PARKERSBURG - Saving money by clipping coupons was the topic Tuesday at the extreme couponing class sponsored by The Parkersburg News and Sentinel.
Andria Alexander, a mother of four from Pittsburgh and author of the blog simplyfrugalliving.com, led the class on how to get the most out of store coupons.
Alexander told more than 400 people at Parkersburg South High School getting the most out of coupons takes preparation and for someone just starting, it may take about a month before the savings become apparent.
Photo by Jeffrey Saulton
Andria Alexander, a mother of four from Pittsburgh and author of the blog simplyfrugalliving.com, led an extreme couponing class Tuesday at Parkersburg South High School sponsored by The Parkersburg News and Sentinel.
During the program Alexander said newspapers are her primary source for coupons and a secondary source she uses are websites that help match coupons to sales.
Alexander said there are three types of shoppers: the quick and convenient, the basic bargain hunter and the savy, saving and stockpiling shopper.
"The quick and convenient usually just go in and get what they need and don't use coupons very often," she said. "The bargain hunter will look for the loss leaders at the stores and will use some coupons and use a weekly budget.
"The savy, saving and stockpiling shopper does what the bargain hunter does but uses coupons and plans their shopping using a budget, pays cash and stockpiles on some basic items."
Alexander said it is important to track the store sales cycles that usually run in six- to 12-week cycles and then use the cycle to get maximum savings with the coupons on what she called the "rock bottom price."
It is also important to check store websites for information on their policies. Many stores double coupons, but some only double those worth 50 cents or less while other go up to $1.
Others may allow stacking, meaning more than one coupon may be used on one item while others do not allow the practice.
Alexander said coupons were popular in the 1980s and then fell off until 2008 when the economic crisis revived interest in coupons.
"I was told that at one time only two percent of coupons circulated were used," she said. "But since 2008 it has grown and with all the resources we have today it is much bigger. Sometimes call or email a company and ask about coupons and you may get some because coupons will drive sales to products."
Alexander said websites like Upromise, Saving Star, Cellfire and Shortcuts.com will help shoppers track coupons and some act as a savings account.
"With some, the savings are not seen at the register but they bank savings for you," she said. "Later you get the money you build up in pay pal account credits, bank deposits, gift cards or paper coupons."
Joe Tranquill, circulation director of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel, said 430 gift bags were given out. Tranquill said the class was designed to help people find ways to extend their budgets.
"With the tough economy we are doing what we can to help," he said. "This was a pertinent subject that would help those in our community to stretch their dollars."
Alexander said the crowd was the largest she had for a presentation.
"Usually I have a group of 100 to 115 for a class," she said. "This is the largest I've seen; it is just fantastic."
Those attending said the class was more than they expected.
"It was more than what I expected," said Sue Robbins of Jacksonburg, W.Va. "I've learned a few new things as well as reinforcing what I already knew."
Robbins said she was going to try the resources Alexander presented in the class.
"It was very informative," she said.
For Michelle Hall, of North Hills, the class was also informative.
"I'm going to check those websites," she said. "The turnout for this is great and I use the coupons in the Sunday paper."
Hall said she was looking forward to using what she learned to get more out of her coupons.
Becky Sartor, of Parkersburg, said the class exceeded her expectations.
"I will try the Internet sites she spoke about," she said.
Jeff Smith, of Elizabeth, said the class helped him realize it pays to look around at different stores for the best prices with coupons.
"I found a lot of resources as far as the Internet goes and the blogs," he said. "I shop at Wal-Mart now and she's answering questions how it might be cheaper or more effective to go to other places. She's given us more options to think about."