Coupon lessons show there are more savings than you think

hgoodridge@macon.comSeptember 24, 2009 

  • Couponing classes

    What:
    Couponing with The Coupon Moms, sponsored by The Telegraph.
    When: Couponing 101, Friday 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Couponing 102, Saturday 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
    Where: Coliseum Northside Hospital, 400 Charter Blvd., Macon.
    Cost: $10 for Couponing 101 and $15 for Couponing 102.
    Info: To reserve a spot, call 744-4548.

Laurie Myrick may never shop the same again after what she witnessed at Kroger on Zebulon Road this week.

She met Kelly Thompson, aka The Coupon Mom.

Thompson, who lives in the Chattanooga, Tenn., area, is in town visiting family and conducting some workshops for her company Time 2 $ave — teaching shoppers how to not only beat the retail price, but annihilate it.

Thompson, armed with her jam-packed coupon portfolio, introduced herself to Myrick who was pushing a half full cart of groceries.

Thompson asked Myrick if she used coupons and Myrick pulled out a handful.

Sensing Myrick could benefit from some help from The Coupon Mom, she asked her if she could accompany her on the rest of her shopping trip and show her some tricks.

That’s when the lesson began.

“When you’re in the store, do you look at the tear pad (coupons)?” Thompson asked Myrick.

“No,” she responded.

“You need to,” Thompson advised.

Tear pad coupons are found hanging on the shelves in the grocery store with the product.

While they help reduce the price the day you tear them off and check out, Thompson said more savings can be had by holding on to them.

She advises people to hold on to the tear coupon until the product goes on sale and then add the tear coupon on top of the store sale with other coupons from the newspaper, manufacturers coupons and other online coupons.

Myrick couldn’t contain her laughter after seeing what that trick does to a price.

“Do you use salad dressing?” Thompson asked Myrick.

“I sure do,” Myrick replied.

The Coupon Mom directed Myrick to some bottles of Kraft salad dressing priced at $2.99 a bottle. The sale price: $1.69. The sale price was slashed to $1.19 with the Kroger “Mega Event” sale taking place.

The Coupon Mom annihilated that price with her $1.50 tear coupon she pulled weeks earlier.

“We just made 30 cents,” Thompson said.

“That’s awesome,” Myrick said through her laughter. “I’m going to start using those tear coupons.”

Thompson said while stores will not give you the money back, they will give a store credit on your purchase or future purchases.

Thompson gave another lesson in the frozen foods section.

A box of Hot Pockets, the frozen microwaveable turnovers typically stuffed with meat, cheese and vegetables, were originally priced at $1.99.

Because of Kroger’s “Mega Event” sale, the price was reduced to $1.49.

“I have 50 cent coupons that will double,” Thompson said grabbing two boxes putting them in her cart.

The price at check out: 49 cents each.

The pricing and coupons were identical for the Kraft Bagel-fuls so Thompson grabbed a couple of boxes of those.

Even household cleaning items were not safe from The Coupon Mom’s wrath.

She picked up two bottles of Lysol toilet bowl cleaner originally priced at $2.59. She showed Myrick the sale price was $1.29, but that wasn’t low enough.

She put her $1 off coupon on top of the sale and bought the bottles for 29 cents each.

“Wow,” Myrick said.

FORCED INTO SAVING

Thompson’s partner in her business, Time 2 $ave, is Kasey Trenum. The two friends were each having new homes built for their families in Tennessee.

Thompson’s husband is a builder and Trenum’s husband is a pharmaceutical representative.

When the economy went south, the families couldn’t sell their homes.

“The homes just sat,” Thompson said. “Kasey’s family was forced to make three house payments for two years and we were making two payments for a year.”

In an effort to save money, the women started getting serious about their coupon usage.

“We started looking at blogs and noticed many moms are blogging,” she said. “We started reading blogs from all over the country on how they (mothers) were saving money.”

After reading blogs and testing the results for a year, the women noticed their bills were significantly lower.

“We noticed our grocery bills went down. We were spending around $150 a week and got it down $30 to $40,” Thompson said.

Thompson and Trenum were considering taking jobs to bring in extra cash, but the savings allowed them to stay home.

“We didn’t want to go to work and put our kids in day care,” said Thompson, who has five children ages 5, 4, 3, 3, and 2.

“People can save 400 to 500 bucks a month from cutting their spending,” she said. “When people learn this, they figure out, ‘I don’t have to get a second job.’ ”

The women were happy with the tricks they were learning and more happy with the money they were saving.

Then something happened.

“People started following us around the grocery store ... cashiers (while checking out) started asking us to e-mail them how we did that,” Thompson said.

The women agreed to do a class at a church near their home in Cleveland, Tenn.

“We thought 25 people would show up and over 200 did,” Thompson said. “It was to the point where they had to cut it off because they were at capacity.

“We didn’t know what to think. We were in shock.”

The women started receiving calls from people and knew they stumbled on a good business idea. They taught some more classes for church groups, a doctors group and a Realtors group.

One tip they always tell their students is to buy 10 copies of the Sunday paper. After word of their money-saving techniques spread, the legend of The Coupon Moms was built.

Thompson will be sharing her secrets to savings in Macon on Friday and Saturday at Coliseum Northside Hospital, 400 charter Blvd., at the Coliseum Hospital Women’s Symposium.

They’re teaching two classes, Couponing 101 for $10 and Couponing 102 for $15.

To reserve a spot, call 744-4548. The classes are sponsored by The Telegraph.

To contact writer Harold Goodridge, call 744-4382.

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