With the economy fluctuating every month and the bills piling up on our kitchen counters, many families and students are looking for a way to save money. And what better way to save than using our once beloved and now almost forgotten friend, the coupon. Where some may have seen it as a way to save a few bucks, others have seen it as a way to cut food costs almost all together.
“At the Couponer (website) you can save 50 to 90 percent off your grocery budget monthly,” Christine Fuller, a coupon specialist and full-time mother said, “If you know the right strategies.”
A popular TV show on TLC called “Extreme Couponing,” shows how mothers save a huge amount of money by using coupons. But there are some misconceptions about couponing that viewers of the show may have received. Although it’s common to see someone on the show leave the store with up to a thousand dollars in goods, while spending less than twenty dollars, it’s very rare according to Fuller.
“Anybody you talk to will recommend that you get at least four Sunday papers, or at least one for each member of your family,” Fuller said. They’re sure to be full of manufacturer’s coupons and a good place to start. As well as checking newspapers, students can search company websites online for manufacturer’s coupons. They may restrict you on how many you print out, but their coupons are usually high dollar amounts.
Fuller said, “If there’s something you want a coupon for, Google it.”
The third place to find coupons is in the store your doing your shopping; these are called in-store coupons. These coupons combined with your manufacturing coupons can reduce an item’s price tremendously. According to Fuller, some stores may also have their own savings cards, and when combined with manufacturer’s coupons, they can add additional savings.
The last part of extreme couponing includes keeping an eye out for when products reach their lowest price. Catching a product on sale with your coupons plus your store card can optimize your savings.
“About every three months an item hits its lowest price, and when it hits its lowest price you want to buy as much as you can, and you want to have the coupon to go with it,” Fuller said.
A tip from Fuller was to research that individual store’s coupon policy, in case you run into any speed bumps along the way. Stores will have limitations on coupon use, and understanding the store’s policy will ensure that you won’t make any mistakes combining coupons. Fuller actually keeps a copy of each store’s policies with her during her trips, just in case she needs to refer back.
For those looking to start couponing, Fuller says, “There’s actually a class here locally, I would recommend they try and get in a class.” There is a class on Nov. 5, 2011 between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Learning Exchange, located at 1111 Howe Avenue. Unfortunately this isn’t a free class and attendees must register in advance using CouponCoach.org.
If unable to attend these classes, there’s a coupon blogger called the Crazy Coupon Lady. This website offers a section for people looking to get started on saving with coupons. Fuller also runs her own site called Couponer411.com, which links you to many different manufacturing sites. If students leave messages on her website she will respond to any questions with helpful advice.
When using these techniques correctly, you can fill up your fridge, your pantry, and your neighbor’s fridge, if you wanted to, and at the same time saving a bunch of money in the process. Students should remember to stock up on the items they use consistently when they find coupons or sales.
Fuller said, “I probably have a year’s worth of shampoo, a year’s worth of deodorant, and a year’s worth of razors, easily.”