At 25 with young sons and a tight budget, Kristen Kaiser is looking for every way possible to save extra cash. So she drove the hour south from Lehigh Acres to Bonita Springs to see a woman with some answers.
She wasn’t alone more than 100 people filled a deserted strip mall space to hear Susan Samtur — the Coupon Queen — tell them her tricks to saving money.
Her message is one a lot of people are listening to now.
“In this economy, any little bit extra is great,” Kaiser says. “It can mean getting to go out to eat as a family or doing something else.”
Shop and save with the Coupon Queen
Susan Samtur shows ways to save at ...
Samtur didn’t offer up any hidden wisdom. Her tips aren’t rocket science. But they help people take advantage of deals people.
And they are infectious. Getting a good deal isn’t just about the bigger numbers in your bank account. There’s a pride that comes from knowing you were smart about your purchases.
“I went to Walgreens last week and bought some things that I needed,” Kaiser says. “I ended up spending $8.01, but I saved $11. It felt good.”
In the current economy shopping has become a four-letter word, but thrift is definitely in style.
Savvy from Samtur
Sweetbay Supermarkets will bring the original “Coupon Queen,” Susan Samtur, to two more stores in Southwest Florida to conduct free in-store seminars showing shoppers how to save money at the register.
Attendees will receive a $5 Sweetbay gift card, a copy of Samtur’s best-selling book, “Cashing In at the Checkout,” a $300 grocery coupon certificate booklet and a one-hour DVD entitled, ”She Bought $519.66 Worth of Groceries for Only $22.10!”
Registration is required. To register with one of the local stores, call (239) 596-8639.
Remaining workshops are at these Sweetbay Supermarkets:
* 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009, at Sweetbay Supermarket, 4015 Santa Barbara Blvd. Naples (Santa Barbara Blvd and Radio Road)
* 2 p.m. Thursday at Sweetbay Supermarket, 10026 Coconut Road, Estero (corner of Coconut Rd and Three Oaks Parkway)
For coupons and tips go to Samtur’s Web site, www.selectcouponprogram.com
“Saving should be a part of your of your life,” Samtur says. “It gives you a great feeling of satisfaction.”
Samtur, of New York City, got the label in the late ’70s when she took a reporter from the “Today Show” shopping and bought more than $100 worth of products for $7. Since then she’s been spreading the gospel of coupon clipping to anyone who will listen. Recently she’s been on “Oprah” and in the New York Times.
Samtur can walk the talk. On a shopping trip with a Daily News writer and photographer in tow, she bought $53 of products for $7 at Sweetbay, using coupons for just about every item, including for meat and produce.
The coupons from those often come from products used in association with them, she points out. So meat coupons may come from A-1 Steak Sauce and veggie coupons from a salad dressing company. Samtur also says that as vegetables are starting to become branded by major companies the number of coupons is increasing.
The biggest savings on her trip through the store: a $12 bottle of Whisk detergent for free with a coupon.
SUSAN SAMTUR'S TOP TIPS
■ Manage your coupons. Everyone comes up with their own system, but Samtur suggests putting them together by type of product and by the aisles those products are in at the supermarket. So coupons for paper products would share space with those for zip-top bags or plastic utensils.
■ Check the store flier. These help you know what is on sale, which is important to maximize the value of your coupons.
■ Make a list. Not only does making a grocery list help you keep track of places for savings, it also helps you avoid temptations to buy things that you don’t need and that aren’t discounted. “Sometimes I’ll buy something off my list,” Samtur says. “But only if it’s the right deal.”
■ Save for sales. This is how Samtur really rakes in the savings. If you’ve got a coupon for $1 off an item that is normally $2 you’d save 50 percent by using it any time. But if you wait for that item to go on sale, the savings potential is greater. Samtur often finds herself in the position to get many items for free.
■ Use caution with coupons. Just because something is on sale or you have a coupon for it, doesn’t mean it’s the time to buy. Overbuying to cash in the coupons is a mistake. Even though you are getting a deal, it’s still costing you money.
Other mantras to live by
■ “Stock up while it’s on sale,” Samtur says. “If it’s not perishable and you will use it in the future, then it could be a good time to buy in bulk.”
This is especially true for people looking to stretch their meat budgets. Samtur says she’ll buy in bulk when meat is on sale, then portion off in bags for the freezer. This way she’s getting the savings and is planning ahead.
■ “Brand flexibility is important,” she says. “There were only two things growing up that my kids had to have -- Honey Nut Cheerios and Skippy peanut butter. Other than that I was always able to buy what was the best deal.”
By sticking to common brand names, you are less likely to be able to pounce on good deals for the things you need. “Tide might be on sale one time and then the next it’s Gain,” she says. “I doubt either of them really clean that much better.”
In this same vein, she suggest looking at generic or store labels. They don’t always offer up coupons, but they might be a deal even without them.
■ “Be flexible with your menu planning,” she says. “This is the way to save on produce. Every week look at the supermarket fliers for vegetables that are on sale. You won’t always find exactly what you want, but there are plenty of options.”
She also uses the bulk system with produce when possible. For example, her husband loves avocados, so when they are on sale she’ll look for a couple that are ripe and ready to be eaten and a few more that are maybe a week away from being ripe. This way she has two weeks of avocados for cheap.