This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.



You can help people by giving them money and things they need, but when you can teach them skills they can continue helping themselves.


- Melissa Garcia, Consumer Queen


board to a blog, www.consumerqueen.com and in 2008 it took off. “I started it as a ministry to help others,” Garcia says. “You can help people by giving them money and things they need, but when you can teach them skills they can continue helping themselves.” The Consumer Queen’s blog teaches people how to “coupon,” but it does more than just that. Garcia’s site covers everything from back-to- school and Black Friday deals, to how to save money on your electric bill. What began as a way to bless others has become a blessing to Garcia’s family as well. Since losing her job in May 2013, the blog has turned into a full-time endeavor. The Consumer Queen’s hard work over the years has paid off as she has been featured on the Today Show, Oprah Radio Network, in Ladies’ Home Journal, the Wall Street Journal, and in various other national and state- wide publications.


Couponer Turned Grocer Linda Hutchison and her husband Larry own Hutch’s Country Market


in Waynoka, Okla. A former coupon shopper, Hutchison says they wel- come the use of coupons at their store. However, they don’t get a lot. “There are a few ladies who will shop with two or three coupons. Most of the ones we get are for cigarettes,” she says. According to Hutchison, coupons don’t really have an impact on their store—negative or positive. “We probably only get about $30 per month in coupons. I send them off to the Oklahoma Grocer’s Association to process them and they send me a check back,” she says. Now that Hutchison is in the grocery business, she doesn’t use many coupons; however, she says 15 years ago when she did use them, she saved between $40 and $60 each shopping trip. “I used to work really hard on couponing,” she says. “It was pretty time consuming. I would spend all evening clipping coupons. Then I would organize them in my binder according to the areas of the grocery store.”


Get Clippin’ Fortunately for today’s couponers, Garcia’s website streamlines the cou- poning process and helps shoppers to maximize their savings. “I only spend 30 minutes to an hour per week on clipping and organiz- ing my coupons,” Garcia says. Most coupon shoppers clip every coupon they think they might use and organize them all in a binder. However, Garcia follows a different method.


Start by collecting the coupons. Garcia recommends purchasing four or five copies of the Sunday newspaper. Other coupons are found in maga- zines, on manufacturer websites and in other online sources such as Target and Red Plum coupon sites. Instead of clipping coupons at this point, file whole coupon inserts by date in a file box. There are a few places consumers should not get coupons. “Never use coupons from websites that make you pay and never





photocopy coupons,” Garcia says. “Selling and photocopying coupons is illegal.” To get the most from coupons, try to match them with weekly grocery


store sales. Garcia’s mom, known as “Queen Mom” on her website, does these “matchups” for a number of retailers and posts them on the Consumer Queen site each week. “We do all the work for you. We tell you what’s on sale each week, what coupon to use, where to find it and how much the product will end up costing you,” Garcia says. For example, a box of cereal costs $4. It’s on sale for $3 in the local grocery store ad. A coupon for $1 off makes the box of cereal $2, a savings of 50 percent. Garcia’s website tells the shopper where to find the coupon needed to get the deal. Just clip the coupon and place it in a small binder to take shopping.


Coupon Etiquette If used correctly, coupons not only benefit consumers; retailers also earn 8 cents per coupon redeemed. However, couponers need to be careful to use good “coupon etiquette” when shopping. Depleting a merchant’s stock of a particular product can hurt the store. Even if consumers are shopping to donate, they should be courteous and leave some for the next person. If a shopper sees the shelves bare and complains to the management, the store could prohibit the use of coupons. “When I first started, I was a crazy couponer. There’s a high that comes from getting things for free. I bought everything, but I learned very quickly you don’t need all that stuff,” she says. “Couponers need to be considerate of other shoppers.” Another issue that can cause retailers to prohibit coupon use is coupon


fraud. According to Henry Smith, owner of Beggs General Store in Beggs,


Okla., coupon fraud can be a serious problem for retailers. Though Smith doesn’t see many coupons come through his store, he receives several fraud alert emails each week from the Oklahoma Grocer’s Association. “Merchants who accept coupons have to be careful,” he says. “If they accept a bad coupon they lose that product.”


Shoppers need to be sure to use the coupon on the exact product and product size for which it was intended—otherwise, the manufacturer might not reimburse the merchant. Expired coupons can also hurt retailers. “I’m a stickler for the rules,” Garcia says. “We stand against coupon


fraud.” The Consumer Queen website provides couponers with links to grocery store coupon policies. Shoppers should be aware of retailers’ policies and always honor them, she says. To learn more about couponing basics, visit the Consumer Queen web- site: www.consumerqueen.com. Garcia offers regular couponing classes in the Oklahoma City area—free of charge. She is also available to travel.


NOVEMBER 2013


23


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104  |  Page 105  |  Page 106  |  Page 107  |  Page 108  |  Page 109  |  Page 110  |  Page 111  |  Page 112  |  Page 113  |  Page 114  |  Page 115  |  Page 116  |  Page 117  |  Page 118  |  Page 119  |  Page 120  |  Page 121  |  Page 122  |  Page 123  |  Page 124  |  Page 125  |  Page 126  |  Page 127  |  Page 128  |  Page 129  |  Page 130  |  Page 131  |  Page 132  |  Page 133  |  Page 134  |  Page 135  |  Page 136  |  Page 137  |  Page 138  |  Page 139  |  Page 140  |  Page 141  |  Page 142  |  Page 143  |  Page 144  |  Page 145  |  Page 146  |  Page 147  |  Page 148  |  Page 149  |  Page 150  |  Page 151  |  Page 152  |  Page 153  |  Page 154