Cash in on a Super Saver’s Secrets

Editor’s note: Wyoming/Kentwood NOW is pleased to introduce the first in a series of articles by Nancy Staal (a.k.a. Penny Pincher) on saving money through couponing. In fact, Nancy is so efficient at it, she’ll tell you, “I don’t have to grocery shop. I just have to bargain shop!”  Nancy and her daughter offer two-hour couponing workshops for groups interested in learning the tricks of the trade. If you would like to inquire about her workshops, go to

penny_pincherHow would you like to spend little or nothing for items like toothpaste, toothbrushes and shampoos?

Penny Pincher says it's not impossible to get free stuff once you know how to use coupons.
Penny Pincher says it’s not impossible to get free stuff once you know how to use coupons.

Sound impossible? Well it’s not! And I’m going to tell you how you can do it too. My nickname is Penny Pincher and I’ve been using coupons, rebates and sales to cut our family’s cost since the early 1980’s. I would say I save on an average of $20,000 annually on our food, personal care items, clothing, gifts etc. Through the years, I’ve learned a few tricks of the trade that are worth sharing with other budget-conscious consumers. If that sounds like you, you too can learn the many ways to save on purchases and over time, save a substantial amount of money!

Couponing influenced me as a child. When my brothers and sisters and I wanted something at the store, my mom would say, “We can’t afford it.” So we would find coupons so she could afford it. Mom used coupons, took advantage of sales and paid attention to cost cutting when and where ever she could. As my husband and I started our young family, the need to cut our household costs became a way of life. I took up my mother’s habit and quickly learned that I could cut costs and still get items that our family needed.

The receipt  says it all...
The receipt says it all…

Now couponing is like a game to me and to be honest, saving money is rather addicting! I always aim to save at least 50- 75% off the regular price of an item if not more. And when I walk out of a store with more money in my pocket than what I spent, I get such a thrill! For instance, at Meijer, (see photo) I picked up eight bottles of Suave Professional shampoo on sale. Between the sale price, the instant savings offer and the manufacturers coupons I had, I ended up getting 27 cents back and paid nothing!

With each shopping trip, I manage to purchase more for our family while spending less in the process. One way is to purchase main staple items on sale in multiple quantities. Take toothpaste for instance. Depending on what my needs are and what coupons I have available, I might buy 10 tubes at a time and save them for later. The items are on hand when you need them and won’t have to be purchased at full price.

Saving money on groceries on a regular basis will definitely give the family budget a boost. It can be the difference between eating what you want versus eating what you have to. For example, if you’re on a limited budget, you may only be able to afford buying four packages of Ramen noodles for a dollar. By using coupons and planning ahead, you can save enough money to buy the foods you want, like a round steak, or a bag of potatoes or lots of fresh vegetables.

After the in-store savings and coupons, Penny was paid 27 cents for getting the shampoo.
After the in-store savings and coupons, Penny was paid 27 cents for getting the shampoo.

The art of couponing (saving money) is to watch for sales and use coupons on the sale items when possible. Coupons can be found in many ways: in any Sunday paper, in direct mail that is sent to your house, on the internet or at the retail stores. There are a lot of people who think couponing takes too much time. It’s not as time consuming as you think once you get into the habit of following this simple process:

1. Begin by looking through store ads and mark the items you may need

2. Cut coupons only for items you can and will use

3. Create a list of these items to attach to the coupons you plan to use

4. Get into the habit of placing your list with the ads in your car (or purse) at the beginning of the week. That way, you always have your coupons on hand to save money when  making a purchase any time you shop.

Keep in mind the basics to couponing and saving money is being able to spend less on your purchases while still providing the items that are needed and wanted by your family. Consider this as an obvious way to spread limited income further. Watch for upcoming Penny Pincher tips on this website to save you time and money for your family!

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