Shawna Martell, aka Coupon Lady Online, has shared her joy of coupons online and through in-person coupon classes for almost four years. By day, she's the Manager of Web Development for Wolfram|Alpha.
We asked Shawna six questions about her blog and her life, and she very kindly agreed to answer them.
1. As a full-time web-development manager with an employed husband and no children, you don't fit the average profile of a coupon fan. What led you down the couponing path?
I get this question a lot. It started shortly after I got married. Previously, I'd been in grad school doing what every grad student is doing: scrimping by on barely enough to live on. Then I was married, and we were a two-income household with no kids, and there was all this money! Our grocery budget skyrocketed, and I realized one day that we weren't going to be able to save for a home if we kept spending the way we were.
So I did the obvious thing, at least to me... I went online and found out how other people saved money. I found this amazing community of wonderful folks who'd figured out how to use coupons in ways I'd never even dreamed of.
Now, about four years later, we're happy homeowners. We purchased our house in 2008, and we're on track to pay it off late next year.
2. On your website you track the total price of merchandise you've purchased and how much you've saved. That looks like a lot of work! How do you keep track of these figures and does it help you live more frugally?
It's work, but it's not as much work as one might think. I'm a highly structured person. So I record every receipt in a spreadsheet, which makes it pretty simple to keep the figures on my website updated.
And let me clarify what those numbers mean... I only include the merchandise that I show on my blog. I don't update it after every trip for a gallon of milk. That would be too much work!
3. What merchants do you find provide the best coupon savings?
CVS, Meijer, and Target, though CVS wins most frequently in my area. I long for the world of double coupons, and I definitely think my answer would be different if I lived in a different part of the company.
Extra Bucks at CVS really add up to just tremendous savings. It never ceases to amaze me. Meijer does a great job with their Catalina promotions. They are certainly a close second to CVS.
4. Which merchants make it easiest to use coupons?
Boy, you know, it's usually more cashier dependent that store dependent. I think CVS does an excellent job generally. Meijer tends to be pretty coupon friendly, too. More and more places are drafting corporate coupon policies, and I think that's made a big difference. It's really helpful to be able to carry the official coupon policy with you.
5. How do online, downloadable and mobile coupons figure into your strategy?
Printable coupons are probably my favorite invention outside of the lightbulb. I live in a less than stellar coupon market, so sometimes the Sunday paper coupons leave a lot to be desired. Printable coupons really even the playing field.
I've just started using mobile coupons at Meijer. Their mPerks program is really quite something. They debuted the program with a $5 off a $5 purchase coupon, which is right up my alley. I haven't tried the Target mobile coupons yet, but I've read some very good things.
Groupon is my new favorite online coupon shop. (Learn more about Groupon and other group-buying sites by reading Coupon Sherpa's blog post on the topic.)
6. Non-coupon question: You recently saw former Monkees' drummer Micky Dolenz perform at a local fair. Could he still sing and was he funny onstage?
Indeed, Micky is still a joy. I've seen him many times, and I've got tickets for his next show in a short eight days! If you have the chance, it's worth seeing Davy Jones, Micky or Peter Tork at least once. (Mike Nesmith hasn't toured in many years.) They're all very entertaining. They are my favorite way to actually spend money!
When the Coupon Lady Online isn't working or searching for great deals, you're most likely to find her reading or playing games with friends. She lives with her husband Joshua in Illinois.
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