Jennifer Windler lives in St Louis with her husband of nine years, Jason, and their furbaby, Bear. She's lived in St Louis since age five and considers it her hometown. Jessica is a former nanny turned blogger and runs the blog HealthyLifeDeals.com.
1. How did you become interested in coupon clipping and when did you start?
I was a moderate coupon user but have always been a bargain shopper. I started to really learn how to use coupons about five years ago, when I saw a news story about a woman who had a fee-based coupon site. I started using coupons and became really hooked when I realized I could be getting name brand products for FREE or pennies on the dollar. Then, one day, while looking at my stockpile, I realized that all the products were over processed and chemical filled. Dealing with infertility and weight gain, I decided I had to make a change in the products I used. I decided to figure out how to save money on healthy products. To my surprise, it's really easy to do. I realized most coupon sites focus on regular grocery shopping. I wanted to show people you can save just as much on healthy lifestyle products, so I created Healthy Life Deals.
2. What is your most embarrassing coupon moment?
I had a coupon binder and had it resting on my cart. I was in a very very very busy local grocery store. I accidentally bumped my binder and it went flying and coupons went everywhere People looked at me like I was crazy as I was scrambling around trying to get all of my coupons. Usually, my binder was very easy to use: Not that day.
3. How much time per week do you spend coupon clipping, searching for deals, etc?
Because I seek out the deals and sales for my readers at Healthy Life deals, I spend more than your average couponer. I spend at least 30 hours per week seeking out deals in stores, finding coupons, matching them up with deals, and then posting them on Healthy Life Deals. Most of my time is spent in stores looking for in-store prices and finding coupons for those deals. Most people who use my site spend approximately 30 min getting their coupons together for a shopping trip. That's why I do all the work; so people know the deals and have the coupons at their fingertips.
4. How do you organize all of your coupons?
Since a lot of my time is spent searching out deals to share on Healthy Life Deals. I find it easier if I use several methods. In a file box sorted by date, I organize Sunday inserts, Whole Deal books (Whole Foods Coupon Booklet), and Mambo Sprouts booklets. I take the file box in my car so I have them if i find an in-store deal. I want to be able to run out to my car and grab whatever coupon i need. I also use what I call a " coupon to store organizer." It's your basic 13-pocket file (similar to a coupon organizer). I have different colors for each store I regularly shop at. I organize by department: dairy, produce, baking, cereal, etc., and I stack the coupons (one manufacturer and one store )and clip them together, so I know what coupons I have for that product. That way I have the coupons for that store.
5. Where do you find most of your coupons?
Since I focus on healthy, organic and natural products, I find most of my coupons online. Also, Mambo Sprout booklets (found in natural food stores) are FREE and wonderful to stack with store coupons at places like Whole Foods, which has both printables and coupon booklets in their stores. Note: Not all Whole Foods stores allow stacking. Ask your local store first.
6. How has couponing affected your family and friends?
My brother has become addicted to coupons after seeing how much I save. Several of my friends who never thought they would use coupons now use my site to help them save on healthy products for their families. I've held a coupon class for a couple of my friends.
7. What is the biggest tip you can give to someone interested in becoming a couponer?
Couponing does not have to take hours. If you use sites like mine, you can still save a lot of time and money. Don't get overwhelmed. Just do what you are comfortable with.
8. What is the best shopping trip you ever had? How much were you able to get for what price?
Last week I bought $132.98 worth of healthy products at Whole Foods and I made $3.58, after my mail-in-rebate.
9. Do you ever find yourself buying things you don’t need just because you have coupons?
I only get things I don't need with coupons if it is FREE or a money maker. I then donate that product to my local food bank or charity.
10. What do you do with things you buy but can’t use, or those set to expire if not used soon?
I donate them to a local food bank.
11. When do you believe parents should begin teaching children about couponing? How do you do this?
I would say two years old is when they can start learning but won't completely understand. I think if you just make it part of their life, they'll learn good money habits. I don't have any children, but I was a nanny for 17 years. Coupons can be very educational and fun for kids. They work on their scissor skills on the left over pages from the coupon inserts while I clip my coupons. They can learn about numbers and money in you show them each coupon has a value and they're kind of like money. I would teach them that if you use coupons, you have more money for other things. I would give each child their own coupon organizer and they would get my expired coupons to play shop with. They can help you shop as they get a bit older and and you can teach them that you get what is on your list.
12. Do you have any favorite types of coupons?
Printables. I list a lot of printables on Healthy Life Deals. That way people don't have to worry about buying papers each week and storing the inserts.