HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Snip, snip, snip. That's the sweet sound of scissors hard at work.
Hard at work saving money, that is. Clipping coupons has become a national craze and it's keeping cash in the wallets of shoppers across America.
One Pine Belt shopper has reached "Extreme Couponer" status. But what makes her tale unique is not the hundreds of dollars she's saved on a single transaction. It's not the incredible stockpile of supplies she's accumulated. It's not even the fact that cashiers know her by name.
Karetta Conerly-Green of Tylertown is unique because of the way she's used her extreme couponing skills to help others. She has acquired everything she needs to run her household for the next three years but now donates her purchases to those in need. Homeless people, church members, and victims of tragedy have all been touched by this discount diva's kindness. Recent recipients of Green's generosity were victims of the December tornado that tore through Columbia.
"Most people throw away their Sunday newspaper," said Green. "To me, that's like throwing money in the trash."
Couponing became a part of her life after her husband lost his job. She decided to try it as a way to save money but never imagined how rewarding it would be.
"I started with one newspaper," Green said. "And it grew from one paper to two papers, and now to 50 papers on Sunday and 50 papers on Wednesday."
Wow. Talk about dedication. But all the hard work pays off. Green has filled her "stockpile room" with everything her family will need for the next three years. Her items are insured for more than $20,000.
"The biggest transaction I had was $856," Green said. "And I ended up paying $42.20, $22 of that was taxes."
Not only that, but Green teaches couponing classes in McComb, Columbia, and Hattiesburg. She shares valuable tips with folks that want to try their hands at couponing. And aside from their hands, a reliable pair of scissors and a binder for organizing coupons are all it takes. Anyone can be a super saver, according the Green. Or Professor Green might be a more appropriate title for the couponing guru.
She advises shoppers to scour newspapers, magazines, and the internet for coupons. Spending money on newspapers seems a bit counter-intuitive, so Green hints that checking recycle bins and asking friends and family for their old papers isn't a bad idea. Internet resources are plentiful, including popular websites like coupons.com.
The next step is to get organized. Invest in a binder with plastic inserts to hold coupons. Sort the coupons by product, grouping cleaning supplies together, frozen foods together, etc. Our extreme couponer recommends making a spreadsheet before shopping to avoid any surprises at check out. list before shopping and stick to it! Deviating from the plan can be tempting but stay the course. Destination: super savings!
Green stresses the importance of knowing your store's policies, especially when it comes to expiration dates and coupon limits. Many stores accept coupons past their expiration dates. For instance, local Target and CVS stores will honor coupons that are up to 14 days past their expiration date. Also, some stores limit the number of coupons you can use. This can depend on the particular establishment's management so check beforehand.
Another good tip from the couponing goddess: grocery stores' sales begin on Wednesdays, while most other stores (Walgreens, Target, etc) start their sales on Sundays. Shop the day of the sale, the earlier the better. After all, the early bird catches the worm! And if they made coupons for worms, we can be sure Karetta would have found them.
If you have coupons you're not using, why not share the love? Donate unused coupons to troops overseas or donate purchased items to local organizations that assist those in need.