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Coupon clipper masters the art of saving money

While Donna Gordon was in search for a book about computers, she stumbled upon another that changed her way of shopping.
The book “Pick Another Checkout Lane Honey,” began her journey into the world of couponing and the discovery of how much it could potentially save her family.
Gordon’s love of cooking, as well as having four daughters, were all determining factors for diving into the craft.
A few key websites soon helped her learn the science of couponing.
“Couponing has its own language,” Gordon said. “It really is a science. It depends on what level you want to be at.”
Hours spent on couponing begin with the purchase of newspapers with Smart Source or Red Plum manufacturing coupons inside, followed by a thorough search of what she needs.
“I have been known to buy 20 papers for coupons,” Gordon said.
Once the coupons are cut, they are then stored in a large binder that is zipped and divided into sections with clear inserts. Gordon then creates a shopping list and places the coupons into an accordion file, so she can easily access them at the store.
With items such as milk, eggs and yogurt, coupons are limited, so she keeps a list of where to buy such staples at the lowest prices.
When Gordon first began couponing, she started off by putting $10 aside, so she could buy items in bulk and store for later use. She also soon learned that it was important to understand each store’s policy regarding coupons before she started shopping.
“More coupons are being used now and more companies are putting coupons out there,” Gordon said. “I think the biggest problem, if you consistently use coupons, is sometimes the stores are not educated, and it is random how they do things.”
Gordon said in addition to finding coupons, it is also important to study the market and learn the sales cycles for preferred items. This helps her shop smarter.
“By purchasing in bulk when prices are at rock bottom, we save more money,” she said. “Finally, waiting to purchase until that sales cycle reaches that low price again is the most economic way to save on items with a long shelf life.”
Couponing has been beneficial for the family because it affords Gordon the ability to stretch her family’s discretionary income by purchasing such items as fresh fruit and vegetables.
On average, Gordon saves between 30-50 percent on grocery shopping every week. She also saves 48-90 percent while shopping at drug stores.
The money Gordon saves typically goes toward the purchase of a new book or going to an event.
Gordon shared a few of her shopping deals – four corn beefs for 99 cents a pound, as well as other items where she only had to pay the sales tax because of store sales and coupons.
“It is really cumulative over the long haul,” Gordon said. “Buying at the best price at the right time with a coupon is the perfect storm for shopping and is what I strive for.”
The time spent on couponing also goes in cycles due to her purchasing items in bulk.
“I don’t spend so much (time) now because I am so caught up,” she said. “It’s very rare I run out of anything, except if it’s something fresh.”
As with anything, there are also some things to be careful about when couponing.
Gordon said individuals can overspend because they do not want to pass up a great deal or a valuable coupon.
“The good news is you can save a lot of money,” she said. “The bad thing is you can waste a lot of money and time.”
The art of couponing has changed Gordon’s life.
“Once you figure out how to do it, it does change the way you shop and the way you do things,” she said. “It’s like, why would you waste money?”