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Roseville shopper gets clipping

Mom shows how ‘extreme’ couponing can get
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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When Adrienne “Kori” Taylor’s mom noticed a local newspaper subscription on sale for $19 a year, she told her daughter about the awesome deal.

“I told her I wanted three,” Taylor said. “She didn’t take me seriously. She got me one.”

So the 35-year-old Roseville resident signed up for two additional subscriptions, with her sights set on one particular section — the advertisements. Taylor used to print coupons off the Internet, but was transitioning to clipping them.

“I almost asked for another subscription for my birthday,” she said. “I got a lot of weird looks.”

Taylor has been couponing since October and co-launched a blog called “Scissors, Sales and Savings, Oh My!” The wife and stay-at-home mom of two sons estimates she has saved her family $4,500 in the six months since she started hunting down deals.

She and her husband Matt Taylor budget $250 every paycheck for purchases, which means the rest goes to pay off credit cards and pad their savings. But it’s up to Kori Taylor to stretch their funds.

“I don’t have the patience,” Matt Taylor says. “If I’ve got (a coupon) and it’s easy, I’ll do it.”

His wife has stockpiled hundreds of items — toilet paper, air fresheners, soap, conditioner and shampoo, toothpaste, razorblades, gum, Pop Tarts, Chex Mix, fruit snacks, cereal, teas and Ziplock bags. The family bought a small freezer to store produce, meats and breads purchased inexpensively.

But Kori Taylor is not a fanatical couponer like the shoppers featured on the TLC show, “Extreme Couponing,” who sometimes Dumpster dive for discarded coupons and then carry out several carts overflowing with items — all for a whopping $5.

“It’s a train wreck,” she says. “It’s like anything that’s extreme. You shouldn’t try to do it all the time. It’s not healthy. It’s just for TV. That’s not the way you should shop.”

She points to a couponing etiquette no-no: when a shopper cleans the shelves. It’s one thing to take the last item when you need it — it’s another thing to grab 70 of the same item.

But the cable television show highlights a growing coupon phenomenon, says Stephanie Nelson, the woman behind popular website CouponMom.com.

“More people than ever are taking an interest in couponing because they need to find ways to save money with the economy and gas prices, and because it is easier to use coupons today,” Nelson said. “There are hundreds of printable and electronic coupons and websites like mine that find the best coupon deals and publish that information online, free of charge.”

Instead of spending hours trying to find deals in stores, customers can quickly plan lists and print coupons before they leave home, Nelson said.

Heather Wheeler, cofounder of KrazyCouponLady.com, says the interest in couponing reflects families on tighter budgets becoming more empowered.

“It is a way for families to maintain or improve their lifestyle through job or income loss without having to rely on others,” Wheeler says. “It’s such a joy to see families across America take control of their family finances through couponing.”

Kori Taylor’s entrance into the world of couponing began when she went to CVS and swiped her rewards card for free candy corn. At that time, she stuffed all her coupons into an envelope. Now she uses a binder.

Kori Taylor paid 50 cents for three bags of candy corn and was hooked.

She soon learned about stacking, which is using one manufacturer coupon and one store coupon on the same item to maximize savings.

“I never pay full price, ever,” Kori Taylor says.

She doesn’t want other people to, either.

One time, she got 15 coupons for $4 off frozen pizza for a product party she hosted. Kori Taylor was at Wal-Mart and saw another woman’s cart had a pizza. She apologized for spying and then handed the woman a coupon.

The family has a large bag of expired coupons to send to an oversees military base where they can use coupons up to six months after expired.

“We’re not saving the world, but it probably really helps in this economy,” Kori Taylor says.

She hopes her couponing teaches her children philanthropy on a shoestring budget. During a canned food drive at her 10-year-old son’s school, she gave him a stack of coupons and $20, which he turned into about 150 cans and boxes of food.

Her greatest “score,” as couponers call it, was when she got $1,000 worth of toys for $200 at Target — all of which they donated to Toys for Tots at her son’s elementary school. Kori Taylor hopes her sons are also learning the value of a dollar.

“I think it shows them about saving money for a rainy day,” she says. “(But) just because we have a coupon for it, doesn’t mean we buy it.”

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com.

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Adrienne “Kori” Taylor’s tips for couponing

  • Write manufacturers and ask for coupons; follow them on Facebook to stay up-to-date on sales, coupons or specials.
  • Don’t be attached to brands (being non-brand specific is very helpful in couponing, but there are often coupons for brands you already use. Keep an open mind on trying competitor products, though)
  • Beginners should start small, stick with one store and experiment
  • Visit websites such as thekrazycouponlady.com and Couponmom.com for advice and match-ups and coupons.com for printable coupons. Check out Kori’s blog at Scissorsavings.com and Facebook site Scissors, Sales & Savings, Oh My!
  • Ask store employees for help (they won’t bend rules for you, don’t expect them to, but you will build a rapport with them as you shop there with coupons more and more, and if they can help, they are usually happy to at most stores)
  • Sign up for Groupon.com, LivingSocial.com and NorCalMarketplace.com to get deals on local eateries, try a class at a discount, find fun at half the price or less
  • Never photocopy a coupon. This is fraudulent and the store won’t get reimbursed, which could lead to higher prices for everyone.
  • Go when the store is not busy. If you have a cart full of items and binder of coupons, tell other customers with a few items to go ahead of you in line.
  • Wait to match your coupon with a sale. A good rule of thumb is items go on sale every 12-16 weeks. So buy enough of a product to last three to four months.
  • Remember: “Coupons are just as good as money.”
  • Stack coupons by using one manufacturer and one store coupon on a single item making your savings even greater
  • Get a rain check on out-of-stock sale items
  • Check for coupon use policies online before going to a store. Print out a copy and keep it on hand to refer to if needed.
  • There is an order to coupons: give your manufacturer coupons first and then give store coupons after all the manufacturer coupons have been scanned to make the most out of the coupon value.
  • Tell the cashier ahead of time that you are using coupons. Some cashiers like to have them up front especially if they are the kind of coupon that needs to have a value written in (i.e. “buy one deodorant, get one free up to $3.50” and it has a blank spot for the cashier to write in the amount).
  • Have confidence and don’t apologize for having coupons. Use them proudly.
  • Donate expired coupons to U.S. military bases through the Overseas Coupon Program. Learn more at www.ocpnet.org.