Kerri Scarlett is a stay-at-home mom of two girls who enjoys couponing. The motto of her website, SaveAtHomeMommy, is "Spend Less, Live Better, Give More!" Kerri enjoys using coupons to get free or cheap items that allow her to help others. She lives in Bakersfield, Calif., where she designed and now sells a unique coupon-binder system.
1. How did you become interested in coupon clipping and when did you start?
I started couponing out of necessity about 2-1/2 years ago. After moving for my husband's job, we were paying a mortgage on our old home in Virginia for 2-1/2 years as well as our rent and living expenses in California. I thought about getting a part-time job to alleviate some of the stress, but wanted to stay at home with my girls. I stumbled on couponing and, after a few short months, I was hooked! Instead of having to get a part time job, I was able to save enough couponing to make up the difference in our budget.
2. How much time per week do you spend coupon clipping, searching for deals, etc?
I spend about two hours at the most researching, clipping coupons and planning my shopping trips each week. I then spend about two hours shopping. There are always weeks where I don't have to shop at all because I already have plenty.
3. How do you organize all of your coupons?
My coupons are organized in two places. I clip coupons I know I'm likely to use and keep them in my Save At Home Mommy Coupon Binder. I then label the inserts with the date, clip similar ones together, file them by date, and insert them in my file cabinet. This way, I can easily locate coupons for deals I want to cash in on.
4. Where do you find most of your coupons?
Most of my coupons come from Sunday newspaper inserts and from online printable coupon sites.
5. What is the biggest tip you can give to someone interested in becoming a couponer?
By far, the best tip for saving is learning how to stockpile! It's key to buy items your family uses when they'e at their lowest price, and buying enough to last six weeks to three months. This helps you avoid paying top prices. It also allows you enough time for the sale cycles to come around so you can pay that super-low price again and replenish your stockpile. Just clipping coupons and buying those products won't save you much at all. You have to learn to match those coupons with sale prices, store rewards, rebates and any other possible savings methods.
6. What items do you most frequently get for free using coupons?
I find I can get most toiletries and cleaning supplies for free, as long as I buy plenty to last me to the next sale. I also rarely pay much at all for pasta, cereal, crackers and other snacks.
7. Do you ever find yourself buying things you don't need just because you have coupons?
If so, what do you do with those things? No, I only buy items that my family will use or that I plan on donating. We put together bags of non-perishable food and toiletries to keep in our car to hand out to needy people in our community.
8. Do you think you'll always continue to live a "coupon lifestyle?"
Yes!! I can't imagine not using coupons or stockpiling. I'd feel guilty spending so much when I know how much I could be saving! I love that when I get a little burnt out, I can rely on my stockpile for a few weeks and take a break. I'm always ready to get back out there and save, though.
9. How much on average are you able to save on your purchases? Does this vary by the category of goods?
I aim to have at least a 75% savings on my grocery store trips. During most drugstore trips, I try to spend little to nothing out of pocket by rolling store rewards from one week to the next.
10. What age did you start teaching your children about coupons? How do you go about teaching them?
We have two little girls, six and three. They both know what coupons are and know we always use them. My six-year-old knows we use coupons not because we have to, but because we need to be faithful with what money we have been given by God. If there's a way to spend less and give more, we should do it! We've always told them about coupons, but we explain more about savings as they grow older and understand better.
11. What kinds of things do you most frequently stockpile?
I stockpile any items I know my family will use that have a very long shelf life. Any cleaning supplies, toilet paper and most toiletries last a very long time. I also stockpile pasta, canned goods, snacks, cereal, baking mixes, frozen foods and drinks. I usually buy enough to last about six weeks to two months, if possible, in order to last until the next time I'm able to get those items at a rock-bottom price.