Stephanie Nelson, a Marriott International sales and marketing executive, wanted to stay home with two young children but needed to make that financially feasible. She began studying couponing in 1995, and she has turned it into an art form that saves her $75 to $100 a week on grocery bills.
That led to start her "The Coupon Mom" Web site, which she has built into a business, with a half-million subscribers to the free, advertiser-supported site that offers coupons, tips on deals and other advice.
Here are 10 tips Nelson provided to The Associated Press for novice couponers:
• Know how stores' coupon policies work. Ask if they double coupons.
• Wait to use grocery coupons when the item is on sale. You might get the item free!
• Buy two to three copies of the Sunday newspaper to load up on grocery coupons.
• Print free coupons from coupon Web sites. Also, download electronic coupons to your loyalty card from store sites such as Kroger.com.
• Be brand-flexible. Buy the brand that's on sale with a coupon, or get the store brand if it's less expensive.
• Sign up for your store's loyalty card and provide complete mailing information. You'll get special store coupons.
• Know the usual prices for your regular items and stock up when they're discounted.
• Shop once a week or less to reduce impulse shopping. Plan your week's meals around your store's sale items.
• Be flexible about your store choices. Check ads for area stores and shop at the one with the best deals on your items that week.
• Use the drugstore savings programs. Combine sale prices, store coupons and automatic rebates to get free merchandise every week.