Frugal fathers: Local dads bond over unlikely passion

gmartin@islandpacket.comNovember 13, 2011 

It sounds like the premise of a currently airing series of beer commercials: A man reveals a stereotypically female interest to a group of buddies, only to be ribbed and ostracized.

But when Hilton Head Island resident Andrew Waston disclosed to his friends his passion for couponing, he got a different reaction entirely: Acceptance.

"They were like, 'No way!'" Waston recalled. "'You too?'"

Waston said he shares his unlikely interest with a group of five 30-something friends, most of whom are stay-at-home fathers of young children.

"I hate shopping," Waston said. "And I really hate waiting in line. So I started looking for ways to get around that."

About four years ago, Waston discovered a variety of online discount sites, places he now spends up to four hours a week trolling for new deals.

He said his wife, who dutifully snips coupons each week, is even more devoted.

"I pretty much just stick to online couponing," Waston said. "She's the extreme one."

One of his friends, Brad Warner, said he also picked up his hobby from family members.

"I came from a very frugal family growing up," Warner said. "For me, how it's built up, it's just a natural progression."

As fathers of young children, the guys share tips on the best deals for diapers and kids' clothes.

But they also make time to look for toys for themselves.

"The last thing I got online was a sand wedge," Waston said. "Took it out in the backyard just a little while ago, hit some flop shots with it."

Couponing has experienced a revival in popularity since the recession hit -- there's even a cable television show about it now -- and the men agree it's become a big part of balancing their budgets.

"We're saving a ton of money," Waston said. "And usually you can find deals that come with free shipping, so it comes right to your door. And you can get anything you want at these places online."

But does the female sterotype attached to couponing bother them?

"Well, it's obviously not our first topic of discussion," Waston admitted. "But it doesn't bother me at all. I don't know why anyone wouldn't do it."

Follow reporter Grant Martin at twitter.com/LowCoBiz.

Related content:

Coupons help devotees stretch budget, give back, July 30, 2011

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