What is Successful Ageing?
How Time Flies – Or Not Sometimes

Will I Live Long Enough to Use All This?

Have you seen those human interest stories that turn up now and then about super-dooper coupon clippers? You know, the mothers who feed a family of six for $3.27 a month because they are such world-class coupon collectors?

I have no patience for coupons and anyway, if you don't count ice cream, they are never for anything I eat. Only high-sodium, high-calorie, hi-sugar processed stuff that also contains a lot of unpronounceable chemicals gets discount coupons. Never fresh produce or fish or good cheeses.

That does not mean, however, that I don't keep an eye on other kinds of sales at the local grocery stores.

Over the past few years, the house brand of steel cut oatmeal at one of the local markets has become a personal staple.

Regular price for the one pound container is $3.99 and because it is my standard breakfast (stuffed with berries, banana, apple sauce and yogurt), I buy a lot of it. So when it is on sale three or four times a year at two for $4, that's a bargain and I buy four or even six canisters at one go.

One of my pet peeves is the high price of paper products and I am almost as crazed as those super coupon women about never paying more than a dollar for the “boutique” size box of tissue. When I see them on sale occasionally for $.89 each, I buy a dozen.

Generally, I keep a good eye on what I spend at the supermarket, but those two products are about as extreme as my bargain-hunting fetish goes.

Except now and then.

Few people these days sit down and have a long visit on the telephone as we commonly did in our younger years. But I have several friends with whom I do that almost every week – ones who live far away.

One 40-year New York City friend and I spend a good deal of time talking about what it's like to grow old – what our lives are like now in our mid- and late 70s, how our interests have changed, the kinds of things we do differently now.

We keep a mordant eye on how we have settled into life as, respectively, a little old woman and a little old man.

Good food has always been a top pleasure for each of us and we are both reasonably good cooks. Recently, we were discussing our grocery shopping habits.

Pushing my cart down an aisle one day, I told him, I noticed that tinned tuna was on sale for $.89 a can. Wow, I thought to myself, I should buy ten of them. Just in time, I remembered I had already done that only a few days earlier.

“Yes, yes, yes,” my friend exclaimed in solidarity. “Except I went that one further step and bought them. Then, when I got home, I saw that I already had 10 new cans of tuna in the cupboard.”

We decided together that it might be a reasonable bet he would not live long enough to eat 20 cans of tunafish.

And then, even though separated by 3,000 miles of digital ether, it felt like we were in the same room for a few moments as we shared a great, long, wonderful belly laugh at the folly of our aging memories and selves.


I laughed right along with you and your friend! Couldn't help but recognize the same sort of crazy happenings in my world.

And the same goes for toilet tissue/paper! What a hoot when my sister (10 yrs. younger) sees me buy the on sale "extra" that takes 3 trips to get into the door & to the linen cupboard! LOL Love it. Thanks for the morning chuckle which I need every day. :) Dee

I laughed at that one too! For me it's not tunafish that I load up on, it's toilet tissue. When it's on sale and I have a coupon that's when I buy!

I do remember many years ago when I was shopping in one of those "Big Stores" my brand of tissue was on sale - A really great price - how could I pass that up? Well I was by myself and when I tried to get that huge package of tissue in my cart I could't do it - try as I may, I had to pass it up. I remember that day as if it were yesterday! ;-)

I've got a pretty good handle on shopping now. Try to double the value by using coupons on items when they are on sale. I have a Target card which is 5% off everything all the time which works well for tissues and other paper products.

As you say, not as many coupons for the "healthy" stuff, but the mid-west chain Meijers coupon spitting machine occasionally gives out $1 and $2 off meats, produce and dairy any brand.

My food trap is sales on fresh vegetables. I buy too much and get tired of them before they're gone. It's a problem for live aloners. I never have that problem with fruit though. Anything that sits too long (seldom) gets made into a thirst quenching smoothie.

I prefer to buy organic produce, which more stores carry now, but some stuff I can't find unless I go to Whole Foods. I think I should buy stock in their company.

I could never load up my cupboards and cabinets. Where would I put my books?

My supermarket (a division of Kroger) issues loyalty cards and tracks my purchases. Perhaps once a month they send me a packet of coupons and almost all are for the brands/products I buy. I've never been a coupon clipper, but this is almost like sending me cash. Now if only I could remember to use them!

It's not only new purchases, either. In these electronic days I use about one business envelope per year. But whenever those free return envelopes come in the mail I stick a blank label on the front and put them in the drawer for re-use. I have a drawer full of them.

And all the sheets of paper that are blank on one side go in the 'scrap paper' pile, which grows much faster than I use it.

I guess when I am gone my daughter (whose life is also largely electronic) will simply add the envelopes to her own over-full drawer and the paper to her own ever-growing pile--probably with a sigh of resignation!

I buy the big packs of napkins, tp, and paper towels at Costco. For most other non pershables, I shop at a big value priced market. I have no patience with coupon clipping. I buy produce at at Whole Foods.

I am guilty of over stockpiling from time to time. I do better if I take a list, but honestly, most times I'm too lazy to to do that .

After years of the occasional purchasing of WF roasted chickens, I have finally managed to earn a free one. I am saving that for a rainy day.

I, too, had a good chuckle over this. With me, it's not so much food, but purchasing things that indubitably will outlast me. I don't agonize over it, though--for the first time in my single life of 43 years, I can afford a few "pretties" (thanks to deceased ex-husband's social security (triple what it was), so why not? And then again, my kids will enjoy them when I am gone! Well, maybe not the clothes :) .

