Shopping: Couponing offers extreme savings

Total cost: $51, an over 70% savings! (by Sarah McDuffie)
 To anyone who has ever felt faint upon seeing the final total on a grocery bill, shows like TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” can be downright irresistible. Watching a shopper exit a store with two carts full of merchandise paid for with the change from her sofa cushions seems inspirational, but is it worth the hours per week spent digging up the deals?

For Las Vegas’ Sarah McDuffie, the answer is definitely yes. The mother of five, who has actually made money on trips to the store, recalled how she got involved.

“I have a family member in California that has been bugging me for years about saving and couponing. She sent me a huge stack of coupons and pointed me in the right direction,” she said.

Experts say the best way to realize big savings is to match coupons with in-store sales. McDuffie used this strategy when she first started couponing to buy tissue paper at Walgreens.

“Who the heck needs an abundance of that, but it was what we call an MM, or a money maker,” she said. “I bought the tissue and (the store) gave me my money back plus $2. From that point on I was hooked–and will never lack tissue paper.”

There are a number of resources for beginners who want to save more than a quarter on a loaf of bread at checkout. TLC’s website offers 10 extreme coupon tips and Couponing101.com gives newbies tips on managing their expectations. Closer to home, bloggers such as Frugal Ferret and Homemaking Expert are offering a free couponing class at the Centennial Hills Library on Jan. 14 (sign up here.)

Although the savers on shows like “Extreme Couponing” can spend up to 30 hours a week planning their shopping sprees, McDuffie admitted that she doesn’t obsess over clipping coupons.

“I don’t have the time, with five kids, a husband, a job, school and a small petting zoo of animals to devote my life to,” she said.

Organization is key to saving big, according to the Coupons 101 section of the yVegasMommy.com blog. “My preferred method is keeping a file folder for the weekly inserts by insert type and then by date,” wrote site owner Jackie Landy.
“Another method is to keep a binder of all your coupons by category.”

Almost as important is knowing where to shop.

“My very favorite place to shop is Wal-Mart. They’re by far the most coupon friendly, in my opinion,” McDuffie said, citing their
price-matching policy and the fact that, if savings run over the cost, a cashier will hand the customer cash.

“I’ve saved over 100 percent before, which means they paid me to come to their store,” McDuffie said. “I try to always shoot for at least 50 percent, but really I’m very happy when I hit the 70-percent-off mark.”

Shoppers who hope to cash in on the best deals shouldn’t wait.

“So many times I have gone (to a store) and the shelf has been cleared,” McDuffie said. “We have a lot of couponers in Las Vegas, so you have to be on top of it.”

Published on bestoflasvegas.com

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