Sorry, everyone! It looks like all the spaces have filled up…that was quick! Keep an eye out for another seminar in the near future.
“I haven’t paid for wipes since April.”
“My last 20 tubes of toothpaste have been free.”
These are both true statements made by Justin Dudley and Tonia Phillips, two local women presenting the free couponing seminar “Everyday Couponing for Everyday People” on Sept. 24 at The Roanoke Times.
Both Phillips and Dudley manage to juggle kids and jobs while spending a few hours each week couponing.
At the seminar, you won’t be learning to totally bypass the system, as seen on the popular TLC show “Extreme Couponing,” where in many cases stores bend the rules for show participants. Instead, the goal of the seminar is this: “Learn how to save more money with less time and without hoarding 200 jars of mayonnaise.”
“It [couponing] certainly has been a benefit in terms of saving, but we help each other. There are some deals that you get because you can, and others you have to talk yourself off the ledge so you don’t go crazy,” said Dudley.
These women don’t walk the fine line between couponing and hoarding. They just want to teach you how to save money, while keeping everything in perspective.
“I’ll look over my inventory and keep a list in my day planner of things I want to watch out for. But if I find a really great deal, I’m not going to pass it up. I go for the items that are 75 percent off or more. Those are my priorities,” Phillips said.
Newbies to saving
Both Dudley and Phillips are relatively new to the couponing game, but it’s become a life-changing hobby. The duo, who have been friends since their 10th-grade year at Patrick Henry High School, started couponing in April after TLC premiered “Extreme Couponing.”
“We didn’t want to get that crazy, but it did inspire me,” said Phillips. “We had a little coupon craziness in the beginning, it was all about getting our stockpile, but that’s just not a way of life, really.”
Since then, the women estimate they have saved at least 50 percent on their grocery bills by couponing anywhere from two to five hours a week. This is a big change from their life just over a year ago.
“We were the epitome of anti-couponing people, which makes it funny we embraced it. We grew up in modest homes and things weren’t handed to us. But as we grew up and became our own people, we proactively gave ourselves gifts,” joked Dudley.
“We used to spend money like it was water, but this is helping our shopping addiction and helping us save money,” Phillips said.
When they do have a stockpile of a particular product, both of the women try to let others benefit. They donate extra items to friends, family and local organizations, such as the local Junior League chapter of which both women are members.
Tips of the trade
A few of the strategies Dudley and Phillips use to rack up include:
* Remember you can’t double digital coupons, and that they can only be used once. If you have multiple paper coupons, you can buy multiple items.
* If you purchase multiple Sunday papers for the coupons, buy them in even numbers (Dudley and Phillips usually purchase four to six papers). Shopping in even numbers helps you get the most out of buy one, get one and twofer deals.
* Use coupons as an opportunity to try new brands. You may surprise yourself and find out you prefer the cheaper option.
* Learn the value of shopping blogs and websites. CouponMom.com, for example, allows you to print out shopping lists that include the sale price of a good, plus the value of a manufacture’s coupon (if available).
They’re also helping their children learn the value of saving a few cents. Phillips’ 14-year-old daughter asks for coupons when she’s ready to buy makeup, and Dudley’s 7-year-old quickly learned that the chances of getting treats while shopping are much greater when a coupon is available.
“At least it’s in their vocabulary to ask about discounts,” Phillips said. “As it becomes their money, hopefully they’ll learn to save where they can.”
Attendance is limited to 100 people, so sign up soon to reserve your spot.