Interview with couponing expert: Terra from SaveaLoonie.com
I was able to chat with Terra from SaveaLoonie.com last week and she gave lots of tips and tricks for couponing that I can share with you.
1. How long have you been using coupons and why did you get started with them?
I have always been a bargain hunter when shopping but Ryan and I (Terra) only really started using coupons in December 2010. We moved into a new house in January of this year and knew things were going to be tight. When we saw the first episode of Extreme Couponing on TLC, it really peaked our interest. It wasn’t until we actually moved in and watched as our expenses grew and our savings dwindled, that I knew we really had to make an effort at it. Getting started was a very overwhelming experience. There are so many rules to follow and I had no idea where to begin! Not to mention finding the coupons and figuring out when and how to use them. Once we figured it all out though, it became like second nature.
2. What’s the best deal you’ve ever scored?
The best deal we ever scored was just after we started SaveaLoonie.com. The $6.00 Finish Quantumatic coupon became available right before the product came on sale for $4.99. We picked up 25 of them all for free! We visited 2 different stores to get this many. I know it seems a little excessive but we were fairly new at all of this and were super excited to be getting such an amazing deal. Now that we have a dishwasher (we were still in the savings process when this deal was on) we do use these and have given many away to friends, family and neighbours.
3. Where do you find the most coupons?
By far the Internet is the biggest and best resource for coupons. We are constantly scouring Google and all the mail-out distributer’s websites. We also get a large portion of our coupons by signing up for e-newsletters and e-mailing lists. Other bloggers like BargainMoose.ca and CanadianDailyDeals.com, can also be a great resource for finding coupons. There is always bound to be something that gets missed. We firmly believe that Canadians are all in this couponing thing together and we should not be enemies. Sharing information is not a bad thing and giving credit where credit is due is very important!
4. Do you think ‘Extreme Couponing’ is ruining couponing for people?
I’m really on the fence about TLC’s Extreme Couponing. I think it’s great for giving people the idea that couponing can save you tons of money, look what it did for us. I think it can leave a lot of non-couponers with a misleading idea of what the average couponer does. I’ve never actually seen someone ripping off an entire tear pad or walking to checkout with 7 carts and 900 coupons, in any of my shopping adventures. There has been lots of talk about Extreme Couponing influencing people to be excessively greedy with coupons. I don’t think this is necessarily true, I think more people in general are just using coupons now and that’s why tear pads are empty. Not because one person came and took the whole thing. I look at the show as more for entertainment than as an ideal to look up to.
5. How do you save money on items that there aren’t often coupons for, such as meat & produce?
Saving money on meat and produce is the most difficult of all. We usually wait until it comes down to rock bottom price and stock up. We have a mid size chest freezer to hold just meats. When meat comes down to its lowest, I usually will buy 2 months worth. Enough to get through until it comes on sale again. We are also fortunate enough to have a local store that sells fresh cuts at exceptional prices so we purchase most of our meats from there. As for produce, I try and buy what is in season. That is when the prices are best. I would ideally like to have a garden to plant my own vegetables but because of where we are living we don’t have the space.
6. What store do you prefer for couponing and why?
Walmart is by far our favourite store for couponing. For most things, it’s a one stop shop. They have great sales, lower everyday prices and will price match. I have also very rarely had issues with using coupons there. I find the cashiers and customer service reps to be generally friendly and more “coupon-literate” than most stores in our area.
7. Besides your own and MapleMoney.com, what’s your favourite Canadian deal site for finding coupons and deals?
It may not fit the bill exactly but I would have to say Facebook is one of the best places to find deals. Many companies now use this social media to promote their products. We “Like” many different pages on Facebook and watch their newsfeed’s carefully. Facebook pages will quite often give the heads up on a deal or coupon long before you can find it anywhere else. More and more companies are also using Facebook applications to give away coupons and freebies.
8. How do you get multiples of coupons?
We gather multiples of coupons from several different resources. We have both a home mailing address and a PO Box so we are able to get coupons sent to both of those locations. Family, friends and neighbours also sign up to mail out sites and receive inserts that they donate to us frequently. I have a few people that I do make trades with as well. If it is a print coupon, we will print the maximum number allowed. We don’t do “recycling walks” or anything of the sort.
9. What are 3 tips you would give to a first time couponer?
Looking back and remembering what it was like when we started couponing, makes this an easy one.
1. Start small. Don’t expect to save 98% on your first time out. Even seasoned couponers can get butterflies at checkout. When starting out, try using 2 or 3 coupons at a time. Build up your knowledge base and your confidence before going for the big scores.
2. Get organized. You will never know what coupons you have, can use, or are expiring if they are in a pile, in an envelope on top of your fridge. Everyone is different and everyone’s coupon system will be different. Find what works best for you and stick with it.
3. Learn your coupon policies. Gather the coupon policies from the stores you shop at most frequently and learn them back and forth. Many cashiers don’t know the policy and will tell you that you can’t use a coupon. If you don’t know either than you could miss out on a great deal! Also, bring your policies with you when shopping. That way its not your word against theirs.
10. Can you tell us a bit about SaveaLoonie.com?
SaveaLoonie.com is a Canadian coupons, freebies and deals website ran by a Canadian couple from Ontario. Ryan and Terra own, operate and maintain the website on a daily basis. We created SaveaLoonie.com to help spread the knowledge we had gained about couponing with all of Canada. It was initially started just to help out friends and family. Once Ryan and I started having success with coupons people were always asking where we got all of our coupons and how to use them. Instead of spending hours trying to explain it all we decided to create the website. We figured we had the knowledge and were doing all the work anyway why not post it for everyone. We are thankful for all the support that we have received from all across Canada and it is crazy to think how many people that we have helped to Save A Loonie or more!
Thank you so much to Terra for answering these questions.