Coupons on Fleek
The very concept of couponing wasn’t introduced to my family till we immigrated to the United States. Prior to America, a small village in Nigeria was our stomping grounds. Spending money frivolously was frowned upon. Any deals struck within the community for goods was the results of either great bargaining skills, hard labour or a kind-hearted neighbor, usually the latter taken place.
When my novice family eventually encountered these coupons, it was as if the very gates of heaven had unveiled themselves to us. Every Sunday morning, all of us were assigned categories (food, school, events, etc.) from which we had to scour the Atlanta Journal Constitution for. Then, mum would place them in their category as she would devise a plan that was never disclosed until the following morning at breakfast. At breakfast, she would breakdown the playbook, each person with their expected role for when we enter the grocery store. Upon arrival, my mother would stay close to the line as we rummaged throughout the market for the discounted goods. Sometimes you would see her from afar engaging in conversation with our neighbor/cashier Ms. Deborah. Bless Ms. Deb’s heart because what followed next I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. My mum would redeem an onslaught of coupons that required so much attention that Ms. Deb would deny entry to her lane when my mum was ready to checkout. No coupon was left to expire. Dollars were saved at maximum.
The coupon extravaganza wasn’t limited only to newspapers. Usually, school booster programs demanded students to sell worthless products to their family and friends. My mother never participated in any of these because we didn’t have the money nor did we have friends that would support the cause. However, all that changed when the Entertainment book was introduced. This book was the Holy Grail of coupons containing thousands of discounts for practically every business in Atlanta and they didn’t expire till the following year. Oh how salty the other classes were because my mum singlehandedly put the team on her back and won multiple pizza parties for my class. She bought upwards of twenty books for the family, friends and colleagues. Most of my childhood adventures were a byproduct of those coupons. Whether it was going to the Atlanta Brave games or trekking through the Chattahoochee Preserve, they distracted me from the harsh realities of poverty. They provided me with opportunities to explore activities that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford and made the transition to America much easier for my siblings and I.
My mum’s coupon antics definitely shaped not only the way in which I spend my money but also with whom I associate with. My roommates and now best friends had similar upbringings to me. They all came from low income families and relied on coupon savings as well. Hence we collectively came up with the concept of Skeem Team in which we endeavor to utilize all our resources. Fear not! Sundays were still devoted to the collection of coupons. However, there were more avenues through which we can obtain discounts. There were royalty points and certain businesses that allowed us to receive special discounts for our previous purchases. Such stores were given preference over competitors. Also, there were websites such as ImIn and OrderUp that provided discounts for local restaurants. Furthermore, at the beginning of the year, all the stores around campus usually distribute a coupon book. Majority of our spending was within what these coupons had to offer.
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