If you are one of those thrifty souls who clips coupons - or one of those guilt-ridden souls who keeps promising yourself you'll start - we have the secret that may change your life.
OK, maybe not your whole life. But it will certainly add a sense of power and control to those hours you spend grocery shopping each week. (For some of you, that's most of your life.) Also - and this is very important - it may make you richer.The secret: Shea's Aisle View, a grocery coupon organizer unlike anything you've ever seen. The purse-size coupon organizer was invented by Patrick Shea, a local attorney. Its various features were refined by Shea after decades of personal grocery shopping. (Our inventor further qualified himself by putting in a three-year stint as a bag boy at Dan's Foods when he was in high school. He recertifies as an expert every week by taking his sons, ages 3 and 1, shopping with him.)
If you are an avid coupon clipper who faithfully brings a fistful of coupons along every time you go shopping only to spend an extra hour in the store matching the coupons to the products, Shea's Aisle View can slash your shopping time.
"It cuts 30 to 40 percent off your shopping time," Shea said. "You are organized. You don't wander around saying: `I need this. I need that.' "
If you don't clip coupons but want to start, Shea's Aisle View makes it easy and the coupons will make you rich.
"The consumer can cut 10 to 15 percent from his food bill with coupons," Shea said. "If a family spends $160 a week on groceries, I would say they could save $16 a week using coupons and having them organized. That's $54 a month, $600 a year." That could send you to Puerto Vallarta for a week.
You can get Shea's Aisle View free for subscribing to or renewing your subscription to the Deseret News. You can also buy the organizers for $15 at Sam Weller's Salt Lake and Bountiful book stores.
The coupon organizer contains three grocery store outlines in the inside cover that reflect what you would see if you looked down the aisles of your grocery store. There are also 15 plastic coupon holders: 14 for the aisles in your grocery store and one for those fast food coupons you keep losing.
Within each plastic holder is a larger map of each aisle. You number the aisle at the top of the map and write down the items on that aisle on the aisle map. Each week when you clip your coupons, file them in the plastic sleeve that represents the aisle where that item is found.
The organizer also contains a year's worth of blank shopping lists at the front. Each week, fill out your list, mark the aisle on which each item can be found, and put a check by those with coupons.
Each time you put an item in your cart that has a coupon with it, remove the coupon and stick it in the back of the book. There's also a checkbook holder in the back and a place for identification, so you can carry all you need in the organizer.
The organizer shaves hidden costs from your food bill by reducing impulse buying. "Grocery stores make their money on impulse buying," Shea said. "They don't like coupons."
As further proof that this really is a brilliant idea, you should know that Shea is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School and is an adjunct professor at the University of Utah. He spent most of his college years on the dean's list and won a two-year scholarship to Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar.
But perhaps his most impressive credential is his stint as assistant to the staff director of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Operations.
Nowhere in the world is there a more daunting intelligence operation than coupon shopping in the American supermarket. If Shea trained with the Senate Select Committee and he really does take two toddlers shopping with him, what better qualifications could the American shopper ask for?