Some things run against stereotype — like a big, bad, pro-football millionaire clipping coupons to save pennies.
Former Miami Dolphins guard Keith Sims was once among the biggest and baddest, too, a Pro Bowl player who embraced the expensive trappings of fame: A tailor would visit him in the Dolphins locker room to measure him for three suits that cost $10,000. He once went to an Atlanta shoe store and bought mink-lined, ostrich boots for $1,800.
"Dumbest thing I ever got," Sims now says of the boots.
Sims left that world when he retired in 2000. Now, at 46, he clips coupons. Isn't "clipping" something linemen avoid?
Sims approaches coupons with a game plan, prepared in every way except from three-point stance. He studies coupons in the Sun Sentinel, eBay, coupontom.com and local grocery fliers. He plots the best buys. Then he clips.
"Coach [Don] Shula said, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,'" he said. "Who knew that applied to couponing, too?"
For the past several years, Sims would tell how much money he was saving by clipping coupons. And I'd chuckle.
"Come with me, you'll see how smart it is," Sims would say.
So last week I met Sims at his home in Davie for a shopping trip. First, he gave a tour. There, in a hallway closet, shelves were stocked with dozens of bottles of aloe, shampoo and conditioner he bought for pennies. Or so he said.
There, in the laundry room, were what's left of a two-year supply of napkins and paper towels bought for nothing. Or so he said. And there, watching us leave, was his wife, Tia, who taught him couponing — "my mentor," he says — but is staying home this trip.
"The cashiers are nicer to him alone," she said. "They don't question his coupons. They're more likely to question mine on the expiration dates or double-check everything matches up."
As he we walked into Publix in Weston, Sims asked, "What percent do you think we'll save off the bill?"
"Twenty percent," I guessed.
When he stopped smirking, Sims began shopping. First stop: Toilet paper sold by the bulk. The store offered $1 off. He had another coupon for $1.70 off.
"That's a start, but we've got better ones," he said.
He has five children — and four are boys. But the shower-gel mathematics revealed what he could save. Each bottle cost $3.99.
He had a coupon for $2 off a bottle. He had another buy-one-get-one-free coupon. And Publix, unlike some stores, allowed both coupons to be used.
"So it costs $1 a bottle," he said. "I save $3."
See why he wanted 40 of them? Did I mention he had five children?
Sims began moving through the store, finding small couponed bargains on items like deodorant and dishwashing detergent, before moving to Aisle 11.