Count your money by counting your coupons!

The last stop of the grocery trip with mom was the row of candy that towered above me. My eyes would browse the shelf vigorously for the best pick. The milk chocolate Wonder Ball won the majority of the time. Fast forward ten years and I am standing next to my mom as she is checking out once again. The shelf is now the same height as me which makes the selection easier to view. Instead of allowing my eyes to shift through it, I watch my mom flip threw her coupons. The cashier says “You have saved $24.16 dollars ma’am.” My new fixation was spotted right at the bottom of the black and white receipt. Why don’t I use coupons?

Juggling finances can become a full-time job when you are providing for yourself. The coupon craze has dominated TLC shows so why not let it enter your lifestyle. Using coupons is a great way to save money while in college. A close friend Marney, has been couponing for the last two years and has gotten the swing of it.

With a passion for saving money and the determination to learn the ropes, you can follow Marney’s footsteps and become a coupon hobbyist.

       “The ways to save are out there – now it’s time to just utilize them,” Marney said.

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Read the interview below to get more tips from Marney about couponing!

When did you start taking an interest in couponing?

I started to take an interest in couponing about 2 years ago.

Did your parents coupon when you were a child?

My parents did not coupon as I was growing up and still do not to this day. As I have gotten more into couponing though, I hear that my grandmother was a big couponer (not to the same extent as myself) but she was always using coupons and trying to get a bargain one way or another.

Have you noticed a new acceptance for using a lot of coupons compared to when you were younger?

Since I really didn’t pay much attention to coupons as I child I can’t really answer that question. But I have noticed that once awareness of the use of coupons was brought to people’s attention, especially through the TV show Extreme Couponing on TLC; that people became very aware of the fact that coupons are still being used today. Once the show revealed how successful using coupons could be and the large amounts of money that you can save. Then people really started wanting to use them and achieve the same amount of savings that they were witnessing on TV.

When did your interest increase into a hobby?

My interest in coupons became an immediate hobby. I have always been frugal and have looked for ways to save money. So once I – along with the rest of America watched “Extreme Couponing” I realized that I could achieve the same thing. I then started watching the shows religiously and with a little common sense it was very easy to pick up.

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In the past year do you know roughly how much you have saved?

Roughly I have saved between $500-$1,000 between purchasing groceries, clothes/shoes, toiletries, etc.

How much is the most you have saved at one time?

In one transaction, the most I ever saved was $182.58. The total was $233.99 after coupons I spent $51.41. I was pretty excited but still wish I could have gotten the total even lower.

How do you choose your coupons?

Every Sunday I buy the paper with the inserts (coupons) in them. I always browse through the paper before I purchase to 1) Make sure the coupons are in them before I purchase them and 2) To make sure that there are good (also known as “high value” coupons) in them before purchasing multiple papers. Once I cut them all out and begin to organize them in my coupon binder I then create my grocery list. Once complete I browse through my coupons and begin to pull the coupons I know I will need in my trip. I will then write out next to the item on my list the item and the coupon value I have off the item (i.e. Chicken Breast – Coupon: Purdue Chicken Breast Frozen $1.50 off) so I can visually see that I have a coupon for that item and I then know to pull that coupon when checking out at the register.

How could couponing benefit a college student or household with a lot of mouths to feed?

Currently a Graduate Student myself, couponing has helped me tremendously. Even when I was in my undergraduate studies couponing saved me many trips to the store and money. Coupons will/can benefit anyone that uses them. I view them as “my money” the value they are worth (example $1, $3, $5 off – that’s money) and that money that you save gets to stay in your pocket. Therefore, you can use the money you save towards other things in your life – bills, savings, trips, retirement, education, etc.

I always advise people then when planning out your meals with coupons – only buy what you need and what your family will eat. People’s biggest mistake is not shopping with a grocery list. Always do an inventory of what you already have at home and then write down what you are in need of. When we allow ourselves the freedom to go into the grocery store without a list we then spend aimlessly. Regardless of whether or not you have a coupon for an item – always purchase the item that is cheapest (i.e. store brand items). Coupons may not always provide you with the cheapest deal and with our overall goal of saving money then we need to spend as less as possible.

Do you have any other money saving tips?

Yes, lots but I don’t know which ones are appropriate to share – ha! I try to save money everywhere I go – whether it’s in the form of a coupon, asking for a discount, haggling the prices down, using student discount opportunities, shopping when and only sales are going on, only shopping the clearance racks for clothes and personal items, etc. Overall, it’s just becoming more cautious of how to save your hard earned money. The ways to save are out there – now it’s time to just utilize them!

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