We both have four kids, a husband, and a dog to feed, yet Kathy Spencer spends 75 times less than I do each week at the grocery store. Clearly, I had to find out how. She is, of course, the self made Coupon Guru, with a new book out on the topic, and a website, where she shows shoppers how she does it. When I heard she was giving an hour and a half “coupon class” at the RI Home Show, I knew I should to attend.
I was impressed not only by her ability to feed a family of six on $4 a week, but by her candor, her humor, and her willingness to share her money saving secrets. Paying it forward seemed to be a large part of her message. Along with the information she generously shares, she donates those items that she does not need, to others that do…pediatric hospitals, nursing homes, food pantries or friends in need. She strategically combines coupons found in fliers from the newspaper, with sales going on in the store to get items for pennies or free. One example of how she shops would be a $1.00 off coupon used for an item that then happened to be on sale at the store for 3 for $3.00 that week, in which case she would by three & use three coupons. That means free! Another of her tactics is that when she does find those amazing deals on non-perishables like toothpaste or toilet paper, she stockpiles them to avoid having to pay full price in the future. What she wants us as consumers to understand is that to survive day to day, improve our lifestyles, or to get the things we want, more money is not the answer, but saving money is.
I was so excited by what I learned I immediately went home and started clipping away at coupons. What I found when I tried to put what I had learned into practice, is that I have a lot to learn! I combined coupons with sales, but only a few items I had coupons for coincided with sales, and I still needed some things that I did not have coupons for, or were not on sale. On my first enthusiastic foray into coupon shopping I ended up saving $23.00 off my still astounding shopping bill , and then $25.00 the second time around. I have to admit the wind was taken out of my sails a bit, but I am determined to work on my strategy and figure this out. I don’t ever expect to be able to cut my bill to mere dollars, but with a family of six every bit counts.
Extreme couponing gained momentum with the economic downturn, and there is an entire T.V. show on TLC about it. We don’t all have to go to the sometimes crazy lengths that extreme couponers might be willing to go through to get a bargain, like leaving their house at the crack of dawn, and going store to store to get the deals. Kathy seems confident that we can all save with coupons, even if it just means cutting our grocery bills by 10 or 20 percent. It takes some organization, but the payoff can be big. Hearing her speak certainly inspired me to try. My coupon organizer, (of course I had to run out and buy a cute one) is now bulging with yet to be had deals. I guess if I can manage to shave $25.00 off my weekly food bill, adding up to $100.00 a month that is a pretty good start.
If any of you have mastered the art of coupon shopping, or have tips to help me learn I’d love to hear them!