Kingsburg Coupon Queen Sees 70% Savings

Fresno, CA -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

One Kingsburg woman rose to our challenge and managed to cut her bill by nearly 70%!

You could call stay-at-home mom Jennifer Allen a coupon queen. She explains, "We're all trying to save money, I just kind of do it more aggressively." She showed us her coupon binder, filled with labeled pockets: "I flip through [the magazine and newspaper inserts and circulars], I cut them out. Pull ups and wipes, I'll fold it over. That's it. It started off really small just clipping it and putting it in an envelope, and branched out into this." Jennifer organizes her coupons into categories which she says makes shopping much easier.

The Kingsburg wife and mother started clipping coupons to stretch her family's budget in this uncertain economy, "I need to make sure that whatever happens, we need to be able to put food on the table for our three boys."

One look at her well-stocked pantry and fridge shows her money's going pretty far. We wanted to know exactly how much she's saving so we sent her shopping. But first she does some strategizing and planning before she ever leaves home. To maximize her savings, Jennifer combines her coupons with the store's sales she sees in the weekly circulars. She calls it stacking deals.

That's where her subscription to comes in. It's a weekly paid list that shows members the best deals for each store. Website founder Teri Gault: Your second biggest monthly expense is groceries, second only to your mortgage or rent, so why not cut that in half every single week?" Gault says a family of four can save $512 a month using her list, not to mention a ton of time. Her site does all the research, where to find the coupons, the advertised and unadvertised sales, and most importantly, when to use the coupons. She explains, "Timing is so important on maximizing coupon usage."

Armed with her list and coupons, Jennifer hit the aisles. Here's an example of the discounts she scored:

A bag of Fresh Express Salad: Regular store price $2.49. After factoring the sale price plus a coupon, the final price: just $0.75... A 70% savings.

A 20 oz. can of Dole Pineapple: Regular store price $2.39 the final price $0.50 each, a 79% savings.

Rice-a-Roni: normally $3.29 a box... for just $0.50 each, an 85% savings.

And Quaker Instant Oatmeal: regularly $4.99 ended up being just $1.00 a box, an 80% savings.

Some things even ended up being free! Halls Naturals Cough Drops, regularly $2.99; Jennifer didn't pay a penny for them.

And when it came time to check out, even Jennifer couldn't believe her eyes: "I thought there's no way I'm gonna walk out of this store with all of the items on my list that I was going to buy with $60. And the bill crept up to $170." But then she handed the clerk her savings club card and coupons started bringing the total down... way down. "Every one was 50 cents off, 35 cents, 25 cents. She's like, okay, you're crazy, whatever, but then the bill got to $53. And she was like, wow, this is a lot of savings! It's a big difference $170 to $53." Her receipt is proof. In one trip, her total savings... 69% or $116.98! And that's money she can save for another day.

At you can subscribe to Teri's list for a 4-week trial for $1 or just find and print some free coupons. Here are some of her shopping tips you can apply to your next trip to the grocery store:

1 Stockpiling vs. Need Shopping - Buy more than you need of a fairly priced item to save the most. Stockpile those items that are useful to your family, even if you don't yet need them. If you don't have certain items in your stockpile that you must have right away, you may have to purchase them as Need Items, and will have to pay a higher price. Your Need List gets shorter as your stockpile grows.

2 Categorical Sales Trends - Sales Trends run in categories in the supermarkets. This week may feature paper goods and deli products, and next week sales may be only on frozen foods and toiletries. Stockpiling properly will eliminate over-paying on categories that are not on sale in any given week. Categorical sales trends typically cycle through all product categories within a 12-week period, so stockpile more than you need while the price is right, purchasing enough to last until the next Rock Bottom Sale.

3 Grocery Hopping - Going to a number of markets to use coupons each week is not productive. Each major supermarket will run most of the same sales on the same items within a few weeks of one another. If you choose the right market for stockpiling, all the best deals should eventually come to you in one weekly stop.

4 The Coupon File - Less is more! Get your coupons from the Sunday paper and supplement it with some online coupons. Don't forget to toss out expired coupons, as well as those that you will never use. Use a simple cancelled check file to organize your select coupons.

5 Coupon Redemption - Be careful to read everything on the coupon. You don't want surprises at checkout. Also, look for phrases like "good on any..." of that manufacturer's products, not just the pictured item featured on the coupon. Some of the best deals are found when a coupon may be honored for an item less extravagant than the featured item.

6 Shopping Days and 72-hour Sales - In most areas, the best days to shop are on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Most markets' sales weeks begin on Wednesday and end on Tuesday. Since new coupons arrive with the current week's sales on Sunday, wait until then to shop. Also, from time to time, markets run special 72-hour sales, most often on Sunday through Tuesday. Please note, some grocery stores are changing their sales cycles.

7 Smaller Package Equals Better Value - Do the math. Most often when a smaller package and a larger package of the same name brand product are both on sale, the better deal is the smaller package, if you have a coupon.

8 Warehouse Club Stores - Warehouse Club Store items that are beneficial to stockpile are eggs, butter, and cheese. They are also useful when throwing a party since they have nice finger food in large sizes

9 "Buy a freezer!" - Freezers are the first items members buy from their $1 Trial so that they can stockpile the meats that are on special, as well as other great freezer items. Teri has other great uses for the freezer, "When my fruit gets ripe, I press it into ice trays. Then once frozen, I empty the frozen fruit cubes into Ziploc baggies for storage in the freezer. When my kids want a great healthy treat, I put them in a blender with juice or yogurt, for delicious smoothies!" The ice cube method also works for preparing healthy and time-efficient baby food.

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