Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Interview with Stephanie Barr, of TLC's Extreme Couponing!

Stephanie Barr is the co-owner of the website, Our Coupon Home. This website is a great resource for both new and experienced couponers. There is even a forum which is very helpful. She is the co-owner of this site with Stephanie Harriel. Stephanie B. is going to be featured on tonight (4/27/11)'s episode of TLC's Extreme Couponing.

Stephanie graciously agreed to let me ask her a few questions. I hope you enjoy reading, and be sure to watch for her on tonight's show!

Sarah Fitness: Why did you start couponing? How did you start?
Stephanie Barr: About 4 years ago I went through 2 back surgeries. I had to leave my job and go on disability, which didn't pay anything for 6 months. So my husband took a second job to pay the bills. While I wasn't able to do anything else I started researching saving money online. I stumbled across couponing websites and within 2 months my husband was able to quit his second job because I was saving so much.

SF: What was your biggest "Aha" moment or couponing breakthrough?
SB: When I realized how to "work" the drug stores. Once you see that you can get just about anything for 90% off from these stores it really gets your mind going.

SF: Many of my readers are interested in healthy eating, but feel that it's impossible to eat healthy AND frugally, especially using coupons. Do you have any advice on how to eat healthy while using coupons?
SB: This is such a valid concern! Many people feel that there aren't coupons for healthy items, but this is simply not true anymore.

1. There has been a huge surge in coupons for organic items lately.

2. Many grocery stores put out coupons on their veggies and fruits now, you just have to sign up for the store card to get them via mail or "e-coupon" (loading them to your shoppers card).

3. Be aware of overage. If your store allows it, overage is when your coupon exceeds the value of the item you are using it on, leaving the store "owing" you money. Of course they won't really pay you, so you "buy" your healthier items by putting them in the same transaction as your overage.
My last shopping trip was $10 in seafood, fresh mushrooms, 8 Dole individual fruit, a gallon of Silk milk, 4 containers of greek yogurt, 2 pouches of tuna, 2 boxes of dishwashing tabs, a dozen eggs, 4 packs of Huggies wipes, 2 containers of Parkay butter spread, and 4 boxes of veggies. I saved 67% and paid under $25. Sure, you can save 90% on junk, but I try to save my best on healthy options for my family.

SF: How do you organize your coupons? Do you use the typical coupon binder? Or do you have a different system?
SB: I use a 3" double ring Case-It binder. Typical set up.

SF: Please share your top 3 coupon organization musts.
SB: 1. If you don't clip them you don't know them. By the time I clip them, sort them and put them in my binder I know every coupon I have. This allows me to match up coupons with sale items on the fly.

2. Use the method that works for you. Many people use a binder, but others use a box. Some people use photo sleeves, some people use baseball card sleeves. Whatever works for you is what you should use.

3. Donate your expired coupons! We have adopted a military base that is allowed to use expired coupons. Once a month go through your binder to remove any expired coupons, pack them up and send them oversea!

SF: How do you feel about stockpiling and buying items that aren't needed (like we've seen on the show)?
SB: That is a highly debated topic. If you are actually donating the items, you enjoy it and you aren't clearing a shelf I say more power to you! It's not for me. I get anxious if I have more than 6 months supply of something. There is nothing worse then you spending all this time getting a deal only to have the product expire on your shelf. I do give away some of my stockpile to family and friends, but I've never done more than that.

SF: If a person has one hour a week to coupon, what is the most effective way for them to spend that hour?
SB: Find a good website, check your stores forum for match ups to printable coupons on the sale items and put these items on your list to plan your meals around what is cheap. Printable coupons are so easy to use and can easily save you 25% on your bill without you doing a bunch of work.

SF: What do you think is the biggest mistake of new coupon shoppers?
SB: New couponers take this all too seriously most of the time. I did it too when I started. I thought that I couldn't miss a deal. If I forgot a coupon I would beat myself up about it. Now I know that life isn't perfect and neither is my couponing skills. I do have high totals and months where I'm not ontop of my coupons. Life happens and family comes first. This is a hobby.

SF: Do you have any tips for brand new couponers?
SB: 1. Know your store policies and follow them!

2. Have patience. This is a new skill and it takes time to learn.

3. Never clear a shelf! Get a raincheck, wait for the item to go on sale again, buy half of what your "plan" says....I don't care, but always leave product on the shelf so that they can get the great deal too.

Check out Stephanie's website and Facebook page!

Thanks so much, Stephanie, for taking the time to talk with me! I know my readers will be very excited to hear from you, and will learn a lot!

And everyone, stop by my Facebook page- where we talk about fitness, nutrition, goal-setting, and sometimes just get a little silly...


Jenny said...

What a great perspective from Stephanie! I like this in contrast to what we've seen from some of the people on the show.

Craving Savings said...

Terrific interview! I'm looking forward to seeing her episode tonight.

Mommy Minded said...

Thank you so much for stopping by! I am following along!


Unknown said...

Thanks for the visit! Your blog looks really cool. I'm following you!

Stefanie D. said...

I love coupons!! This was so fun to read!

PSMU said...

Nice interview, thanks for sharing!!