I recently had the opportunity to ask a few questions of the “Super-Coupon Queen,” Jill Cataldo. Jill is a Chicago-area couponing evangelist who shares saving-savvy wisdom on her blog and in her Super-Couponing Classes and DVDs.
I asked her about the phenomenon of “coupon resistance.” Here are her thoughts on the subject:
CS: How would you respond to someone who says, “I don’t have time or patience for coupons?”
Jill: I’ve always felt that you can spend time to save money, or you can spend money to save time. Thankfully, with the help of the Internet, using coupons is faster and easier than ever. There are great websites that will actually give you a shopping list for your store of choice, matched to the coupons you need to cut those prices even more. I usually don’t spend more than a half hour to an hour a week preparing for a trip.
CS: Even if folks don’t become “Super Couponers” like you, can you please explain why using coupons makes good financial sense?
Jill: Dollars and cents add up. If you only used $5 worth of coupons each week (which is easy to do, as many coupons are high value, with denominations of $1 or more), by the end of your first month, you’d have saved $20. Do that for a year, and you’ll save over $250. That’s easy money with very little effort.
With a little more effort, you can far exceed that number. The first year I spent Super-Couponing, I saved over $5,000 with coupons. I don’t know anyone who would turn down $5000 if you handed it to them! Coupon shoppers aren’t saving “a quarter here and there” — we’re saving real, significant money on our groceries every week and it really adds up.
CS: What would you suggest as a good first step to a new couponer, that might allow him or her to see the savings first-hand?
Jill: Find a coupon site or blog that you enjoy, and that posts deals on stores that you shop at. Even if you don’t actually start couponing right away, take notice of the prices people are paying for things post-coupon. You will get a sense as to what prices you should be paying for the items you buy. Once you see that there are great deals coming every single week, it becomes hard to resist even picking up a few things for pennies.
CS: What would you say to those who swear they get better bargains without coupons by shopping for everything at a “cheap” store?
Jill: I hear this all the time, but it’s one of the biggest misconceptions people have. “Discount” grocery stores sell mainly house-labeled products, and they’re roughly the same price every day. In contrast, a supermarket runs a high/low pricing structure. On any given day, probably half the name-brand items at the supermarket will cost more than the house-branded discount store equivalents. The other half of the products will cycle lower than that house-brand price midline. Those are the products we’re watching — we move in with our coupons and cut those prices even more. I consistently buy name-brand products for a fraction of the prices I’d pay for store-brand equivalents — I never pay more than .25 a box for any name-brand cereal, post-coupon.
Couponing may not fit into everyone’s lifestyle but as Jill espouses, there’s little doubt that what you get out of it is proportionate to what you put into it.
Do coupons fit into your savings strategy?