SNOW HILL, N.C. (WNCT) – A math teacher by trade, Monique Warren turned her passion of budgeting for her family of five, into a hobby.
“Basically, I can maneuver any coupon and know how to get my things cheap,” said Warren, who two years ago started a Facebook group that now boasts more than 500 members offering tips and insight into how to rack up savings through couponing. “It’s also teaching them to budget money, so the money that you saved, let’s put that in a savings account”
It’s a hobby, that’s time-consuming.
“Any downtime that I have, I’m constantly researching, constantly posting what is a good deal answering questions,” warren said. “I can’t even sleep with my phone in my room because it’s dinging all the time.”
It is one hobby that her husband, Michael Warren, was skeptical about until he went along for his first couponing trip.
“I couldn’t believe it. To see the total go up to 80, 90 to 100 dollars and then to see it after coupons go down to 10 and 8 dollars. It’s unbelievable to me. So you gladly tell her to come on. Yes, ma’am, I’m ready,” Warren said.
Together, they clip, shop, and save.
“We live check to check just like most other people do,” one said.
And they help others.
“I had a former student whose house caught on fire. I was able to let her get anything they wanted,” said Monique.
“And with the bowls, my family really doesn’t eat them, but when we go back to school, I donate them for the backpacks,” she said.
That type of giving led to stockpiling for yet another reason.
The Warrens have created a program called “Coupon 4.0 College,” now in its third year, supplying college-bound students with baskets full of toiletries and other household items they’ve collected through their couponing habit. Their goal this year is to provide 100 students with baskets.
“Things just to say we’re supporting what you’re doing. Keep doing what you’re doing and we want you to be successful,” said Warren.
The people who she helps in her Facebook group, free of charge, have definitely pitched in to help the Warrens meet their goal. Many of them have donated baskets in exchange for her advice on ways to save.
“The only donations I ask for [are] all the baskets or if anyone doesn’t use all their coupons,” she said. “Every day I check my mailbox, I see coupons from the community.”
Original Story 7/18/2016:
With the help of realIty shows, extreme couponing has become all the craze, but new research shows coupon use was down 13 percent for 2015 compared to 2014.
For one Greene County couple, that statistic does not include their household. In their coupon crusade, they’re letting 9 On Your Side in on some of their tips proving that it helps to search high and low to save.
“Ok, so remember last week, we got those Puffs for free because our 50 cents coupon doubled,” asked Monique Warren, extreme couponer, who gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘Shop ’til you drop,’ using a unique skill to shop with as little money as possible. “So right now, your mentality is, ‘I know I can now get tissue free all the time.’”
She even teaches her skills to others all across the east and she’s giving advice over the phone for free.
“So even though they are 25 cents your new target price for tissue is nothing, free. So don’t buy it,” she said, shaking her head, hanging up the phone. “All the time.”
Her secret is extreme couponing. And with her husband Michael and her binders full of coupons by her side, she took 9 On Your side along to show how the process can work.
“A lot of times I don’t know what I’m buying,” said Angela Green. “I literally walk up and down each isle, so planning would save me a lot of money. Yes!!!”
But for many of shoppers, the reality of planning with coupons just isn’t there.
“I don’t have the time and I don’t like looking at them,” said Michael Lord, shopper.
“I watch all the TV shows about people that do it and I wish I could. I wish I had time,” said Kelly Cleaton, shopper
So let’s rewind a bit and before we tell you how much we saved, let’s tell you how to get started.
Back at the Warren’s home, you can see the fruits of their couponing labor, literally.
“It is very addictive,” they said. “You get a rush that just knowing your robbing the store, but you’re doing it legally.”
It’s a constant learning process that Monique says, even for her, didn’t happen overnight.
“When I first started, I started at one store and I learned their coupon policy, practiced there and, once I learned that one store, I was able to get most of my things cheap and then I migrated to CVS, Walgreens, etc.,” explained Monique Warren.
To add to her savings, Monique purchases coupons in bulk, from coupon clipping services online. It comes out cheaper than buying a Sunday newspaper and gives her access to a larger variety of savings on grocery items and other brand name products that you normally can’t find in your local paper.
“The value of the coupons are better in certain areas,” she said. Then comes the organizing. “I take my inserts, start clipping and put them in and then I start researching online what sales are gonna be and then I just match the coupon with a sale. Usually, I make a list. That’s what I’m going into that store for and I don’t get anything else.”
So that’s how 9 On Your Side handled our first couponing trip. 9 On Your Side set a goal of buying two different types of juices and some spare ribs that were on sale through Food Lion’s MVP card, another free source of coupons and savings, for only $1.59 a pound.
“So this is how people would set up, you have your paper, you have your coupons and you see what’s already on sale,” said Green.
But before setting off, 9 On Your Side had to check for other “store” coupons at Food Lion’s MVP kiosk and found yet another coupon for the one of the juice brands that was on our list. And with the help of a rain check that Monique had from a prior visit, the juices were 2 for $4, so 9 On Your Side racked up.
In addition to that coupon from the kiosk and a manufacturer’s coupon, 9 On Your Side was able to stack them all for a better savings on the juice.
9 On Your Side’s bill quickly went from $61.10 to only $25.22 not bad for my first attempt at couponing. So that’s about a 55 to 60 percent savings.
So, one thing to remember when talking about saving through extreme couponing, it’s not about simply grocery shopping for the week. It’s about strategic planning, to save on items that you and your family use all the time.
Coming up next week, 9 On Your Side will show how the Warrens have turned their money saving “addiction” of couponing into a “crusade” to help so many others in their community.
For some tips on extreme couponing, click here.