Lifestyle

Hooked on coupons: Blog shows how to save hundreds of dollars

Angela Russell stands with her binder full of coupons. By using coupons, she has cut her shopping bills for groceries, cosmetics and household items by $200 to $300 a month. - Kyra Low/The Mirror
Angela Russell stands with her binder full of coupons. By using coupons, she has cut her shopping bills for groceries, cosmetics and household items by $200 to $300 a month.
— image credit: Kyra Low/The Mirror

About a year ago, Angela Russell first got hooked on coupon cutting.

One of her friends had shown her a receipt, and the stay-at-home mom realized that she could contribute to the family income by saving money on groceries.

Now the Northeast Tacoma resident (who lived in Federal Way for several years) manages a blog focused on using coupons when shopping in Federal Way.

After constant e-mails to friends and family about how much she was saving, she decided to start a blog last February to chronicle her coupon adventures. Her blog, www.thecouponproject.com, is slowly becoming her business and gets about 500 hits a day.

Russell estimates that she is saving about $200 to $300 a month with the coupons.

Her blog this month focuses on how to start clipping coupons, including starting small.

"Do one deal with one coupon," she said. "Baby steps. I started to get the hang of it and it quickly became addicting."

Russell admits she spends more time than most people when searching for coupons. She goes through the Sunday paper and checks out all the ads, then goes to several Web sites to look at Internet coupons. She checks the stores themselves with their in-store coupons.

She posts the coupons on her blog as well as step-by-step coupon cutting tips and locations of the good coupons.

She keeps it all organized in a couple of binders, taking a small folder to the store. With her method, she is managing to cut some grocery trips down to nothing at all. She showed one receipt for a recent stock-up on StarKist tuna fish that cost her $0. She got a few dozen pouches of brand name tuna and with her coupons, it was free.

Russell said that oftentimes, you can get stuff at Federal Way stores for free, especially by stacking coupons, which the stores she features on her Web site, including Alberstons and Fred Meyer, allow.

Sometimes she even makes a profit. At a recent trip to the drug store, she had a coupon for $1.50 off Vaseline. She also had a coupon for store credit for the cost of the Vaseline, so although she paid $5.50 for the product, she got $7 in-store credit.

She can usually get toothpaste, hair products, lip balm and "smelly stuff" for free using coupons. The trick is to buy when it's on sale rather than wait for when you are out of it. She has turned her home into a mini grocery store, as she terms it. But she also warns never to stock more than you can afford or can use before the expiration date — otherwise, you are heading into hoarding territory.

Unlike the popular conception that coupons are just for generic products, Russell said most coupons she uses are for name brands, and some are even for organics.

Russell said that cutting coupons has also resulted in her cutting back in other areas, like eating out, since she always has some food on hand.

The holidays are a great time to start cutting coupons, Russell said. A lot of staples like canned goods and baking supplies, which can last a while, go on sale.

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