We've all read about the savvy shoppers who fill their grocery cart and end up paying only pennies after they hand over their coupons. But trying to do that ourselves can be frustrating-where do you get the best coupons, how do you match them up with the best sales, does this require full-time job status to pull off successfully?
Rachel Singer Gordon of Lombard is one of those coupon queens, but she wants to make it possible for all the rest of us to do what she does. So she has created a wildly popular blog, mashupmom.com, where she provides her shopping list for lots of local stores, complete with coupons attached or where to find them, so we can all become our own version of a coupon queen.
"A lot of people get intimidated when they read how other people do it and they can't duplicate it, so I try to be very, very clear about the coupons I use," she says.
Gordon, mom to Jacob, 7, and Sam, 3, started couponing a few years ago, when she and her husband Todd were in the process of adopting Sam from South Korea. The adoption was expensive, and she knew she had to cut costs somewhere. Although her husband initially thought she was kind of nuts, she recalls, he soon became a convert when he saw how much she saved-typically 50-90 percent on groceries and most toiletries were free.
Recently, Gordon published a book that gives step-by-step instructions on how to create those kinds of savings for yourself. Point, Click and Save is like a Bible for people looking to save money, plus it has lots of great tips on finding work opportunities and selling things online. Like her blog, its straightforward approach makes it easy to save money, something all of us can use these days.
To get started yourself, Gordon recommends the following:
1 Change the way you shop. Instead of thinking, "What do I feel like eating for dinner," stockpile things by buying them at their lowest price and then shop from your pantry. "This alone will save you a lot," Gordon says.
2 Find someone online to follow, whether it's Gordon or someone else. "At mashupmom.com, I say here are the best deals at Jewel-Osco and at Dominick's and here's where you can find other deals. Find somebody who's doing it, clip the coupons, and then somebody else has done the work for you. Since I've been doing it for a while, I can tell what's a good deal." Start small-just one store the first week so you don't get overwhelmed and give up.
3 Find legit work-at-home opportunities. Start with sites like workathomemafia.com or wahm.com (work-at-home mom). When you're looking for online opportunities, remember if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you're not sure, put the company name in a Google search, along with "fraud" or "scam" because if they aren't legitimate, someone will have written about it, Gordon says. Or go to snopes.com, which debunks a lot of the work from home things as well.
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.