What kind of a job offers that? The job of seeking out, clipping, and collecting, organizing and redeeming coupons! Lexington Park’s Kimberly Pepper has been doing just that for 30 years now. So talented is she at this that she actually teaches a class on it. Here’s one little tidbit from her class. When you say the word ‘Catalina’ what would you think of? Salad dressing? No. Look at the end of your receipt and notice the strip of coupons that is printed out there. Those are Catalinas. Blinkies and Peelies don’t refer to characters from the PAC MAN arcade game, they are coupons which come from either the little blinking machines attached to the store shelves in front of the particular product to which they apply or the ones that you peel off of the actual product itself to use at checkout.
Kimberly Pepper is a navy wife who has been clipping coupons her entire life. The class that she teaches is held at the town library and is meant to assist fellow military families who may be having trouble making ends meet while moving from base to base. She fully realizes the significance of being the wife of a military man. She knows only too well that military spouses have an extremely hard time holding down a job due to the fact that they can be uprooted at any point in time. Frequently the family is forced to live a singular income. She attributes her willingness to come out of the “coupon closet” to TLC’s Extreme Couponing making coupons the ‘in’ thing.
It’s nothing to be ashamed of any more. She does admit that the show may have twisted people’s realistic expectations of how much can actually be saved; and she does not overstock or hoard endless supplies of food in their home. No bedrooms or garages full of shelf after shelf of repeat items. She doesn’t consider herself to be at the level of extreme couponer and also readily admits that she doesn’t always get things for free. She does however manage to save approximately $50.00 a week on household goods and groceries. And she manages to save on more than just junk food; she buys the healthy stuff with coupons as well.
As far as this being a job… it takes a lot of her time. She encourages her ‘students’ to do the following:
· Set up enough space for bulk purchases
· Set up a separate e-mail account to be utilized exclusively for Internet coupons or sales
· In order to compare deals utilize a spreadsheet
· For organizing your coupons use a binder
· Count on freeing up several hours per week for your couponing duties
The reason for the special e-mail account is that it will probably receive countless spam. Once Internet couponing took off and people started signing up for deals, it was the perfect opportunity for spammers to deluge e-mail addresses with their garbage. Who needs that on their personal e-mail?
In the class, she offers pointers such as the use of something she refers to as ‘stacking’. Essentially this is the putting together of in store coupons and manufacturer coupons for one item in order to save more money. She cautions people not to back down if the coupon will not scan at the cash register. You have every right to request the cashier to manually enter the coupon code if it will not scan. She encourages her students and others to get on a friendly basis with their local store managers. This way, she says, you can be sure that this policy is enforced.
Her classes are light, humorous, casual and extremely well received. One of her strongest sermons involves coupon clubs. The forming of these with friends and neighbors will allow you to exchange coupons that you don’t need for those that will be of most benefit to you. The ideas and news regarding coupons that is exchanged during these events she refers to as ‘coupon cross fertilization’. The practice can end up being extremely profitable for all involved.
She shared with us a recent tidbit that came up during discussion in one of these groups. That being, that overseas families can use expired coupons donated to the military for up to three months past their date of expiration. Even Pepper herself did not know that. Her FaceBook page advertises local coupons, deals and specials and she will be offering future classes at the naval air station at Patuxent River and the library at Leonardtown.