Coupon Mom: Save big on groceries

By Dawn Baker - email | bio

MARIETTA, GA (WTOC) - We're all trying to cut back wherever we can these days and we can all use a little help when it comes to buying food.

Stephanie Nelson, known as the Coupon Mom, has some amazing tips to help make ends meet.

We went shopping with her and learned how different we all are when it comes to the simple act of buying groceries.

Let's face it, all of us look at the supermarket differently. For some, it's just something you have to do, but for others, it's a challenge trying to stretch your money.

Everything seems expensive because many don't know where to start. One way you can save is to always pick up a sales circular when you walk in the door, but we've learned one of the best ways to save money is to do your homework before hitting the store.

Nelson says there are three types of shoppers. The busy shoppers who don't bother with coupons, but probably have a discount card and pick up sales papers as they walk in.

They can still save 30 percent on groceries.

Rookie shoppers take it more seriously. They spend about a half hour a week planning their trip, checking store ads, clipping and printing coupons and planning meals.

They typically save about 50 percent.

Then there's Nelson who calls herself a varsity shopper. She spends about an hour planning each week's shopping trip and can save up to 75 percent every time she buys food.

"The varsity shopper gets at least three copies of the newspaper, trades coupons with friends, sends emails to companies to ask for more coupons and prints coupons," explains Nelson.

With that in mind, she takes us on an adventure through a Kroger supermarket, teaching her money saving tips.

"Instead of just buying the same brand of bread you always buy, see what the sale prices are. In this case, that 99 cents on 100 percent whole wheat is a good deal. Now a rookie shopper would have taken the time to look for coupons before they came shopping. There's a coupons for this item from the newspaper for 50 cents. Kroger will double it. So this bread is free," she explains. "A varsity shopper might get three copies of the newspaper and get three loaves of bread free. I would freeze two loaves. You can't beat that."

Sometimes it's just a matter of keeping your eyes open to find the extra savings.

"You come into the store and you see a tag that if I buy 10 participating items, I'm going to get $5 off my order. That means that I will either pay 99 cents for this order or if I buy 10 items, I'll pay 49 cents, no coupon required. I am going to go ahead and get two of those because a rookie shopper would have printed a coupon before they left home which actually makes this free," says Nelson.

After gathering up several more deals, we're off to the register to check out. This order would have cost us $144.66. The busy shopper earns a 50 percent savings which brings the price down to $72.56.

The rookie shopper saved an additional $22 and the varsity shopper pays $26.17. Doing the extra work earns the varsity shopper an 82 percent discount and a savings of $116.15.

"Some people would say that's too much time for me and I'd say if it took me an hour to plan all these coupons and I saved $116. No one's paying me $116 an hour. That's pretty good wages," adds Nelson.

This year, she has turned those tips into this book called "The Coupon Mom's Guide To Cutting Your Grocery Bills In Half". It's now on the New York Times Best Seller List.

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