Snip, clip and redeem - all the way to the bank. Think using manufacturer's coupons only creates a pile of paper scraps? My friend Julie Parrish of West Linn is living proof that diligent redemption of coupons can lead to the big bucks.
Julie saves $10,000 a year over retail prices by redeeming coupons. That is significant 'cabbage' by any standard.
'It takes about 8 months to get the system working,' Julie told me over coffee recently. 'You learn to shop for things when you don't need them.'
That novel concept was a boggler for me. Buy it when you don't need it? My modus operendi consists of shopping just about daily for what I feel like preparing. But I am willing to change my ways if I can cash in on savings like Julie.
Hopefully you read Julie's citizen's view in the Review and the Tidings. She chided Gov. Kulongoski for making poor food choices with the few dollars he had per week allotment to spend on food while he tested adhering to the Oregon Food Stamp budget.
Julie feeds nine people and has learned how to super-stretch her food dollar. They eat very well and she spent only $300 on food during the month of April.
Julie spends about 10 hours each week collecting coupons, reading ads and shopping. If her method sounds like a purchasing protocol for a major corporation, it should: her background is in food service purchasing. She calls upon that experience in setting up her home system. Julie has calculated how much oatmeal, cheese, shampoo, light bulbs, soup, etc. her family will consume over the course of a year. She has researched when the items are sold at their lowest price and plans to buy them only during that time period. To those already lower prices, she applies manufacturer's cents off coupons and has the store double them if she can. Sometimes she even ends up making money on the deal!
Julie starting clipping coupons years ago and stashed the money she saved to buy jewelry.
'As I started adding more pieces of jewelry my husband started noticing how much I was saving. When I accumulated about $5,000, he suggested we re-think where that money was going,' Julie said.
Her success with couponing has lead her to develop a Web site devoted to help others learn how to grow their wealth. As exciting as it is to see her savings grow, Julie's real passion is teaching others to be savvy shoppers.
Julie gave me a mini-lesson and then, as homework, a handful of coupons. She gave me two instore coupons for 3 bottles for $5 of a gourmet salad dressing, and six coupons giving me $2 off on each bottle. She instructed me to buy the six bottles for a total purchase of $10 and redeem the $2 off coupons for a total discount of $12. I ended up getting the dressing for free and pocketing $2!
Now that kind of shopping I could get used to.
I recognize that six bottles of salad dressing is a lot. I chose an Italian viniagrette and read the label (no HFCS for me!) to make sure it was a product I might buy anyway. Italian dressing is a great base for marinades and can be used for pasta salads as well as green salads. It won't go to waste.
One of my criteria for clipping was that the coupons had to be for items I use. Dumb. On Julie's Web site, they have a clearing house of sorts for quick trades to clippers in other areas. You may not be in need of Huggies diapers anymore, but those coupons are extremely valuable to someone else, and they are bound to have something to trade that you will be able to use.
Will it be hard to train yourself to take those coupons with you to the store? Where will you stash your surplus? Is it worth the time and effort? You can figure those details out if you are motivated to make the system work.
Visit Julie's Web site at www.HotCouponWorld.com. It is free and you can learn to be a savvy shopper like Julie - super-stretching your food dollar and maybe even allowing you to buy a bauble or two!
The recipe I chose for today calls for basic pantry staples for which manufacturers coupons are common, as well as inexpensive bell peppers and green onions. Tasty and eye appealing, it's a complete meal by itself!
Bon Appetit and Eat Locally!
Caribbean Style Black Bean and Rice Salad
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 ½ cups cooked long grain white rice (about 1 cup raw) cooked
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 chopped red bell pepper
1 chopped yellow or orange bell pepper
¾ cup chopped green onions
Lettuce leaves (optional)
Whisk oil, vinegar, mustard, cumin and garlic in medium bowl until well blended. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
Combine rice, beans, peppers and onions in a large bowl. Toss salad with enough dressing to moisten. Season with salt and pepper.
Can be made six hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Line a large serving bowl with lettuce leaves, if desired. Spoon salad into bowl and serve.
Adapted from Bon Appetit, July 1997