If you were anything like us growing up, you didn’t back-to-school shop at Abercrombie and Fitch. You went to Wal-Mart and rocked Faded Glory like it was nobody’s business, and if you went designer, you sported Cherokee from Target — and you said “Target” with a French accent. That thrift carried over into grocery shopping, too. Our families never went ANYWHERE without cutting coupons, and from a young age we both saw the value of hard work and learned how to stretch a dollar.

We didn’t always like it, of course. We wanted the word Hollister on our backs to fit in. But, the older we get, the more we see the virtue in what our moms taught us, and it’s carried over into our marriage. It’s what created coupon monsters out of us during our first year of marriage. Monsters, we tell you.

When we first got married, Amy was teaching fourth grade at a local elementary school and Jordan was in law school. Our budget was razor thin each month, and we looked for each and every way to save. We read a book called The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half and while it may not sound like riveting reading material, we. were. hooked. Within a few months, we literally cut our grocery bill in half!

We were so proud of ourselves in those early days of marriage

First, we watched the grocery store ads like hawks. We could recite (to the penny) the price of chicken breast at every store in our area. Every store. And what we found was startling: they were all charging different amounts for the exact same chicken. What?! Is that even legal?! So, we started shopping five stores on the weekends and only bought items on sale. You heard right, friends, we shopped at FIVE stores!We’d almost cringe watching people purchase the $3.99 chicken breast when we knew it was on sale for $1.99 down the street. We just couldn’t help the word vomit sometimes. The words would just leap off our lips like we were stopping someone from jumping off a building in a movie. You d-don’t w-wanna d-do this. P-put the overpriced bird down and nobody gets hurt!
The real breakthrough came when we became official coupon monsters and created a three ring coupon bible binder complete with plastic baseball card sleeves, color-coded sections, and labeled sub-sections within the color-coded sections. Labeled sub-sections within the color-coded sections! Are you seeing the the many shades of monster, yet? Soon, we wouldn’t shop sale items unless we had a coupon and the store was matching, making some items FREE 99! For example, if travel-size deodorant was on sale for $0.99 and we used a $0.50 coupon that doubled to $1.00 at checkout, the stick was free — which was great, except that women’s deodorant goes on sale more often than men’s, so Jordan got used to wearing women’s deodorant from time to time.

The good months included more neutral scents like Powder Fresh. When nothing but Cucumber Mellon was on sale, those were the tough months. Gentlemen, if you’re laughing at Jordan, you’re obviously not married yet. 

We were so proud of ourselves in those early days of marriage. Fighting for a place in the world, making a life for ourselves, getting on the same page and the same team. It felt good to stand in line at the supermarket checkout with our big, bulky coupon binder and have older couples look at us, smile knowingly and see a little bit of themselves at our age. It made us feel like we were doing something right, even though we had no idea what we were doing at all.

Yeah, looking back, we’re thankful that our moms bought us Wal-Mart jeans and clipped coupons, because we’re not sure how we would’ve gotten through those early years of marriage without those lessons, and we have no idea how we would’ve agreed on life without those values.

Jordan might not wear women’s deodorant as often as he used to, and we might not always pay with coupons, or shop five different grocery stores, or purchase on-sale chicken exclusively, but, looking back, those are some of our happiest memories because we did them together.

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Want to catch up on The Pink Slip Files? You can read them all right here:

Intro: What Are the Pink Slip Files?
No. 1: Failing Pre-Marital Class & Otter DNA
No. 2: Sink or Swim
No. 3: Turning Off the Lights
No. 4: Leave a Message at the Tone
No. 5: Chocolates, Mystery Shows & Honeymooning
No. 6: Cutting Coupons & Wal-Mart Jeans
No. 7: Paper Chains of Memories
No. 8: Dancing on Bar Tops
No. 9: Man’s Best (Feline) Friend
No. 10: Confessions of a Waffle Fry
No. 11: What’s So Important About Shoelaces?
No. 12: Breaking Records… Like It’s 1924
No. 13: Why We’re Not as Classy as We Thought
No. 14: A Letter to My Only Starbucks Lover
No. 15: The Night We Killed Someone (Kind Of)
No. 16: Lord, It’s a Fire!