Couponing with class at the North Shelby library

By KATE GUERIN / Community Columnist

If you happen to watch reality programming on television, you may have noticed the show “Extreme Couponing” on TLC. Each episode focuses on individuals who use coupons for everything and end up with hundreds of boxes of cereal, dozens of deodorants and enough laundry detergent to wash clothes well into the next century.

Sadly, it seems that many of the people featured are interested in getting more for less regardless of their actual need for the products.

Fortunately, most couponers do not fall into this category and are interested in making sound financial decisions for their families and shopping smarter.

Due to the economic downturn, there are increasing numbers of people interested in using coupons — just visit your local grocery store and you will probably notice people pouring over lists and sorting through scraps of paper. Jamie Chappell recently visited the North Shelby Library and shared her money- saving strategies that she has honed during the past several years.

Changes in the housing market and her husband’s job forced her family to change from one “that was comfortably lazy with our spending habits to a family that has to be very strategic with every dollar that we spend or it could very well lead us to a financial disaster,” she said.

Ms. Chappell is the author of the blog Penny Wise…Not Pound Foolish (Pennywisenotpoundfoolish.blogspot.com) and she has shared her couponing tips with audiences around Jefferson and Shelby Counties. She stressed the importance of moderation when shopping and advised that “stockpiling (purchasing items when they are at a very low price) and coupon shopping should never be about getting as much as you can, but about getting what you need to provide for your family until the next sale comes,” she said.

Ms. Chappell briefly reviewed coupon policies for several major retailers in the Shelby County area and highlighted the types of deals that customers can take advantage of. She acknowledged that all of the information, rules, and varying store policies can be overwhelming. Starting slowly and building a coupon collection and learning how everything works together is a major key to being successful at saving money. The most important lesson she imparted on the audience was the fact that you don’t have to be extreme to benefit from using coupons.

Ms. Chappell recently graduated with a degree in administrative office management, but she is still available to conduct programs for a small travel fee and can be reached at momof3as2009@gmail.com.

Katie Guerin can be reached by email at katie.guerin@gmail.com.