So, I'm trying this WitFit thing again so I can get back into writing daily. I picked a good day to start, because if you follow me on twitter you know how much I know on this topic. Anyway, the chapters will be ub-beta'd and that alone involves my own personal apology! I'm aiming for daily updates, I may fail a time or two, but the plot bunny is solid, and something I've wanted to write for a while.

Characters aren't mine, that is all.

Word Prompts: Thrifty, shifty, nifty

I'm walking through the store, same time, same day, just like always.

Sunday mornings are always my busiest. The knew Sunday newspaper comes out, which means the latest coupons, which means more clipping, more sorting, more organizing, more savings.

That is my routine, and I do it without delay.

This morning started like any other. My alarm went off, I rolled out of bed, brushed my teeth, and threw on my clothes. I grab the granola bar sitting next to my purse. I leave one out the night before, because I know I'll forget if I wait until the morning. Next to my breakfast is my purse and my binder.

Without my binder, I would be nothing. In fact, without my binder, I would probably starve. I hadn't given much thought to coupons until our economy crumbled, and I lost my job. I'd always been thrifty but even with minimal bills the money kept disappearing. Unemployment was a joke, and only by the struck of sheer luck did I find a job six months after I was laid off.

By that point, I was broke left having to play catch-up and realizing that there had to be a better way. I made less than before, but it was something, and something was definitely better than nothing.

I was watching the Early Show while I got ready for my first day at my new job, and there was a lady on talking about how much you could save with coupons. I didn't really have time to watch the whole segment, but I left myself a note, came home, and Googled.

I was shocked. Not just because I didn't know the power of a coupon, but because people could essentially live off of what they called 'stockpiles' when the economy got rough.

After that I set off to learn. I spent the first two weeks reading as much as I could just waiting for my first paycheck. I morned not being able to go out immediately and buy supplies, but I only had enough for gas and minimal food, so instead, I studied. I learned about binders, how to organize, how to set them up, how to do match-ups, and, essentially, a new way to shop.

Instead of buying what I needed for the week or for the month, I needed to learn how to be patient. I was so proud to walk in after my first check and buy ten newspapers. My blood was pulsing, my heart racing, and I felt on top of it all. Of course, by the end of the clipping and sorting, my back ached and my fingers felt like they would fall off.

My first trip to the store was equally as anti-climatic. Even though I saved a whole ten percent, when I got home I could see I bought a lot of things I didn't need. So, from that point, I worked on my discipline. I went in with a list; a solid, set-in-stone type of list. I gave myself a rule; if I found a clearance sale, it had to be less than fifty cents an item.

After that, it got better, and my stockpile grew. I had enough shampoo and condition to last me the year, same went with razors and shaving cream, deodorant and body spray, cleaners and dish detergent, and so forth. Finding great deals on food took more work, but before I knew it I had pasta, tomato sauce, rice, pancake mix, jelly, peanut butter, canned soups, and so forth.

Each month, my grocery bill went lower and lower. I set aside one-hundred dollars a month for my stockpile and one-hundred dollars for meats, fruits and veggies, dairy, and milk.

Some months, I didn't even need that because an amazing overage deal would come out, and I'd use that to pay for everything else. It took about six months before I was set with an array of items to last. I never stopped watching sale cycles, and I'd re-stock up where I needed to. The thing about coupons is that once something goes on sale, it takes a few more months and it goes on sale again. So, essentially, I'd buy for that period and wait for the next sale.

Couponing became my new way of life, and I even got my dad on board. He wouldn't use them himself, but he'd ask his co-workers for coupons if they weren't going to use them, which only gave me more coupons to use. If I needed something in bulk I would turn to a clipping service, but I tried hard not to.

My new job wasn't perfect, but it paid the bills I couldn't use coupons on, and I was able to devote enough time to saving more money. When I'd go into a store, I would quietly pull out my binder and list, and go about my business. Occasionally, I'd get asked questions or people would want me to teach them, and I happily did so. Cashiers would cheer me on and managers knew me by name.

Of course, all good things came to an end when the damn television show started. Yeah, you know the one...'Extreme Couponing' on TLC. I watched each week in horror as they showcased hoarder after hoarder, coupon fraud, and people even I considered to be crazy. Who on Earth needs 55 bottles of mustard and 200 bottles of salad dressing? They got the word 'extreme' right, and I would have nothing to do with it.

It took a few weeks before the stores caught up, but now everywhere I turned it was all about that stupid show. Things I had been doing for years were now splashed on the television like it was the easiest thing in the world to do. Clipping a coupon, taking it to the store, and using it may seem easy, but it's not. There is planning, researching, organizing, and more organizing. You have to know the policies, sale cycles, and when best to pounce on a sale. There is an unwritten rule about ethics and that show seemed to bring out the crazies!

My favorite cashiers would tell me horror stories about people coming in and trying to use the wrong coupon on an item and yelling at them when they weren't accepted. Managers who used to like me before, now got snotty when they saw my binder. Even the old ladies in the store would look at me funny. Suddenly, I felt embarrassed for couponing.

Then, I went back to the forums and realized I wasn't alone. Others were being treated the same way, so I had to make a choice. I could stop couponing and run to hide, or I could stand up tall with a smile holding my binder proudly.

Financially, I had no other choice, but the latter, so I did it.

Now, every Sunday, I come a little bit earlier to get the papers I need. I shop a little bit sooner to make sure I get the deals, and I take only enough to last me until the next sale cycle. I coupon realistically.

Today is the first day I've seen you, even though I know all about you from the forums. You're in normal clothes, but your cover is easily blown when I can still see the black plastic sticking out of your pocket. We start out in tampons and end with dish washer detergent, but I refuse to let myself feel bullied.

I try not to make it obvious that I know you're following me, so I only take a few glances. Your eyes are a piecing green and your hair is definitely remember-able...a little blond with a little red. You don't smile, but I don't blame you...I wouldn't want to work here either.

As I push my cart to the check out lane I watch you veer off into the clothing, and I know you're gone for now. I almost feel a loss knowing you're not around anymore. Binders have been getting stolen lately, and, at least, you could stop that from happening to me.

The cashier is smiling, even when I hand her a stack of coupons, but it's because she knows me well...I taught her how to coupon just last year.

When I see my total of ten dollars, I want to fist pump into the air, but I don't. Some people like the attention, but I really don't. I load my cart and grab my receipt before telling Michelle I'll see her next week.

I see you again, but you're wearing a scowl on your face as you talk to someone else. I catch your eye seconds before I walk through the doors, and I smile. Your eyes lighten for a second, before you attention goes back to the man you're talking with and your face falls.

And, now I'm left with wondering if I'll see you next weekend or not.