The idea of couponing is a little overwhelming, and slightly frustrating, for me. I love to clip coupons, but I forget to use them. Then, there are the stories about the Crazy Coupon Ladies who have a closet full of mustard, just because they got it for $.02 a jar. I have no desire to become a hoarder, so how do I effectively use coupons to cut my grocery bill by 75%?
I decided to talk with a couponing professional, Penny Parker, founder of ClipItBaby.com. Her stories amazed me, and her tips were so helpful that I just had to share. It’s a little bit long, but worth it! I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did!
MG: How did you get started couponing?
Penny: I have a long personal history with using coupons and found out at an early age what they could do for me. Initially, it was just to convince my mom to buy me junk food (Look! We have a coupon!). As I got older, I used the money I save each year to fund my summers in Italy. I did this for FOUR years. And now it enables me to live debt free in today’s uncertain economy.
Penny Parker, founder of clipitbaby.com
MG: How cool! What has been your best success so far?
Penny: Last month I went into a Fry’s Food Stores (the local Kroger affiliate) and was able to purchase $285 worth of groceries & toiletries for $18 by combining manufacture’s and in-store coupons.
MG: Wow! That’s amazing! What tips would give to new couponers, like myself?
Penny: First, get your coupons organized. Most people are familiar with the small accordion type file that is small enough to fit in your purse, but a three-ring binder with baseball card style pockets works great too.
Next, keep all your store and restaurant membership club cards with your coupons, and carry as many coupons as possible with you at all times. Not all sales and clearances are advertised. You will miss out on a lot of items if you do not have your coupons with you and they are sitting at home.
Finally, find a set time to clip and sort coupons each week, possibly during your favorite TV show. File them as you clip them to stay as organized as possible.
The more time you spend upfront on getting yourself organized, the easier the system will be to use and you will quickly save more money.
MG: How do you keep from becoming the “Crazy Coupon Lady?”
Penny: It is an unwritten law that you never clear the shelves of any product, period. If the sales are really fantastic in any given week, I always make multiple trips & shop at off hours as to not to hold up the checkout lanes.
MG: Who is a “typical” couponer?
Penny: I always thought “typical” couponer was someone on a limited income until I started doing research for my coupon book. I was really surprised to find out that the more affluent households dominate coupon usage: 38% of “super heavy” users and 41% of “enthusiasts” come from households with incomes greater than $70,000. [ The Nielsen Company, The Coupon Comeback, April 13, 2010.]
MG: Where can we find more information about you?
Penny: You can visit my website where you can print online manufacturer’s coupons. I also have a daily newsletter that compiles all of my deal postings for the day.
Your contact information:
Name: Penny Parker