Couponing is a necessity for some, a hobby for others – and for many, a way of life. But would you keep clipping if you were suddenly worth a half-billion dollars?

Tonight’s drawing for an estimated $550 million Powerball jackpot has many dreaming big. Mansions, fancy cars, lavish vacations – but paying full price for groceries? That’s something that could make even a newly-rich couponer cringe.

“If I won $100 million in the lottery tomorrow, I’d still be clipping coupons on Sunday morning,” Extreme Couponing participant Scotty B. notably declared during the show’s first season. “It would be with a 24-karat gold scissor, but I’m still going to do it.”

It seems many couponers feel the same way. In September, the website CouponCabin.com conducted a survey and found that 55% of respondents would continue using coupons even after winning the lottery. A majority said they’d also continue shopping at discount stores and only buying things when they’re on sale.

Seriously – you have $550 million. Will you really tell your kids that they can’t have that brand of cereal because it’s not on sale this week, you don’t have a coupon and you don’t want to spend the extra couple of bucks? That is, if you’re even still doing your own grocery shopping and not hanging out by the pool while your personal chef prepares your lunch.

Other couponers are willing to set aside the clipping if they hit it big. Back in March, when the Mega Millions lottery hit a record $656 million, some participants on the coupons-and-deals site Slickdeals.net dared to dream of a life without coupons at all. “I do love couponing, and it really would be a hard habit to break,” said one, but “it would only make sense to quit, as the time could be put to better use.” Said another, “if we were to win, we’d likely do a lot of traveling, which can make it difficult to coupon on a regular basis.” A possible solution? “I’d have to consider hiring a personal couponer… qualified applicants must be willing to complete at least 27 transactions at CVS on Thanksgiving!”

Meanwhile, retailers – including grocery stores – are also hoping to cash in the lottery craze. Many that sell lottery tickets are reporting a brisk business today. “Our Courtesy Booths have never been so busy,” reports Boston’s Roche Bros. Supermarkets. The Omaha World Herald camped out at the local Hy-Vee, where people were lined up at the customer service counter. ““I only play when it gets in the hundreds of millions,” said one ticket buyer.

Most state lotteries grant retailers a percentage of each ticket they sell, so even if no one hits it big, sellers stand to earn a good chunk of change. Especially if someone does hit it big. Anyone who sells a winning Powerball ticket worth $10,000 or more gets a bonus equal to 1% of the jackpot. For a $550 million prize, that would be a $5.5 million payout – but not so fast. The bonus is capped at $100,000.

So sellers and buyers alike, keep dreaming. And perhaps you can look forward to the day when you can coupon only if you feel like it. As painful a thought as it may be now, $550 million will buy you an awful lot of full-priced groceries, with plenty left over.

Or you can just invest in 24-karat gold scissors. And keep on clipping!


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