It was our biggest haul ever," Denise Whitaker, Dollar General employee and grandmother said of a recent shopping trip to Winn Dixie spending $26 for $1,007 worth of groceries utilizing coupons. She said she shopped from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on this outing.
Whitaker said she relocated with her husband from West Palm Beach to be near her grandson who has gervay syndrome. She said they were regularly visiting and decided to move. After a series of misfortunes beset the family to the point they were "down to using travel items to survive,” according to Whitaker. She said she got ideas from extreme couponing shows and "liked using coupons anyway" so she got newspapers from friends and joined couponing groups through the Internet and was soon giving gift boxes of toiletries and groceries as gifts for the holidays. Whitaker said "I like to be able to provide for my family." She said her job as an associate at Dollar General is full time now but she doesn't know when it could drop down to 18 hours or less.
Whitaker said she now teaches one-on-one coupon classes. She said customers can stack coupons by using competitor coupons, store coupons, and then manufacturer coupons according to Whitaker, at stores accepting of competitor coupons. She also described using "rain checks" and "overages.” Rain checks, she said, stores give when out of a particular item, the benefit being sale prices are still honored when collecting on a rain check. On a recent deal, Whitaker said she combined coupons and rain checks to whittle a $52.86 total down to $22.86, which still qualified her for a $50 gas card from Publix. Additionally, she said she will use the gas card to add to her fuel perks with Winn Dixie. Due to the deals she's found, Whitaker said she "would be owed money from Winn Dixie, but they don't do cash back," so she gets store credit she termed "overages." She said she takes her overages and buys treats for her dog and her husband, too. Whitaker said she also uses overages to buy items not on sale.
According to Whitaker, "you need a coupon buddy." She said she has two friends with whom she keeps in constant contact alerting each other of new deals. She said her friend Theresa uses these couponing techniques to be debt free. Whitaker said there are also many couponing groups on Facebook, some aimed at individual retailers. She said she also uses Internet sources to find coupons in different regions.
"This is work," said Whitaker. Her husband built extra shelves in the house to accommodate the bulk items extreme couponing requires, she said, and he also helps clip coupons.
"It's addicting," she said, more than once. "It's like somebody on crack, a kid in a candy store," Whitaker said, but "it doesn't get away with you." "It's always about looking for that next deal," she said.
Whitaker said she's got a stockpile of paper towels and toilet paper, among the things she's collecting to donate to a men and women's shelter. She said she could have brought some things already, but she wants her donation to be big. Whitaker said she's also gotten makeup on clearance and wants to donate some to a women's shelter.