Melisa Lee demonstrates the finer points of couponing in Picayune

Published 4:58 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Melisa Lee began using coupons two years ago, when her husband’s construction work experienced a slow-down. 

“I started thinking about a better way to get things done,” she says.

“I found that by looking for things on sale and using coupons to enhance the savings, I was able to make a significant dent in our household expenditures.”

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Lee uses a masterfully organized three ring binder filled with categorized baseball card sleeves to organize coupons she clips from newspapers, magazines and off of Internet web sites.

“It’s really easy to get started saving money by using coupons. Once you have your binder and baseball card holders, you just label the sections. I make sure that my fast foods are up front; the rest are broken down by category,” she says.

“Couponing allows me to stock up on everyday things I like to have on hand. Also, some stores give double coupon value on Saturday only and they ad match. Doubling values and price matching make a huge difference to my family’s budget.”

Lee says that organization and letting go of brand loyalty (which was really just a habit) were obstacles in the beginning.

She advises, “Get out of your head that you must have ‘your’ brand name. I have now found  that there are dozens of wonderful brands and items that my family would not have tried if we didn’t purchase by sale price and coupons.”

“The same principle applies to stores. Some of my favorite stores from years past, I only go in to ad match now.”

For Lee and almost one hundred women who are signed up for her Life Group through her church, coupons are well worth a five hour time investment to locate, clip and swap with others.

Lee has children that see the value in her efforts.

“The two older ones will ask me if I have coupons for something. Couponing is not just for moms,” she says, “I have a lady in my life group that is coming because her ten-year-old daughter can not get enough of it. It is like a game they play which saves them money.”

For Lee’s family, couponing has saved what she feels to be a significant amount of money.

“I started saving my grocery receipts when I first started using coupons to see if this really would be worth the effort. I can tell you that I have cut my $450 grocery bill to $250; my household item’s budget has been cut by sixty percent.”

Lee gives an example of her last week’s shopping trip which follows:

“I purchased three packages of Poptarts; three Snack Pack Puddings; one Mr. Clean magic eraser; three Suave deodorants; three cans of Chef Boyardee; one jar of Grape Jelly; one Comet Cleaner; one bottle of Gain laundry detergent; one bottle of Gain dishwashing soap; two bottles of Dawn dishwashing soap and one bag of Chex mix. The regular price before coupons was $31.39 and I paid $18.39; I saved $13.00 using my coupons.”

Lee cautions potential coupon users that most coupons limit one item per transaction.

“You need to be prepared to have multiple transactions if you are using multiple coupons. The cashiers are familiar with this process, so just be ready to spend a few extra minutes when you use multiple coupons.”

For those who might assume that Lee must be bored with ample, extra time to put into coupons, Lee is just the opposite with very little free time. She currently works full time as the Director of Life Academy at Resurrection Life Pre-School, is a married mother of four and active in the community through the Picayune Civic Women’s Club (in which she chairs the Education Committee) and her church.

She says, “This really works and once you begin to use coupons and see the savings that can be applied to other things, you will wonder why you didn’t do this before.”