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Coupon clipping makes cut in cost of living

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By Donna Carman

Amanda Spinks bought nearly $75 worth of items at Rite Aid on Friday. But she didn’t pay $75 for them.
She paid $9.34, and then got an additional $18 in Rite Aid’s Up Rewards, which could be interpreted as the business paying her $9 to buy $74.52 worth of their products.
“This is the best I’ve ever done,” Spinks said of her couponing ventures.
With a careful perusing of Rite Aid’s advertising circular, combined with the use of manufacturer’s coupons, in-store coupons, the use of the company’s Wellness Card, and then the deducation of previously earned Up Rewards, Spinks was able to walk away with several bags of items for very little money.
And it’s savings such as these that make clipping coupons rewarding for a lot of people.
Spinks, 34 and the mother of two young girls, said she got started couponing a few years ago.
“I went to a Dave Ramsey class in Columbia about five years ago, and that’s when I really got into couponing,” Spinks said, adding Ramsey is a Christian financial adviser and she was looking for some ways to better manage her finances.
With a pair of scissors and a packet of coupons in a side pocket of her purse, Spinks is always ready to to clip some coupons.
“I’m looking basically for things I use, or for people I know that use certain things,” she said. “For instance, my sister has twins, so I save diaper coupons for her.”
Spinks said she’s always on the lookout for specials as well.
“For example, I had an Oil of Olay coupon for a gift pack. I saw them on clearance for half-off, which saved $10-$20, then I had a coupon for another $3,” she said. “So, potentially, I got a $32 item for $7.”
Spinks admits that it does take some time to clip and organize coupons, and then comparison shop against advertising circulars, but she believes it’s a worthwhile investment.
“Yes, it’s time-consuming, but how much time do you spend watching TV,” she said.
Besides Rite Aid, Spinks said another favorite shopping place is Kroger, which allows the addition of “virtual” coupons to a shopper’s in-store card. Spinks said the coupons can be downloaded from the store’s Website.
Spinks said she uses the internet for a lot of her coupon ventures, noting such sites as coupons.com and coolsavings.com are two of her favorites. She also pointed out that coupon circulars, like SmartSource and P&G that are inserted in local newspapers, are valuable sources for coupons.
“I usually get the (Lexington or Louisville) Sunday paper just for the coupons,” she said. “It tells you how many coupons are in there, in the upper right corner.”
Spinks, who works for the Casey County school system at Kids Team, previously worked in pharmacies for eight years. She said there are coupons that can be found to reduce the cost of expensive medications.
“Nasonex is a $100 nasal spray,” she said. “If you have a coupon, and give it to your pharmacist, it comes off your co-pay. There’s stuff like that out there for people who will look for it.”
Spinks advises shoppers to ask about coupons for medications at their doctor’s office, or look for items that drug representatives leave at the pharmacy.
“They leave (coupons and samples) all the time,” she said.
Spinks shares her love of couponing and finding bargains with her mother, sister, aunts and other relatives, and even her daughters, Kara and Kate, are picking it up.
“They are avid couponers too,” Spinks said of her girls. “They’ve been told several times they can’t have things because we don’t have a coupon. So, one time, I found a coupon that one of them had clipped for $5 off a Build-A-Bear workshop.”
On another occasion, Spinks said Kara accompanied her on a trip to Kroger, where she redeemed $50 worth of coupons.
“I don’t know who was more excited, me or her,” Spinks said. “She said, ‘Mommy, you did so good!’”
While Spinks admits that she doesn’t devote as much time as she used to to couponing, she plans to continue.
“I’m going to keep on using coupons until I win the lottery,” she said, with a laugh. “But since I’ve spent less than $5 on it my whole adult life, it might be awhile.”