The Coupon Queen
There are some things that I am just not naturally good at doing.
I have a tough time playing poker. You can always tell my “tell.” I can’t knit. My husband Marcus bought me a set of darning needles five years ago and I was going to make a scarf. I got so excited about all the different colors I could use. I planned in my head all the gifts I could give the next Christmas to all of my frozen-in-the-Midwestern tundra friends. Three days in, the scarf was a lumpy and misshapen mess. And somewhere, in a storage box in my basement today, that scarf is sitting. Never to be heard from again. I won’t even get into playing H-O-R-S-E with a basketball. Just not pretty.
I put Couponing in this category. It’s something I would LIKE to do well, but just don’t. I simply don’t have a natural knack for it. This is weird, because I can find a mean bargain. I just bought a cocktail dress earlier this week for $14.97. And it’s in a good color. That’s a little bit of talent.
But as I’ve discovered, couponing takes more than talent. It takes commitment and serious organization.
I started watching the show “Extreme Couponing” on TLC a couple of months ago. One of our news managers, Shauna, turned me onto it. After watching the first episode, I became highly intrigued. These women and men had “stockpile rooms” that made me a little envious. If they found themselves in a pinch, they had everything they needed to get through a tough spot. Job loss? Not enough time to get to the store? Family member in trouble and needing supplies? Go to the Stockpile Room.
But as I watched a few more episodes, I became a little disturbed. Some of these “extreme couponers” had relationships that were suffering because they were shopping all the time. They were missing their children’s baseball games and family member’s birthday parties. Their stockpile rooms had overflowed into other parts of the house. In one instance, I think there was a daughter’s room that had its own stockpile shelves. She literally had to sleep with the stockpile. And they had to take out insurance policies to cover the stockpile in those rooms on another episode.
I didn’t want to go that far.
That’s when Tammy Meek walked into the picture, or I should say e-mailed her way into it.
I did an initial coupon story a couple of months ago, working with Tara Kuczykowski, a mom in Canal Winchester who has made a national name with her website “Deal Seeking Mom.” Click here to take a look at that website. She talked over some savings basics with me and how she started down the path she’s on right now. And one of my co-worker’s, who is also a new mom, participated in the story because she has committed herself to saving by clipping coupons too. I’m putting up that original story so you can see it right here:
After that story, I put out the call in an evening newscast. I wanted to hear from Central Ohio’s Coupon Queens. We heard from more than 20 people who claimed to be excellent couponers in their own right. But Tammy Meek sent us this email that really stood out:
Sent: Monday, April 11, 2011 2:15 PM
To: WCMH Stories
Subject: Extreme Couponing
Someone mentioned at work that you were looking for extreme couponers.
I went to Wal-Mart in Circleville, Ohio and they paid me $13.84 to leave their store - my total order was $584.00 before coupons.
Today I am donating 114 cans of Similac baby formula to a local food pantry in Circleville.
I love to coupon and do not miss a good deal. Teaching my teenage daughters to do it, also.
I met Tammy for the first time last Friday, and “got inside her head” for a good hour at a local store. I could have stayed there all day.
She is a mother of three, works full time, and volunteers on the side. Basically Wonder Woman. And I learned SO much about couponing. I came at this story under a premise: Extreme Couponing saves people a lot of money, but most of us only have an extra half hour a day or so to really dig into weekly ads and coupon inserts. Tammy showed me it’s possible to save a good amount of money, when you only have a little time. And that’s what you’ll get Tuesday night on NBC 4 at 11:00 when my story with Tammy airs.
She has a system that involves those plastic baseball card holders, that I think could work brilliantly when you’re at the store. Much easier to deal with than those expandable coupon files that I tend to lose all my coupons in… only to find them three months after they expire. And she has a way to clean out your organizer so you don’t even have to deal with discovering those old coupons!
She has a small stockpile room, but she maintains it is not out of control. Here’s a look:
A little Coupon Nugget she gave me: when searching for coupons online, put in the zip code “90210.“ Meek claims, as one of the most expensive zip codes in the country, you’ll get a wide range of coupons available.
But I also liked Tammy for this story because she coupons with kindness. She has a personal Code of Ethics, if you will, for working with cashiers. It involves giving out coupons in the check out lane if the situation needs it! And she gives back to a local food pantry all the time, sometimes only shopping for deals for them.
Her philosophy basically boils down to this: most of the time you won’t get all of your regular groceries for free, but you should be able to cut your bill by up to 50 percent nearly every time you fill that shopping cart.
ADDENDUM: If you have a chance today, take a look at my new story with Tammy on couponing on our website. We also have her full interview posted there for you this morning. Just search: Coupons. If you have any additional questions about how to coupon, email me at or leave me a message on my Facebook page.
Posted by on 05/17 at 08:40 AM
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