Learn to save thousands with extreme couponing
By Sara Howell

sarahowellBesides being a mom, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a wife, a friend, a teacher, I am an extreme couponer.

Yes, indeed, I’m thrifty. I learned to coupon while on bed rest, counting pennies awaiting my first child to enter the world. I realized that the cost of children was so high that my husband and I would never be able to afford the simple needs for my family. We are hard working, yet we are always pinching pennies to get by. Over the past four years, it has become my mission to help others learn to coupon and pay it forward.

$10,000 in savingsyeartodatesavings

Over the last calendar year, I have saved over $10,000 at the local grocery store.
Let’s do the math: I spent around $4,300 last year, which is around $83 a week for a family of five, including diapers and pet food. When I add the total I spent to the total I saved, this amounts to $14,300 that I would have spent without coupons. So, I spent on average roughly 30 percent, saving a whopping 70 percent. There were even weeks I skipped shopping altogether since I’d built up a pretty substantial stockpile.

If I placed all of that $10,000 in savings, I could easily afford a luxury item for my family such as a new deck or family vacation. In all seriousness, with the cost of living these days, I’m fortunate to have achieved such a high level of savings and am able to treat my children to monthly activities without feeling like they are missing out.

This year, my new year’s resolution will be to bank 10 percent of my weekly savings.

Top 10 tips

Families can easily start saving just by using coupons and matching them to store sales. Here are my top tips to keeping my savings on track:

1. Purchase four newspapers with coupon inserts every week since most stores allow you to purchase four of the same item in each transaction

2. Save all coupon inserts until they expire, since sales happen every week and coupons don’t expire right away.

3. Organize your coupons so you can find them; it is as easy as clipping the coupons for the items you will use regularly.

4. Match weekly sales to your coupons and family needs using couponing websites, like Living Rich with Coupons.

5. Create a small stockpile of items your family will use regularly such as toothpaste and soap; this can grow.

stockpile6. Never be a shelf-clearer. If a deal is amazing, others want and need it, too.

7. Start small with a goal of saving 30 percent. Increase this goal monthly until you feel like you have reached a comfortable level of savings for your family.

8. Don’t compare your savings to anyone else’s since we all purchase items needed by our own unique families.

howellfamily9. Pay it forward! I can’t say this enough! Leave extra coupons near items in the store (be a Coupon Fairy!), share deals you find with your couponer friends, donate stockpile items to the needy.

10. Finally, send your unwanted and soon to expire coupons to the military. The organization that I send to is Coups For Troops.

Sara Howell runs a Facebook couponing group called Savvy Saving Mamma in O.C. For more information, email couponingmommaoc [at] gmail [dot] com.