Imagine the satisfaction of getting nearly $2,000 of groceries for less than $10.
It sounds like a get-rich-quick scheme or a task more daunting than it’s worth, but the truth is, it’s entirely within the reach of most dedicated savers.
On Friday, people in Noxen had the opportunity to learn more about extreme couponing from a Misericordia University student who has been extensively involved in the school’s donation program, ‘Campus Clippers.’
Caitlin Day, a graduate student studying physical therapy and vice president of Campus Clippers, shared with the audience some of tips that helped her and the group get off to a running start.
“Campus Clippers got started when some friends of mine were helping out food pantries and thought they should learn extreme couponing to donate more goods,” Day said.
The group has been wildly successful in their efforts, notably collecting $1,772.40 worth of goods for a mere $9.40.
Yes - it is real.
Before Day launched into a tutorial of proper couponing practices, she asked the audience to put their ‘coup-scuses’ on the shelf.
These coupon-excuses, or reasons why people don’t put more effort into using coupons, include:
*”I clip coupons, but then I forget them”
*”The coupons in the paper are for things I don’t use”
*”When I use coupons, I end up buying things I don’t need”
After stressing that anyone and everyone can use coupons to get other-worldly discounts on products, Day moved into the facts.
First, it’s important to know the difference between manufacturer’s coupons and store coupons.
Manufacturer coupons come straight from the manufacturer of a specific product, while store coupons come from the store. Typically, the type of coupon is listed in a black box at the top of the coupon.
What is most important about knowing the difference between the two is that both can be combined on one product, resulting in optimal savings.
Coupons can be found all over, but the best ones to look for are:
*newspaper inserts: Red Plum, SmartSource, P&G
*printables: coupons.com, redplum.com, smartsource.com
*eCoupons and Apps: savingstar.com, Ibotta, Shopkick, Cartwheel
*store coupons: store circulars, websites, in-store
Day noted that some of the best help she receives is in utilizing blogs that spell everything out.
In many cases, a blog will tell someone where to pick up the coupons, where to use them and how to use them, even going as far as giving a total, calculated price.
A lady out of Mountain Top, Kara Zoeller, has a blog created specifically for the NEPA region, which can be found at www.savingbydesign.com.
Once someone has their resources in order, it’s time to start clipping.
Day said it’s best to keep a binder or organizer of some sort, since it can get messy.
“It’s really important to keep yourself organized to save time,” Day said.
A helpful tip for clipping is to avoid physically cutting out coupons until absolutely necessary.
Instead, look through each coupon booklet and make an itemized list of each coupon within the book that you may use, as well as what page it is on, and tape that list to the front of the booklet.
It will save a lot of time and mess.
There are also ways to obtain extra copies of booklets, such as purchasing a stack of newspapers or getting them from neighbors.
Sometimes, newspapers will donate their old papers if they know the goods received from couponing are being donated to food shelters.
When it’s time to finally go to the store, there are a few key steps to remember.
First, to best utilize coupons, it will be necessary to make multiple transactions, or checkouts.
That being the case, it is important to have every transaction perfectly planned out - go to the store, get what you planned to get, and check out as was planned.
“You should know what your total is before they tell you,” Day said.
Also, make sure to be aware of the store’s coupon policy.
It’s better to go later at night when there aren’t as many people, as well as being kind enough to let those behind you in line know that you may be taking a while.
Most importantly, don’t get frustrated.
“You can’t get all bummed out and stop couponing because you missed the deal of a lifetime,” Day said. “There will be another, I promise you.”
Pearl Race, of Kingston, organized the program through The Pastor’s Pantry, a food pantry at the Noxen United Methodist Church that she’s been running since 2007.
She said when she saw the steady amounts of food being brought into the pantry, she asked about its origin and learned about ‘Campus Clippers.’
“I thought, ‘My God, we’ve got to learn how to do this!’” Race said.
Campus Clippers provide food to more than a handful of local pantries, including Ruth’s Place and St. Vincent de Paul in Wilkes-Barre, the Catherine McAuley Center in Plymouth, and the Blue Chip Animal Farm in the Back Mountain.