Today we are interviewing Laurie from Passionate Penny Pincher, she has a great site that focuses a lot on the savings to be had at Publix, while still giving a broad grasp of the deals available in many forms and sources. She also does a great little series on her blog to help us remember to do those little cleaning jobs that seem to so often get swept under the rug. Laurie is also in my local area, although we have not yet had the pleasure of meeting in person.
Julie: How long have you been couponing? What made you decide to start?
Laurie: I've always been a frugal girl, and even tried couponing when my hubby and I were first married fifteen years ago. Back then I'd always get frustrated because after spending time to clip my coupons, I'd get to the store to find the generic items cheaper than the items with coupons! Five years ago, my best friend introduced me to "super" couponing, and now, thanks to the internet, it's easy to find out what the best prices are and which coupons coincide with the top grocery deals!
Julie: Could you explain what you mean by "super" couponing?
Laurie: I guess before the term "extreme" couponing came out, I learned the term "super" couponing (I'm sure some blogger out there started it!) Basically, it's matching up the sale price with a coupon so that you get the benefit of both!
Julie: What is your grocery budget? How has it changed since you started couponing?
Laurie: Our family spends about $50-$60 each week on groceries. When I first started couponing it was substantially less - maybe $40 a week. But as my family as grown (and my time to spent clipping coupons has become less frequent!), I've chosen not to get every deal in town just to save my sanity.
Julie: That's a relief. I think new couponers can often get the idea that they just aren't saving enough and can never keep up. So the idea that someone as involved in couponing as you would "back off" and "slow down" a bit on couponing and even increase her grocery budget, makes me feel better, anyway.
Julie: How large is your family? Are you teaching your children the value of couponing?
Laurie: My husband and I have three children, aged 4, 8, and 11. My kids definitely know the value of a coupon, in fact when I mentioned to my littlest that her Barbie doll might need some clothes on :), she said "nope. . . we don't got a coupon for dat".
Julie: What do you think is the most important thing for new couponers to learn? What one piece of advice do you want to pass on?
Laurie: START SLOWLY. Find out where the best store in your area is to grocery shop at (with coupons), and learn to shop it well. Be patient and remember that just about every item in the store goes on sale every six to twelve weeks!
Julie: You have a great blog, what made you decide to share your coupon knowledge in this way?
Laurie: My husband's dad became very sick about eighteen months ago. While my husband was away taking care of his dad, I couldn't sleep so I stayed up reading coupon blogs all night long. The thing that I didn't see often promoted on blogs was an encouragement to donate inexpensive or free items, as well as ways to create recipes each week that matched up with the sales ad. So, I started Passionate Penny Pincher! (Well, Publix Penny Pincher at the time.) I also wanted a way to earn money to donate to overseas missions, so God just kind of nudged me this way! One half of the proceeds from Passionate Penny Pincher go towards mission work (and the other half is in my kiddo's college fund!)
Julie: Giving is very important for you, how has couponing allowed you to help others?
Laurie: Giving is really just about the only reason I hang in there some days with coupons (and blogging, to be honest!) Our family is incredibly blessed, and thanks to couponing it really isn't even a big deal to give from our abundance. A few years ago our church handed out $100 to several members, and I spent that $100 to get over $600 worth of food, cleaning products, and toiletries to donate to our local food pantry. Being able to make that kind of a donation to others was just amazing, and giving is what has kept me going on days when I wonder if it's worth the time that it takes!
Julie: Have you watched Extreme Couponing? What are your thoughts about the show? What impact have you seen it having on couponers and couponing?
Laurie: Ughhhhhhh . . . yes I've watched it. My biggest disappointment is that I don't think TLC is accurately portraying couponers . . . and I wish they'd focus more on the true heart of giving that I believe so many couponers have. I am a little frustrated at watching people clear the shelves, because I've found that our family has plenty without ever having to buy dozens of one specific item. I do think there will be an impact in the near future to couponers (as many of us have seen in the grocery stores), however I believe it will be short-lived as people recognize the amount of work that is involved in that kind of "extreme" shopping.
Julie: any final thoughts you'd like to share?
Laurie: If you're new couponing, don't get overwhelmed! Start slowly, and create a realistic budget for your family. . . then determine to stick to it. Also remember that groceries are one of the few items in your family's budget that you have complete control over. So, decide to pinch a few pennies to see huge savings at the grocery store!
Laurie, as you can see, is pretty awesome. I suggest you take the time to get to know her better by visiting her blog, as well as her Facebook page.
- if you are interested in being interviewed and sharing your couponing story for this series, please just comment or email me (drunkitty2000 at yahoo.com). You don't need to have a blog of your own to share your story.