by Lisa Tome
There is a fine line between being coupon savvy and hoarding.
Tammy Pryor is teaching people not to cross it.
Pryor, who works as Maryland Extension's Expanded Food and Nutrition educator, was teaching participants in the Work Incentive Self Help (WISH) program how to stretch their food dollars by using coupons.
Mark Hutton of North East was attending class Wednesday, September 3. He already knows how he works. "I get coupons out of the Sunday paper. I try to stay with the stuff I need," said Hutton. "Mostly it's food. Sometimes, it's cleaning stuff. Coupons help me save maybe $50 a month."
Pryor told Hutton and other students there are more ways to get coupons - from tear pads in stores, on packages, store personnel who are offering samples, the internet, at the cash register, and by using store cards.
While Hutton was excited to learn how the savings add up, John Hayes of Perryville was mostly indifferent. "My wife uses coupons. I don't do the shopping. I'm not really excited to learn about coupons," said Hayes.
Pryor said she considers herself a "super couponer". "I want you to know the tips and tricks. Couponing helps my food budget. And I donate diapers and pet food back to the community," she said. "But the goal is to be a couponer and not a hoarder. You need to use the stuff. Not get it because it's free or cheap."
"Keep your eyes open so you get things free or they pay you to take them out of the store," she said.
She also recommended websites where you can obtain free coupons, free magazines, rebates, and more. She explained that rainchecks, when a store is out of a sale item, are a good thing because a shopper can choose their own sale dates.
She warned the 30 class members about using photo copied or fraudulent coupons.
She also encouraged shopping lists made using a store circular and the importance of knowing the coupon policy before entering a store.
"I save so much money that it's crazy," said Pryor. She provided handouts regarding making the most of your food dollars and coping skills for tough economic times.