All it takes is a newspaper and some scissors to save hundreds of dollars on groceries each month. That’s why Central Florida residents are couponing their way to free deals.
ShaiMarie Guzman, an Orlando resident for 18 years, started couponing five to six years ago. As the administrator of the Facebook page “Couponing in Orlando,” she is using her couponing skills for good.
After having her first child, Guzman and her husband struggled for money and eventually were evicted from their apartment. She was driven to couponing so she could save money for other expenses, like bills.
Guzman started the Facebook page three and a half years ago when she noticed that many of the good deals were gone before she could get to them. “Obviously I wasn’t the only one couponing,” she says.
As one of the largest couponing groups in the Orlando area, members, both old and new, share information about good deals happening around town.
“It’s all about organization and staying alert with deals,” Guzman says. “Basically couponing is another full-time job.”
While this job isn’t about getting a check at the end of the week, savings can add up to be extremely useful for the average household. Couponing can also lift spirits.
When done correctly, extreme couponing is a way to turn coupons into cash. But for Guzman, it is also a way to make her mark worldwide. She used her skills to collect items to donate to Puerto Rico in an endeavor to help with hurricane relief efforts following hurricane Maria. Getting these items cost Guzman little to nothing.
Guzman’s great aunt and uncle live in Puerto Rico and felt the effects of the hurricane. Her connection to the island led her to focus on sending residents the food and supplies they needed as they began to run out in the aftermath of the storm.
“I’m trying to use my knowledge of what I know and get the deals on non-perishables,” Guzman says.
She recently collected 80 boxes of cereal to send to Puerto Rico, a donation that was much needed. Through her deals, Guzman was paid $2 for every eight boxes she purchased. The overage was used to pay for other groceries that didn’t have such a good deal. She says it’s going to take some time before she has a large enough donation to send, but she has gotten great deals on dog food, diapers and cereal.
But the effort didn’t stop there. She reached out to the over 6,000 members in her online community to help as well, and many joined her mission. “It feels good that I’m helping the Orlando community,” she says.
But she is also helping the families in Puerto Rico that will be receiving the products. After making sure her family will receive the shipment, she hopes to collect 50 pounds of supplies and send them to Puerto Rico herself.
Top 5 Couponing Tips for Beginners
Are you new to couponing? Use these expert tips to save cash.
1. Get your newspapers. This is Guzman’s number one tip for beginners. Make sure you collect more than one newspaper. Talk to your neighbors and friends to see if they use coupons. If not, see if they can set the coupons aside for you. You can get a newspaper at a gas station for as little as 50 cents.
2. Do your research. Read blogs, join Facebook pages and talk to people who have been successful with their couponing. Read store coupon policies and have a copy with you when heading to the store. Stay up to date on weekly deals.
3. Stay organized. If you’re looking to go extreme, you’ll need to be organized. Find a place to put your coupons and an organization system that works for you. When you walk into the store, you should know exactly where your coupons are for that transaction.
4. Be patient: Coupons have cycles. The biggest mistake beginners make is trying to use every coupon they cut. You want to wait until multiple deals line up in order to get the best price. Patience is key.
5. Download apps: Smartphone apps are also making it into the couponing scene. Download apps like RetailMeNot and Ibotta for deals and rebates. You can sometimes pair a coupon with a rebate, saving you even more.