I still remember my first time. My palms were sweating, my heart was pounding, and my knees trembled. I waited for just the right moment to approach the counter. Attempting a triple transaction was ambitious for a newbie.
I carefully handed the cashier each coupon, trying my hardest not to fumble. She told me my total, and I double checked the screen to be sure. I handed over my precious Extra Care Bucks with shaking hands. The line of people behind me was growing.
Finally, it was over. I walked out of the store clutching 3 bags of stuff, and shaking my head in disbelief. I half-expected the manager to stop me and say that I had not paid enough for my merchandise. Looking over my shoulder, I breathed a sigh of relief.
I sat in my car and carefully studied my receipts. At one point I think I laughed out loud, I was so giddy over such a great deal. The rush was contagious. I even called my Mother with excitement, to share the CVS love. As I looked at my remaining ECBs, I knew I was hooked.
I had to go back. And I did. Several times a week. My confidence grew, and my savings were astounding. I no longer feared the wrath of management. It was okay, I was not stealing, I was using coupons.
But then a new symptom emerged. Greed. I tried each visit to beat my lowest OOP. How low could it go? One time, my total was 2 cents. Two cents! Another time, zero. Obviously, I had reached my personal best that could no longer be beat.
Over the next few weeks, I realized something astounding. If my total was higher than usual, or if I forgot to hand over a coupon, I became terribly upset with myself. My blood pressure would rise, and my heart would pound, but this time it was not my nerves. It was the game. Like the stock market, in a way. Spending just a dollar more than I anticipated would make me cringe.
I finally admitted it: I was taking the whole thing way too seriously. So I did what any self-respecting CVS addict should do… I took a break.
I took some time off from CVSing and did not regret it one bit. It gave me a chance to reflect on the thousands of dollars I had saved and my generous stockpile of toiletries and makeup. And I was truly thankful. My perspective changed entirely.
I recently returned to my CVSing ways. But I no longer hunt down every deal. I do not sweat every penny. The savings are still plentiful. And you know, I really enjoy it now! Instead of grumbling over out-of-stock items, I take extra time to chat with my favorite cashiers. I even helped a fellow couponer the other day with her strategy.
I may even spend up to $5 a week at CVS, and that’s ok! This wonderful ExtraCare Program may not last forever, so for now, I will enjoy it. I appreciate every single deal, big or small. But most of all, I don’t take it too seriously. There will always be more toothpaste!
This post was originally published as a guest post on Coupon Cravings.