Couponing secrets: Clip artists know when to buy a lot of something key to ‘making money’

By Janet Patton

Lexington Herald-Leader (MCT)

Published: Sunday, March 23 2014 8:52 p.m. MDT

Fleck said that recently she noticed Brawny paper towels on sale for $1, “and there was a coupon for $2 off two … so I ordered them on eBay. I ordered 20, and got 40 packages of paper towels. … So that’s cut out of my weekly budget. You stockpile, and then you don’t have to spend until it’s on sale.”

What is her weekly budget for her family, which includes one child?

“I buy a lot of organic items so my personal budget is higher than others. I try to spend $100 a week,” she said. “Some of my readers have a $30-a-week grocery budget. That’s talent.”

Some of her tips for successful strategic shopping:

—Have a dollar amount in your week of what you’re going to spend on the stockpiling part of your budget, and the rest on your groceries.

—Start small and don’t do every single deal. “You’re wasting your money, especially if you have to pay tax,” she said.

—Keep your storage in mind. If you’re having to buy shelving units, you need to factor that in. “I’m looking at 10 cans of air freshener. We don’t use it, but it was free,” she said.

Think about what you’re buying: Will you save enough in the long run to justify the expense and effort (because it is work) of monitoring the prices, gathering the coupons and buying a dozen of something?

If — once you factor in all the costs — you think it is worth it, go for it. If not, save your money for the next deal; there will be one.

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This month’s homework

Here’s some recommended reading. “How to Shop for Free” by Kathy Spencer (Da Capo Lifelong Books, $14.95) is a useful primer on couponing at a variety of stores. It’s available at some public ibraries, most booksellers and Spencer’s website, Howtoshopforfree.net, which is updated with daily deals.

Katie Fleck’s website, Krogerkrazy.com, also has lots of useful tips on what’s on sale at Kroger and how to maximize the deal with coupons. She includes links to print out coupons, if you have a personal computer and printer, and to electronic ones.

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©2014 Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.)

Visit the Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.) at www.kentucky.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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