Local shops with Coupon Mom and inspires a coupon makeover

I have a confession. My coupon situation needs help.

There are little piles of clipped coupons scattered all over the house instead of neatly filed away in a category coded binder. Just this past weekend, I missed out on an extra $5 off at Kroger because I left the coupon on the kitchen counter.

I have also been THAT person at the register who fumbles through her unorganized envelope of coupons searching for the right ones.

These are classic mistakes according to Stephanie Nelson aka Coupon Mom who also contributes to this blog.

Buying things you don’t need just because you have a coupon, not being organized (ahem!) and not paying attention at checkout because you are too busy shuffling through your unorganized coupons are bad habits that can reduce your savings, she says.

I should know better. I do know better. Even Coupon Mom thinks I’m pathetic. Okay, she didn’t say that, but she has heard the same excuse I gave her from just about everyone, “I’m too busy!”

Soooo, after talking to Atlanta resident Michelle Webb, I got inspired.

Michelle (pictured below on the right with Coupon Mom) happens to be the winner of the AJC Big Saver Challenge, but she’s also a married mom of three who has set aside the time to perfect her saving techniques. Her skills paid off when she won $1,000 and the opportunity to shop with Coupon Mom.

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They took a trip to Publix in Toco Hills where Michelle is a regular customer and knows some of the employees by name.

She’s been couponing since she was a young girl growing up in the Midwest. “I grew up cutting coupons with my mom and being embarrassed when she would bring her shoebox of coupons in the grocery store,” says Webb. She even remembers maneuvering three shopping carts to the checkout line so they could use triple coupons on certain items.

Now she clips her own coupons and secures them in a binder before heading to the grocery store. “I think couponing is essential. I don’t know how you can shop these days without using any and every cost saving measure out there,” she says.

During their shopping trip, Michelle got a high compliment from Coupon Mom. “She is what I would call a strategic shopper,” Stephanie says. “She understood the store’s policies. She had her coupons well organized.”

Webb had a coupon for nearly every item on her list, including some coupons that her mom sent from out of state. Coupon values may be different depending on the city in which they are issued, says Coupon Mom, so other cities may have coupons with better savings than those available locally.

The shopping date was an opportunity for the women to share coupons and saving secrets. Michelle who is intimately familiar with the layout of the store helped Coupon Mom find certain items, while Coupon Mom helped Michelle increase her savings by giving her printable coupons. “I learned…how effective a bulk of printable coupons can be,” Michelle says.

By the end of their shopping trip, Michelle had purchased $93 worth of groceries for only $31, while Coupon Mom spent $3 on groceries valued at $80 (She donated the groceries to charity.)

I learned a few things from talking to Michelle. I know there must be other people out there like her with tips to share, as well as people who can learn from those tips…and it is my duty as Bargain Hunter to help everyone connect.

And so, Michelle will soon be featured on the blog as the first ever AJC Atlanta Bargain Hunter of the Month!

This new feature will spotlight a metro area resident who really knows what it takes to get the best deals on anything and not just by using coupons.

Maybe you have a no-fail technique for getting the best price on cars or you always manage to sniff out steals at estate sales. Perhaps you are the only person who has investments that are growing instead of tanking in which case I really want to hear from you!

Reach me on FB, Twitter, email or comment here and tell me why you or someone you know should be a featured bargain hunter. And if you’re like me and some aspect of your bargain hunting needs a makeover, leave a comment and let me know that too!

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– Nedra Rhone, for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

7 comments Add your comment

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Michigander

October 9th, 2012
11:16 am

I never use coupons. My friend handed me a coupon while we were shopping the other day and we got $10 off the order. Apparently I’m wasting a ton of money.

M

October 9th, 2012
12:35 pm

I loved reading this! I’m probably a casual-to-medium couponer right now, and I still regularly save at least 30% every time I go to the grocery store – and my family doesn’t eat much that is processed/packaged and we buy tons of fruit and vegetables. Plus I use coupons for non-food items and *those* may be the ones that save me the most money overall. Looking forward to reading the feature on Michelle!

Laura Lindeman

October 9th, 2012
2:41 pm

I got into couponing a few years ago from reading blogs. I go through phases where I use them more effectively than other times, but I never go to the store without them.

I would love to share my tips about Manager’s Special markdowns as a featured saver!

Nedra Rhone

October 9th, 2012
3:25 pm

@LauraLindeman Thanks! I’ll be in touch soon.

ELVIRA CALVILLO

October 11th, 2012
9:29 pm

I use coupons but i never save money.

Jamie Butts

October 12th, 2012
2:23 pm

Hi Nedra, I contacted you with some random tips on e-mail, too, but I was just thinking about how much I love saving money with my breadmaker. My mom was an awesome example in this. Over time, I’ve gathered a few of my favorite recipes – we barely ever buy sandwich bread, French Bread (for Italian nights!), pizza or cinnamon rolls anymore. I’m happy to share these recipes and tips for using (and buying) a breadmaker, should you ever have any interest. Thanks for your blog!