Stephanie Nelson’s considers her thrifty work “the best part time job ever."
The mom behind www.couponmom.com recently told Oprah viewers that she has saved approximately $72,000 over the past fifteen years since she began scoping out deals and gathering coupons.
These days Nelson says her weekly grocery bill for a family of four barely surpasses $100! (HOT TIP: Nelson says she is always flexible about brands and stores.)
With the economy the way it is, coupon clipping is sounding kind of cool, so MainStreet asked this money saving mom for advice!
MS: When did you first start using coupons?
SN: I started using coupons fifteen years ago when my first son was born. I had stopped working and needed to figure out a way to get the family down to a one income budget. I realized that grocery spending is a good place to start saving and really loved figuring out how to get the best grocery deals.
MS: When did you start helping others to save?
SN: It happened about eight years ago. I saw that a local food panty was open and I was buying items for them at 20 cents on the dollar. That’s when I started teaching my methods to others. Now, 48% of the site’s users donate to food pantries as well.
MS: Do you think people are hesitant to use coupons?
SN: They definitely are. People think it takes too much time, which is why I try to make it easier for people by creating databases. Also, some people experience a little bit of embarrassment attached to it. But that is much less now than it ever was. With the economy being the way it is, more people are opening their minds. Who knows, maybe it will become trendy.
MS: Should people really buy two copies of the Sunday paper for the coupons?
SN: About 80% of grocery coupons come from the Sunday paper. Now, most of us don’t have two hours to browse through the paper so I suggest you pile the circulars from the Sunday papers, write the dates on them, and then go to our website www.couponmom.com because we lift everything from stores like ShopRite and match it with specific regions, allowing readers to then go back to their circulars and cut out only what they need. It really becomes more of a ten minute exercise.
MS: What about other coupons?
SN: Electronic coupons which [register] on a store membership card and printable coupons are getting big. People can go to websites like www.Kroger.com to scope out coupons. It’s a great idea to combine the different types of coupons available. With coupons, you should always ask if your store doubles up on coupons.
MS: Do all stores double up?
SN: Ask the store about the rules before you start playing the game, because it does actually become a sort of game. I usually ask the manager or someone at customer services for information on their savings programs.
MS: Any other secrets to savings?
SN: To save a good amount of money, you have to know what items are on sale and work your shopping list around those. And when something is on sale, stock up on it. If it’s meat, buy a good amount of it and freeze it.
MS: What is the best coupon deal you ever came across?
SN: The best deal I ever got was with my kitchen cabinets. A representative from a home design team came to our house with the final price, at which point I asked if they have coupons. She said they do, and I took out my mailer and got a coupon that took 15% off the final price. We ended up saving $722, at which point I did my little victory dance and completely embarrassed my husband.