thinking, “COME ON, IT’S RAINING. I PARKED IN ROW 5. JUST GO LOOK!” But she hung up before I could say all that, and by this time it was dinner time and I had three hungry kids to feed.
So I called back in a half hour (on the dot!) and talked to a very helpful gentleman who understood exactly why I really wanted to locate this coupon organizer. He asked for a description, where I thought I left it, and for my name and phone number. And then I waited.
About two hours later, Walmart called! They’d found it. I asked if it was really wet, and the gal said, “Uh…. it’s not too bad.” It was a long wait until my husband picked it up the next morning on his way to work.
The best news of all? All of my coupons were still there. And as far as I can tell there was no damage from the coupon organizer being out in the rain.
Here’s what I learned from the experience:
Always check to make sure you have your coupon organizer with you when you leave the store. I usually put the organizer in one of my shopping bags when I put them in the trunk, but I totally spaced it out that day. A quick check before I left the parking lot could have saved me a lot of stress.
Always put your name and phone number inside your coupon organizer. I didn’t have my name or phone number in my organizer (although I did have a stack of Northern Cheapskate business cards with my e-mail address in there!) If I hadn’t realized it was missing until my next shopping trip, the coupon organizer could have been lost forever. Make sure you have a way for people to contact you if they find your coupons somewhere.
Consider only bringing the coupons you will use for your trip with you. I love to bargain hunt (that’s why I bring my whole stash of coupons), but it might be smarter to only bring what you know you will use into the store and leave the rest in the car. I’d probably make fewer impulse purchases if I had to run out to my car to look for a coupon.
I was lucky. Other folks I’ve talked to who have had a similar experience were not so lucky. Their coupon organizers were lost forever. I’m grateful that I live in a small community where people watch out for each other.
When I was missing the coupon organizer, I mentally went through it trying to remember what coupons were in there. It was a bit overwhelming since I’d been pretty lazy about coupon clipping recently and had only just put about a month’s worth of coupons into the organizer two days earlier. On top of that, my dear uncle had mailed me a bunch of diaper and training pants coupons that I had just put in there, too. (A big deal when you have twins!)
I was surprised at what coupons I missed. I really thought I would miss the whole stash of coupons, but it turns out it was just a select few: My printed Target coupons (complete with manufacturer coupon match-ups), diaper/training pants coupons, and coupons for dairy products and batteries, since they’re sometimes hard to find.
If I had lost my coupons forever, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. There are far more important things in life than little scraps of paper. Coupons are replaceable. You can always find more. I may have missed out on a few deals, but I would have survived.