Coupons, Groupons, Holiday Inn

by Anna Whiston-Donaldson
Originally Published: 

I just got home from a trip and decided to check my calendar to see when I’d scheduled a massage I purchased from a daily discount site. It felt like a “free” massage because I’d paid for it up front. Except I let it expire over a month ago and would have to pony up an extra $20, plus tip, just to use it. What a deal! At this point, relaxation was no longer an issue; I just wanted to get the massage so I wouldn’t lose the money I’d already paid back in January when I so optimistically purchased it. You know, “New Year, New You” and all that jazz?

Checking my Groupon account and realizing I’d missed the massage appointment entirely was like looking at a trail of broken dreams. Fondue dinner for two at the Melting Pot for our anniversary? Expired. Local Washington, D.C., sightseeing tour? What a cute date night idea! Expired.

I guess there is a disconnect between my seeing exciting opportunities flood my inbox on a dreary weekday morning and my being organized enough to actually take advantage of them. Same with gift cards. I am a retailer’s dream, because for some reason I can no longer keep up with this shit. Each glossy new gift card sparks optimism in me, but before long becomes just another opportunity for failure. I guess I’m a person who pays for the idea of doing something fun, but doesn’t have adequate follow-through to make it happen. They say that the anticipation of an event is often better than the realization, but I do wish I had consumed some real fondue at some point.

Lately, I’ve put myself on library probation, too, because those late fines really rack up, and I have a hard time relaxing into a book knowing that it will likely provide one more opportunity to disappoint myself.

I gave up on grocery coupons years ago because of the way it made me feel when I’d dump all the curled up, unused pieces of paper in the recycling bin each month, after having taken the time to cut them, organize them into piles, and, well, not much else. It was almost a relief when they expired, as they always did, but then another batch would arrive, challenging me to be a better person. The cycle never ended. The worst were the little peel-off stickers attached to my food items, declaring, “$1.00 off NOW!” Except I never noticed them until I got home, and NOW was a good 20 minutes too late.

As a thrifty person known for her mad budgeting skills, my inability to get my act together when it comes to coupons, Groupons and the public library is a source of secret shame. And when teenagers knock at my door to sell me discount cards for local businesses? I might as well light $20 on fire.

I only have one child at home, am not extremely busy, and am known for being someone people can count on. So, why the scramble? Is it because the Internet has stolen my attention span? Is it the distraction of a preponderance of STUFF all around me? Or, is it because now, in my mid-40s, I’m finally ready to let my freak flag fly with a little rebellion, and if that means jettisoning my Subway rewards card, then so be it?

I don’t know.

But confessing all of this to you today feels liberating, and it also kind of makes me want to curl up in a ball and take a nap.

Or get a massage.

Anybody have a coupon?

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