HOUSTON -- A Houston woman was recently on a reality show where shoppers use coupons to buy hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for just a few bucks.
Tiffany Ivanovsky is one of the best extreme coupon shoppers in the nation, and when she goes grocery shopping, there is always a clean up on aisle three and five and six and, well, all of them.
She cleans up using coupons.
I m gonna get really almost anything here free or nearly free, said Ivanovsky pointing to a section of cosmetics.
(Couponing) pays me about $75 to $100 an hour, she said, because I save that much money for my family.
Ivanovsky even teaches classes on extreme couponing.
Here s a brief tutorial:
Ivanovsky buys a Schick Quattro razor which costs $6.97. Her coupon takes five dollars off so she pays only $1.97.
Ivanovsky buys two cans of soup which normally cost $2.74 but they are on sale for 84 cents each. That knocks the total for the soup down to $1.68.
Ivanovsky has a coupon that takes a dollar off so she pays only 68 cents for the two cans of soup.
Here s a trickier lesson on something called overages:
If Ivanovsky buys an item that costs $3, but she has a coupon worth $5, some stores, she said, will give her a $2 credit. The credit is considered an overage that will help pay for things that are rarely discounted by coupons -- for example, meat and produce.
At Walmart they have a great overage policy, said Ivanovsky. I can walk in there and if I only spent $2 but the coupon is for $8 they will actually give me $6 cash back, in my hand, hand me the cash.
Jacqueline Kacen, clinical professor of marketing in the University of Houston s Bauer College of Business, says extreme couponing may be good for the consumer, but it s not so great for businesses.
Retailer margins are not that big to begin with, said Kacen. They re happy to encourage coupon clippers to come to the store, but if every single one of their customers was an extreme coupon clipper, the retailer would make no money.
Even if you don t have the savvy to buy a cart full of groceries for little or no money there s still some significant things you can do to lower your grocery bill.
Look for meal deals. HEB, for instance, gives you sides, a dessert and beverage free when you buy the main dish. Also, experts say stock up whenever you see meats on sale.
At checkout Ivanovsky s total was $71.34 before coupons. After her coupons were deducted, her total was a mere $27.72.
At her Woodlands home, Ivanovsky has turned her dining room into a well-organized pantry. She said she does not have excessive stock piles of groceries and she takes issue with extreme couponers who engage in hoarding. She said her family will consume most of the groceries she buys in three months. After all, she and her husband have seven children.
To learn more about couponing and to see updates on deals check out Ivanovsky s blog at: my litter.com.