Panama City - With gas prices still high and the economy still struggling, many families are trying to trim spending wherever they can. How would you like to save 50 to 90 percent on your grocery bill every month? One local woman is doing just that, and it's not just her family who benefits.
Ashley Carter didn't take a special class or pay for a kit. She says all it takes to save your family hundreds of dollars a month is some research and a lot of organization. Now she is turning her savings into blessings for military members serving overseas, and those in need right here in our community.
A married, working mom, Ashley Carter became an avid couponer after seeing just one episode of "Extreme Couponers." "Right after the show went off I went online and I researched how to coupon, couponing 101," said Ashley. After just three months of following blogs like krazycouponlady.com, downloading apps on her phone, and clipping coupons, Ashley started seeing savings of 50 percent on food and 90 to 100 percent on toiletries. "We barely pay for any toiletry stuff, deodorant, toothpaste. If we do pay for shampoo it's very little, like 30 cents or something."
By combining coupons with sales, rebates and different rewards systems, sometimes Ashley even makes money on a deal. "This is $7.79 so I will use my $3 coupon so that is $4.79 and I'll get $7 back so I'll make money buying this," explained Ashley, while picking out some makeup at a CVS store. "Like with this one you spend $8.99 and then you get $8.99 Extra Bucks back so it ends up being free," she explained. And in yet another example, she bought several bottles of shampoo to get another payout: "I will send in the mail in rebate and get a ten dollar gas card."
At the check out her original amount due is $31.33, after applying all her coupons the subtotal is just 54 cents. "To see that total drop does make you feel good," said Ashley. Not only is Ashley able to save her family hundreds of dollars every month, she leads a small group of couponers, they together collected enough items to send 20 care packages to military serving overseas. And her couponing skills are helping those close to home as well. She is stockpiling extra toiletries for the Bethel Village women's shelter. "It's a way to give back without have to spend a lot of extra money," said Ashley.
Of course there is a learning curve that goes along with couponing. Every store has different rewards systems to learn as well as different rules and policies regarding coupons. If you want to get started today, here are Ashley's five steps to start couponing.
1. Get something to organize your coupons in. Ashley has 2 binders, one for store coupons, one for manufacturer's coupons
2. Start accumulating coupons from the Sunday paper inserts and online
3. Learn coupon lingo
4. Know coupon policies: sometimes they differ from store to store
5. Tap into resources like krazycouponlady.com and afullcup.com