CouponDad.net founder Zack is a husband and father of four children (three daughters and a son). He's a businessman by day and a blogger and social-media nut by night. This self-professed "Scrooge" was introduced to couponing at age 14, a skill which resurfaced when, thanks to move-in relatives, his household grew to encompass nine hungry mouths.
1. How did you become interested in coupon clipping and when did you start?
My first introduction to coupons was when I was about 10 years old. I would visit my dad and step-mom every summer and I was looking for ways to earn some extra spending money. I sold my parents on the idea of giving me any money I was able to save them on our grocery bill from coupons. So I took to clipping coupons from the newspaper inserts, finding them in the grocery store, and even writing manufacturers asking them to send me coupons. I was very motivated. LOL. Every week, when my step-mom would go grocery shopping, I tagged along and coerced her into buying the things I had coupons for! My parents loved it....I earned money to go to the movies or buy art supplies and they weren't out any money.
After a few years, I lost interest for a little while, but was re-introduced to couponing about four years ago. At the time, my sister-in-law and her two children had moved in with us to get over some hard times. With the addition of the three of them, it brought the mouths we were feeding up to nine. As you can imagine, our grocery bill was HUGE. So my sister-in-law wanted to try and help contribute to the family (She wasn't able to work at the time) and she was big into couponing. She taught me a lot of the advanced techniques and all about the wonders of CVS and Walgreens. If only I knew some of this back when I was 10. LOL.
So we were quickly saving over 50% to 60% off our grocery bill and getting our stockpiles started.
I was so amazed at how much could be saved that I wanted to spread the word and help as many people as possible....so Coupon Dad was born on January 22, 2009.
2. What is your most embarrassing coupon moment?
I'm not sure I have had a really embarrassing coupon moment. I do get some really funny looks from time to time from other guys when I'm walking around the grocery store with my big ol’ coupon binder. Or when checking out and have my three-inch-thick pile of coupons. But most of the time it is intriguing and good-for-you kind of comments: Especially when they see the savings, (or hear it, because the cashier always announces it. LOL).
3. How much time per week do you spend coupon clipping, searching for deals, etc?
This one will be a little skewed because of the amount of time I spend searching for deals for the blog and website as well. I'm not just finding the deals my family needs, but deals everyone can use.
So I spend probably 40 to 50 hours a week on couponing.
If I was just doing this for my family, however, I estimate it would only be around five hours a week.
4. How do you organize all of your coupons?
I use a coupon binder that has baseball cards inserts in it with tabs to organize the coupons by department. (frozen, dairy, canned goods, cleaning etc.). The tabs/categories are placed in the book in the order I shop at my favorite store. A helpful tip is to get a binder that zips shut. That way, if you accidentally drop it in the parking lot, your coupons don't fly all over the place. A second tip is to cut pieces of construction paper and put them in the baseball card inserts. That way, it creates a front and back pocket in each slot.
5. Where do you find most of your coupons?
The big ones are the inserts in the Sunday paper. Our Thursday paper has a repeat of the inserts. I also find them online from multiple sources, in magazines, in the store (promotional materials, booklets, flyers, etc.), from friends and family (We trade coupons we don't use.), on smartphone apps, and even on the products themselves, to name a few.
6. How has couponing affected your family and friends?
Many of my family and friends have actually joined us in our couponing journey. Once they saw how much money we were saving and how easy it could be, they joined the fun. My dad jokes, "The family that clips together stays together!”
7. What’s the best tip you can give to someone interested in becoming a couponer?
Start small and work your way up. It can be overwhelming if you jump right in and try to do everything at once. Get yourself organized and learn one technique/store/method at a time.
8. What is the best shopping trip you ever had? How much were you able to get for what price?
My best shopping trip: Well, I would have to say it was a diaper deal at Walgreens a while back. My sister-in-law had just had a baby and we wanted to help her out and load her up with diapers and wipes. Walgreens had a killer deal going and we ended up getting 20 packs of Huggies diapers (40 something count), and 10 packages of wipes (200 something count) for only $75. For diapers and wipes that was a HOT buy..
9. When did you begin teaching your children about couponing? How do you do this?
I have four children from the ages of nine to 16. All of them are involved in some fashion in our couponing adventures. They understand the more we can save on our groceries, clothing -- just about anything -- the more money we will have to do other things.
All of our children help us find coupons, cut coupons, put coupons in the coupon binder, clean out the expired coupons in the binder, etc.
One of the ways we teach them the value of couponing is when shopping for school clothes. We give them each a budget and let them pick out where they want to shop, etc. We have shown them that, if they make good choices and use coupons, there budget can stretch a lot farther.
10. How much do you save per month using coupons? Do you think the time and commitment is worth it for this amount of savings?
We personally save over a $1,000 a month from our grocery budget alone. That doesn't include the savings we get from coupons on clothing, eating out, entertainment, etc.
YES, it is definitely worth our time! We have been doing it so long now that it has just become part of our routine and with all six of us contributing (sis-in-law has since moved out), it makes it really easy to keep up.
11. Do you think you will always continue to live a “coupon lifestyle?”
Yes. I don't think I could ever go back to paying full price for anything, now that I know how easy it is. What I save can be spent on something else, like maybe another vacation!
12. What things do you most frequently get for free by using coupons?
Most of what I can score free is from Walgreens and CVS. The grocery stores in my area do not double or triple coupons, making it a little harder to get things free. So things like toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, lotions, soap, toothbrushes, floss, cleaning supplies, etc. we score free most of the time.