The coupon craze: Local women taking hints from ‘coupon queens,’ use clippings to save cash.
Shoppers shouldn’t be so quick to toss those coupons in the trash; in the right hands, they could be as good as gold. Dedicated coupon clippers from Rhea County have already saved thousands, and Dayton local, Debbie McCuiston, is one of them.
“It’s just amazing,” said McCuiston. “A couple weeks ago I spent $250 [at the grocery store] but walked out having paid $47.”
McCuiston got started in huge coupon savings when she heard about a coupon workshop based in Cleveland, Tenn. The coupon workshops were the brainchild of two Tennessee stay-at-home moms who, like many in the area, were struggling to make ends meet in the economy.
After heavily researching coupons, deals, online savings and common store policies, the two women started saving such significant amounts that others started noticing. Interest in coupon clipping grew so great that after a small couponing class drew a crowd of 200 people, their business, Time 2 $ave, was born.
These two moms, nicknamed the “coupon queens,” now travel around the country teaching others the same strategies and techniques that have worked so well for their families. In the workshops, people learn how to find good coupons, whether in-store, directly from the manufacturer or an online resource, then how to wait for the sales and put them to good use.
Many area businesses, such as Spring City’s Piggly Wiggly and Dayton’s Bi-Lo and Fred’s, allow the “doubling” of coupons, where customers can use both the in-store coupon and the manufacturer’s coupon on the same item up to a certain amount.
“Just make sure to monitor the expiration dates on the coupons before bringing them to us,” said Bi-Lo manager Jane Draper. “If we take out-of-date coupons, the store loses money, and that loss will eventually lead to higher prices.”
Bi-Lo also offers its own online collection of printable coupons, available to anyone with a bonus card, said Draper. Some stores go so far as to accept coupons from any store:
“Publix in Hixson is wonderful,” said McCuiston. “They take everybody’s coupons as long as they cover the same brand. A lot of times you pay pennies for things.”
The typical response from many people is that they don’t have the time to deal with coupons, but after the initial setup and figuring out a good filing system, it’s not that hard, said McCuiston. “It’s a ministry and a comfort to know I’m doing the best for my family,” she added. “I can send my kids [who live out of state] $100 worth of stuff that cost me less than $25.”
Avoiding the stingy, difficult stereotypes of coupon clippers takes some work as well, said McCuiston, who makes it a point to shop at less busy times and “stay nice.”
“Some people [using coupons] are not considerate, but you’ve got to protect your testimony at all costs,” she said. “Don’t be demanding. They’re doing you a service by taking your coupons, and we’re doing them a service by [shopping with them].”
McCuiston hopes that more Rhea county vendors will become increasingly cooperative in their coupon policies.
“I would rather stay in Dayton and keep my money here,” she said.
For those interested, Dayton First Baptist Church will host one of the couponing workshops in March. Unused coupons can be dropped off at the church as well. More information can be found at www.time2saveworkshops.com or by calling Debbie McCuiston at 775-6517.
Elisabeth Hollingsworth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: 5:03 PM, 11/06/2009
Source: The Herald-News
DATE CHANGE FOR WORKSHOP MARCH 6TH
Thank you Debbie, for stressing the importance of how we present ourselves to others. As we tell anyone who attends our workshops ~ we are all a light and a testimoney everywhere we go, don’t let it ruin your testimony.