Shannon thinks of herself as frugal, not cheap, which means she likes to find quality products at a good price. Thanks to her website CouponPrincess.net, Shannon was named a Deal Pro by Savings.com in 2009 and again in 2010. She believes couponing is for anyone and everyone.
1. How did you become interested in coupon clipping and when did you start?
I have always been one to look through the Sunday paper to see the coupons, but I did not really begin couponing habitually until I was pregnant with my third child. I knew I had to buy diapers, baby items and more, and I knew I could save money-using coupons on these items fairly easy. Then couponing became a hobby and a great way to save my family money.
2. What is your most embarrassing coupon moment?
Well, one time my friend and I went shopping at our favorite double-coupon grocery store. As we shopped and put items in our grocery cart, we sat on the floor of the store to cut coupons out!
Some of the best and craziest shopping trips are shopping with friends!
3. How much time per week do you spend coupon clipping, searching for deals, etc.?
This can vary from week to week. I would say about two hours a day. Some days less, somedays more.
4. How do you organize all your coupons?
I just began organizing them by categories in envelopes. Then all the envelopes go in a box. I was doing the organizing by baseball card inserts, but it took too much time fitting the coupons in the card inserts.
I also keep CVS and Walgreens coupons, register rewards, or CVS Extra Care Bucks in a separate baggie or clear zipper bag.
5. Where do you find most of your coupons?
Most come from the Sunday paper in my area. Others will come from the Internet. If I am lucky, I can find coupons at gas stations, grocery-store tear pads, or on products in the stores.
6. How has couponing affected your family and friends?
My friends save money, but aren’t into couponing as much as I am. They think they want to coupon, but don’t do the grocery couponing really.
But they do love the mall deals and restaurant deals that come about!
7. What is the biggest tip you can give to someone interested in becoming a couponer?
My tip would be start small; Don’t try to become to extremer at couponing all at once. Being at the checkout with 50 coupons can be a little overwhelming and it’s hard to monitor the cashier to make sure all coupons were accepted.
Pick one or two stores; Learn their couponing policy and how their store loyalty rewards work.
8. What’s the best shopping trip you ever had? How much were you able to get for what price?
One of the best was about three years ago at Target. There were fabulous diaper coupons and wipes coupons, and Target had some of their own coupons out at the same time as the manufacturer did. This is called coupon stacking, Target allows one manufacturer coupon and one Target coupon for products. I bought other things as well. The total was close to $400, which I about fell over. I then paid $3.22, after all my coupons.
9. What do you do with things you get but can’t use, or items that are going to expire if not used soon?
I give items away to friends and family. I also am able to donate items like health and beauty products to the local food pantry.
10. What things do you most frequently get for free by using coupons?
I would say toothpaste, deodorant, toothbrushes, shampoo and conditioner. Sometimes, I can get lunch meat, cheese, cereal, cookies and crackers, too.
11. Have you ever reached a point where you feel couponing has consumed your life and become overwhelming?
No, because I balance how and when to stop obsessing over getting things free and cheap. I have learned there will always be another sale, and when I do have to much in the freezer, stockpile and pantry, I am learning to eat what we have and worry about stocking up again when there is another great sale.
12. How much, on average, do you save per month using coupons?
Using restaurant coupons, retail coupons and manufacturer coupons, I would say I probably save about $500 to $600 a month for a family of five. However, if you buy something and it costs money “but it was on sale” and you save $50 on a $75 item, you are not saving any money. You are just buying it because it is a good deal. So I am learning that sometimes it is better to leave a sale on the sale rack if I am only going to “might use it.” So don’t get caught up in wanting to be the most extreme couponer out there, clearing the shelves so others can’t benefit from the sale.