By DAVID GREEN
Amanda Reef says she’s not your typical coupon clipper.
She clips—she clips a lot—but it’s how she uses those coupons that sets her apart from most bargain shoppers.
She’ll explain her techniques at 7 p.m. Oct. 29 at Stair Public Library when audience members learn that she likes the word “free” much more than just “cheaper.”
“I’m going to talk about how I do coupons and how I manage to get things for free—or at least a lot cheaper than most people are paying.
“I never pay for toothpaste and toothbrushes and razors. The most I pay for cereal is about a dollar.”
Fifty cents to free. That’s Amanda’s typical price range.
It all started four and a half years ago when she was bedridden for 14 weeks during pregnancy. Boredom drove her to the internet where she discovered websites that offered free samples.
Amanda eventually discovered which sites were legitimate and which ones merely wanted to clog up her e-mail box. She didn’t bother with the sites that wanted her to take part in a survey.
Within a few months, her focus shifted to coupons and then she became immersed when she read Stephanie Nelson’s book “Greatest Secrets of the Coupon Mom.”
While most people might look over the coupons before they head out shopping, Amanda doesn’t remove the coupon from her file until the item is on sale.
“I’ll save my coupons until a really good sale comes,” she said.
And when is that? She visits a website to coordinate expiration dates, sale dates and store information.
“The internet is a very good tool,” she said.
She lets someone else do the work of tracking down the information, then uses it to save cash.
“If you can save $25 a week off your grocery bill, that’s huge,” Amanda said, but she’s often looking at larger numbers than that.
She focuses on groceries, cleaning supplies and toiletries, but there’s something new on the horizon—new for her.
“I’ve been seeing some coupons for toys and I’m excited to see if I can get some for free,” she said. “That’s new territory for me.”
She’ll take a $10 off coupon to a store where customers can take 25 percent off a non-food item, and she’ll end up with an excellent price.
Some store clerks don’t appear to be all that pleased with coupon savers. If the sales total drops from $90 to $10, a clerk might act like there’s something illegal going on.
“It depends on the clerk you get,” Amanda said.
She’ll share her experiences and her secrets at the library program, including a visual demonstration of her filing system.
There’s one obstacle she won’t be able to help shoppers cross—taxes. She’s bought items for no cost, but still had to pay about $10 in taxes.
“I still have to pay the tax,” she said. “There’s no coupon for that.”
• Extra copies of “Greatest Secrets of the Coupon Mom” are available at Stair Public Library.
Amanda’s approach makes use of the internet, but coupon clippers shouldn’t be hampered if they don’t have access at home. Libraries in Morenci, Fayette and other communities have computers available for the public to use at no cost.