‘‘DO you have a coupon?’’ the voice down the phoneline inquired politely as I sought to make a dinner reservation one evening last year.

A friend and I wanted to see a movie and have something to eat beforehand and arrangements were being made at the last-minute.

‘‘No... what kind of coupon?,’’ I replied.

‘‘Never mind, I’ll book you in for 7pm,’’ the voice said.

I hung up the phone and I couldn’t work it out - what coupon? Like a shopper docket or something, I wondered?

So I went online and searched for the name of the restaurant and the word coupon and there it was: Dinner for two people plus drinks for $19.

BARGAIN!! How do I get one of these and save myself and my friend from paying the average menu price of $40 per head for a meal and drink at the restaurant?

I double clicked, but it was too late. The coupon website told me: You Missed It!  Dozens of the coupons had already been bought and the deal was over.

I was miffed, but entered my email address so I could receive future offers via email.

Soon after I received all kinds of offers and my (shopping) life started to revolve around the coupons, I had them for all kinds of things including zumba class (which I never went to - but it was only $9 - bargain).

The first one I got to actually use was $40 for a hot rock massage and head massage - a one hour treatment with a $20 voucher towards my next visit, at a beauty place in Gilmore.

It was great and I saved about $80. Soon after that, my dog vomited on the carpet.

It turns out that you should never feed a kelpie any kidney bean stew.

It was left overs from a dinner recipe that didn’t work out as well as planned.

I thought the dog would like it. Not true. I did everything I could to fix that carpet, then I went online and bought a coupon for steam cleaning.

It was a bargain and the man came over three days later and did a brilliant job. It was totally fixed and I saved lots of money - plus a $20 voucher for next time!

Then came the food deals; these weren’t as flash.

I went to a place in Queanbeyan with a $19 coupon that promised $50 value to be spent on brunch for two. But when I got there I could only get brunch worth (menu price) of about $35. I was told the rest of the voucher could be spent in the bead store that was also on the premises. I went and had a look at the beads, but I don’t do any DIY jewellery, so I left, a bit disappointed. Another woman in the bead store was arguing the point with a staff member as I left, she had also bought the coupon online.

The next deal was better - brunch in Canberra - which came off exactly as I understood it would when advertised.

Then I discovered Hypoxi - a non-surgical way to reduce cellulite, which was  handy after all the food coupons.

It promised to get rid of some of the fat  - so long as I was prepared to exercise solidly on a stationary bike in a contraption that created a vacuum environment around my midsection and thighs, using alternating pressures - on and off for 40 minutes at a time, three times in one week. After the sessions, all I had to do was cut out sugar, carbs and alcohol for the rest of the day. Three sessions in a week and it totally worked. I saved about $100 on that deal.

I know what you’re thinking: exercise and good diet = weight loss. But really, I know that the Hypoxi treatment worked. I lost quite a few centimeters around my hips in just a week and no crash diet has ever achieved that before.

It’s totally down to the vacuum thingy.

But it’s not just food, vacuums and carpet cleaning anymore. Coupons have reached new heights lately. I have discovered a coupon that is probably the ultimate saving for what is the most expensive day of any woman’s life: yes. It’s a wedding coupon.

To find out more read the Sunday Canberra Times this weekend.

In the mean time, if you’re curious you could also check out some coupon sites: www.scoopon.com.au, www.livingsocial.com, www.groupon.com.au