Saving With 6abc

How to maximize coupon savings

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Call it a Tupperware party for Tough Times. The women gathered in Marie Stopa's living room aren't here to buy any thing. Instead, they're here to get tips on saving money.

Marie recently lost her job in the accounting department of a major hotel chain.

When she heard about BeCentsAble.net, she underwent training to become a certified educator for the website. BeCentsAble offers workshops, tips and resources for saving money by using coupons and rebates.

A single mother of four, Marie hadn't been a big coupon clipper before she joined BeCentsAble.

But she says, "I've definitely noticed a big difference. Normally, I was spending about $150 to $160 a week on groceries. And I cut it down to $80 to $90 with the savings."

Marie's two-hour workshop costs $25. She explains topics such as the difference between manufacturers' and store coupons. And how you can use them together -- or "stack" them -- to maximize savings.

She also demonstrates how to organize the coupon sections from the Sunday paper and gives advice on using the web to figure out where the coupons will be most valuable.

I learned something I didn't know -- about how some coupons can be used for products other than those pictured on the coupons.

Marie says if the first five digits on the UPC code match the first five digits on the UPC code of the product, the coupon will work for that product.

She also explained how some stores -- like Walmart -- will honor their competitors' prices -- so you can get deals without making a lot of stops.

Marie says most workshop participants save more than the $25 workshop fee the first time they go shopping and put the strategies into effect. The fee also gives participants access to the members-only areas of BeCentsable's website. Non-members can only access the free area of BeCentsable's website.

The women who attended Marie's at-home workshop say the information was well worth the price of admission. Dale Levy said she'd start to use coupon stacking. And Edna Fisher really liked the tip about the UPC codes.

Marie will be offering more workshops at the Rhawnhurst Rec Center, 2138 Solly Avenue, in Philadelphia on Thursday nights at 7:00. To register, call 215-626-2640.

She'll can also present a workshop in your home, if you have 8-12 people who'd like to attend.

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