Anyone shop at Dollar Tree or similar? There is a nice one near where I get my hair cut. We always stop there ever couple of months; it's amazing what we find.

I'm not a coupon person although hubby is. Mr. Bruce does grocery shopping. He really likes restaurant coupons too.

A couple of years ago I received an offer for a free 30 day membership to Costco (or maybe it was Sam's Club).
I had never even been in one of those stores let alone become a member.
Having to PAY for the privilege to shop turns me off.
In any event, I took advantage of the offer and found myself walking down the aisle of the biggest damn store I had ever been in.
To say the least, it was overwhelming.
The store had everything I needed except I couldn't buy just one or two of them.
For me, six rolls of toilet paper at a time is as much of a bulk package as I need. So when I saw one women load what appeared to be a pallet of TP on to her shopping cart, my first thought was "How much are these people eating that they need sooo much toilet paper."
Of course when I figured out the cost per roll when buying in such quantities I knew why someone would be willing to buy that much.
Unfortunately, for us single old people who only have one tushy to take care of, these stores serve very little purpose.
Wouldn't it be nice if there were a store for limited-income seniors where they could take advantage of the bargains which appear to be reserved for people with bowel problems.

I laughed out loud as so many of your readers. When I was twenty years younger, in my fifties, a friend 25 years my senior announced, "I don't even buy green bananas anymore. I don't know if I'll be around to enjoy them!" Great article, Ronni!

I'm not a coupon user either. I do hoard up sale boxes of tissue. Fortunately my condo comes with a storage room just for me. Part of the year they sit and then, like now, hay fever strikes and between me and my afflicted relatives the hoard disappears. My Dad however living in a larger house began buying toilet paper on sale by the case. This was some years ago when the local Meyer and Frank sold such items. They delivered several cases to him. It's a family often told tale as he would often explain to visiting children how two sections of TP should be adequate. ?? He wasn't like that with other things thank goodness. We are still laughing about it though he and the TP have been gone for years. Come to think of it. I have sister who does the same thing with on sale paper towels. Maye it's genetic.

When my mother turned 80, she cancelled her subscription to Better Homes and Gardens, a magazine she had read for as long as I could remember. She renewed, then wrote to them saying she wanted to cancel and get her money back as she would not be living through another year. She stopped reading the magazine but she lived to be almost 93.

Heh. I can relate to above comments.

Ballpoint pens.

I love ballpoint pens. The smooth writing type, black ink.

Do I need more ballpoint pens? Are you serious? I have ballpoint pens all over the place-side pockets of my car, side pocket of my husband's car, my bag, on various tables, beside the phone, in drawers, backpack, desk.

How many ballpoint pens does a person need?

What is it with pens?

If I have to write lines, I'm prepared.

"I promise to quit buying ballpoint pens, right after I buy this last pack."

So, what happens when I wander around a big box store looking for socks?

"Oh I see ballpoint pens are on sale."

Mister GPS- "We have tons of pens at home."

Me- "You can never have too many pens."

"What if I get an idea for a story?"

"How am I supposed to remember all the weird conversations that happen in this city?"


Thankfully, I don't have a thing for garden gnomes.

"D, what are all those short beardy wizards doing all lined up along the fence?"

"They're creeping me out."

Cute story. If you keep eating all that oatmeal you'll easily live long enough to consume the tuna and use the tissue.

Doctafill, thanks for a good, extended and hearty laugh!

I'm not a writer, but I do have a fondness for pencil use and keep them close by. I even researched them (Palomino Blackwings have erasers that erase without creating a hole in the paper - a necessity for the NYT crosswords.

Loved this story, Ronni..and boy can I relate!! I live with my youngest daughter and her family and shop for the family every couple of weeks..maybe twice a month I buy food for a weeks meals..now that the Farmers Market in Beaverton is open again, she shops weekly or twice a week for produce there while I shop at my local Freddys for staples. And I do coupon-occasionally cutting coupons from Albertsons or Safeway for specific things if I plan on going out anyhow.

Last week I bought 5 big 10 packs of our "only" brand of toilet tissue..I've taught my kids that "Life is too short for cheap toilet paper or cheap shoes". When 'our' brand was on sale I loaded up..only to discover that daughter had gone to Costco for the same thing. Suddenly we had 10 cases of toilet paper! We also both bought chicken and salmon..something we eat a lot but hagte to freezde..we both prefer it fresh.

Sometimes we need to coordinate a bit better. I, for one, can't really afford to buy 5 cases of toilet paper very often...I only did it because I had just received my SocialSecurity check and felt 'flush' when I went shopping. And I had a coupon.

Drat. We don't even have sufficient storage space for this much TP. Sometimes it's necessary to hold back on those good deals.

Elle in Beaverton

My favorite stock-ups are the fresh meats I like (chicken breasts) when they go on special. They get repackaged and frozen. Now if I can just manage to use them in a reasonable time.

I have recently had to replace a washing machine, and I definitely had the thought that it will probably be the last one I ever buy.

Just to give you-all another view. I shop once or twice a month for food. Good-will for clothes maybe once a year, since I am wearing things I got when I worked if they still fit. I'm glad to live where the Food Bank comes once a week with free produce...and sometimes bread and eggs for anyone in the apartment complex. It sure helps a lot. So my purchases do include those paper products... for which I have very little storage space, (not having a linen closet is the pits!) I spend more on drugs than I'd like. Never thought that would be higher than my electric bill!

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