Monday, April 11, 2011

An interview with Andrea Woroch

I received an email last week from Andrea Woroch, who is a consumer savings expert. She was providing helpful tips about couponing and saving money. I wanted to ask her some questions of my own, since interviews were allowed. Since the new season of "Extreme Couponing" has just premiered last week on TLC, I thought this was a perfect time to educate my readers on the importance of saving money and getting the best deal you can. Please visit Andrea's website for more of her great advice helpful tips.

I interviewed Andrea and thought she gave truly excellent advice. I hope this inspires you to start couponing if you haven't already! I use coupons from time to time but this motivates me to start using them even more since food prices are insane in New York City. Every coupon helps!

I asked her these questions and here are her answers:

1. What do you tell people when they say that there's never any "good" coupons listed in the newspaper/circular? They say oh, it's only $1 off, how will that help me?
$1 off coupons are in fact a GREAT deal especially when you consider using several coupons on the same shopping trip. The total savings could amount to several dollars off the total bill on just one shopping trip especially when you take into account grocery store sales and other promos that may also be applied to your cart at checkout so these seemingly insignificant coupon savings add up, quickly. So much so that they could help shave off a significant portion of your monthly grocery bill when added up. What's more, by stacking a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon, you can multiply your savings quickly and easily. So just remember, spending just 20 minutes a week looking for coupons can save you up to $1,000 a year. You'd be smart to search for the money-saving vouchers in the newspaper, online or on your phone to start saving big!

2. What is your advice for getting people educated about a store's rewards card or double coupon deals?
Grocery store reward cards can help you save with instant in-store sales. The reward cards also many times offer exclusive coupons depending on your point accumulation. What's even more popular is grocery store reward cards helping consumers save at the gas pump. In fact, stores like Ralphs and Stop & Shop have partnered with Shell. Redeem your grocery reward points at the gas station to save 10 cents off a gallon! You can also load grocery store coupons straight onto your reward card so you don't have to stuff your wallet full of coupons. These reward card coupons will be automatically applied to your bill at check out and are usually stacked on store sales.

For example, I recently picked up a 8 pack of AA Duracel batteries. Typically, I would never buy batteries at the grocery store since these are usually marked up by over 20+-percent. However, I noticed a $1.50 off coupon on Ralph's website so I loaded up the coupon to my reward card and ran to the store to pick up a few staples. I was so excited to find that the 8-pack of batteries also happened to be on sale-$2 off in fact! That means, I saved $3.50 quickly and easily.

Most grocery stores accept manufacturer coupons and will accept a store coupon along with a manufacturer coupon as long as the coupon features a valid expiration date. Big box stores like Walmart, Target, BJ's Wholesale and Dollar General also accept both types of coupons and allow "stacking." Simply search the store's website to view their coupon policies to learn how your coupons will work at check out before you head to the store.

3. What do you suggest to people on how to get started couponing for the first time?
Start small and commit just a few minutes every week looking for deals. Most importantly, plan out your meals for the week based on your store's sales and special coupons. Buy seasonal produce since out of season items are more expensive. Follow the traditional coupon search by clipping offers from your Sunday circular/newspaper or print coupons right from your computer. Sites like feature printable grocery store coupons for a variety of brands. You can also search for manufacturer coupons for your favorite brands and products by visiting their website to see if any are available.

4. What has been your best coupon shopping spree to date?
I was very excited about the battery deal I scored today on Duracel since these are usually very expensive and I always urge consumers to buy batteries in bulk at stores like Costco in order to save. However, one of my favorite coupon stories was at Banana Republic Outlet Factory where I found several outfits at nearly 40% off. But, the discounts didn't stop there. In fact, I saved an additional 35% off the order by opening a new store card and applying a mobile coupon that I found on CouponSherpa's iPhone App. Today, I wear those clothes proud!

5. It's very important that you use your coupons before the sale ends. What's your best advice in remembering to do so?
Organize your coupons by month depending on their expiration dates or jot down the coupon/sale expiration date in a calendar to remind yourself of the offer so you can take advantage of it before it becomes invalid. Don't buy something just because you have a coupon. Make sure it's something that you need and will use, especially if it's a perishable item.

6. What is the biggest misconception about coupons that you've heard people have?Coupons are a waste of time. Of course, spending several hours a week to cut just $5 or $10 off your grocery bill doesn't seem like the best use of your time. However, when done properly, coupons can save you a lot of money. Spending just 20 minutes a week can save you up to $1,000 a year. And these days, you can find coupons for just about anything. The most important step to saving money is comparing prices and searching for deals to stack on top of special promotions. A site like features thousands of online coupons and promo codes for discounts on a variety of brands and services including clothing, electronics, home & garden, sporting goods and more - and makes it easy to find deals in an instant so you don't waste time jumping from site to site in search of a deal.

***Extra savings tips: buy discount gift cards before you head to the grocery store! Sites like help you find the best deal on a variety of discount gift cards for grocery stores and big box retailers like Walmart, Target and more. You can save up to 50% off using discount gift cards and when used with coupons, it's a great way to maximize your savings.

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