NBC26 Special Report: Extreme Couponing
GREEN BAY, WI -- It's no secret; we all love a good bargain, but there are some people who take it to the extreme.
We're talking about extreme couponing. It's a phenomenon that's been hitting supermarkets for years.
But are people taking it too far? And is there a smarter way to shop?
We met one local mom from Green bay, who said there is a right way, and a wrong way to coupon. She doesn't stock-pile and only buys what she needs, and still saves thousands of dollars each year. She's also helping other families get started.
“You can get things for pennies,” said Jennifer Jacobson Carew, a Green Bay Coupon Blogger and Couponer.
She does one big shopping trip a month, spending about $170 dollars. She saves about 50% off her bill. That adds up to about $10,000 a year. She looks at the Sunday paper, online, and just checks out the store for sales.
“The store coupon can be used at the same time the manufacturer's coupon can be used,” said Jacobson Carew.
Let's be reasonable, this sounds like a lot of work, but is it?
“You know, a lot of people think, I don't have time to coupon,” said Jacobson Carew.
She said she only spends about an hour a week prepping, getting coupons in her binder. And with that one hour a week, the money she saves pays for it.
“I think people underestimate the amount of time, they're engaged in this,” said Tom Nesslein, a Professor of Economics at UWGB.
He said if you're going to coupon; make it worth your time.
“Some people, it's kind of like a game. It's a competition. It's like they're winning and so on,” said Nesslein.
If you're spending too much time looking for coupons, it's defeating the purpose.
Director of Online Marketing from ShopAtHome.com, Becki Dilworth, says they see their share of the extreme couponers, but it’s not like that for most people.
“Our member base, for the most part, are just everyday folks for the most part, that are wanting to save money on all of their different purchases,” she said.
Their site offers printable grocery coupons and cash back incentives. They have nearly 50 million members, and the majority wants the grocery coupons.
“Now that coupon clipping has become so easy with the internet, it's not something you're having to depend on the weekly circulars, seek it out, look for those Sunday newspapers,” said Dilworth.
Let's go back to Carew. She's making couponing her mission, writing the "Green Bay Consumer” blog and Facebook page. It shows locals how to get deals.
“I'm saving our family salary, and giving us the ability to do things with the kids we wouldn’t have been able to afford to do,” said Jacobson Carew.
If you're just starting out, don't try to do it like the TV shows. Expect to save about 10% off your bill. Use the stores for double coupon days. Stores in our area, like Copps, Piggly Wiggly and Pick N Save usually offer double coupons on the weekends.
Jacobson Carew said it might sound corny, but cherish those coupons.
“They don’t respect coupons. If you think about it, coupons are a form of money; you need to think of them that way,” she said.
Use them, and clip your way to savings.
Jacobson Carew gives lectures in the Green Bay area, how to coupon effectively. You can also find a link
to her Facebook page and blog about couponing.