There were some big victories in the NFL this past weekend, but they were nothing compared to what I accomplished. You see, I had set a goal for myself. And on Sunday, I achieved that goal.
Surprisingly, my big victory had nothing to do with the watermelon eating contest I participated in earlier that day.
Mrs. Cutter’ company held a field day in which people would compete in various events for charity. When they announced that there would be a watermelon eating contest, I volunteered to participate. While I had never actually eaten competitively before, I can eat at a fairly rapid pace, so I figured I’d do well at it. Unfortunately, there were a couple of problems: First, they had everyone crowded around a table that wasn’t quite big enough. More importantly, we weren’t allowed to use our hands.
I’m not sure how many of you have ever tried to eat a watermelon without hands, but it isn’t easy. A lot of the success seems to depend on the shape of the watermelon and the shape of your face. I didn’t have an optimally-shaped watermelon, and apparently, my nose-to-teeth ratio is not conducive for clearing out a watermelon rind. As a result, I did not fare so well.
Once that was concluded, I headed home for a much-needed shower, and to get down to the real business of the day: The weekly grocery shopping trip.
Ever since the birth of the Cutlet, one of my favorite activities has been seeing how much I could save at the grocery store. I even dedicated one of my first post-fatherhood posts to it. Back then, simply getting into the 40 percent threshold seemed like a big deal. But times have changed and the bar has been raised.
In March, I managed to achieve 48 percent savings, and ever since that day, my goal has been to break into the hallowed territory of 50 percent savings. This would have to be a legitimate 50 percent too. I couldn’t just cherry pick a few items that were on sale and call it a day. No, I wanted to accomplish this while making a regular shopping trip where I picked up things that we actually needed.
I had actually been in a bit of a slump at the grocery store this summer. I blame this on the fact that we lost our coupon organizer during a trip to the store on Memorial Day weekend. Mrs. Cutter and I both made the trip, so I can’t say for sure which one of us lost it.
Regardless of who was to blame, it was a traumatizing experience. Without my coupons, my mojo vanished, and my savings percentage suffered. For the next two months, I felt fortunate just to get into the thirties.
Things turned around after my birthday. By this time, I had rebuilt my coupon collection to a sizeable level, and more importantly, Mrs. Cutter bought me a replacement organizer as a present. (Amazingly, I came very close to losing this one last weekend.) Instantly, I had my swagger back. My first trip after getting the organizer, I was back in the forties.
I felt like a 50 percent trip was attainable. Last week, we received a mailing saying that a nearby Safeway was holding a grand re-opening event. (I really don’t know what that means, because the store was never actually closed as far as I could tell.) To celebrate the occasion, they would be having a store-wide sale, and had mailed out a book of coupons which included $10 off a purchase of $50 or more.
I figured that this was my big opportunity, so I set off to the store with high hopes. During that shopping trip, I thought I was doing well, but I was hindered by the fact that we were inviting company over that weekend. As a result, I was forced to buy some additional items that didn’t necessarily provide me with optimal savings. After I was rung up, I was disheartened to look down at the bill and see that I had only saved 42 percent.
That shows just how my standards have changed. Three years ago, I was elated over 41 percent savings. These days, I can surpass that total and be left disappointed.
Fortunately, I was given a chance to redeem myself when I received yet another $10 coupon in the mail last week. I knew this was a sign that I needed to try again, and this time, I wouldn’t mess around with unfamiliar stores. I would be heading to my usual Safeway where I had experienced success in the past.
I marched into the store with an air of confidence. I started spotting sales left and right. BOGO Green Giant veggies? That’s a deal that’s both healthy and cost-effective! Sandwich thins are over 50 percent off? Guess we’re not using plain bread anymore. A price break at five boxes of Fiber One bars when I happen to have five coupons? Looks like we’ll be getting plenty of fiber this week! (and likely the next few weeks as well)
It was tense as I watched the cashier ring everything up. I saw a lot of money coming off the bill, but would it be enough?
(Cue dramatic music)
Finally, my receipt printed, I took a deep breath and looked at how much I had saved. My eyes widened when I saw the magic number: 54 percent! I didn’t just break the 50 percent barrier, I shattered it.
How did I react? It was something like this:
I was so excited to get home and show off my receipt that I hit a woman in the parking lot. But don’t worry, I’m pretty sure nobody saw me do it.
When I got home, Mrs. Cutter was a little frightened by how giddy I was. I was excitedly telling her about the various deals I had found, and I proudly showed her all of the wonderful goods I had obtained at below market prices. Naturally, the receipt went right up on the fridge, replacing the now obsolete 48 percent one that had been posted there.
I told Mrs. Cutter that I may need to retire from the grocery game now that I’ve reached the top. While that isn’t likely to happen, I am pretty sure that from now on, Safeway’s gonna feel a little scared when it sees me coming. Because they know I beat them. And maybe, just maybe…I’ll do it again.