Clipping Coupons: How the Coupon Mom Saves Big
Business Solutions Stephanie Nelson, founder of CouponMom.com, is committed to helping feed the hungry by increasing food donations to hunger organizations with the Cut Out Hunger program.
How did you first get involved in couponing?
I started looking at using coupons and saving money on our household budget when I was pregnant with our first child as I wanted to also be able to quite working. So I started looking at budgeting and realized that one of the easiest ways to save money was to start using coupons. That’s pretty common for new couponers. They start couponing when they have a change of life, which generally happens when you have kids or when you get married.
By the time my kids were old enough to go to school, I started teaching low income families how to use coupons to save money on their own groceries. I put up a website and what I would do was list all the best deals at all the stores in our city with coupons each week, and people would just follow the list. I found that people were perfectly happy to use coupons if someone told them how to do it. I just though using coupons was a lot of fun.
What are the top three pieces of advice you can give someone looking to save money?
First is plan. And when I say plan I mean in terms of groceries. Plan your meals for the week around what’s on sale at your store. Most people do the opposite; most people plan their menus and then just make a grocery list and buy the items regardless of their price.
"The average family can cut their grocery bill in half by using a combination of sales and store rewards programs and coupons."
The second is to be flexible. And when I say be flexible, be flexible in terms of the brands you buy. And be flexible about the specific store that you shop at each week. Look at a couple of stores to see who has the best deals for the items that you need that week.
Thirdly, use coupons, but use coupons at the right time, when the item is on sale. When you can combine the coupon with the sale price you’ll probably get the lowest price that you’ll see so stock up at that point. Get out of that cycle of paying full price.
Why do you encourage people to coupon? What can your average person gain from couponing?
Well the average family can cut their grocery bill in half by using a combination of sales and store rewards programs and coupons. For a family of four that might be anywhere from $50 to $75 dollars a week. If you look at that over the course of a year you’re looking at perhaps $2,500 a year. It adds up.
How can a “couponer” take advantage of loyalty and rewards programs to further aid their budget?
The only way to save as much money as possible is to join your store’s loyalty program. My spending dollars accumulate and then I get discounts on gas in addition to the loyalty card. The loyalty card also tells the grocer what my favorite items are, so I get coupons in the mail for my favorite items. Most grocery stores now have digital coupons on their website which you can load onto your store loyalty card. So, essentially, you’re using a coupon without having to print any paper or cut anything out. You’re really leaving money on the table if you’re not taking advantage of your store’s loyalty program.