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Coupons - It's All in the Timing

     The other day – it seemed like just the other day – the back of the receipt I got at Walgreens turned out to be a lovely coupon: two dollars off my next purchase. I seldom use coupons. I’m not a coupon saver and I don’t have boxes full of coupons waiting to save me tons of money. All I have are a few discount and special offer coupons strategically placed around the house where for sure I’ll remember to grab them when I go to wherever it is the coupon’s good for. Doesn’t always work, but that explains why me and coupons don’t pal around much. But this was a super deal. I shop a lot at Walgreens - often enough to use a two dollars off coupon way before it expires. Prob’ly go there next week, matter of fact.

     Since I’d just bought all that stuff and I don’t like having a lot of junk in my wallet, I set the coupon on a table near the bathroom. Strategically placed, like I said. Easy - when I ran out of shower gel or toothpaste or any other Walgreens type stuff, I’d remember to grab the coupon and tuck it in my wallet before I left the house. 

     Coupons do not like me. When it comes to coupons, someone has a voodoo doll they jab with little coupon tacks to change the expiration dates on all my coupons, or make me think I won’t be needing them just when I do need them. So no surprise - after church the very next day, the guy sitting beside me in the car said he needed to pick up some batteries at Longs. Not Walgreens, Longs. Well, I sure didn’t have the Walgreens coupon - who would think of a coupon before church? - and I could just as well buy shampoo at Longs as at Walgreens, so I bought the shampoo at Longs. No coupon.

     I wasn’t too worried. I’d be going to Walgreens soon, anyway.

     Which I did. Two days later. I got some really good deals and was congratulating myself on remembering the coupon as I pulled out my wallet. Where’s that coupon? I put it in my wallet as soon as we got home from Longs the other day. I remember tucking it in with the dollar bills, but it wasn’t there. Must’ve put it with the credit cards. Nope. Not there, either.

     I plummaged through the little purse I carry – little ’cause I have this thing about women having to carry big sacks around with them everywhere they go while men just stick everything in their pockets, but that’s another story.

     There’s another reason I have a thing about purses. Every time I change purses, I end up cleaning out the junk that’s piled up, mostly old receipts, Kleenexes and a few unused coupons. And that’s exactly what I’d done. Yep. Tossed out the old coupons and set the newer coupons on the table and that’s where the two-dollars-off Walgreens coupon was. Home, sitting on the table. Strategically placed.

     Lot of good that is. I paid the full price for my purchases, but I did remember to take the coupon with me when I went back the next Saturday and I bought twenty dollars worth of Walgreens type stuff and I pulled out the coupon to get my two dollar discount and…

     You’ll have to guess what happened. I’d hate to leave you laughing…

     The gas you gotta buy. You can drive a little less, but you still need gas when the tank goes dry. Can’t wait for the price to go down. Interest rates – that’s another matter. Interest rates, you can pick ’n choose.

     At work I chase interest rates regularly. I do my research online and beg bankers on the phone and when I find or negotiate a solidly high rate on a Certificate of Deposit, I snap it up. Kind’a enjoy doing all that negotiating.

     Recently it occurred to me that I should be more businesslike about our home finances – meaning hey! Mortgage rates are going down, way down. So why aren’t you refinancing your loan?

     And here the chase begins. The guy who helps me pay for things and I gathered our papers and drove off to the bank with the lowest rate. On the way, we stopped at the credit union to pick up some cash. Just happened, there was a sign at the entrance: “Lowest interest rates of the year – refinance now!”

     So of course we had to ask. Ohmigosh! The rate was even lower than the one at the bank. And here we were, with all the papers in our car – you know, the copies of W-2s, home insurance, paystubs, property tax bills and a zillion others. How lucky could we be? We sat down and applied.

     An hour later, we left, but we didn’t lock in the rate because there were about three rates, depending whether or not we wanted to pay points. Rates had been going down anyway so I figured I had plenty of time to sleep on it – heck, maybe they’d be lower tomorrow and I could lock in the lower rate from my computer at home.

     Mistake. The rates went up. Now I had a major decision: wait a few more days to see if they’d go down, or lock in this higher rate before it skittered up further. I waited one day. Rates went down. I locked it.

     About that time, the loan officer at the bank where we were originally going to apply called. I explained that we’d stopped at the credit union on the way and they just happened to have lower rates, so we had applied there.

     She asked what rate we got and a slew of e-mails ensued: Bank: Have you closed the loan yet? Me: Not yet. Bank: Our rates just went down. Me: How far? Bank: It’s four point six, one point. Me: What do I need to do?

     What I needed to do was fill out five pages of forms and copy twenty pages of documents and so I didn’t do it. Until she sent an e-mail two days ago with a rate I couldn’t refuse. Don’t know why, but I did refuse it. I think it was ’cause I still didn’t want to fill out all those papers.

     Funny thing is, I slept on it, changed my mind, whipped out those copies and rushed to the bank. Got there ten minutes before closing. Asked about their rate. It went up.

     I was finally beginning to appreciate the credit union’s rate when I got a call from them. With all these falling prices on real estate, the appraisal on our house came in lower than the value in the loan application. A lot lower. So “lower” that our locked-in rate was unlocked and let in another point.

     At this point, I e-mailed the bank, urgently, and asked what their current rate was. I haven’t heard back, but today’s newspaper said mortgage loan rates had hit the highest they’ve been in three weeks. That was about when I started all this…

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