Smart shopping can pay off

Smart shopping can pay off

Written by Michael Driehorst |

Every dollar does count.

And there are plenty of online resources and methods to help make sure earnings are spent wisely.

Paula Wethington has penned the “Monroe on a Budget” blog for the Monroe Evening News since January 2007. The often updated blog strives to be a resource for frugal living.

“Do not expect too much, too fast,” Wethington said about how quickly people can see results from clipping coupons and other frugal activities. “It’ll take about eight weeks to ramp up.”

Toni-Lynn Barber of Sylvania operates two frugal shopping/couponing sites:, which she started in 2007, and The Coupon Cupboard, a forum started in 2008 where members can share couponing tips, learn about free samples and trade coupons.

Barber also maintains a blog at Grocery Price Blog.

“What you save depends on so many things,” Barber told Toledo Free Press via an e-mail. “Are you brand specific? Will you only use coupons for things you buy normally? How many coupons do you have access to?

“I save over 95 percent on every trip, but I have been doing it for seven years,” she wrote.

Wethington has been really serious about couponing since 2005.

Once into a rhythm, Wethington said couponing can reduce grocery expenses by up to 50 percent when combined with store sales.

Barber said there is no best method for tracking coupons and matching them up to store sales.

“Couponing isn’t a one size fits all. It works best if you come up with your own method or maybe one modified from someone else’s,” she said.

Wethington said she clips coupons and separates them into two piles — one for her family and one that she uses for trading, to give away to friends. With her coupons, she reviews store fliers to see when products go on sale and plans her trip to those stores to use the coupon at the time of the sales.

“I normally go to two or three different stores a week. You do not have to drive all over. Match up the coupons and plan your trips based on the stores you normally pass on your errands,” Wethington said.

In addition to couponing for trading and to give to friends, Wethington suggested keeping other needs in mind like school food drives and using the coupons to purchase items to donate.

Once you develop your own method, Wethington said, be smart with your weekly trips. Depending how many of the coupon fliers you look at in the newspaper, clipping coupons on a weekly basis can take 20 to 30 minutes. And, to get the family involved, Wethington suggested enlisting children to cut out the coupons.

Barber and Wethington said given time, couponing and timing purchases to coincide with store sales will pay off.

“Don’t give up!” Barber  stated in her e-mail. “You will not automatically save 95 percent on your bill like me. This takes time to learn your store sales, what coupons you have access to and so many other things.

“If you can go and save $20 that is fantastic. Start small and if you stay with it and be patient, in time you can save more,” she said.

Wethington added, “Be very resourceful. Frugal living takes a lot of time, but these days, people have a lot more time than they do money.”

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