Kelsey Dalton aims for 50 percent savings or higher every time she grocery shops. And, in her three months as an "extreme couponer" the 23-year-old mother of two, has consistently saved an insane amount of cash by cutting coupons and paying attention to sales.
Kelsey Dalton aims for 50 percent savings or higher every time she grocery shops. And, in her three months as an "extreme couponer" the 23-year-old mother of two, has consistently saved an insane amount of cash by cutting coupons and paying attention to sales. Since the beginning of 2013, she has saved nearly $600. Dalton's inspiration to coupon came while she was on maternity leave from her job running an in-home daycare. "I started watching Extreme Couponers on Netflix and I thought, 'How do they do that?.' I was so jealous," she said. Dalton started doing online research into the revolution known as couponing and talked to people she knew had caught on. Her main resource, though, is a blog called Kroger Krazies. The blog's creator, "Coupon Katarina," shares "coupon matchups, Kroger finds and general money saving deals." The site offers deals exclusive to Kroger stores, which is a good thing for Dalton since Dillons isn't far from her home.
Her budget Dalton and her husband Tyler have a set budget of $200 a week to cover expenses including their groceries and food for her daycare, pet food, and other weekly needs. "Since I started couponing, we've been able to come up under that amount. It allows us to live a little more relaxed life and splurge on things we wouldn't normally buy." Dalton usually makes one trip to Dillons a day to maximize her savings. A key to her success is thanks to the fact that Kroger doubles coupons up to and including $0.50. So if she has a $0.50 coupon, it will actually deduct $1.00. And on a day when an item is 10 for $10 Dalton has a $0.50 coupon that will double, she's one happy shopper. "Some of the coupons are amazing. The manufacturers are giving away money to buy their product, so why wouldn't you take it," she said. Dalton admits she has had to tailor her meals to what is on sale, but she hasn't had to compromise eating well. Because she runs a licensed daycare, she is required to follow a federal food plan when feeding the kids which includes fruit, vegetables, grains and meat. Another perk Dalton has found through couponing at Dillons is discounts on gasoline. She said her family has been able to consistently fill up their vehicle for as much as $1 off per gallon. So what is the plan for all of the money she's saving? Dalton and her husband put all of the change they get and extra cash into a jar and are planning to take their children to Disneyland.
Making coupon a verb "The hardest part was figuring out what's a good deal and what's not," Dalton said. Like many, she used to use a coupon just because she had it or buy something on sale with an appealing price. But now she aims to use her coupons at the best time possible. If a product is more than half of its original price, she said it is guaranteed to be a good deal. "But free is better." Free is a word she's been able to apply to a lot of things - toothpaste, floss, baby wipes, peanut butter - multiple times. She's even had Dillons give her money back after a shopping trip, but most of the time she uses the cash accrued from coupons and sales toward the rest of her purchase. On Wednesday afternoon, she bought roughly $35 worth of groceries for $8 and got a "catalina coupon" from the register for $3. "Buying things for cheap is better than nothing, but it's best to be realistic and not try to be like the people you see on TV," she said. On the TLC hit show "Extreme Couponers," it's not unusual for a shopper to fill cart after cart after cart with groceries; Dalton usually sticks to two and her husband is very thankful for that. But Dalton said Tyler is a good sport. "After a while in the store he usually says "We gotta go," she laughed. He even makes a special trip on his Monday lunch break to buy her 12 copies of the newspaper so she can get the latest deals. And his eagerness to get out of Dillons is understandable since Dalton goes down every aisle to check for closeout deals not advertised by the store. She also has to do separate transactions for purchases since manufacturers often limit use per transaction. But cashiers have nothing to fear, Dalton prefers to go through self-checkout.
Dalton's couponing suggestions "You have to be flexible," she said. "If there's a brand you like and it's not on sale, you might have to buy another one." She also suggests paying close attention to what your doing because while a coupon may be a good deal, waiting for the item to go on sale as well could increase your savings. Dalton has a binder with coupons organized into categories like fresh produce, canned goods, cold items, and purchases for that week. Most of the time there's no way her family and the children she takes care of will use all of the products she buys, so she has taken to stocking up on things she can freeze. In fact, she's well on her way to buying a new deep freezer and refrigerator. Any overage she has in items, she donates to charity or gives to daycare parents. She also has plans to send toiletries and other items to the American troops. Additional advice from Dalton includes not shopping in bulk and using a calculator to map out savings. "Couponing really takes forever, but it's totally worth it," she said. "I spend probably three hours a day cutting coupons and doing research for a big shopping trip." Her biggest advice for couponers-in-training is that the practice is trial and error but she's more than willing to help them figure it out. Couponers tend to want to keep their tactics a secret, according to Dalton, but she would love to have someone to shop with. "It's insane that more people don't do this," she said.