My wife and I occasionally shop for groceries at a supermarket that allows customers to collect points towards coupons, giveaways and other discounts. This year, we collected enough points to get a free turkey.

Hooray.

In years past, we never would've considered buying a frozen turkey from a chain grocery store. Not that we're arrogant or anything, we just prefer to buy local meats whenever possible. But because of the economy, we thought it might be a better idea to just take advantage of the free turkey and put the savings towards other things.

So there we were in the grocery store yesterday, picking out our free turkey when my wife noticed that there were "free turkey" display signs on both the frozen turkey bin and the fresh turkey bin. Obviously the fresh turkeys were the better deal, and I'm not so sure a frozen bird would've been thawed by Thursday afternoon.

When we checked out with our free fresh turkey, the clerk informed us that only the frozen turkeys were free. My wife explained to "Gary" that there were "free" signs posted in both bins. And there were.

Well, naturally, mayhem ensued. At one point, another clerk obviously removed the sign and then claimed it was never there. That is, until I showed them the camera phone shot I'd snapped of the display. What can I say. I'm a geek.

Ultimately, after lots of yelling, they gave us the fresh turkey for free. Huzzah! Win!

Again, we never would've gone through this level of semi-embarrassing hassle for a free turkey in previous years. But there's comfort in knowing that similar miserly fracases are likely occurring nationwide.

The Conference Board's consumer confidence index remains around 50 points lower than it was in 2006 -- hovering upwards slightly from last month to 49.5, and, looking at the consumer cup half full, it's way up from January's dismal mid-20s level.

In other words, consumer confidence is improving, but clearly thrifty behavior is still the norm. At least that's the way it is around here, especially since we decided to destroy our credit cards earlier in the year (a story for another time).

And while we won't be blitzing Thunderdome at various department stores on Friday -- engaging in battle with thousands of berzerker discount seekers, we're definitely going to be playing it equally as safe with gifts this year. Hopefully without any verbal fisticuffs.


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