Clipping Coupons For Sensible Shopping

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Terri Morris saves a bundle using coupons when she shops for her family of five.

A recent Bashas' receipt was 44 inches long. Her bill was $36.10. She combined coupons with frequent shopper values and saved herself $74.51, or 67 percent.

"I've clipped coupons for 20 years and saved 30 to 40 percent on the items I've bought," said Morris who is an instructor for Coupon $ense. "Now it is more like 78 percent."

Coupon $ense is a company that shows its subscribers how to maximize their coupon savings by using the Internet. The fee for 10 weeks is $35 plus tax.

Coupon $ense matches the coupons that come in the Sunday paper to the sales at 10 Valley stores. Bashas', Safeway and Walgreens are the three local stores the coupons apply to. Their database matches coupons with store sales.

With free expert shopper software, subscribers can click the stores and types of coupons they wish to use. The service prints out a customized shopping list, broken out by store, category, savings and a list of coupons needed for that trip.

"If your Safeway has a sale on VO5 shampoo and I have a coupon for 50 cents off and I know Safeway will double that, I am going to get that product for free," Morris said.

Couponsense.com has a bulletin board where members regularly post a store's overstock and unadvertised specials.

Safeway had an unadvertised special on chicken that was close to the "sell by" date. I purchased about 200 pounds. It's at home in my freezer," said Marlene Armstrong.

As a result of being in the stores more often, the produce I buy for my family is fresher too, Armstrong said.

People who use the service buy multiple copies of the Sunday Arizona Republic so they can use multiple coupons. Meg Smith buys three copies of the paper.

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Meg Smith organizes her coupons into a spiral binder for her once a week trip to Walgreens, Bashas' and Safeway. That is what I have time for. I don't take time to use the Coupon $ense message boards to trade coupons, and I don't get rainchecks.

"Sunday, I pick up the papers and I will sit and watch a movie with the family," she said. "It takes maybe an hour at the most to clip, then maybe 15 minutes to go through the list on the computer, depending on how much I need."

Shopping time depends on familiarity with the store.

The philosophy is that you have the items you want in your pantry at a great price, Smith said. You are not paying full price on a spur of the moment shopping trip.

"I always have frozen pizza on hand for when I have a babysitter," Smith said. "It takes up a lot of room in your freezer but when you are getting DiGiorno's for $1 that's great for date night."

When an individual shops with coupons, the manufacturer pays the store back the face value of the coupon, said Bob Mykleby manager of the Payson Bashas'. If the store doubles coupons, then they absorb the cost of doubling.

Staci Taylor has been using Coupon $ense to feed her family of six since January. She has seen her monthly grocery bill go from $800 to between $400 and $450, depending on the deal.

"My church counsels families to have a year's supply of food," she said. "I am working on it. My kids just love the fact that we get all name brand stuff now. For some reason, they think it tastes better. I don't have to buy anything generic any more."

Eating too much snack food or getting a product they do not like doesn't seem to be a concern of shoppers. They are excited to be able try new products for free or almost free.

Anyone who is brand loyal will not be able to reap the savings of coupon sense.

With the money Morris has saved, she is taking her family to Disneyland.

For more information, contact Terri Morris at 978-1051. She plans to host classes the second week of October.

A coupon history

Coupons were born in 1894 when Asa Candler, the druggist who owned the formula for Coca-Cola gave out handwritten tickets for a free glass of his new fountain drink.

In 2002, shoppers saved $3 billion redeeming 3.8 billion coupons.

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