WIMAUMA – Last year when Crystal Whitice’s part-time work schedule was reduced, she needed to offset the loss of income. She and her husband, Joel, the children’s pastor at River of Life Christian Center, were in the process of adopting two young girls out of foster care and already had two older boys of their own.
“My sons alone eat me out of house and home,” she said. “I had to do something, so a friend of mine taught me how to save some serious money with couponing.”
What began out of necessity as a sort of hobby turned into a part-time job of its own, Whitice said. Without coupons she was spending $150 to $200 per week in grocery bills. Once she set up a system and started using coupons in earnest, she was able to save “70 to 90 percent” of that each trip.
Whitice, a Wimauma resident, achieves those savings by watching sales flyers; visiting iheartpublix.com and truecouponing.com; shopping in small orders; purchasing in bulk when possible; and buying $2 coupon books online. The books she purchases have lots of coupons, but she’s particularly interested in the four, $5-off-your-$30-purchase coupons for Winn-Dixie. She also buys 10 to 12 newspapers each week.
“I only shop at Publix, because it has the most coupon-friendly policies,” Whitice said. “The store where I shop considers Winn-Dixie a competitor so I can use those Winn-Dixie coupons to save an additional $5 off my total bill. And that doesn’t include all the other coupons I use.”
Other strategies include shopping only at one store to save time and gas; visiting manufacturer’s websites; getting rainchecks on out-of-stock items; Googling a product’s name with the word “coupon”; and buying only what she needs – that is unless there’s an extremely good deal she can get for her church’s food pantry.
“In this economy having extra cash to give to others is difficult,” Whitice said. “But with couponing I have the ability to give food and other items for a fraction of their original cost without hurting my budget.”
Whitice said five or six other church members do this. Like club members, they look out for each other and share ideas – and coupons.
“With the right combination of manufacturer’s coupons, in-store coupons, sales and/or buy one-get-one offers, you can actually get items for free or cash back,” she said. “I pre-sort my coupons, check all the sales in advance and use a calculator while shopping. I recently spent $5.36 for $106.44 in groceries.”
To handle the volume of emails and spam she gets from visiting coupon sites, Whitice set up a separate email account.
“I have my coupons ready when I go to the register to make things easier for the cashier,” Whitice said. “Couponing has become a good source of income for our family.”